Logistically speaking a universal language
April 27, 2003
TAEGU, South Korea — When some South Korean army logistics officers visited their U.S. counterparts in Waegwan recently, they were impressed with the high-tech methods the Americans used to repair communications gear.
And when the Americans visited those same South Koreans, they were impressed with some of the Korean army’s methods.
Soon, such professional exchanges will become a regular practice between the two units under a formal partnership agreement signed Thursday at Camp Carroll in Waegwan.
The agreement is between the U.S. Army’s Materiel Support Center-Korea, headquartered at Camp Carroll, and the South Korean army’s Consolidated Maintenance Depot in Changwon, about two hours’ drive south of Camp Carroll, near Korea’s southern coast.
It’s the latest in a new “Good Neighbor” push by the U.S. military to forge improved relations with South Korea.
Both units have similar missions. The U.S. center serves the U.S. Army in Korea by doing extensive maintenance and repair work on military equipment — including radios, firearms, tanks and other tactical vehicles — and by stocking supplies and military hardware for ready use in wartime.
The South Korean depot performs a similar role for South Korea’s army and is part of its Logistics Command.
“It’s always a benefit to be able to train together because that allows you to learn each other’s tactics, get to know that organization,” said Maj. Andrew Mutter, spokesman for the 19th Theater Support Command, the center’s parent unit. “And by training together, you develop a relationship that just improves your overall combat readiness.”
“The Consolidated Maintenance Depot is exactly the right maintenance partner to have a long-term, formal partnership with,” said Col. Kevin M. Smith, the center’s commander, “because we both do the same things for our customers. We both provide back-up, direct support and general support maintenance for our armies.”
The two units will schedule professional and social activities, train together and exchange information, all aimed at improved logistics and maintenance.
“Hopefully, we’ll both find work efficiencies in both our camps that we can leverage to better support our customers overall,” Smith said. For example, he said, both units are involved with communications and electronics repair and both are concerned with industrial and environmental safety.
Willis Morris, chief of the center’s communication electronics division, recently visited the Korean unit with members of his staff.
“We were impressed,” he said. “They were doing a lot of things with different technology from what we utilize … and they’ve had a tour here a couple of days ago and they were really impressed with a lot of our technology.”
The Koreans seemed especially taken with the high-tech microscope and other equipment the U.S. center uses to handle the complex, tedious work of repairing battlefield fiber-optic cable. The military uses such cable to move much of its secure computer and phone traffic.
“They can relate to fiber optic, but they had never actually seen the actual process being performed,” Morris said.
He hopes his staff and the Koreans can schedule training in which each unit teaches the other how to use certain types of gear: “We could learn a lot from them and they could learn a lot from us.”