By Sgt. 1st Class Vincent AbrilNovember 21, 2013
CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea -- A cold, gray day did not stop Soldiers from conducting the largest combined air assault training exercise, for the division of the year, living up to the "Going Together" mantra with Republic of Koreas 2nd Battalion, 100th Regiment, 17th Infantry Division Nov. 14, 2013 at Rodriguez Range, South Korea.
The large scale exercise named "Operation Thunderbolt" also included elements from 1st Battalion, 72nd Armor Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Attack Reconnaissance Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Aerial Reconnaissance Battalion (Attack), 2nd Aviation Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division and the 23rd Chemical Battalion, 1ABCT, 2nd Inf. Div. The Assault boasted a hefty force of aircraft consisting of UH-60 Black Hawk's, AH-64D Longbow Apache, OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters and an Unmanned Aircraft System; enough power to deter possible threats on the peninsula by way of multiple joint and combined training exercises.
"By training together, we show that we are ready to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our ROK Allies to deter and, if necessary, defeat any threats to the Republic of Korea," said Lt. Col. Brian E. Walsh, the 2-2 Av. Bn., commander and native of Apopka, Fla.
Combined training allows the two Armies to learn and grow together.
"This training also enables familiarity between Allies to mitigating any differences and other challenges and capitalizes on what we have in common enhancing our readiness; it's all about readiness", said Walsh.
An operations officer, Cpt. Kim, Min-joong with 2nd Bn., 100th Regt., 17th Inf. Div., and a native of Suncheon, South Korea also shared the same sentiment on the mutual benefits of such combined training for him and his soldiers who all were grateful for the opportunity to work with U.S. forces.
"Many ROK soldiers cannot experience such training very easily, so our 2nd battalion soldiers were excited and proud to be a part of today's air assault with U.S. Soldiers," Kim said. "This feeling lead our soldiers to work hard and to try their very best."
For one young ROK infantryman flying in a helicopter was a first time experience.
"It's my first experience flying on a helicopter, so I was kind of nervous and throbbing with expectation," said Pvt. Kim, Won-gon, an infantrymen with 2nd Bn., 100th Regt., 17th Inf. Div., and native of Gunsan, South Korea. "It's my second military training (event). I want to become stronger and become more mature after this training."
Kim also shared his impression of working with U.S. Soldiers.
"I think U.S. Soldiers are smart and cool," said Pvt. Kim. "There are many things to learn from them."
Throughout the air assault exercise, it was evident the month long combined planning process and drills conducted prior to execution day was successful according to Walsh. He could not be more grateful for his unit's ability to be prepared to fight when needed.
"Training together builds trust and confidence between allies," Walsh said. "That trust and confidence builds capability and that capability directly correlates to readiness and we must be ready to fight tonight and fight together."