S. Koreans look to 2nd ID for tank skills
RODRIGUEZ RANGE, South Korea — South Korean tank crews observed Rodriguez Range live-fire tank gunnery and other training exercises this week with an eye on updating their own training methods.
Soldiers from the 25th South Korean Infantry Division watched the 2nd Infantry Division’s 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment’s tank companies as they completed their “Table 8” individual squad tank qualifications Tuesday. The South Koreans are to participate with 2-9 in a live-fire exercise next week.
The South Korean unit performs its own individual qualification exercises around the Twin Bridges training area; however, officials said they don’t currently have an equivalent for 2-9’s Table 12 gunnery.
During training qualification schedules, each scenario is presented in tables, which in this case build up to Table 12. During Table 12, the unit conducts complex live-fire attacks that involve tanks, personnel carriers and other weaponry.
“We’ll learn a lot from watching their method of training,” said South Korean Capt. Sun Yoo-kwan.
Rodriguez Range provides more room to fire than at the South Korean training area, Sun said.
The South Koreans said they also want to learn from the U.S. Army’s methodical after-action reports.
Commanders break down the results soon after an exercise’s finish using videotape, computer presentations and feedback, said 2-9 commander Lt. Col. Michael Rauhut.
South Korean action reviews tend to be less formal, Sun said.
Soldiers from both armies also stressed the importance of building partnership and communication with the soldiers they would be fighting beside in the event of hostilities.
“We need to know how to say, ‘Hey, I’m going up now. Don’t shoot me,’ especially when they have a different radio in their vehicle,” said 2-9 operations officer Maj. Shane Gries.
Although much of the equipment is different, much of it also is based on previous U.S. designs.
The 25th Infantry Division uses an updated version of the M-48 tank with a 105 mm gun. Originally developed from the M47 “Patton” tank, M-48s were used by U.S. forces during the Vietnam War.
The M1A1 Abrams tanks used Tuesday by 2-9 include a 120 mm gun and reach a top speed of 41.5 mph, according to the U.S. Army Web site.
The South Korean soldiers got to look inside the Abrams tanks, then watched from up high as the U.S. tanks fired on vehicle, building and individual targets.
Throughout the exercise, each crew vied for high marks in accuracy and execution.
“It’s like the Super Bowl. It’s all about competition with each other to see who can out-shoot who,” said tank crew member Sgt. Richard Cripps.
The battalion’s Bradley vehicles, engineers, supply soldiers and others all are scheduled to take part in the gunnery, which runs through February.