By Capt. Jonathon Daniell, 35th ADA Public Affairs:
(El Paso, Texas, Oct. 12, 2o17)
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea – Soldiers assigned to 6th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, partnered with the Republic of Korea-Army 516th ADA Sept. 6 through 8 at the Darrakae training area, Pocheon, South Korea, for the first combined short-range air defense training event on the Korean Peninsula.
The purpose of the exercise to was to integrate ROK and U.S. Army SHORAD elements in a field environment to gain familiarity with each other’s weapon systems and capabilities, with an end goal of building an enduring partnership between the two units.
“The best part of the training was being able to work through real-life scenarios that required coordination between the ROK and U.S. leadership to effectively complete our short range air defense mission,” said 2nd Lt. David Lara, platoon leader, 6th Bn., 52nd ADA, 35th ADA Bde. “We also forged a relationship with our ROK counterparts that could prove greatly beneficial in a wartime scenario.”
The idea behind the training started in earnest with Lt. Col. Marc Pelini, battalion commander, 6th Bn., 52nd ADA, 35th ADA Bde., reaching out to the 516th ADA leadership to gauge interest. The idea of a combined training event was received in kind and planners on both ends immediately launched into action.
Lara reached out to one of the 516th ADA’s platoon leaders, 1st Lt. Seung Joo Kim, and they laid the foundation by scheduling a combined network communication exercise to ensure both units would be able to talk via radios in an arduous field environment.
The controlled communication exercise was critical to the success of the operation, according to Lara, and the lines of communication were seamless throughout their field training exercise. Furthermore, the two platoon leaders bridged the language gap by leveraging Korean Augmentees to the U.S. Army and translators with the 516th ADA, nullifying an identified obstacle.
While in the field, both units trained on their mission essential tasks of emplacing combined SHORAD assets to defend a critical location, de-conflicting engagements of enemy aircraft based on sector of fire, and utilizing secondary means of targeting enemy aircraft when their primary weapon system becomes combat ineffective.
For U.S. Soldiers, this meant using the man-portable air-defense system, where two-Soldier teams are capable of eliminating low altitude cruise missiles, unmanned aerial systems and air breathing threats.
The ROK-Army simulated those targets by providing the oppositional force throughout the exercise, and tested the combined short-range air defense with scout helicopters and a perimeter attack by ROK Special Forces.
“It was incredible to see how quickly the Soldiers adapted to each other,” said Lara. “By the end of the exercise, we had built a level of cohesiveness that will be a great foundation for future combined operations with our ROK allies.”
The units are planning more combined training events to further expand their scope of understanding and strengthen their newly casted relationship. The next exercise will occur over the next few months and build on their recent successes, while also working to improve on areas identified during their after action review.
“The combined exercise helped us by learning about the equipment capabilities of our ROK-Army counterparts use,” said Spc. Nick Riley. “We were able to integrate our systems, then develop and test our defensive plans to provide the best short-range air defense possible.”
Battery E, 6th Bn., 52nd ADA, was realigned with the 35th ADA Bde. in April after being under the operational control of the 210th Fires Brigade for the past several years. They are the only U.S. Avenger unit in the Korean theater of operation.