TAEGU, South Korea — As commander of an armored unit, Army Lt. Col. George Brinegar knows it’s one thing to brief a military exercise using a slide presentation and quite another actually to carry it out.

So Brinegar was glad his unit got a chance to deploy from Fort Riley, Kan., to Camp Carroll in Waegwan, South Korea, for the annual Exercise RSOI/FOAL EAGLE 03, which begins Wednesday and runs through March 26.

His unit, 2nd Battalion, 34th Armored Regiment, is part of the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. If war or other crises erupted in South Korea, they could be utilized in the ground force that would be rushed here.

And because time would be crucial, the U.S. military keeps a certain number of tanks and other warfighting equipment in warehouses at Camp Carroll, in a process the Army calls “pre-positioning.”

In wartime, a unit like Brinegar’s would fly to South Korea and “fall in” on a set of warehouses at the Army’s Materiel Support Center-Korea (MSC-K), where combat vehicles and related equipment are kept ready.

And for three days this week, his unit rehearsed the major steps in that “quick-draw” process — “All the things that brief very well in a PowerPoint presentation,” Brinegar said, “but are much more challenging to actually carry out.”

Dubbed Task Force 234 for the exercise, his troops ran through four main stages.

Wearing bright orange safety vests, they climbed aboard the vehicles and drove them from the warehouses to a testing area. They ran checks to see if the vehicles are in good working order and took inventory to ensure they had the required items.

Then they drove to a separate compound, where they practiced loading dummy ammunition. From there, they drove about 100 yards to another spot, where they worked on unloading that ammunition.

In the final stage, they filled their fuel tanks and headed for Camp Carroll’s railhead, where they practiced getting the vehicles onto flatcars.

A train then would make a 10-hour run north to the railhead at Camp Casey. The troops would take a six-hour bus ride from Camp Carroll to Camp Casey, pick up their vehicles and drive them to a firing range, where each crew was to fire three or four live rounds.

The unit is to return to Fort Riley early next month.

For the U.S. military in South Korea, this year’s equipment draw is the largest ever, bigger “by a factor of about three times more equipment,” said Col. Kevin M. Smith, MSC-K’s commanding officer.

It involves six ground combat elements: two armor companies, one mechanized infantry company, one M109 Palladin self-propelled howitzer battery, a headquarters company for Task Force 234 and a support element.

In total, they comprise 117 vehicles, including 58 combat vehicles such as M1A1 Abrams tanks, M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and the Palladins; 48 tactical wheeled vehicles including humvees and 5-ton trucks and 11 other vehicles.

South Korea’s top U.S. military leadership wanted a larger draw exercise to better simulate a real mobilization for war, Smith said. “This would be a lot more realistic to what you would expect to be pushed out of here.”

Spc. Adam Marquez, an Abrams tank driver with 2nd Battalion’s Company A, wondered whether tanks that have been sitting in a warehouse would be in fighting condition.

“It’s in excellent condition,” he said of the tank he drove out of an MSC-K warehouse Wednesday morning. “I’m very impressed. … We did a road test.”

Good maintenance is crucial if the battalion would have a fighting chance in wartime, said Sgt. Derek Popp, an Abrams gunner in Company A: “The main thing I want is to start up, be able to move, shoot and communicate. … So I know when I fire, I’m gonna hit whatever I fire at. From what I’ve seen so far, these tanks haven’t shown me anything but good things.”

Pfc. Robert Horton, an Abrams driver, found the draw exercise full of new experiences.

“I drove the tank, pulled it out of the bay, I checked the oil, I’ve walked it around the track, installed the radios,” he said. “Some of this I had never done before. I had somebody showing me how to do it. It’s a great learning experience for me.”

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