Marines helping Chinhae sailors hone their skills

By FRANKLIN FISHER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 11, 2009

A U.S. Marine unit trained to defend buildings and installations against terrorists and other attackers began honing those skills in South Korea on Monday as part of the annual Key Resolve/Foal Eagle exercise.

The exercise, which began Monday and ends March 20, will include thousands of U.S. and South Korean servicemembers practicing wartime skills at various points around the peninsula.

Among Marines in South Korea for the exercise is a security platoon at Chinhae Naval Base in the peninsula’s southeast, holding base defense drills with sailors stationed there.

The 48 Marines are members of 3F6 Platoon, Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team Pacific, part of the Marine Corps Security Force Regiment, said the platoon’s commander, Capt. Curtis South, 29, of Stone Mountain, Ga.

The platoon is homeported at Norfolk, Va., but is nearing the end of a six-month deployment at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan.

"If a war were to break out, they would identify any government facilities in that country and we would be the ones to protect that asset," said South. His Marines are also trained to stop and board ships such as those suspected of smuggling.

Until late next week, the platoon will work with Chinhae sailors in a variety of security situations that will drill them in defending the base against intruders or ground assault.

"We’re participating in the entire base defense plan," said South, "serving as their Quick Reaction Force and advising them on any deficiencies that we see in their current base defense plan, and advising them on how to improve."

In Monday’s training scenario, three sailors acting as intruders penetrated the base fence line and hid. Base security forces were alerted, along with the Marine FAST platoon, which had to flush out the intruders.

The sailors got to practice all the things they’d have to do in defending the base. That included manning guard posts and other key spots, running patrols inside the base, and notifying those in family housing to lock their homes and report anything suspicious.

They did the drill twice Monday, said Navy Ensign William Green, 38, of Guyton, Ga. He’s the base security/anti-terrorism officer.

In the first drill, the two intruders hid in a drainage tunnel, a third behind nearby brush.

The Marines searched the area, found them, and took them prisoner, said Green.

In the second drill, the Marines surrounded a building, went in, and found and captured the intruders, Green said.

The drills gave the Marines a chance to work with Navy security personnel.

"It helps everybody to put themselves in an evaluator mode to where they can look at a problem and try to develop their own courses of action as to how they would try to solve the problem," South said of his Marines.

Coming to South Korea for the exercise has already benefitted his platoon.

"It tested our readiness," South said, "our ability to pack everything we need, to fly it to another country, and get them to where they need to be."

News photographers watch as a Marine of Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team Pacific stands guard over a mock prisoner who is pretending to be a base intruder during base defense exercise at Chinhae Naval Base in South Korea on Monday.

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