By Patrick Bray
Far East District
SEOUL, Korea — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pacific Ocean Division supported the U.S. Forces Korea readiness exercise Key Resolve Feb. 27-March 9.
Key Resolve is an annual joint-combined Command Post Exercise which demonstrates the U.S. commitment to the Republic of Korea-U.S. Alliance and enhances the combat readiness of ROK and U.S. supporting forces.
The Pacific Ocean Division supported the exercise by deploying engineers to enhance the readiness of the Far East District through Field Force Engineering. FFE consists of two categories: deployed and reach back. POD established reach back through a Base Camp Development Team which assumed command and control of the deployed Forward Engineer Support Teams.
According to Mitchel Glenn, POD's Military Planner, this was the first time that a POD-Forward Advance Echelon (ADVON) deployed early in support of this exercise. Upon arrival at Camp Carroll, POD-Forward ADVON established communications and developed a battle rhythm beginning with situation reports and conference calls to POD as the rest of the POD elements were processing through reception, staging, onward movement, and integration in the U.S.
POD-Forward ADVON was able to quickly organize and assume responsibility roles when they arrived in theater. They were then prepared for the arrival of the FEST teams and structured a training schedule to ensure they received transportation support, in processing, mission essential equipment and adequate time to research and begin drawing data on their assigned missions.
POD-Forward was augmented with personnel from the 416th Theater Engineer Command, a U.S. Army Reserve unit stationed in Hawaii. Use of the 416th TEC contributed to the success of POD-Forward and greatly increased the training value of Key Resolve 2012.
"At the end of the day, our success was directly related to the support we received by our in country host, the Pacific Ocean Division Far East District," said Maj. William R. Holstine, 416th Theater Engineer Command assigned to POD-Forward.
POD-Forward was able to successfully deploy the FEST teams to their respective mission sites as they exercised their communications-deployment plan and linked up with the team translators to assist in movement to site and initial coordination meetings.
"The technology support received at Camp Carroll by Risty Thompson was invaluable as we established our operations," said Holstine. "In my 28 years of military experience I've never experienced a more engaged civilian providing technology support."
With POD-Forward in place and communication well established, the FEST teams could begin their missions. Lt. Col. Tom Brady, FED Liaison to USFK, arranged the initial meetings with the customer. The FEST teams were provided with detailed guidance as to the product to be delivered and ensured that the FEST team leader and customer were in sync.
The missions the FEST teams received were "real world" and were outstanding opportunities to develop their team member's skills and a cost effective way to provide the customer a detailed, comprehensive, and professional product.
"This was a true win-win for the FEST team and the customer," said Holstine. "These types of missions don't normally occur during an Annual Training Exercise. I strongly recommend the continuance of these types of opportunities for FEST teams in the future as we continue to display the value the Army Engineer can provide to garrison and wartime commanders."
Sgt. Zachary Harper, 416th TEC Logistics NCO, found Key Resolve 2012 to be an excellent training, learning, and cultural opportunity.
"Using new software and being introduced to current operational standards has improved my effectiveness as a soldier and boosted confidence in my abilities," said Harper. "Also, training within the Korean theatre has helped me better understand the urban and topographical conditions that our units would encounter if real-world operations were to ever take place here."
Overall, Harper and other members of POD-Forward enjoyed their experience in Korea.
"A few other soldiers and me went to a Korean restaurant in the town surrounding Camp Carroll and indulged in delicious local food," said Harper. "The waitress was friendly, though her use of English was limited. The menu had only Korean text, though we managed to order by pointing to pictures of the meals. The food was served and didn't disappoint."