SEOUL, Republic of Korea — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Far East District hosted the 27th Korean Ministry of National Defense Exchange Program Jan. 31-Feb.17. During the 13 day course, select members from MND were able to learn from their counterparts in FED to gain a better understanding of how the District operates.
The MND Exchange Program commenced in 1985 with the concept of training military and civilian engineers from MND on design, project management, contracting, and construction processes of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Today, this tradition carries on as FED graduated nine Republic of Korea military officers and nine civilian engineers from the various ROK service components.
Lt. Col. Kim Gi-wan, Chief of U.S. Forces Korea Construction Management Division, MND-Defense Installations Agency, was the guest speaker at the graduation ceremony.
“The lessons learned from the FED training program will be a medium of the ROK-U.S. Alliance and passed on to the people next to you,” said Kim. “Congratulations on completing the three week program. I hope to be sitting there in your place next year.”
Throughout the 13 day course, MND members were able to visit various branches of FED including Construction Division, Engineering Division, Korea Programs Relocation Office, Contracting Division, the Safety Office, and the Humphreys Area Office.
Greg Reiff, Area Engineer for the Humphreys Area Office, gave an in-briefing to the students when they visited U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys Feb. 15-16.
“This is where the rubber meets the road and what I mean by that is everywhere else they have seen projects on paper or computer aided design (CAD),” said Reiff. “Here they actually get to see the project go vertical which is what we do.”
Ha Chae-un, Engineer for the Humphreys Area Office and also a Korean employee working for FED, conducted most of the briefings. He gave the students an overview of USAG Humphreys expansion and the workings of the area office.
Ha shared an experience he had with tele-engineering. The Engineer Research Development Center is a huge development center that guides engineers in all aspects of a project. Services can be provided through telephone, which makes tele-engineering possible.
“A good example of the center’s efficiency is a project conducted in Korea in 1996,” said Ha. “While the Korean counterparts worked three-day shifts to complete the task, the Americans worked regular working hours and had the job completed earlier.”
As a result, the Koreans have taken up an interest in the efficiency of tele-engineering which they learned from FED.
“The Koreans were curious as to how they finished so quickly,” said Ha. “When questioned, the Americans told the Koreans that they had a super computer that processed information that made their jobs easier.”
After an intense couple of weeks the students were able to graduate in a ceremony Feb. 17. All of the participants received certificates of completion for the program.
“I really learned a lot especially during the trip to the field office,” said ROK Navy Lt. Oh Jae-peel, Project Manager at MND-DIA. “I was surprised to see how big the projects really are there.”
At the conclusion of the program, the students had dinner with their partners in FED to learn even more about each other.
During the dinner, Col. Craig Johnson, Deputy Military Director of KPRO, told the new graduates from the program that they were the future of engineering and the ROK-U.S. Alliance.
“I really enjoyed getting to meet some of these people during the dinner, like Col. Johnson and knowing them personally,” said Oh. “I feel like these are great ambassadors to their country.”
Since the MND Exchange Program inception 27 years ago, over 213 ROK military officers and civilian engineers from different Service Components have graduated. The program has contributed greatly to bi-lateral relations and improving quality, communications, and execution of the Host Nation Funded Construction program.