ROK, U.S. Conduct First Joint Gunnery Since Korean War
Sgt. Joel Raglin, a tank crew member from Company C, 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, shows a sergeant major from the Republic of Korea's 23rd Tank Battalion how to load a .50-caliber machine gun mounted on a M1A1 Abrams.

RODRIGUEZ RANGE, Korea (Army News Service, March 6, 2007) - For the first time since the Korean War, Republic of Korea and U.S. Army tanks fired alongside each other during a joint-gunnery exercise at Rodriguez Range Feb. 15.

Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, conducted a joint-gunnery live-fire with the ROK Army's 23rd Tank Battalion, 25th Infantry Division. Soldiers from both armies benefited, said Sgt. Joel Raglin, a tank crew member from Co. C.

"It's a great experience," Raglin said. "Just in case we ever have to go to combat with these guys, we'll know what their capabilities are, and they'll know ours."

Although communication and language barriers can pose a problem in joint-training exercises, the KATUSA (Korean Augmentees to the U.S. Army) Soldiers in 2nd Bn., 9 Inf. Regt., helped bridge the gap, Raglin added.

The training consisted of both U.S. M1A1 Abrams and ROK M48 tanks firing simultaneously at pop-up targets from varying distances. Later in the training, the tanks rode along a pre-planned path, with gunners firing mounted .50-caliber and M240B machine guns at pop-up targets.

The need for this type of joint training is ever-present on the Korean peninsula, said Maj. Shane Gries, 2nd Bn., 9th Inf. Regt., operations officer.

"I think it's very important to do these events as often as we possibly can," Gries said. "During the Korean War, the 9th Regiment fought and bled on the same hills as our ROK allies. These combined exercises re-strengthen and reaffirm our bond as allies and bring together the coalition."

The training also helped Soldiers on both sides understand how to fight and operate together in a hostile environment, Gries said.

"I'm very excited because whenever we have a chance to train with (the U.S. Army), I think it's a very good chance to learn tank-gunnery methodology and skills," said Capt. Sun, Yu Kwon, 23rd Tank Bn. "I'm very excited and impressed with how (the U.S.) trains. (They) have many experiences in war, like Iraq and Afghanistan."

Since the ROK Army has fewer opportunities to participate in combat operations, the Korean soldiers learned many combat skills from their American counterparts, Sun said.

It was not just Koreans learning from the Americans, Gries said.

"They have different training methodologies, and they learn different things from their units in the way they train," he said. "When they get together and train, they teach each other small things that are important out there, such as field craft, how to operate on the battlefield and how to operate in Korea, specifically."

(Pfc. Anthony Hawkins Jr. writes for the 2nd Infantry Division Public Affairs Office.)

Page last updated Tue March 6th, 2007 at 10:57