PYEONGCHANG-GUN, South Korea --
Marines step forward onto the firing range, leveling their sites on their targets, they await the command to fire. The command is given and the sound of gunfire rings in nearby ears as targets fall hundreds of meters out.
U.S. Marines with Alpha Company, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force were given the unique opportunity to fire the various weapons systems organic to the Republic of Korea Marine Corps during the Korean Marine Exchange Program 15-3. The U.S. Marines shared their weapon systems soon after.
The U.S. Marines were shooting with ROK Marines of 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. The weapons in use were the Daewoo K1A submachine gun, Daewoo K2 assault rifle, Daewoo K5 handgun, Daewoo K201 40mm grenade launcher, and the Daewoo K14 sniper rifle. The U.S. Marines also tested out a Democratic People’s Republic of Korea designed weapon, the Type 58 assault rifle.
"It was amazing to see how similar our weapons really are,” said Cpl. Richard J. Bennaugh, a reconnaissance man with Alpha Co., 3rd Recon Bn., 3rd Marine Division, III MEF. “My favorite was the sniper, but the one I would most likely use for my job is the K1, as it is the lightest.”
The lightweight K1 is regularly used by the ROK Marines force reconnaissance due to its weight of only 6.3 pounds and retractable stock.
“I was glad to see the Marines enjoying themselves so much,” said ROK 1st Lt. Sun K. Shin, the logistics officer of Headquarters Co., 2nd Bn., 2nd Marine Division. “Some of our men had only spent a handful of days on the K14, so they were really blessed to receive this opportunity.”
The K14 was newly issued to the ROK Marines participating alongside the U.S. Marines, with some members having only fired the weapon twice before teaching the U.S. Marines. Nonetheless, the teaching went smoothly with the help of translators.
“The Marines are really great shots, and I was surprised at how easily they adapted to a new weapon,” said ROK Marine Sgt. Kim U. Ga, a force reconnaissance man with Charlie Co., 2nd Bn., 2nd Marine Division. “I personally took some time adjusting to my weapon, and yet these Marines were hitting bullseyes after only receiving two shots to adjust with.”
The weapons themselves were a wide assortment that varied based off of a specific job in a ROK Marine reconnaissance team. This allows a more customizable sense for the specific Marine when carrying out his specific task.
“These weapons definitely have given me a new outlook on their ingenuity,” said Bennaugh, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “I could practically fold some weapons in half and easily carry them, and most of their weapons had many modifications for a more user-friendly result.”