OKINAWA, Japan –
From July to August 2023, U.S. Marines with 5th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (5th ANGLICO), III Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, participated in the Korean Marine Exchange Program 23.3 (KMEP).
The ROK-U.S. Marine Corps alliance is one of the strongest in the Indo-Pacific region. During the first half of KMEP 23.3, 5th ANGLICO Marines and Republic of Korea (ROK) Marines rehearsed practical applications of close air support scenarios with digital maps of targets and familiarizing themselves with various urban and mountainous terrain. Captain Clay Smith, an Air Officer with ANGLICO, explained the aircraft check-in process while Sergeant Colton Dexter, a Joint Terminal Attack Controller with ANGLICO, analyzed a scenario. The team exchanged tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) and conducted multiple drills to enhance their cohesion. Captain Eric Pak, the Air Officer with 5th ANGLICO and JTAC-evaluator, assisted ROKMC JTACS in refining their TTPs.
During the second half of the exercise, the 5th ANGLICO team relocated to Pilsung Range, Gangwan Province. U.S. Marine Corps Captain Edward Driscoll, a Fire Support Officer with 5th ANGLICO, conducted the close air support mission with U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II’s. The A-10s conducted multiple attacks with live munitions, culminating with a show of force demonstration.
This iteration of KMEP continued to progress with bilateral operations with the ROK Marine Corps. ROK Marines GySgt Jiwon Kang and GySgt Young Uk Lee returned from the previous interation of KMEP. This time around, they knocked out two controls in thirty minutes, demonstrating improved speed and skill from past exercises.
“KMEP enhances our bilateral and joint relationships. We got help from the 607th ASOG (Air Support Operations Group), the 25th Fighter Squadron, and the 7th Air Force. The ROK Marines were highly engaged from the beginning. They are very motivated and humbled professionals. We train alongside the ROK Marines and JTACs in conducting close air support, which is our bread and butter”, explained Capt. Pak.
Readiness and bilateral cooperation remain the top mission priority for the Joint Force in the Korean Theater of Operations. Leveraging shared TTPs and joint doctrine, both the ROK Marines and U.S. Marines were able to execute the mission due years of training and exchange programs.
KMEP is an annual joint and bilateral training exercise that increases interoperability and combined warfighting capabilities of the ROK and U.S. Marine Corps Forces across the Korean Peninsula.