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ROK, US Marines conduct mountain warfare training

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Republic of Korea and U.S. Marines participated in a weeklong mountain warfare training exercise at the ROK Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center Oct. 15-19.

The ROK Marines are with 33rd Battalion, 1st ROK Marine Division. The U.S. Marines are with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force.

Both units are participating in Korean Marine Exchange Program 13-1, a bilateral training exercise designed to improve ROK and U.S. Marine interoperability.

The Korean peninsula is approximately 70 percent mountainous terrain, according to ROK Marine Gunnery Sgt. Gi Kong Won, an instructor at the ROK Marine Corps MWTC. The training center incorporates mountain climbing, rappelling, rope bridges and helicopter rappelling as part of its training packages for units.

Each participant went through every obstacle to build confidence and proficiency.

"The training went very successfully," said Master Sgt. Lawrence M. Garcia, the operations chief for Weapons Company. "It allowed us to establish camaraderie and work on our bilateral training with the ROK Marines. Having our Marines go through the obstacles right next to the ROK Marines allowed each to see what the others are capable of."

Conducting bilateral training in a mountainous environment is an opportunity the company does not get often.

"This has given us the chance to do things that are not readily available back at our home station in Hawaii," said Garcia. "Our Marines took the opportunity to train in this unfamiliar environment and used it to improve their confidence in taking on challenging obstacles."

The Marines had high expectations prior to tackling the course's demanding obstacles.

"I expected the course to be difficult and challenging," said Cpl. Richard G. Davis, an electro-optical ordnance repairer with the company. "It surpassed my expectations and gave me a chance to overcome my fears."

U.S. Marines train often at the course, according to Won. It is one of the best training environments in the Republic Korea and is frequently used by South Korean special-forces units.

"This has given us an opportunity to see how the ROK Marine Corps works and how they train," said Garcia. "The ROK Marines we have been working with are true professionals. They have welcomed us with open arms."

Article by Lance Cpl. Nicholas S. Ranum, Marine Corps Installations Pacific