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Coasties join exercise amid Korea tensions

Apr. 21, 2013 - 11:34AM   |  
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As tensions on the Korean Peninsula rise, the military is carrying out a major tactical exercise there — and a Coast Guard unit is taking part.

Port Security Unit 313, a reserve unit out of Everett, Wash., is participating in Foal Eagle 2013, a U.S.-South Korea training effort that brings together about 10,000 U.S. and South Korean military personnel. The security unit’s participation is part of its active-duty training period.

Unlike other Coast Guard units, whose main mission may lie in protecting U.S. shores, a PSU’s main mission is to deploy in support of combatant commanders.

“It is critical that our units practice joint and combined operations in the actual theater where they may be asked to deploy in support of U.S. [Pacific Command],” said Cmdr. Larry Greene, chief of the Exercise and Coordination Branch for the Coast Guard’s Deployable Operations Group.

This is the first time since 2006 a PSU unit has participated in a full-scale tactical exercise in South Korea, Greene said. PSUs have also deployed to Iraq and conducted disaster response in Haiti.

PSUs can deploy within 96 hours of recall and be operational within 24 hours with little assistance from the higher units they will support, said Lt. Cmdr. Monica Hernandez, an active-duty force readiness officer for the reserve unit. There are eight PSUs in the Coast Guard.

“These units can be readily deployed by air, sea or land to wherever they are needed,” Greene said.

PSU 313, which has 117 Coast Guardsmen expected to participate in the training, will provide shoreside and waterside security during Foal Eagle, Hernandez said. The unit has boats that can be armed for waterside security, and its members can man access control points shoreside to secure a port, Hernandez said.

The unit will participate in the exercise until April 28 before returning home.

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