"Every six months we go through an emergency cable repair scenario," said Cpt. Joseph Agius, Commander of the 293rd Signal Company. "Each time we invite a R.O.K. military unit to join us... we've even had a Korean navy unit train with us in Chinhae."
At first thought, it seems a bit peculiar that a signal and chemical unit would train together but after a few moments, it begins to make sense. All soldiers, regardless of specialty, are trained to operate in a chemical environment.
"The pairing demonstrates the level of commitment that Korean and U.S. Army units have in working together," said Korean Sgt. Maj. Nam, In Su, the senior liaison between the 36th Signal Battalion and the Korean army. Nam also supervises all Korean soldiers assigned to the 36th.
The scenario had to be creative, and at the same time practical, so both units could benefit from the training.
The first half of the training focused on traveling into unprotected territory and repairing a 12-strand fiber optic cable. The team of cable technicians, also known as cable dogs, came under fire shortly after beginning the repairs.
The team of technicians was able to defend themselves and return to the delicate operation of splicing fiber cables until faced with chemical contamination.
The second phase of the operation called for the team to link up with the 19th Chemical Battalion to be decontaminated.
The 19th Chemical Battalion rapidly deployed a field decontamination site that even serviced vehicles; very much like a car wash. The 19th Chemical Battalion thoroughly cleaned the 293rd Signal Company technicians and their equipment to conclude the training.
"We have to operate in the same battle space, and this is an example of what we may face out in combat," said, Lt. Col. James Pringle, Commander of the 36th Signal Battalion.
Both units were able to meet their training objectives and equally as important, continue to foster an alliance that is going more than 60 years strong.
The 36th Signal Battalion directly services U.S. forces deployed to the southern half of South Korea with data and voice communications. They also indirectly service the northern half of the country by maintaining critical communications links, much like the cable that needed to be repaired in this scenario.