South Korea -- The relationship between the United States and the Republic of Korea stands as an example of one of the strongest alliances that exists today. This largely stems from shared values of democracy, strong economies, and the common interest of working together to deter regional threats. Although the U.S. and ROK share a global partnership that delves into multiple sectors of society ranging from business to education, the cornerstone to the foundation of trust that exists between the U.S. and the ROK is its military alliance stemming back to the Korean War in 1950.
The 837th Transportation Battalion provides common-user seaport and terminal services and operates all ports in South Korea in support of the commander, United States Forces Korea. Anytime there is a vessel containing DoD cargo coming into any port within Korea that requires U.S. representation, the 837th provides those representatives at the port. During wartime, the battalion has the capacity to expand capabilities to facilitate the exponential increase in requirements. Furthermore, the 837th serves as USFK's single point of contact for ammunition operations.
The republic of Korea Port Operations Group is the counterpart to the 599th Transportation Brigade at Wheeler Army Airfield in Hawaii. The 599th supports three battalions, which provide support to all of the U.S. Into-Pacific Command. The 837th covers requirements solely in the ROK.
In wartime, the Combined Seaport Coordination Center (CSCC), located at the 837th, is utilized to provide recommendations to the Combined Transportation Movement Center (CTMC) for all strategic sealift port operations. The CSCC is manned and operated by a combined force of ROK and U.S. stakeholders, and it is co-chaired by the ROK Port Operations Group commander and the 599th commander for coordination of all sealift and port operations.
In the past year alone, the 837th hosted 27 ROK distinguished visitors interested in combined partnership capabilities for port operations.
Serving on the ROK peninsula is a unique experience for those in uniform. The two Koreas are currently in a state of armistice, not peace, and the possibility of a wartime contingency is realistic enough that potential threats cannot be ignored. With this in mind, U.S. and ROK service members are expected to maintain readiness and train in preparation to "fight tonight." As a result, training is a regular event for both militaries. In 2019, the 837th hosted the ROK Port Operations Group for a Maritime Railway Vehicle Conversion Training Event. This training required coordination between KORAIL, ROKPOG and the 837th.
For the 837th Transportation Battalion, consistent dialogue, coordinated training, and continuous engagements with partners have been the steps that have naturally translated into mission success. Conducting joint (multi-service), combined (multinational) training that deepens shared understanding, demonstrates commitment to the alliance and test interoperability in armistice between U.S. and the ROK is an investment that will pay dividends well into the future.