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BUSAN, Republic of Korea - Two U.S. Sailors culminated two days of Air Intercept Control (AIC) live-training evolutions with the Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy aboard ROKS Sejong the Great (DDG 991) Jan. 31.
Nine ROK Navy controllers who have been through the Navy AIC course in San Diego participated in the evolution. Aircraft from Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW 5) also participated in the training, adding an extra level of realism. Chief Warrant Officer Rene Cornejo, from USS Cowpens (CG 63), and Operations Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Lucas Weaver, from USS Shiloh (CG 67), came to the ROK to conduct six days of AIC proficiency training with their ROK counterparts.
"We are coming together in a combined environment as a team to hone our skills—ensuring all of our Sailors are prepared to fight tonight," said Cmdr. Jeffrey Cooper, deputy operations officer for U.S. Naval Forces Korea (CNFK).
CNFK facilitated the AIC training evolution as part of an interoperability improvement program.
"It's crucial for us to always do as much training as we can, whether it's in a classroom just using a whiteboard or getting on the console doing tactical simulations," said Weaver. "It's even better to get actual aircraft in the air and talk to the pilots."
The first day involved basic proficiency training on technique, followed by the ROK controllers sitting down at consoles and doing a few tactical simulations. Cornejo and Weaver ran them through scenarios and did some simulated control.
"I think it was more important to be on their own ship versus being at the trainer. Being on your own ship, mashing buttons, going through the steps and procedures is very beneficial to them," said Cornejo.
The U.S. Navy controllers were aboard for the two days at sea to observe, mentor and train, making for a productive evolution in an at-sea environment. They conducted two events per day giving the Koreans the opportunity to control a section of U.S. fighter aircraft. Simulations and live training for the controllers included air to air threats and the defense of ships.
"As far as with the air wing coming out, it doesn't get any more real than that, unless you have actual threat aircraft in the air," said Weaver. "We're providing some valuable training."
Three prospective ROK controllers, scheduled to attend the AIC course in San Diego this summer, were also able to participate in the training.
Carrier Air Wing Five is based at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan.
CNFK is the regional commander for the U.S. Navy in the Republic of Korea (ROK) and provides expertise on naval matters to area military commanders, including the commander for the United Nations Command; the Republic of Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command; and commander, U.S. Forces Korea. CNFK also serves as liaison to the ROK navy and the Combined Forces commander staff in armistice and in wartime to commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, based in Yokosuka, Japan.