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TAEGU, South Korea — Now and then, soldiers of the U.S. Army’s big logistics unit in South Korea have gotten together with their Korean army counterparts for a few hours of sports and socializing.

Sometimes, it’s been a soccer game or wrestling match, accompanied by a meal and a lot of smiles and handshakes.

Occasionally, they’ve shared tactical training at the small-unit level.

But that’s about to change for the Army’s 19th Theater Support Command at Camp Henry in Taegu, South Korea, and for its South Korean army counterpart unit, the 5th Logistics Support Command, also based in Taegu.

Logistical training

Beginning this year, the 19th TSC plans to invite its South Korean counterpart troops to join in realistic training events and other exchanges to help both carry out their wartime logistics missions.

The 19th TSC’s main wartime job is to ensure that troops and supplies flow into South Korea and are moved to the combat zone.

The 5th LSC’s main wartime job is to provide supply, maintenance, medical and other logistics support to South Korea’s Second Army, covering lower South Korea.

“What we would do is try to train and understand what they can do for our forces and we can do for their forces,” said Col. Ronald V. Robinson, the 19th TSC’s operations officer, or G-3.

“‘How do you provide fuel to your scouts? Or food to your scouts? Here’s how we do it.’ And they say ‘Well, here’s how we do it.’ So we learn the techniques to operate logistically.”

“And the other is what we can provide them,” and what back-up South Korean logistics capability can provide U.S. forces, Robinson said.

More than handshakes

Maj. Gen. Jeanette K. Edmunds, 19th TSC commander, is behind the drive to get both units into the field for more than just sports and handshakes.

Edmunds took command last summer and declared realistic training a top priority for the 19th TSC.

Last month, Edmunds sat down with her senior subordinates for a semiannual “strategic planning conference” that discusses unit goals for periods two, five, and ten years ahead.

In addition to the priority training already mandated for 19th TSC, Edmunds and her staff resolved to try expanding their training efforts to include inviting Korean army participationand taking part in some of the Korean army’s training exercises.

Both units maintain a formal partnership, but it’s been largely “social activities,” said Maj. Lillard Evans, the 19th TSC’s partnership program coordinator.

“But now Gen. Edmunds wants to … get into training events. The goal is to get a lot of tactical logistic training for war, instead of just goodwill, organizational kinds of things.”

Certain types of training will figure in the eventual mix, Robinson said: drills in which both units’ troops practice rigging cargo for parachute drop by fixed-wing aircraft, helicopter and helicopter sling-load, and operating and maintaining supply and other vehicles.

Personnel also would be trained in administrative and other procedures needed should one unit have to rush emergency fuel and ammunition to the other, Robinson said.

Practical insights

The new emphasis on tactical operations should mean leaders will gain important practical insights into the equipment, staffing, and operations of the other unit, Robinson said.

Much of the training would be tailored “to a scenario where we request back-up support and they come in and do the actual mission, or hand off to our units to conduct the re-supply operation,” he said.

That could pay dividends in both planning and actual wartime operations.

For example, what if the 19th TSC urgently needed extra helicopters to get goods to a battlefield and the South Koreans had a few available?

“That would be a likely scenario, where we need an emergency re-supply of something,” Robinson said.

“And they have helicopters that weren’t tasked out, and we ask them to bring their helicopter and pick up supplies for us.”

Or, South Koreans might need help Americans could provide.

For example, Robinson said, a South Korean infantry platoon doing security duty near a U.S. installation might need ammunition more quickly than its own unit could provide.

If the Americans had the right type of ammunition, they might well supply it, under procedures that would have already been put in place, thanks partly to the kind of training and other interactions Edmunds wants to set up between the two units.

The South Korean army did not respond to repeated requests for an interview.

Between now and March, Robinson said, the units will work to gauge what types of training events best would fit their needs.

This spring and summer, they’re to draft, schedule and initiate a full list of events.

More bonding

Members of the Army’s 4th Quartermaster Detachment at Camp Hialeah in Pusan indicate all this sits well with them.

Rigging supplies for airdrop is a big part of their unit mission.

They already regularly do rigging and base defense operations with South Korean units, said 2nd Lt. Timothy Hilliard, detachment executive officer.

“The relationship is already there … so when we get together once a month or once every other month it’s like seeing an old friend,” Hilliard said.

“We get to see how they do things and they get to see how we do things, and we get to learn different techniques to accomplish the exact same mission.”

“With the potential of the North Korean stuff going on,” said Spc. Angela Barbee, a light-pack parachute rigger, “we’re going to need to work with the ROK soldiers a lot more … it’ll help us to bond more with the ROK soldiers if something really does go down with North Korea.”

Staff Sgt. Anthony Crain is the detachment’s sergeant-in-charge of operations.

The plan “would be a great opportunity for our soldiers to have a better working relationship with the ROK soldiers,” he said.

“Working together more frequently … will build better esprit d’corps and it’ll also build more unity, within the detachment as well as with the ROK soldiers.

“It’ll enable us to bond.”

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