USAG HUMPHREYS, South Korea – The 524th Military Intelligence Battalion held its annual Arirang Sentinel Exercise bringing together human intelligence (HUMINT) collectors and counterintelligence (CI) agents from across the peninsula between May 17 - June 4, 2021.
“The intent of the Arirang Sentinel Exercise is to conduct a joint CI and combined HUMINT exercise to not only validate individual and team tasks within the Battalion, but also to build a stronger shared understanding and interoperability between 524th MI Battalion CI and HUMINT elements and our joint, and combined allies in contingency,” said Lt. Col. Nathan Reed, commander, 524th Military Intelligence Battalion.
One of the key aspects of the exercise is that it allows HUMINT collectors and CI agents to validate portions of their critical task lists. The skills displayed while accomplishing these critical tasks are an integral part of these Army career fields, but are difficult to effectively validate during daily operations as they are primarily used during wartime. However during the exercise conditions are set and carefully wrought scenarios are crafted to help these specialists meet their objectives.
Reed explained, this year’s exercise was broken into two iterations in separate locations, Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek and Camp Walker in Daegu. This was done to afford the maximum opportunity to incorporate participants from across the peninsula and to geographically align them with the 524th MI Battalion elements in their areas.
The first half of the exercise, was conducted primarily by Alpha Detachment at Camp Humphreys. Bravo Company controlled the second half at Camp Walker. During both parts of the exercise CI and HUMINT Soldiers focused on meeting the items on their critical task lists while also learning from their joint and combined partners. The participating noncommissioned officers and officers conducted classes and assessed the performance of the junior Soldiers to ensure they met the standards.
Capt. John Phillips, commander, Alpha Detachment, said it was beneficial having participation from members of the Republic of Korea’s (ROK) military intelligence corps in the exercise. The U.S. CI and HUMINT Soldiers have a broad spectrum of knowledge and experience in their field, having served in positions around the world. However the ROK Soldiers have vast amount of regional knowledge and focus. Bringing the two together and learning from each other, Phillips said, is steadily increasing the abilities of both sides and increasing interoperability.
“The Arirang Sentinel Exercise allows us to test our capability as CI and HUMINTers in the Korean Theater of Operations while enabling us to partner up with our ROK counterparts and joint partners and come together and learn from each other,” said Capt. Woogoon Yoon, commander, Bravo Company.
The exercise received participation and support from Eighth Army, 2nd Infantry Division, 501st Military Intelligence Brigade, U.S. Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations, and from five major ROK military commands.
“During this exercise we saw a four-fold increase in external participation over previous iterations since the re-establishment of the battalion less than four years ago,” said Reed. “We are pleased with the turn-out as it allows us to continue to build a stronger relationship with key ROK allies.”
Reed said the exercise allowed the battalion to reinvigorate its commitment to working closely during Armistice in preparation for any contingency that may arise. He said it also allowed them to see shared mutual interests and identify common ground; building interoperability now and in the future.
The 501st Military Intelligence Brigade provides indications and early warning of actions by opposing forces that could threaten the tense but stable peace in the Republic of Korea. In the event of hostilities, the brigade’s mission shifts to providing combined, multi-discipline intelligence and force protection support to the United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command, the CFC Ground Component Command, and their subordinate units.