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Posted 9/7/2015

Release no. 15-049


Pacific Ocean Division Public Affairs

SEOUL, South Korea - The Combined Forces Command announced Aug. 28 that it successfully completed  exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG).  For participants from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the end of the annual Republic of Korea (ROK) and United States computer-assisted simulation exercise marked the beginning of conducting after-action reviews (AAR) and developing lessons learned.

“The results of AARs and lessons learned are used to enhance future exercises and improve military contingency plans,” said Pete Gitto, who is the military planner for USACE-Pacific Ocean Division (POD). “The AAR process identifies practices that should be sustained for future operations and areas that require improvement.” 

According to Gitto, who deployed to the Republic of Korea to participate in the exercise, “A major “sustain” is the engagement of USACE enablers across the enterprise that directly contributed to the success and training value of UFG 15.”

Prior planning by Robert Brem, USACE liaison officer (LNO) to U.S. Forces Korea (USFK); and Maj. Leeann Browning and Capt. Lex Oren, both of USACE Far East District, ensured that multiple USACE capabilities were integrated into the exercise scenario.  Their efforts were supported by POD’s Readiness Contingency Operations Division staff.  POD’s emergency management specialist, Darla Hill, coordinated with USACE Field Force Engineering (FFE) program manager, Maj. Dwayne Hampton, and POD’s resource analysts, Al Hu, for funding to accomplish the mission.

“USACE participants from across the enterprise were enablers that made a good exercise a great exercise,” said Gitto, who described value added by USACE assets.

 A mobile training team from the Engineer Research Development Center (ERDC) provided hands-on training to Forward Engineer Support Team (FEST) members about FFE equipment, and extended training to Soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division stationed in Korea.

“I enjoy seeing the FEST teams successfully fulfill their missions using FFE equipment,” said Angela White, a member of the ERDC team. “It makes me feel as though I have fulfilled my mission as trainer.”  

The USACE Logistics Activity engaged the exercise with a Logistics Support Team (LST), which augmented Far East District’s logistics support missions. 

“Now I have a grasp of mission requirements and the role LST's would play in a military contingency mission,” said Warren Quesnell, who is from the Corps’ Los Angeles District.  Quesnell worked reception, staging, onward movement and integration and transportation services with Cliff Steele, from the Savannah District.

The USACE Reachback Operations Center (UROC) provided responsive reach-back capability throughout the exercise. Engineering requests for information (RFI) were managed by the USACE LNO to USFK. The RFIs were received from warfighters throughout the Korean Theater of Operations and linked to the UROC for their technical engineering expertise.

UROC staff members are capable of analyzing diverse infrastructure challenges, such as: load carrying capacities of roads and bridges; field fortifications and force protection; design and repair of airports, port facilities, bridges, dams, railroads and roadways; and evaluation of transportation networks.

In addition, the Southwest Division’s 273rd Forward Engineer Support Team – Advance (FEST-A) deployed to Korea with the detailed planning of Jim Fields, who is a military planner at USACE-Southwestern Division.  This planning effort integrated the 273rd FEST-A into the U.S. Army Reserve 412th Theater Engineer Command’s 368th FEST-M to accomplish engineer assessments for USFK, while simultaneously conducting a certification exercise for a future deployment.

What makes a good exercise a great exercise? 

According to military planner Pete Gitto, “Dedicated USACE professionals from Pacific Ocean, South Atlantic, Southwestern,  and South Pacific divisions; ERDC, Headquarters USACE, and reserve component members working together as one team – that’s what makes a great exercise.”   “Within the spirit of the Combined Forces Command’s motto, ‘We go together - Katchi kapshida’.”