by Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
5/2/2015 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- For
the first time in more than seven years, Republic of Korea Special
Operations Forces from the 35th Battalion, 7th Airborne Brigade,
sharpened their combat skills alongside 8th Security Forces Squadron
Airmen here during Exercise Beverly Midnight 15-3 April 29.
The simulated wartime integration incorporated the Wolf Pack accepting
follow-on forces by configuring the installation to support more than
150 ROKSOF members, and defending the base through the use of the
combined defense plan posture.
"As the 8th SFS continues to build its relationship with ROKSOF, we
invited their unit to attend the exercise to practice our combined
defense plan," said 1st Lt. David Krigbaum, 8th SFS air base defense
officer in charge. "Integrating with the 35th Battalion definitely
enhances our combined defense procedures in the event of increased
hostilities on the peninsula."
Although the entire integration - from start to finish - was complete in
24 hours, it took various agencies to prepare for ROKSOF's arrival and
provide them support while here.
"Internally, we had to process their personnel and equipment onto the
installation in a secure manner," Krigbaum said. "We needed support from
the 8th Civil Engineer Squadron and 8th Force Support Squadron to
ensure we had sufficient bed-down, latrine and water capability for
their troops. We needed the 8th Logistics Readiness Squadron's support
to transport their troops on base as necessary. We also worked with the
Kunsan Inspector General and Wing Inspection Team to ensure the
scenarios and injects would maximize our training opportunity with the
ROKSOF. To top it off, we coordinated with the Gunsan National Police
Agency and our 8th Fighter Wing judge advocate to guarantee all legal
aspects were covered."
After receiving a mission brief and bed down information, ROKSOF
immediately hit the ground running with the Wolf Pack's defenders. For
many defenders, exiting the installation to integrate coordination,
improvised explosive device detection and removal, and convoys with
mission partners was uncharted territory.
"For many Airmen, this was their first time integrating with any
Republic of Korea military member, which can be quite a challenge
considering there's a language barrier," said Master Sgt. Nicole
Wrisley, 8th SFS standardization and evaluation NCO in charge. "This
training was especially unique not only because we had the chance to
train and interact with our ROKSOF counterparts, but typically
everything that occurs during Kunsan's quarterly exercises stays inside
the base. The key to integrated defense and the combined defense plan is
to have different layers of deterrence. Enemy threats need to be
detected and defeated outside the wire."
As ROKSOF members and Wolf Pack Airmen integrated operations over the
course of the 24-hour exercise, many lessons were shared as tactics were
"It was incredibly valuable for us to practice things that were largely
theoretical to both units; when you get into the habit of simulating
things, you begin to forget the details and lose sight of what needs to
be improved," Krigbaum said. "As we ran missions together, we constantly
refined our processes so that we operated comfortably together in a
battle rhythm that promoted safety and demonstrated lethality against an
enemy. All of the things we missed in planning became obvious by
training together, and we were able to develop solutions both during and
after the exercise."
The integration not only provided an opportunity to strengthen the
U.S.-ROK alliance at Kunsan, but also established the groundwork for
future partnered exercises.
"The integration provided significant validations and lessons learned
for both the 8th SFS and ROKSOF in terms of reception, staging,
integration, tactics, communication and command and control," said Lt.
Col. Ian "Sheriff" Dinesen, 8th SFS commander. "This iteration is the
baseline for multiple combined exercises both units plan to participate
in annually here at Kunsan. Additionally, both organizations will
continue to hold regular planning sessions and training events outside
the scope of wing-level exercises in order to foster continued growth
and development as well as to provide even higher fidelity of our
combined combat capability sets."