US, ROK Navy Strengthen Alliance
By Paolo Bayas
Commander, Task Force (CTF) 70; Commander, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15; and Republic of Korea navy (ROKN) Maritime Task Flotilla (MTF) 7 held a Composite Warfare Committee (CWC) to improve combined warfighting skills and strengthen the U.S. and ROKN alliance, Feb. 17-20.
Air defense, ballistic missile defense, antisubmarine warfare (ASW), surface warfare, tactical data links, and communications were discussed during the summit exploring the integration of ROKN's Maritime Task Squadron (MTS) 71 and MTS 72 ships with the U.S. Navy's only forward-deployed strike group.
"We conduct these conferences to build the interoperability and ensure a high level of operational and tactical symmetry between the ROK and U.S. naval forces," said Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery, commander, Battle Force 7th Fleet. "This conference gives us specific warfare areas to focus on, create a list of action items so that we can assess the success of our interoperability, and allows us to best coordinate our resources to maximize our effectiveness."
These conferences have been traditionally held annually for the past 15 years; however, conferences will now be held biannually due to their success.
"ROKN capabilities have increased significantly over the last five years," said Montgomery. "They now have KDXIII Aegis destroyers, KDXII surface combatants, an expanded submarine force, and an increased maritime patrol and helicopter force. With the new capacities that ROKN can support and the increasing capabilities of CTF 70, we have an opportunity for a much better planning construct."
Rear Adm. Kim Jongil, commander, MTF 7, said that the conferences have played an essential role in enhancing ROK-US combined operability, and further promote the friendship and partnership between the two navies.
"Rear Adm. Montgomery's enthusiasm and excellent leadership allowed us to come to an agreement to carry out substantial action items," said Kim. "I am confident that the ROKN will be able to greatly improve the ability to respond to threats. I would like to, on behalf of ROKN, express my sincere gratitude to Rear Adm. Montgomery and his staff for preparing CWC and vigorously engaging in the discussion."
According to Capt. Paul Lyons, commodore, DESRON 15, the CWC talks are a big step forward for everyone in CTF 70 and especially for DESRON 15.
"Having our counterparts out here is vital to making sure we have the tactical level execution right," said Lyons. "This was significant because we had our inaugural CWC ASW syndicate, where DESRON 15 and MTS 72 can come together and bridge our understanding of ASW tactics, techniques, procedures and doctrine so when we go out to sea we can execute with a lockstep fashion. I'm glad the ROK can come out to Japan and have the talks here together. It's another step forward."