Leaders from a variety of key departments within the Department of Defense visited military bases on the Korean peninsula. Part of their visit included interaction with 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division Soldiers and leadership Dec. 4-7, 2018.
More than 60 civilian and military professionals with the 2019 DOD Executive Leader Development Program (ELDP) visited troops as part of their training. The trip offered the leaders a structured, first-hand and up-close learning opportunity with warfighters.
During their visit to the new Division headquarters, they heard from the Warrior Division chief of staff, who is serving his third tour in Korea and was able to frame 2ID service, the only forward-deployed division in the Army, and the distinctive experience of combined soldiering in Korea.
"I think a lot of organizations want to say that they're a 'unique' organization and take great pride in saying that, but I think with 2ID that we've proven it," explained Col. Andrew Morgado, native of Danbury, Connecticut, chief of staff, 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division. "There is no other organization in the Army like it. We're a combined division with ROK (Republic of Korea) Army officers and NCOs that are a direct part of our organization serving in key positions."
Morgado pointed out that being combined provides access to ROK Army leadership and allows for key integration that extends from the higher command levels and well into subordinate units as well. He also noted to the leaders the importance of rotational training units to the strength of the Division.
"I found the briefings very informative and I also respect how much time the senior leaders have given us," said Agnieszka Kurzej, a native of Island Pond, Vermont, and country director-Russia for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. "It's really an honor to get an hour out of somebody's day to hear about the work they're doing and how they got there."
They had an opportunity to experience "Kapshi Kapshida" - Korean for "we go together" - for themselves during their visit with 2ID/RUCD Soldiers by also visiting units in motorpools and seeing the combined interaction firsthand.
"The officer and NCO that work in our shop are ROK Army officers part of an embedded program and they're a valuable, valuable asset," said Maj. Marc Jason, an operations officer with the 1st Battalion, 67th Armored Regiment, 3rd ABCT. "Part of the reason why we're here is the partnership with our hosts, the Republic of Korea Army. One of things we do everyday is continue to build bridges that add to the relationship that really started in 1945 and still exists today."
Taking notes and asking questions to better understand the combined division and subordinate units, the ELDP participants took stock in being exposed to the 2ID/RUCD mission.
"The cooperation is so impressive and deep-rooted from what I've seen, I would've have thought it was longer," Kurzej noted after hearing that the division had only been officially combined for the past three years. "This is an incredible opportunity for civilians to understand better what the warfighter goes through. Some of us don't have military experience, so for us to be able to get just a little taste of it, it's understandably just a sliver, but having that appreciation for what you do every day really helps put our work into context.