‘Gimlets’ continue a legacy, return to South Korea

| April 19, 2012 | 0 Comments
Soldiers from the 1st Bn., 21st Inf. Regt., "Gimlets," 2nd BCT, 25th ID, prepare to offload Stryker vehicles at Camp Casey, South Korea, March 28, in preparation for Foal Eagle, a joint combined training exercise with the ROK’s military forces. Thier arrival marks the first time the battalion has been to South Korea since 1950 when Gimlet Soldiers assisted the ROK’s army in defending key locations from invading forces during the Korean War.

Soldiers from the 1st Bn., 21st Inf. Regt., "Gimlets," 2nd BCT, 25th ID, prepare to offload Stryker vehicles at Camp Casey, South Korea, March 28, in preparation for Foal Eagle, a joint combined training exercise with the ROK’s military forces. Their arrival marks the first time the battalion has been to South Korea since 1950 when Gimlet Soldiers assisted the ROK’s army in defending key locations from invading forces during the Korean War. (Courtesy Photo)

Sgt. Robert M. England
2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs, 25th Infantry Division

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — In July 1950, about 400 “Gimlet” Soldiers dug into their positions near the village of Osan in South Korea.

The Gimlet Soldiers held the line as North Korean tanks approached; the battle that ensued marked the first U.S. ground action of the Korean War.

More than 60 years later, the Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, “Gimlets,” 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, have returned to South Korea, but under much more favorable conditions.

Every year, U.S. military units deploy to South Korea to conduct Foal Eagle, a joint-combined training exercise conducted with the intent of enhancing both U.S. forces and the Republic of Korea’s alliance, said Maj. Blake Lackey, Operations officer in charge, 1st Bn., 21st Inf. Regt., 2nd BCT.

“This annual exercise integrates the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines from the U.S. Pacific theater into an exercise to highlight capabilities of rapid force projection and deployment across the spectrum of the joint forces,” Lackey said. “It shows our ability to coordinate, plan and execute training with our ROK allies, whether it’s ROK Army, Air Force, Marines or Navy.”

During this monthlong operation, the U.S. and ROK forces will share knowledge as they plan, resource and execute training, Lackey said.

“The ROK army will be focused on the defense of the ROK,” Lackey said. “Our focus will be two-fold: validating our ability to rapidly project and defend the ROK, and conducting training operations focused at the squad level that enable us to integrate with the ROK army’s defense of the peninsula.”

The culminating event for Foal Eagle will be a combined exercise with a ROK tank platoon and an antitank platoon from Company B, 52nd Inf. Regt., which is attached to the Gimlet Bn. A live-fire exercise will test both the U.S. and ROK forces’ abilities to work together.

“The combined defensive live fire is combined from the start of planning all the way through the end of execution,” Lackey said. “We do that by combining the training from the lowest level, at the squad level, all the way up to the battalion staff level, where we can incorporate them into our training plans and exercises, so that they see how we operate and we see how they operate.”

Their proficiency at defensive operations and high-intensity conflicts will also afford the Gimlets an opportunity to learn from their ROK army partners, Lackey said.

As the Gimlet Bn. prepares to train in high-intensity conflict and transition to full-spectrum operations, the experience should provide invaluable insight for future Gimlet operations, he added.

Moving a battalion of Soldiers, their equipment and Stryker vehicles takes diligent planning. Lackey said that the battalion staff had only a few weeks between the time it received the mission until troops were expected to be on ground in Korea.

Part of the mission of a Stryker-centric unit, however, is to move all combat assets quickly. Foal Eagle tested the Gimlets’ ability as an expeditionary force to rapidly deploy in support of Pacific theater operations, Lackey said.

He added that this rapid deployment yielded additional knowledge that will allow the unit to refine the process further, shortening the response time to a matter of days.

As Gimlet Soldiers downloaded their vehicles from flatbed trailers and unloaded their gear from overseas containers, they were continuing the legacy left behind by the Gimlets who fought alongside ROK army Soldiers more than 60 years ago.

 

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Category: Deployed Forces, Exercises, News

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