Wolf Pack, ROKSOF practice base defense
KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- For the first time in more than seven years, Republic of Korea Special Operations Forces from the 35th Battalion, 7th Airborne Brigade, sharpened their combat skills alongside 8th Security Forces Squadron Airmen here during Exercise Beverly Midnight 15-3, April 29.
The simulated wartime integration incorporated the Wolf Pack accepting follow-on forces by configuring the installation to support more than 150 ROKSOF members, and defending the base through the use of the combined defense plan posture.
"As the 8th SFS continues to build its relationship with ROKSOF, we invited their unit to attend the exercise to practice our combined defense plan," said 1st Lt. David Krigbaum, 8th SFS air base defense officer in charge. "Integrating with the 35th Battalion definitely enhances our combined defense procedures in the event of increased hostilities on the peninsula."
Although the entire integration - from start to finish - was complete in 24 hours, it took various agencies to prepare for ROKSOF's arrival and provide them support while here.
"Internally, we had to process their personnel and equipment onto the installation in a secure manner," Krigbaum said. "We needed support from the 8th Civil Engineer Squadron and 8th Force Support Squadron to ensure we had sufficient bed-down, latrine and water capability for their troops. We needed the 8th Logistics Readiness Squadron's support to transport their troops on base as necessary. We also worked with the Kunsan Inspector General and Wing Inspection Team to ensure the scenarios and injects would maximize our training opportunity with the ROKSOF. To top it off, we coordinated with the Gunsan National Police Agency and our 8th Fighter Wing judge advocate to guarantee all legal aspects were covered."
After receiving a mission brief and bed down information, ROKSOF immediately hit the ground running with the Wolf Pack's defenders. For many defenders, exiting the installation to integrate coordination, improvised explosive device detection and removal, and convoys with mission partners was uncharted territory.
"For many Airmen, this was their first time integrating with any Republic of Korea military member, which can be quite a challenge considering there's a language barrier," said Master Sgt. Nicole Wrisley, 8th SFS standardization and evaluation NCO in charge. "This training was especially unique not only because we had the chance to train and interact with our ROKSOF counterparts, but typically everything that occurs during Kunsan's quarterly exercises stays inside the base. The key to integrated defense and the combined defense plan is to have different layers of deterrence. Enemy threats need to be detected and defeated outside the wire."
As ROKSOF members and Wolf Pack Airmen integrated operations over the course of the 24-hour exercise, many lessons were shared as tactics were exchanged.
"It was incredibly valuable for us to practice things that were largely theoretical to both units; when you get into the habit of simulating things, you begin to forget the details and lose sight of what needs to be improved," Krigbaum said. "As we ran missions together, we constantly refined our processes so that we operated comfortably together in a battle rhythm that promoted safety and demonstrated lethality against an enemy. All of the things we missed in planning became obvious by training together, and we were able to develop solutions both during and after the exercise."
The integration not only provided an opportunity to strengthen the U.S.-ROK alliance at Kunsan, but also established the groundwork for future partnered exercises.
"The integration provided significant validations and lessons learned for both the 8th SFS and ROKSOF in terms of reception, staging, integration, tactics, communication and command and control," said Lt. Col. Ian "Sheriff" Dinesen, 8th SFS commander. "This iteration is the baseline for multiple combined exercises both units plan to participate in annually here at Kunsan. Additionally, both organizations will continue to hold regular planning sessions and training events outside the scope of wing-level exercises in order to foster continued growth and development as well as to provide even higher fidelity of our combined combat capability sets."