U.S., South Korean Airmen repair runway during exercise

by Staff Sgt. Alex Fox Echols III
Kunsan Air Base
DAEGU AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Sounds of big machinery and shovels moving earth echoed as U.S. and Republic of Korea Civil Engineer Airmen worked side by side during the Combined Airfield Damage Repair Exercise, April 17-20. 
The annual exercise ensures seamless interoperability between the U.S. and ROK while repairing airfield damage and improves their capability to work together at a moment’s notice.
“In situations when we don’t have sufficient personnel to form a full ADR capability on either side, it is critical that we form a unified team in order to expedite the repair of the runway,” said ROK Air Force Capt. Lee Hoopu-beom, 11th Fighter Wing civil engineer operations officer.
During the exercise, U.S. and ROK Airmen repaired damaged runway sections while sharing techniques, strengthening bonds and forging friendships between the two allied countries.
“We really aren’t that different,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Christopher Paek, 7th Air Force chief of readiness and planning. “How we run operations and our main focus on the runway are exactly the same. We’re here for one mission, which is to launch sorties. We have to be ready to fight tonight.”
This year, the ADR exercise was coupled with the ROKAF/USAF Combined Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Field Training Exercise which included classroom study as well as detection and decontamination scenarios.
“It was definitely a unique experience,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Parson, 374th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency manager. “Not too many people get to work in someone else’s country helping them do what they would do in an emergency. Working together, you are able to establish those relationships where you understand this is exactly what would happen if things got real. Getting to see that was imperative to us growing as a force.”
With four days of joint training leading to the last day’s final test, the two forces were more than ready to repair airfields together, ensuring the critical function of safely launching and recovering aircraft.
“I learned a lot about how to work jointly in a combined environment,” said Republic of Korea Air Force Staff Sgt. Choi Seoung-bin, 11th Fighter Wing NCOIC of equipment operations. “I think this was a great opportunity to work together, and I hope through this exercise our alliance gets even stronger."

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