JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. --
Republic of Korea members from the U.S. Air Transportation Working Group visited Joint Base Charleston to observe and learn about air mobility operations July 13.
The annual meeting was part of a 6-day tour in support of the Mutual Airlift Support Agreement.
The MASA is an international agreement between the U.S. and ROK. The agreement allows U.S. Transportation Command to request airlift support through the ROK air force to move people and equipment from the U.S. to the ROK in the event of a contingency on the Korean Peninsula. The agreement also provides the procedures and details on how to use the MASA when requesting airlift support.
“Engagements like this help us foster a closer working relationship, build strong alliances, and enable us to understand each other's mission,” said Joe Lepanto, USTRANSOM international agreements manager. “These visits specifically manage the MASA Implementing Arrangement and keep the document current. Members are able to discuss issues and lessons learned.”
Eight U.S. - ROK ATWG members attended a joint base mission briefing, toured a C-17 Globemaster III and observed an aeromedical evacuation demonstration during their tour here. The opportunity delivered an informative experience for the ROK members.
“Everything we experienced today was great, especially the demo of the aeromedical evacuation system,” said Col. Maengho Woo, ROK Transportation Command transportation division chief. “When we get back to Korea we might not be able to have the same system, but we’ll try getting a similar system for the ROK military.”
Col. Heon Jeong, ROK Air Force Headquarters transportation branch chief, said mutual support between the U.S. and ROK military is important to keep peace on the Korean Peninsula. He added, for everything to work, there has to be a close working relationship during peacetime and visits like this strengthen ties.
“The hospitality shown to us was beyond our expectations,” said Jeong. “We really appreciate it and I also hope we can continue to build a strong, solid friendship between our two countries.”
The visit also included a conference at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., where both the U.S. and ROK representatives signed the MASA IA. The IA was updated in 2017 to allow aircraft operating under the MASA to be used for air evacuation of injured troops and evacuation of non-combatants as well as updating organizational changes in ROKAF, U.S. Forces Korea and USTRANSCOM. The two parties also discussed the possibility of using Korean Air aircraft under the MASA to move non-combatants out of the peninsula during increased threat.
U.S. and ROK representatives felt the visit moved their goals in a positive direction. U.S. Air Force Col. Joseph Meyer, USTRANSCOM liaison officer to USFK, hopes the relationship between the two countries continues to develop.
“I have not seen another alliance work so hard to integrate and work in a combined effort,” said Meyer. “This is just one more example of bringing together the ROK, U.S. active duty, U.S. National Guardsmen, U.S. reservists and civilians in such a manner. I hope this isn’t just beneficial right now, but we can continue to move forward with our alliance based on some of the things we’ve seen and shared together.”