ROK Ranger Qualification Course builds camaraderie

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jeremy Thomas
  • 51st Security Forces Squadron
Completing the storied Republic of Korea Ranger Qualification Course was a bittersweet day for both the American and Korean trainees.

Although we were relieved to complete such a challenging achievement, the camaraderie and friendship we shared throughout the course will be truly missed.

We sweat together, we bled together and we challenged each other. We focused on becoming one unit despite our language and cultural differences to grow as members in our respective countries' services and to grow as allies between the Air Forces of the United States of America and the ROK.

We began training as 32 ROK air force airmen and 15 U.S. Air Force security forces members.

The first week we hiked four kilometers every day through the hills and forests of Jinju Air Base, ROK, to Training Area Number One and learned combat-style physical training. This course is the first step for a ROK airman to join the elite special duty team that secures airports and other sensitive areas within the ROK, so being in peak physical condition is heavily emphasized. We repelled off of their training building for several days, literally putting our lives into each other's hands.

In the advanced course we covered maneuvering while repelling, entering windows from the outside and assaulting enemy targets located in the building from the outside while hanging from the repelling rope. We also completed multiple obstacle courses in the training area, where we learned practical skills from overcoming confined spaces to scaling tall structures and moving silently and tactfully across rooftops. If anyone came to the ROK Ranger Qualification Course with a fear of heights, they certainly overcame their fear within a short time.

Finally, we completed combat skills incorporating both U.S. and ROK firing tactics. We introduced our weapons to each other giving the other service functional familiarization of the weapon system should we ever be required to take one into combat.

In both countries' training, communication and team movements are paramount during an operation. Together, we learned how to cover each other while reloading and honing our skills during force-on-force fighting scenarios.

Firing blanks, paintballs to emphasize use of cover, and finally air soft rounds with the same weapons we use during our daily operations helped add realism to the scenarios. We built team tactics from the ground up, starting from basic individual skills and then small unit tactics to include setting up external security on buildings to four- to six-man team movements in counterterrorism, hostage rescue scenarios and close quarter battles inside rooms.

Lastly, beyond simply training together, this course represented a proof of concept. Although our language and cultural differences proved challenging in the beginning, we were able to overcome them to make it through this rigorous course together. You could ask any member of the U.S. or ROK team about the incredible friendships and lasting bond we formed with this course, and we are truly thankful for the opportunity. I would recommend this course to any fellow Airman and will remember the teammates that made this trip to Jinju truly unforgettable.

Kapshi Kapshida. We go together!