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ROK, US Naval Alliance Takes Next Step with 'Combined Edge' Junior Officer Exchange Program

By Petty Officer 2nd Class Jermaine M. Ralliford | | Dec. 27, 2016

WATERS SURROUNDING THE KOREAN PENINSULA (NNS) -- A junior officer from U.S. Seventh Fleet embarked on a Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy ship as part of the newly created Combined Edge junior officer exchange program, Dec. 21-23.

Combined Edge was formed to improve combined warfighting integration between the U.S. and ROK navies by allowing U.S. Navy officers to train with ROK Sailors on a ROK ship at sea.

"I was very excited to be the first officer to take advantage of this opportunity," said Lt. j.g. David Dinkins, the navigator for the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52). "I am honored to have the chance to work alongside my counterparts on their ship; it was an awesome and eye-opening experience."

Prior to embarking on the ROK ship Bucheon (PCC 773), a Pohang-class corvette, Dinkins received guided tours at the West Sea Protection Hall and Cheonan Memorial and witnessed first-hand the defensive capabilities available to the ROK Navy and Marine Corps at the North West Island of YP-do.

"Creating better interoperability starts from the bottom up," said ROK Navy Lt. Cmdr. Kim, Sangkuk, Bucheon's executive officer. "This program allows both U.S. and ROK sailors to get a better understanding of each other, learn how we both work at sea, and strengthen our relationship."

While on board Bucheon, Dinkins had the opportunity to observe watch procedures, learn about Bucheon's mission capabilities, and he worked side-by-side with his navigation counterparts on the bridge.

"I would recommend the experience to anyone willing to learn and improve," said Dinkins. "The ability to see and experience the ROK perspective is critical, and this has been an experience I will not soon forget."

Kim echoed Dinkins sentiment and said he hopes Combined Edge brings more Sailors to embark on ROK ships.

"Our mutual goal is ensuring the defense of the peninsula," said Kim, "but programs like this embark, where we work, eat, and live together, will lead to a deeper understanding between our sailors and in the end, our navies."