By Sgt. 1st Class Joel F. Gibson, Eighth Army Public AffairsMay 2, 2012
POCHEON, South Korea - Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, from Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, participated in a plethora of training exercises at Rodriguez Live Fire Complex in March and April, as part of Foal Eagle 2012.
The battalion shipped their Strykers from Hawaii to Busan in March and started training in earnest at the beginning of April.
The "Gimlets" of 1st Battalion conducted a combined live fire training with their Mobile Gun System Strykers and K-1 Main Battle Tanks from the Republic of Korea Army 11th Infantry Division April 12 - 13.
Capt. Todd Stanford, Anti-Armor Company Commander, B Company, 52nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd BCT, 25th ID, said, "We had three different teams made up of two MGS and two K1 ROK Tanks, for each team there was a different platoon leader from each country."
The teams took turns engaging targets at short and long range using their anti-personnel weapons and main guns.
U.S. and ROK Army leaders watching their units conduct the training from the control tower, both stressed the importance of learning from each other throughout the exercise.
"We have a lot that we can learn about the nature of the fight in Korea, given the terrain, a lot that we can learn about the capabilities of the systems we will be fighting alongside," said Lt. Col. Timothy Hayden, commander of 1st Battalion.
Many of the Soldiers involved in the training expressed the importance of working in a combined environment.
"It gives our guys experience working through communication barriers and language barriers to accomplish the mission," said Battalion Assistant Operations Officer Capt. Chris Blom.
The battalion also trained with Tube-launched Optically-tracked Wire Command missiles, engaging simulated armor targets.
While the MGS and TOW Strykers engaged targets, forward observers and mortar teams from the mortar platoon lobbed 120 millimeter projectiles onto targets.
"We don't get to train that much on [mortar] drills back in Hawaii, because of the land that we have," said Spc. Jonathan Joubert, a radio transmitter operator for 1-21 Inf. "Being in Korea, it's pretty nice training, we get to shoot a lot of rounds, and we get the new guys who have just come to the unit trained with our battle drills."
"These systems are the infantry platoon and company's most reactive, in terms of indirect fire support because they're directly tied to the battalion commander, it only requires him to authorize those fires," said 1st Lt. Scott Guo, the mortar platoon leader.
The forward observers working with 1-21's mortars were staged overlooking the target area from Manchu Hill.
"In a real world situation, this makes perfect tactical sense," Guo said. "The mortars are hidden away, ready to engage at a moment's notice in a firing point and the forward observers are closer to the suspected enemy locations."
Across the complex at the Comanche Valley training area, rifle platoons conducted individual movement and live fire drills and 1st Battalion coordinated with air assets from 2nd Infantry Division to conduct aerial assault training.
The Soldiers of 1st Battalion and the ROK Army 11th ID had nothing but good things to say about Rodriguez Live Fire Comlex.
"Thirty days training here is equal to more than six months training we can do in Hawaii, just because of the facilities," Blom said.
"Rodriguez Range is much bigger and it has many targets, compared to the ROK Army tank range," said ROK Army 1st Lt. Park Geum-pil, an armor officer with the 11th ID, "So, at first, I was amazed by its size and the number of targets, but finding the targets and shooting them was not easy."
Occurring around the same time every year, this year Foal Eagle runs from March 1 - April 30. The field training exercise is defensive in nature.