EAST SEA – Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) are participating in exercise Ssang Yong 16 (SY16), March 8-18 in and around Pohang, Republic of Korea (ROK).
Ssang Yong, which means “twin dragons,” is a biennial exercise hosted by the ROK to strengthen interoperability and working relationships with partner nations. This year’s exercise will include Navy and Marine Corps participants from the ROK, U.S., Australia and New Zealand.
“Boxer is one of the main batteries for this exercise,” said Capt. Keith Moore, commander of Amphibious Squadron One. “It will provide the full capacity of our Air Combat Element, our battalion landing team, and the logistics element. The ships will provide landing crafts, and Amphibious Assault Vehicles to hit the beach and execute the missions we’ve trained for during work ups.”
SY16 will focus on the aggregation of forces for an exercise of Marine Expeditionary Brigade level forcible entry operations. ESG 7 and the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (3D MEB) will aggregate elements of the Boxer ARG, Bonhomme Richard ARG, 13th MEU, 31st MEU and the Maritime Prepositioning Forces (MPF) with ROK Navy and ROK Marine Corps Marine Task Force to practice full-spectrum amphibious operations.
“Those forces will go ashore in the Republic of Korea and train across all the various areas we’ve been training [to] in conjunction with the ROK Marines and Navy,” said Moore. “It’s really going to be a tremendous opportunity for us to flex the full capabilities of the ARG/MEU teams.”
3D MEB, ESG 7, ROK Marines and ROK Navy will conduct a simulated amphibious assault along beaches in the vicinity of Pohang. They will penetrate notional enemy beach defenses, establish a beach head, and rapidly transition forces and sustainment ashore. This will be a simulated, full-spectrum, combined arms forcible entry operation. SY16 will showcase the capabilities, effectiveness, speed, and flexibility of expeditionary amphibious operations and the U.S. and ROK partnership.
“The role of the 13th MEU [during SY16] is to conduct amphibious operations that help build a greater partnership with other naval forces in the Korean theatre of operations,” said Col. Anthony Henderson, commanding officer, 13th MEU. “There will be other navies participating as well, and it gives us an opportunity to demonstrate how we conduct full spectrum operations.”
Ultimately, the relationships forged and sustained at exercises such as Ssang Yong contribute to the security and stability on the Korean Peninsula as well as the entire Asia-Pacfic region.
“Being able to use seas to maneuver, being able to provide presence, being able to ensure some form of stability through our operations is what we train to do and what we’re prepared to do and demonstrate in Ssang Yong 2016,” said Henderson.
This exercise proves the Navy and Marine Corps’ ability to conduct amphibious landing operations in cooperation with our international partners. SY16 will enhance the interoperability and combined capability of ROK and U.S. Navy and Marine Corps forces.
“I have absolute confidence. I know that we are ready. We have executed all of the missions that are going to be put against us,” said Moore. “We’ve executed them with precision, skill, gusto and with a war-fighting fervor that I know we will take forward when we get tasked.”
Approximately 9,200 Marines, 3,100 U.S. Navy sailors, 4,500 Republic of Korea Marine Corps (ROKMC), and 3,000 Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) members will participate in SY16. Approximately 100 Australian Army soldiers and 60 Royal New Zealand Army will also participate.