GUNHA-RHI, GIMPO, Republic of Korea — Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015, starts with a bang. Gas canisters explode, grenades go off, and gun fire cracks through the mountain path that U.S. and Republic of Korea Marines begin to patrol during a gas attack drill. The Marines promptly don their gas masks and treat their wounded.
The drill prepared the Marines to respond to potential chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats throughout the Pacific.
Each Marine had nine seconds to tear his mask from its Velcro storage container, press it tightly to his face, and check his seal.
“Our top priority is getting our masks and equipment on as fast as possible,” said ROK Marine Sgt. Joongheon Kim, a rifleman for 2nd Company, 11th Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, ROK Headquarters Marine Corps. “We do this to reduce our casualties and so we can assist the wounded.”
Marines of both countries instantly reacted, grabbing the nearest wounded despite their uniforms. In times of chaos Marines are known for acting with a clear mind and sound judgment.
“Our differences, whether language or race, does not stop us from attending to our wounded brother and sister Marines,” said U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Michael W. Silver, a rifleman with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, currently assigned to 3rd Marine Division under the unit deployment program. “As long as they have earned the title of Marine, it does not matter what country they come from; they are my brothers and sisters for life.”
In fact, the differences between the U.S. and ROK CBRN teams can be beneficial. While U.S. Marine CBRN teams are capable of seeking out, marking off and navigating around the gas, ROK Marines have equipment to neutralize it at the source. Thus, in a real world scenario, the two nations can work shoulder-to-shoulder to strengthen each other’s capabilities.
The alliance between the two nations was the larger context of the gas attack drill. The drill was part of Korean Marine Exchange Program 15-12, a continuous bilateral training exercise that promotes stability on the Korean Peninsula and enhances the ROK and U.S. alliance.
Whether it be nine seconds removing their gas masks or responding to one another’s aid, the Marines of both nations hope that this will improve their tactical proficiency while fostering a partnership that will help them overcome any future conflict.