RODRIGUEZ LIVE FIRE COMPLEX, Republic of Korea -- In a March 9 brief to the Marines and sailors of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s command element, Col. John L. Mayer, the MEU commanding officer, stated the reason for deploying to Korea: to prepare the service members to answer a call to arms, should it become necessary.
To meet that intent, CE Marines and sailors conducted pre-deployment training here during the first two weeks of March to prepare for future deployments throughout the Asia-Pacific region, to include operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The service members completed a variety of events, covering subjects such as crew-served weapons maintenance and operations training, weapon live-fire courses, military operations in urban terrain and convoy patrolling.
The broad spectrum of topics was essential to preparing the Marines and sailors for potential tasks they may be required to perform, said Cpl. Stephen D. Ellis, a logistics/embarkation and combat service support specialist who attended the training.
“It’s hard to say which training event benefits you the most, because you need everything,” the Houston native said. “It’s really more about the overall effect the training has on you.”
The service members also conducted simulated firing exercises in an indoor simulated marksmanship trainer facility, where they focused on rules of engagement drills to properly identify enemy targets before utilizing deadly force, and calling for fire support from artillery to destroy enemy vehicles.
The artillery skills are crucial for all Marines to attain so that a unit with an injured or killed forward observer does not lose the ability to call for fire, said Staff Sgt. Casey E. Brown, the fire support chief of the 31st MEU.
The Marines and sailors went through several classes, discussing matters such as the rules of engagement, escalation of force and cultural training on various countries such as Iraq and South Korea.
Ellis explained that the training helped him put his role in the Marine Corps into perspective.
“The training makes you understand the seriousness of everything around you, by showing that everything the Marine Corps does comes together in a big way,” Ellis said. “In the end, it’s not just your life that you’re trying to save, it’s everyone else’s.”
The 31st MEU is currently deployed to the Republic of Korea to conduct pre-deployment training and participate in Exercise Foal Eagle 2007 to improve joint readiness and interoperability between U.S. and ROK military forces.