'Gimlets' return from South Korea after successful Foal Eagle exercise
May 2, 2012
- Army.mil: Asia and Pacific News
- Continuing legacy: 'Gimlets' return to South Korea
- Gimlets gain counter-IED knowledge on Korean Peninsula
- 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division on Facebook
- U.S. Army Pacific on Facebook
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii (May 2, 2012) -- Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, "Gimlets," 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, returned to Oahu, Apr. 30, from a month-long deployment to the Republic of Korea.
Gimlet Soldiers began deploying to South Korea at the end of March 2012 in support of Foal Eagle, an annual joint combined training exercise conducted with the intent of strengthening the bond between both U.S. Forces and the Republic of Korea, or ROK, by training together, demonstrating their ability to defend the ROK and protect their people and their land.
Foal Eagle also served to validate 2nd BCT's ability to rapidly deploy and support strategic allies anywhere in the Pacific. This deployment marked the battalion's first return to the Republic of Korea since the Korean War in July 1950 during the Battle of Osan when approximately 400 Gimlet Soldiers, as part of Task Force Smith, took action against invading North Korean tanks.
By mid-April 2012, more than 600 Gimlets had been conducting various unilateral training exercises as well as combined operations with their ROoK Army counterparts. First Lt. Chad Jones, a platoon leader for B Company, 1-21 Inf. Regt., said the experience benefited him more so in that it was his first training exercise with his platoon.
"This exercise was the first time I trained with my platoon," Jones said. "The exercise provided me the opportunity to integrate multiple fire-support assets at the same time. I had learned how to plan the integration, but this was my first time actually doing it."
Jones added that Foal Eagle also afforded him the opportunity to train alongside a foreign allied army, expanding his leadership skills by integrating ROK Army techniques across a variety of training exercises.
"The platoons and my company conducted air assault missions and combined movement to contact drills with integrated ROK squads," he said. "We exchanged techniques, procedures and field craft with our ROK partners."
Spc. Jonathan Melton, an infantryman with B Company, 52nd Infantry Regiment (Anti-tank), agreed that Foal Eagle was an enriching training exercise, and commended ROK soldiers on their discipline.
"Working with the ROK Army was a great experience," Melton said. "They are a well-disciplined army."
As the commander for 1-21 Inf. Regt., Lt. Col. Timothy Hayden saw the grand scope of Foal Eagle and its many benefits. From the platoon situational tactical exercise and the combined defensive live-fire to the strengthened bonds between the ROK Army, Hayden said Foal Eagle proved invaluable for the Gimlet battalion.
"It demonstrated our interoperability and reinforced the great relationship at the individual Soldier level that we have shared with our Korean partners," Hayden said. "Foal Eagle reinforced our commitment to our strong alliance with South Korea and our commitment to peace and stability in the Pacific theater."
"I was absolutely thrilled with the quality and intensity of the training we conducted with our ROK partners and unilaterally as well," he added. "I watched the confidence in our leaders grow every day."
Upon arrival at their battalion headquarters, the Gimlet Soldiers were greeted with open arms by their family, friends and supporters. Melton reflected on the training experience, concluding with his reunion with his wife.
"It was good training in a different place," Melton said. "I'd like to do it again next year. I was gone a little over a month, and now I'm happy to be home and see my wife."