Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea (CNFK) and the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN), will join 10 United Nations Sending States in the first Combined Mine Warfare Event, Oct. 11-22.
The event combines the third annual United Nations Command (UNC) Naval Component Commander (NCC) Mine Countermeasures (MCM) Symposium, a week-long exchange of expertise designed to enhance mine countermeasure coordination and training, and the exercise Clear Horizon, a live-action exercise which enhances cooperation and improves capabilities in mine countermeasures operations.
“Mines can disrupt sea lines of communication, which are vital to the economic vitality of this great nation and the entire Pacific region,” Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Korea, said. “Mines impede our freedom of navigation in international waters – a principle that underpins international commerce on the open seas and the prosperity of all of our countries represented here today and that is why we are here, to improve our collective ability to defeat the real threat of mines.”
The UNC NCC MCM Symposium takes places in Seoul and will feature 49 personnel from the ten participating Sending States. Exercise Clear Horizon, which follows the symposium, will occur on waters near Chinhae and will include participants from the ROK, Australia, Canada, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Thailand, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
This is the first time since the Korean War that the Philippines and Thailand have participated in an exercise in the waters surrounding the Korean Peninsula.
“The number of UNC Sending State mine countermeasure experts participating in this symposium has doubled from the previous year, which also doubled from the year before,” Cooper said. “That is a clear signal of our collected dedication to enhancing mine countermeasure efforts.”
During the combined mine warfare event, participating naval units will practice clearing routes for shipping and conduct training surveys for clearing operational areas. Mine clearing helicopters will also be utilized to rehearse mine countermeasure operations from the air.
U.S. Navy personnel assigned to USS Pioneer (MCM 9), Mine Countermeasures Squadron 7, along with MH-53E helicopters from Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14 (HM-14) and teams from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit 5, will join ROK Navy forces for the multilateral training.
The Combined Mine Warfare Event is one of approximately 20 annual training exercises held each year aimed at strengthening the alliance and preserving stability and peace around the Korean peninsula and throughout Northeast Asia.
CNFK is the United Nations Command Naval Component Commander during Armistice. The U.S. and the UNC Sending States navies routinely plan, exchange information, train and operate together to strengthen coordination and improve combined capabilities.