SEOUL — About 2,000 U.S. Marines based in Okinawa and mainland Japan stormed a South Korean beach on Thursday during an annual landing exercise with their South Korean counterparts.

Once they landed, they faced an enemy raid and explosive demolition charges that simulated direct fire.

"It was fairly realistic, without real bullets flying," said Maj. Scott Packard, a liaison officer with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit from Okinawa.

About 6,000 South Koreans participated in the exercise, held from Oct. 30 through Saturday near the southeastern city of Pohang.

No U.S. troops based in South Korea participated.

After securing the beach Thursday morning, forces were scheduled to move to a defensive position about 4½ miles inland, Packard said.

He said the exercise is held to give the two militaries a chance to practice operating together, not rehearse a response to a particular threat.

Being able to land troops by sea gives a military an edge and can lessen the threat from an enemy, he said.

"Knowing that they have the ability to put a force ashore anywhere gives a commander or gives a nation a lot of iron," Packard said.

He said the troops were able to communicate despite the language barrier, just not necessarily with words.

"One of the things that you learn, particularly in a tactical setting, is you are able to get your message across with hand and arm signs," he said. "We all have common experiences, and when bullets start flying, yelling doesn’t work anyway."

About 400 U.S. troops will head to Rodriguez Range after the exercise for an additional month of training.

Who participated?2,000 U.S. Marines and sailors6,000 South Korean marines and sailorsFour U.S. ships: The USS Harpers Ferry, USS Essex, USS Stethem, USS Denver11 U.S. amphibious assault vehicles2 U.S. landing craftApproximately 19 South Korean shipsApproximately 60 South Korean amphibious assault vehiclesSource: Commander Naval Forces Korea

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