By 1st Lt. Austin Liu, 6-52nd Air Defense Artillery, 35th ADA Brigade Public AffairsFebruary 14, 2011
SUWON AIR BASE, South Korea - U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Seong Kim proudly watched his Soldiers executing the Patriot missile reload drill.
Through well rehearsed hand signals and simple voice commands, the experienced U.S. crew proficiently removed one Patriot missile can off the launcher system and quickly replaced it with another utilizing their Guided Missile Transporter.
Seong Kim turned to his Republic of Korea counterpart 2nd Lt. Eugene Kim, smiled and said, "This is how we do it."
The two platoon leaders from United States and Republic of Korea were part of an exchange program initiated by the 6th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade to assist its Suwon Air Base sister unit, the Republic of Korea Air Force 553rd Patriot Fire Unit.
The program is usually conducted at battery level, focusing on the sharing of air defense tactics, techniques and procedures.
On this afternoon, the entire launcher platoon from the ROK unit is attentively observing and taking notes on the U.S. Patriot missile reload drill.
"The drill requires absolute precision and good communication while operating under time constraint," said Seong Kim, a first generation South Korean immigrant to the United States who speaks fluent Korean. "In order to safely and speedily execute the drill, a crew must spend hours and hours of training and learning from mistakes."
It became apparent that this particular reload crew has trained well in the past few months.
Seong Kim continued, "What we want to accomplish here is to teach our ROK counterparts some of the lessons we have learned in the field so they can save some valuable training time."
Sgt. 1st Class James Kent, the U.S. launcher platoon sergeant, agreed. "I think it is very important to share and learn each other's strengths and weaknesses ... it will definitely benefit us in the long run and strengthen the alliance between the two great nations."
The Republic of Korea military began fielding Patriot launchers across the peninsula in 2008.
"We are always more than willing to assist our sister air defense unit standing up here in Korea," said Seong Kim.
The U.S. Army has decades of experience with the Raytheon-built weapon system, including combat experience as recently as Operation Iraq Freedom.
As the troops in U.S. Army ACUs and ROKAF tropical fatigues warmly shook hands and exchanged words of appreciation and encouragement, it became apparent that the spirit of "Kapchi Katchida," Korean for "we go together" and the motto of ROK-U.S. Alliance, remains stronger than ever.
"I want to express genuine appreciation on behalf of my platoon to the Americans for the exchange," said Eugene Kim, a ROK Patriot platoon leader. "We have definitely learned a lot this afternoon."
"We will take back what we have learned today and improve our existing standing operating procedures," Eugene Kim added.
The ROK Patriot Unit also invited Seong Kim and his Soldiers to observe their training in the future.
"I look forward to watch the ROK Patriot training and share some of their lessons learned," said Seong Kim. "They (ROK Military personnel) will be fighting right next to us in the foxhole if hostilities commence. We must learn to work and grow together."