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USAF, ROKAF units conduct combined RADR training at Gwangju AB

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Kenneth W. Norman
  • 7th Air Force, Public Affiars

United States Air Force (USAF) Civil Engineering Airmen recently had the opportunity to conduct Rapid Airfield Damage Repair training with members of the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) at Gwangju Air Base in the Republic of Korea. The training was executed from July 18 through July 20, 2022.

“We are practicing our rapid airfield damage repair technique,” said Master Sgt. Robert Fulton III, the Senior Enlisted Leader of the training event. “So we went through and identified the damage, marked it, cut it, took out the bad portions, refilled it and then basically had a nice concrete cap on top so that in a couple hours or less the aircraft would be able to run and go”.

During the exercise, service members from the USAF and ROKAF worked together to repair damage to a cement training pad near the flight line on Gwangju Air Base. This was one of the first opportunities since COVID-19 restrictions were eased for a USAF unit from outside of the Republic of Korea to conduct combined training with ROKAF forces.

“PACAF, to include 7th Air Force, has had a huge push to try to get all of our units [in PACAF] to come here to train and get together with ROKAF forces to basically integrate together” said Fulton. “Since COVID hit, that was a huge stopping point, but now that COVID restrictions have started to lift and we can travel a little more freely, our huge effort is to rebuild that relationship with ROKAF and to basically combine our engineering techniques with their engineering techniques to recover an airfield and bed-down troops. For this particular training, because we are in the crawl faze of bringing it back up, we are trying to really focus on the airfield. Basically if there was any type of attack or any type of damage to the airfield, we would be able to come out, work together and get it back up and running.”

Combined training such as this offers USAF and ROKAF units the ability to integrate their different skill sets and techniques in order to create a more productive working relationship during bilateral operations.

“To me this is very significant because just like if you PCS base to base, each has their own intricacies” said Fulton. “The Korean Air Force has a unique way of working, seeing and completing any task at hand and at the same time all of our Airmen based on their past experiences have a unique way of executing engineering capabilities. To put those two together basically allows us to have the flexibility to make it better than if just one of us did it by ourselves.”

For Fulton, this training opportunity was meaningful because he has been stationed in the Republic of Korea three times throughout his Air Force career.

“I’ve spent three different tours at Osan,” said Fulton. “The Korean Air Force and Korean people in general have a huge part of my heart and a huge part of my career, so to be able to continue to see it over the decade plus that I have been to Korea it makes me happy that no matter if it is pre-COVID, post-COVID, 10 years ago or now, that unity, that strength and the working together still lives.”

By the end of the training the service members from the USAF and ROKAF were able to successfully conduct rapid airfield damage repair and further solidify the alliance and working relationship between them.

“Overall I think it was great,” said Fulton. It was really great from the Korean standpoint to see what they want to see from us in the future, which is great to have that communication. Going forward I can see us going from the crawl, to the walk, to the run stage and being able to add more and more and more capabilities and continuing to teach each other”.