TAEGU, South Korea — About 800 U.S. Marines have deployed to South Korea for battle training with their South Korean wartime counterparts.

“Those two … would fight together in any contingency on the peninsula,” said Maj. Mark V. Budde, deputy operations officer with U.S. Marine Forces Korea in Seoul.

U.S. Marines send units to South Korea twice a year to become familiar with their South Korean marine counterparts and with the country’s tough, hilly terrain. The training is called the Korean Incremental Training Program, or KITP.

The Leathernecks are from 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment at Camp Lejeune, N.C. The unit is on a six-month deployment to Okinawa, a stint that includes about a month of KITP, Budde said.

The Marines will conduct the exercise at the U.S. Army’s Warrior Base training complex north of the Imjin River and just a few miles below the Demilitarized Zone. It’s slated to end June 20.

Joining about 400 South Korean marines, the Marines will focus mainly on small-unit battle training, Budde said. That includes squad, platoon and company tactics, ground assaults, trench clearing and using live ammunition.

A big benefit to that training is South Korea’s demanding landscape. “Compared to what you’ll find in most U.S. Marine Corps training areas,” Budde said, “whether they be stateside or Okinawa or somewhere else in Japan, like Camp Fuji, this is very rugged terrain.”

Other units also will get a stiff workout in providing “all of the training companies with any kind of support, like transportation, chow, ammunition, so they can continue to train,” said Marine 1st Lt. Thomas Patterson, assistant logistics officer with the 3rd Battalion’s Headquarters and Service Company.

For example, Marine truck convoys involving about 60 tractor-trailers faced an eight-hour drive from their port of arrival, Pohang, to the Warrior Base complex.

“Everything’s spread out, which creates problems with convoys — you’ve got long movements,” Patterson said.

Lance Cpl. John Kim is a Korean-speaking supply clerk who’s been detailed as a translator during the exercise. For him, just getting to the field is new.

“This is a rare opportunity because, since I work in supply, I’m always back in garrison,” Kim said. “It’s a good opportunity for me to learn.”

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