Members of the U.S. Marine Corps, Republic of Korea Marines Corps, New Zealand Army and Australian Army conduct amphibious assault training at Doksukri Beach, South Korea, during Exercise Ssang Yong, March 12, 2016.
San Diego-Based Troops Practice Amphibious Assault In South Korea
San Diego-based Marines and sailors have spent the past several weeks participating in an international amphibious exercise along the South Korean coast. The show of force, involving more than 12,000 U.S. troops, and nearly 8,000 other naval members from South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, was carried out during heightened tensions with North Korea.
In response to the exercise, the North Korean regime conducted its own tests of nuclear capabilities and missile launches, and threatened an all-out offensive.
U.S. Marines with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Boxer Amphibious Ready Group, conduct artillery fire missions in South Korea, March 14, 2016.
The group also flew its Osprey helicopters “in a unique opportunity where we lifted Republic of Korea marines from a Republic of Korea navy ship to do an amphibious operation ashore, flying almost 190 kilometers inland with them,” said Col. Anthony Henderson, commander of the Camp Pendleton-based 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
"We also had the opportunity to exercise with the Maritime Prepositioning Force,"said Capt. Keith Moore, commodore of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group. "That was one of the key events this exercise wanted to demonstrate."
Henderson and Moore talked to KPBS last week as the crew was wrapping up its training in South Korea and preparing to head off onto their next mission within the Asia Pacific and Middle East.
The Republic of Korea's amphibious assault vehicles maneuver into formation for a beach assault practice in preparation for the Ssang Young exercise with U.S. Marines and others, March 11, 2016.
“I would say the tensions we sense are no different than what is known, or what you see at this time on the news and reported generally across the globe,” Henderson said. “We're safe ... and we're taking care of each other."
Moore said the exercise, called Ssang Yong, which is Korean for Twin Dragon, was the largest the unit had ever taken part in.
“The bits and pieces you have have seen on the news does not accurately capture the impact they made and the strategic message they sent on behalf of the United States,” Moore said. “Simply put, they did their jobs exceedingly well and we’re proud of all of them.”
Briauna Birl / U.S. Marine Corps
Members of the U.S. Marine Corps, Republic of Korea Marines Corps, New Zealand Army and Australian Army conduct amphibious assault training at Doksukri Beach, South Korea, March 12, 2016.
The Boxer Amphibious Ready Group departed San Diego last month for a seven-month deployment to the Asia Pacific region and Middle East. The force of ground combat troops, helicopter squadrons and assault aircraft teams will work together on various missions, including disaster relief and embassy and security evacuations.
Members of Congress and veterans leaders called for federal action to absolve the debts of nearly 10,000 soldiers in California alone who have been ordered by the Pentagon to repay enlistment bonuses a decade after they signed up to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan.