CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan -- Engines roaring, hydraulics hissing and machinery clanging, the Workhorse of the Pacific returned to its headquarters Nov. 14, 2017 at Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan.
Combat Logistics Regiment 3 (CLR 3), 3d Marine Logistics Group (MLG), also known as the Workhorse, completed Korean Marine Exchange Program 18.1/Exercise Winter Workhorse 17, a six-week-long rotation in the Republic of Korea which involved bilateral training with the Republic of Korea Marine Logistics Group (ROK MLG).
“The capabilities we trained for were transportation and convoy movements, engineering, purifying water, building expeditionary bases, as well as basic rifleman tactics,” said Col. Maura Hennigan, commanding officer of CLR-3, 3d MLG. “This exercise allowed us to train for scenarios in different environments, whether the cold, rain or in simulated chemical-affected areas.”
The regiment’s subordinate units, 3d Transportation Support Battalion (3d TSB), Combat Logistics Battalion 3 (CLB-3), CLB-4 and 9th Engineer Support Battalion (9th ESB) traveled to the Korean Peninsula from Okinawa and Hawaii, coming together to join the ROK MLG in various operations as well as team-building events.
“Bilateral training was a large focus for this exercise,” said Hennigan. “We had the opportunity to train with the ROK MLG's Landing Support and Transportation Battalions during railway operations, beach landing operations and port operations in a combined environment, and they also allowed us to do exchange time as well. This allowed Marine-on-Marine exchanges, building relationships and resiliency between our units and our militaries, while also taking time to expand the logistics capabilities we maintain within the regiment.”
Marines from both militaries faced various challenges together, from language barriers to adverse weather. During the exercise, Super Typhoon Lan made landfall on Dogu Beac , Pohang, where Marines with 3d TSB and 9th ESB had set up a forward position to conduct water purification, fuel storage and transportation.
“Super Typhoon Lan happened to make landfall and knocked down one of our earthen berm walls,” said U.S. Marine Warrant Officer Joseph Galinak, a platoon commander with Bulk Fuel Company, 9th ESB. “We also partnered up with some Korean civilians who came to the beach to collect and dispose of debris blown onto the beach by the typhoon. We covered a mile of the beach, going through and picking up trash.”
According to Galinak, despite the cold temperatures and adverse weather, the unit was able to complete mission requirements and gain valuable training experience for the company’s newest members.
“Only about 25 percent of the Marines we have out here have worked with the ROK Marines previously,” said Galinak. “Not many bulk fuel specialists have had the chance to work on a beach in an austere environment with another nation’s military. We have a very large number that have never been to South Korea or have never deployed at all, so this is a tremendous experience for them.”
The exercise also provided opportunities for the Marines to interact with the local communities near the various training areas. Whether playing with school children, visiting orphanages or helping farmers harvest crops after Super Typhoon Lan, Marines stepped up to the challenge and out into the community to make a positive impact.
“Just an ounce of effort to help and engage in activities like these further strengthens our partnership between South Korea and America,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Parks, regimental chaplain for CLR-3. “This helps the local Korean populace know that the ROK and U.S. Marines care about their communities, and while we may train in preparation for combat, we also prepare for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts. This is just one small way we can give back and contribute to strengthening our nations’ alliance.”
For Hennigan, the combat and logistics training KMEP 18.1 provided gave immeasurable benefits to CLR-3 and subordinate units, giving the Marines a chance to see how their allies train and trade ideas and procedures, allowing for an efficient, unified force.
“Our Korean partners are extremely gracious, and they provided us with access to ranges that we don’t normally have on Okinawa,” said Hennigan. “CLR-3 was able to train in an environment they may eventually have to work in, whether it’s in conflict or during relief operations. This also gave them a chance to build relationships with the ROK Marines, whom they may train with again in the future, which is a great opportunity for junior and senior Marines.”
KMEP 18.1 is a regularly-scheduled bilateral training rotation in South Korea, carried out in the spirit of the Republic of Korea-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty signed between the two nations October 1, 1953. The exercise is part of III Marine Expeditionary Force’s dedicated effort to learning and sharing tactics with the ROK Marine Corps, building personal, enduring relationships and to become more proficient partners. These relationships are invaluable during future combined operations in the region.