SEOUL, Republic of Korea (NNS) -- Service members attached to the U.S. 7th Fleet and Republic of Korea (ROK) Combined Forces Command proved their joint/combined abilities to defend the peninsula would be successful based on their efforts during the annually scheduled combined and joint Exercise Reception, Staging, Onward movement, & Integration and Foal Eagle 2007 (RSOI/FOAL EAGLE 07), from March 25 to 31.
RSOI and FE are theaterwide, computer-simulated and field exercises designed to evaluate and improve the U.S. and ROK forces ability to coordinate the procedures, plans and systems necessary to defend the ROK in a contingency.
The ships perfect their warfighting skills to include close-air-support for ground forces, air-to-air defense exercises, maritime interoperability training and expeditionary operations.
As a field exercise, RSOI primarily involved troops on the peninsula, while FE involved more than 40 ships and more than 100 aircraft from all services of both the U.S. and ROK armed forces.
Many of the ships hosted their counterparts as part of the Navy’s liaison naval exchange program. They assisted the ships with communications and provided support throughout all the different events, while at the same time conveying interesting ROK Navy perspectives.
“Foal Eagle is one of the few opportunities to do multiwarfare training with both the U.S. and ROK units on a large scale across all of our warfare areas to include anti-submarine, anti-air and anti-surface warfare. It flexed our joint and combined capabilities while stressing the importance of the ROK/U.S. alliance,” said Capt. Gary Waring, the chief of staff for CNFK.
For RSOI, this exercise focused on initial operational flow of deployed forces to Korean theater of operations: receiving military units in Korea (reception); connecting units with their equipment once in country (staging); moving them into their respective strategic position within the peninsula (onward movement) and integrating newly arrived forces with the forces that are already here (integration).
This year’s exercise marked the 46th Foal Eagle exercise and the sixth time it’s been combined with RSOI.
The ships this year included: USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54), USS Vandegrift (FFG 48), USS Stethem (DDG 63), USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), USS Gary (FFG 51), USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), USS Mustin (DDG 89), USS Gary (FFG 51),USS Russell (DDG 59),USS Key West (SSN 722), USS Lassen (DDG 82), USS Guardian (MCM 5), USS Patriot (MCM 7), USS Essex (LHD 2), USS Harper’s Ferry (LSD 49), USS Juneau (LPD 10), USS Cowpens (CG 63), USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), embarked staffs and more than 20 ships from the ROK Navy.
Rear Adm. James P. Wisecup, Commander U.S. Naval Forces Korea, said the exercise was a success.
“This was the largest number of ship visits in the Republic of Korea in at least a decade to the cities of Donghae, Chinhae, Pyongtaek, Pohang and Busan. Engagement between the ships’ crews, the ROK Navy and the host cities was absolutely amazing,” Wisecup said. “I feel this exercise was a complete success, positively enhancing the U.S. Navy's reputation and visibility on the peninsula.”
The exercise was also a chance for Sailors from several of the ships to take part in a total of 23 community relation projects throughout the country. Many Sailors also went sightseeing, had the opportunity to meet the citizens of the Republic of Korea, and experienced the culture, local cuisines, and shopping.
This same time period also marked the first U.S. Navy ship visit to the city of Mokpo. For Paul Hamilton’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Chris Bushnell, the port visit was a success.
“The amount of support demonstrated by the local Mokpo
government and [ROK] Navy officials is a shining example of their resolve to enhance exercises and operations with the United States,” Bushnell said.
In addition to the ship visits, other combined and joint training was conducted throughout the entire peninsula.
Service members from Naval Coastal Warfare Squadron (NCWRON) 33 from Naval Coastal Warfare Group (NCWGRU) 1 and members of the 308th Early Warning Squadron from the ROK Navy teamed up from March 19 through March 31 to conduct harbor defense training on the ROK Third Fleet Base, Busan, Cho-do Island and Busan’s Pier 8.
Navy pilots attached to Patrol Squadron (VP) 4 learned how successful the integration of two naval forces can be in the air when they flew P-3C aircraft with their ROK Navy counterparts from March 25 through March 31. In total, VP-4 launched 11 missions with a 100 percent completion rate.
According to Lt. Cmdr. Mike Sheedy, the VP-4 administrative officer, the crew learned a great deal during this combined exercise.
“VP-4 aircrews and maintenance gained an ever-increasing appreciation for the capabilities of our ROK counterparts, as well as comfort in the belief that we could operate side by side in a wartime environment if ever called upon,” Sheedy said.
Divers attached to the U.S. Navy Diving Team, Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1 Detachment 1, and the ROK Navy Diving Team went underway on small rigid-hull inflatable boats off the coast of Chinhae, to conduct various combined training operations from March 22 through March 30.
U.S. Navy Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3 and the ROK Sailors from Air Wing 6 proved how seamless joint efforts really are when they recently combined forces to rebuild a runway damaged in a simulated bombing from March 21 and 23 at the Air Wing 6 side of a runway on the ROK Marine Corps Base in Pohang.
In addition to the runway rebuilding, the Seabees from NMCB-3 came together again with 61 personnel from the ROK Army 1175th Engineering for a bridge building exercise that began Mar. 26 and lasted until Mar. 29 near the Hangju Bridge, which is located 30 minutes outside of Seoul. This is the first year that this exercise has taken place.
Finally, more than 4,000 U.S. Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and ROK Marines from 2nd Regiment Landing Team took part in a combined amphibious landing March 29. The landing took place along the beaches of Mallipo. The purpose of the exercise was to demonstrate resolve in support of the ROK against external aggression while improving ROK and U.S. combat readiness and joint and combined interoperability.
For more news from Commander U.S. Naval Forces Korea, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/cnfk/.