Demanding exercise provides combined training, teamwork.
Among many Combined Forces Command exercises, Ulchi Focus Lens may be contrasted from the others by its sheer breadth. The exercise is the Seoul, Korea-based command's largest, simulation-supported, theater-wide, joint and combined, command post exercise.
For two weeks in August, members of the 599th Transportation Group participated in force. We traveled from Wheeler Army Air Field, Hawaii, and our other Pacific Ocean locations. In all, the group deployed more than 40 soldiers and civilians to test plans and procedures for the defense of Korea.
We could not do it alone.
Of course, we brought in Army and Navy Reserve augmentation. We worked side by side with Korean counterparts at the Combined Seaport Coordination Center, and members of the 837th Transportation Battalion, both located at Pier 8. We were required to complete a myriad of exercise taskings, such as providing daily seaport status briefings, developing sealift diversion routes and monitoring coastal security.
The exercise's emphasis was on training joint and combined commanders and staffs on warfighting skills, exercise campaign plans and standard operating procedures.
One of our most effective exercise players was Guy Campbell, our 599th plans chief.
"It's gratifying to see the expanding cooperation between Korean and U.S. forces to make this the most effective Ulchi Focus Lens to date," said Campbell.
A previous seven-year tour in Pusan made Campbell a key member of our team.
As always, communication and the flow of information were critical.
"I felt that communication at the Combined Seaport Coordination Center was the best it's ever been," said Col. Bill Landon, an Army Reserve augmentee serving as co-coordinator of the exercise.
"Not only did our joint U.S. staffs work well together, but the interaction between the combined U.S. and Korean staffs was extraordinary."
The use of Korean augmentees as interpreters contributed to great exercise dialogue, he said.
This spirit of cooperation between U.S. and Korean staffs was praised by Col. Lee, Kye-sung, commander, of the Republic of Korea Port Operations Group.
Development of a cohesive team was critical, said Lee.
"I was particularly pleased with how quickly the members became a cohesive team during the fast-paced two-week exercise," said Lee.
The complex exercise brought praise from Col. Peter Gitto, 599th commander.
"We maximize every training opportunity to integrate our active and reserve components," said Gitto.
"The ability to work together as one team greatly enhances our wartime capabilities."
Exercise participants represented all branches of the Korean armed forces. American forces included the 8th U.S. Army, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and Military Sealift Command.