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NEWS | Sept. 29, 2021

658th strengthens partnerships with key leaders in Korea

By Lt. Col. Steven Bittle 9th Mission Support Command

The 9th Mission Support Command’s 658th Regional Support Group (RSG) conducted a planning meeting with the 53rd Infantry Division, Republic of Korea Army (ROKA), from Sept 12 to Sept. 17 2021, at Camp Humphreys in South Korea.

The 658th RSG is a U.S. Army Reserve (USAR) unit regionally aligned to Korea, under the 9th Mission Support Command (MSC), and its primary mission is to provide additional contingency base operations management & reception, staging and onward integration (RSOI) capabilities in the 19th Expeditionary Support Command (ESC) Area of Operations.

“To ensure mission success as the RSG for Korea, we must be closely linked with our Republic of Korea (ROK) allies and align our unit training plan with the 19th ESC commander’s lines of effort,” said USAR 658th RSG Commander Col. Sam Hunter, “We do this by conducting meetings like this and keeping open lines of communications with adjacent units and among echelons.”

658th RSG leadership held planning meetings with leadership from the 53rd Infantry Division of the ROK Army, with their mission being to conduct RSOI in support of the 19th ESC. The purpose behind the meetings was to strengthen partnerships and enhance integration of USAR and 9th MSC capabilities in Korea.

“The 658th RSG provides key capability at the sea port of debarkation (SPOD) and follow-on transportation capabilities from the SPOD. Integrating this capability with active duty forces here in Korea is key to future mission success,” said Lt. Col. Elizabeth Pura, 19th ESC G33 Future Operations (FUOPS).

Beyond integrating among echelons with active duty U.S. Army forces in Korea, the 658th RSG seeks to also strengthen partnerships and share knowledge and best practices with the ROK Army.

“Our ROK allies are very much interested in the USAR mission and organizational design. The nation is currently experiencing substantial demographic changes, with one of the lowest birth rates in the world,” said U.S. Army Reserve Capt. Unjoo Chang, a planner for the Army Reserve Engagement Cell (AREC) Korea, “Because of declining birth rates, the Korean military is studying the USAR and could quite possibly implement a similar system to reinforce their force in the coming years.”

While the ROK Army maintains a robust active duty military force, it also maintains a similar reserve force.

“Currently, ROK Army Reserve Soldiers only train three days out of the year. Hopefully, with this and future meetings with the USAR we can better understand how USAR trains and maintains readiness and adapt best practices to our own formations,” said ROKA Maj. Gen. Bong Soo Kim.

“I see great opportunities in integrating 658th training with the full-time support personnel of the 53rd ID,” said Hunter, ”We are still in the initial planning stages, but I’ve extended the invitation for them to attend future 658th battle assemblies in order to share best practices among Army Reserve formations.”