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NEWS | July 22, 2014

US, ROK Build Relationships to Increase Allied Interoperability

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Declan Barnes USS Kidd Public Affairs

The Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd (DDG 100), in cooperation with members of the George Washington Carrier Strike Group, participated in a bilateral exercise with the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy, July 15-19.

"We are allies and close friends, and this exercise is absolutely critical," said Capt. Shan Byrne, commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15. "ROK navy has continued to build state-of-the-art technology to align to U.S. capabilities over the past six to seven years, and this has transformed the way we operate together at sea. The purpose of these exercises is to prepare, and help grow their naval capabilities as we get closer and closer together while working at sea."

The exercise is one of many held annually to strengthen interoperability and teamwork between U.S. and ROK navies, while enhancing the security and readiness in the entire Korean theater of operations.

"This allows our navies to refine techniques to integrate surface and air weapons, sensors, and communications," said Capt. Fred Kacher, commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7, embarked on Kidd. "Just as importantly, operating together at sea reaffirms the enduring partnership and alliance between our nations that has spanned six decades."

The exercise affords a unique training opportunity to watchstanders of all ranks and rates as they worked side-by-side with ROK navy exchange officers to improve command and control between the two navies.

"These coordinated events are a fantastic opportunity to train both bridge and combat information center watch standers alike through maneuvering tactics, foreign ship familiarization, international communications, and air asset coordination," said Cmdr. T.J. Zerr, Kidd's commanding officer.

To increase the interoperability, ROK navy liaison officers embarked on board U.S. Navy ships.

"Having the chance to work together with the crew on board Kidd has been extremely valuable to me," said Lt. Dong-Hoon Lee, a ROK navy liaison officer embarked on board Kidd. "Through this exercise, our two navies have formed a formidable team on the water."

During the events, Kidd played an essential role in controlling U.S. and ROK aircraft, coordinating anti-submarine tactical training, and employing advanced sensors in co-operations with the ROK.

"This exercise provides a highly integrated and fast-paced air control environment for both U.S. and ROK pilots," said Operations Specialist 1st Class Andrew Petrie, one of Kidd's air warfare coordinators. "Our teams worked together to build a highly effective and extremely capable combined surface and air naval force."

Fostering diplomatic relations with allies through bilateral operations at sea is part of America's maritime strategy to build a joint coalition force of allies capable of ensuring maritime security.

"[DESRON 15] ships spend a lot of time in and around the Republic of Korea," said Byrne. "It's one of our primary missions since they are a critical ally. We are there not only to conduct exercises with ROK navy, but working on our personal relationships with all the different ROK navy fleets. Our Sailors get a lot out of it, and we have spent enough time there for them to get to really know their counterparts and build the relationships. I think it is one of the many unique experiences a forward-deployed Sailor can get; working with our allies up close and personal. The other side of that is being able to host ROK sailors on our ships and see the special friendships develop. Even beyond normal friendships, we are building trust and capability."

Kidd, home ported in San Diego, is on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting regional security and stability in the Indo-Asia Pacific region.

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