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NEWS | March 13, 2023

U.S. Marines Join Republic of Korea Marine Corps Allies for Exercise Freedom Shield 23

By Capt. Joshua Hays III Marine Expeditionary Force

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP MUJUK, South Korea -- U.S. Marines deployed from Japan and the United States ahead of large-scale combined exercise with their Republic of Korea (ROK) Marine Corps counterparts, here.

Marines from III Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) in Okinawa, Japan, and Marines from 1st Marine Division, I MEF, joined their ROK counterparts to form the Combined Marine Component Command during Exercise Freedom Shield 23. The annual exercise is intended to strengthen the combined defensive capabilities of both countries’ armed forces in a changing security environment.

“The ROK-U.S. Marine Corps alliance is one of the strongest in the Indo-Pacific,” said U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Patrick Majeski, the lead U.S. Marine Corps planner. “Any opportunity to train together directly increases regional security and reinforces our shared commitment to the Korean people.”

The CMCC provides the CFC leadership a flexible option to project forces from the sea to defend the Korean peninsula, if needed. During the exercise the CMCC will rehearse force-wide command and control in a realistic computer-based scenario. The goal of the exercise is to increase their collective defense capability and reduce the time needed to respond to crisis.

U.S. Marines used multiple modes of transportation to get to South Korea from their home stations. The primary methods of transportation included the Marine Corps KC-130J aircraft and the high-speed transport vessel, the USNS Guam (T-HST-1).

“This exercise showcases III MEF’s posture by projecting power from multiple locations to enhance the integrated defense of our allies and partners as a stand-in force for the Indo-Pacific,” Majeski added.

In addition to the III MEF forces, the 1st Marine Division’s command element from Oceanside, California, U.S.A., will participate in the exercise with the 1st ROK Marine Corps Division. This will be the first time their command has traveled to the peninsula in over 15 years.

"It's an incredible experience to participate in this exercise and revitalize the relationship with our ROK counterparts. We must be ready to deploy and fight together at a moment's notice. This exercise is the perfect opportunity to rehearse that with the 1st ROK Marine Division," said U.S. Marine Maj. Gen. Benjamin T. Watson, commanding general, 1st Marine Division.

Freedom shield is a defense-oriented exercise designed to strengthen the ROK-U.S. Alliance, enhance our combined defense posture, and strengthen security and stability on the Korean peninsula.
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