Bridging the Gap: Wildcards, 601st ROK aviators exchange technical, cultural expertise
October 22, 2008
The 2nd Battalion, 2nd Aviation (Air Assault) Regiment, also known as, Wildcards, hosted several members of the Republic of Korea 601st Aviators Battalion Oct. 9 as part of an ongoing officer professional development and exchange program.
The ROK 601st Avn. Bn. is based at Guem Wang, South Korea. Both battalions fly the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter and perform similar missions.
"The US footprint is much smaller these days so it requires us to think more combined in our operational assessments," said Lt. Col. Matthew Lewis, 2-2 commander. "We are working toward the goal of safely integrating both ROK and U.S. Soldiers into our future training and operations. With our partnership unit, we are learning about the capabilities and operational planning considerations that we must take into account to effectively employ and command and control these operations."
The exchange of officers started earlier in the year with Capt. Chip Cox, platoon leader with Company B; Capt. Tae Kim, platoon leader with Co. A; and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Scott Staver, maintenance test pilot with Co. A, flying a Blackhawk to the home of the ROK 601st. During their visit, the Wildcard representatives and the ROK 601st leadership addressed issues as specific as the techniques of conducting certain maintenance checks on a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter, and broader issues such as developing a physical fitness program that would accommodate Soldiers on both day or night shifts.
Shortly after the Wildard aviators' visit, three ROK 601st platoon leaders flew to K-16 to see the Wildcards train. Korean Officers, Capt. Park, Capt. Kim, and Capt. Chae had an opportunity to fly in the UH-60 Simulator, talk to U.S. Soldiers, and observe a Bambi Bucket fire fighting training mission with Co. A.
"(It was) a rare chance to see and learn from one another so that both units will be better prepared to fight tonight," Cox said.
"All these guys have more experience and are rated in multiple aircraft," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Nicholas Quinn, Blackhawk pilot with Co. A. "They fly three times more than we do."
"We do things very different. Air assaults are different, loading and unloading procedures are different, but just because it's different, does not mean it is less," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jason Peck, Blackhawk pilot with Co. A. "These pilots have thousands of hours of experience doing it their way. It's difficult at times, but it is necessary in training. It's been a great experience so far, and we have formed solid friendships." ROK Col. Lee, guest presenter during the OPD, explained the general status of ROK Aviation in Korea. In the next exchange, the focus will be on logistics, communication, and pilot-in-command planning.
"Although these exchanges are for one week at a time, it creates long-term relationships and invaluable comradely with our Korean Army counterparts," Lewis said.
Editor's note: The 2nd Bn., 2nd Avn. (Air Assault) Regiment Public Affairs Representative contributed to this article.