Unique joint exercise reinforces Yongsan security
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Thick clouds from smoke grenades fill the streets.
A squad leader sends a series of hand arm signals and Soldiers swiftly pass through the smoke, staying close to the walls. They penetrate the building and suppress the enemies hiding inside.
This was one of the scenes during the joint field training exercise of U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan's Headquarters and Headquarters Company and the 218th Homeland Reserve Regiment of Republic of Korea Army held to strengthen the unit's teamwork and security of Yongsan Garrison May 30.
The 218th Homeland Reserve Regiment is a vital part of Capital Defense Command, whose foremost mission is to defend Seoul. It is responsible for the defense of the Yongsan area in some urgent circumstances, such as enemy infiltration, threats and attacks.
The 218th Homeland Reserve Regiment and U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan have cooperated very closely in the past year by inviting each other to their respective bases.
To facilitate even tighter coordination between them, the joint field training was held at the training field of the 218th Homeland Reserve Regiment. Approximately 30 soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company had opportunities to train with their ROKA counterparts.
"It was an outstanding experience. I was really surprised by ROKA, how they performed and how they cooperated with us," said Staff Sgt. Kenneth Young, operation noncommissioned officer-in-charge for Headquarters and Headquarters Company. "I have never worked with the ROKA infantry the way we have today with paintballs and real smoke grenades. Today's exercise allowed me to see that I can trust them and communicate with them as necessary. I feel they would be exceptional on the battlefield. I built trust in myself with them, and I am sure they built some trust with us also."
To reflect Yongsan's complex environment, the exercise focused on a simulation of an urban battle in the middle of buildings, streets and traffic. Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, along with ROKA soldiers, used paintball guns and grenades to suppress enemies lurking in various places. There was a language barrier, but using standard hand arm signals and with the help of KATUSAs working as translators, they could successfully conclude the training.
"It was an unusual opportunity training with U.S. Soldiers, and I enjoyed it very much," said Pfc. Hwang In-wook, a ROKA soldier from the 218th Homeland Reserve Regiment. "Even though Korea and U.S. are strong allies, we do not have a chance to meet each other very often. Through today's training, I think we are closer, and I am confident that we can cooperate to fight in case of emergency."
After the joint training, Soldiers from the 218th Homeland Reserve Regiment and U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan climbed Bukhan Mountain together, concluding the day with stronger friendship and teamwork.