Sgt. Maj. Raymond Jacobs answers questions asked by Republic of Korea soldiers during Warfighter exercise (WFX) 18-2 at Camp Hovey, South Korea, on Nov. 14, 2017. When working in a combined military environment like WFX 18-2, communication is crucial in understanding and achieving training objectives. (Photo by Spc. Kevin Casey)
CAMP HOVEY, South Korea -- When I Corps Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Gary Volesky, addresses his staff and Soldiers, he asks everyone to keep three things in mind, "Be a learning organization, always give 110 percent - never quit, and get better every day."
This mantra shapes the core philosophy that builds training objectives and helps focus his teams on accomplishing missions. With this collective mindset, I Corps continued to enhance the readiness between U.S. and Republic of Korea (ROK) forces, as part of a longstanding military partnership, during Warfighter Exercise 18-2 (WFX 18-2) Nov. 6 - 17.
WFX 18-2, which took place at various locations within the Republic of Korea, was part of a continuous, planned program designed to increase interoperability between the U.S. and ROK and was not related to any specific threats. It highlights the U.S. commitment to the ROK and its ability to deploy, receive and integrate additional military forces if called upon. Overall, the command post exercise is designed to validate the Corps' ability to accomplish mission command operations.
"Exercises like this are critical to building readiness and maintaining America's first Corps' capability to deploy, fight and win," said Lt. Gen. Volesky. "This was also a great opportunity to strengthen relationships with our Third Republic of Korea Army (TROKA) counterparts, and get back to Korea where we can see and understand the environment."
With over 2,000 Soldiers and more than seven subordinate units participating under I Corps alone, the exercise required intense, detailed planning to synchronize the joint, combined training efforts.
"This exercise took several months of detailed planning across all war -fighting functions and external agencies," said I Corps Strategic Planner, Maj. Joseph Gainey. "We have never brought this warfighter exercise to the Republic of Korea before, but we train as we fight and at no point will we be in a unilateral fight. It's a team effort, and this is clearly indicated between our U.S. and Republic of Korea efforts."
According to Command Sgt. Maj. Walter Tagalicud, I Corps Command Sergeant Major, holding WFX 18-2 in the ROK not only reinforces communication and synchronization for combined operations, it helps further establish trust and confidence between the two nation's militaries.
"Training alongside our partners and with our subordinate units helps build trust amongst one another," Tagalicud said. "This trust builds readiness, and the primary purpose of any exercise is to enable all of our partners and war fighting functions the ability to deploy, and win decisively as we simulate a real-world mission."
Command Sgt. Maj. Tagalicud sees the opportunity to deploy for training exercises as an ability to test critical equipment and sustainment systems across the Corps.
"We have an opportunity to operate all of the equipment that runs our compound, rehearse battle drills and address everything we need to sustain the fight. There are no distractions in a deployed environment, and Soldiers can all focus on real-time conditions."
According to Maj. Daniel Von Baken, I Corps Planner, the key to synchronizing the equipment and systems necessary to achieve the intended training objectives revolves around the Army's most precious resource, people.
"It takes people to exercise the necessary systems and build that synergy," Von Baken said. "This exercise helps develop the relationships needed to synchronize and communicate with each other, our ROK counterparts, and learn to communicate better to solve problems in a joint environment."
Although WFX 18-2 presented a number of unique challenges across the Corps, the training opportunities provided were both demanding and gratifying.
"This was a great exercise, and I'm really proud of the team," said Lt. Gen. Volesky. "But, we're only as good as our next operation and I always challenge my teams to decide how they are going to get better."