Republic of Korea Marine Corps

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= Republic of Korea Marine Corps

caption= Crest of the Republic of Korea Marine Corps
dates= 1949 – present
country= South Korea
size= 25,000 regular personnel
commander1= Lieutenant General Lee Hong-Hee
commander1_label= Commandant of the Republic of Korea Marine Corps
The Republic of Korea Marine Corps (aka ROK Marine Corps / ROK Marines, ROKMC, Korean Hangul: 대한민국 해병대, Hanja: 大韓民國海兵隊, Revised Romanization: Dae-Han-min-guk Haebyeongdae) is the marine corps of the Republic of Korea. Though theoretically it is under the direction of the Chief of Naval Operation, the Marine Corps operates as a distinct arm of the military of South Korea, unlike most other "Marine" military organisations, which generally function as part of their respective national navies. It was founded as a reconnaissance group just before the Korean War. The ROKMC also saw action during the Vietnam War while stationed in Danang, sometimes fighting alongside the USMC or U.S. Navy SEALs. During the Vietnam War, the ROK Marines were never defeated on the battlefield Fact|date=August 2008 and earned nicknames such as "Ghost-Catching Marines" or "Ghost Buster" (Korean: "귀신 잡는 해병대") and "The Legendary ROK Marines". Fact|date=August 2008


Founding years

On April 15, 1949, the Republic of Korea Marine Corps (ROKMC) was founded in Deoksan airfield in Jinhae with an initial strength of 380 men, the ROKMC troops were issued with many leftover weapons from the Imperial Japanese Army used during World War II, including the 7.7 mm Type 99 Light Machine Gun. The Marine Corps carried out Suppression Operations against communist elements in Jinju and Jeju-do. [ [ "Half Century History of the ROK Navy"] . Republic of Korea Navy Official Website. Retrieved March 4, 2007.] ; first saw combat action in the Korean War. During this conflict, foreign media dubbed the ROKMC the "Invincible Marines" after an incident in which a squad of ROK Marines wiped out an entire battalion of Communist forces. Fact|date=February 2008

Vietnam War

During the Vietnam War, the ROKMC dispatched the "Cheongryeong" (청룡) brigade to the Republic of Vietnam.

At the request of the United States, President Park Chung Hee of the Republic of Korea agreed to send military units into Vietnam, despite opposition from both the Assembly and the public. In exchange, United States agreed to provide additional military funds to Korea to modernize its armed forces, totaling about a billion dollars.

The Republic of Korea Army units' Area Of Responsibility (AOR) were the southern half of the I Corp. The ROK Marine Corps units were deployed with the I Corps alongside with US Marines.

Initially, the AK47-equipped Vietcong and NVA outgunned Korean soldiers, since they were armed with World War II-era weaponry (M1 Garand and M1 carbine). But they soon received more modern weapons from the United States military such as the M-16.

The three main units deployed to Vietnam were the ROK Army Capital (Yellow Tiger) Division, the ROK Marine Corps’ 2nd (Blue Dragon) Brigade and the ROK Army 9th (White Stallion) Division. Various ROK special forces units were also deployed.

Most of the operations never exceeded battalion-size, but they also conducted divisional size operations. Before conducting missions, Koreans laid out their plans much more carefully than their allies, with greater fire discipline, effective use of fire support, and better coordination of sub-units. They also had to their favor the distinguished combat leadership of the company and platoon commanders. During village searches, ROK soldiers would subject the settlement to a series of detailed sweeps while interrogating subjects on the spot. By comparison, American units tended to favor a single sweep followed by a removal of all civilians for screening. Such a painstaking approach certainly paid dividends in terms of weapons seizures and reduced VC activity in ROK areas. Koreans quickly learned pidgin Vietnamese language; for fear that most Vietnamese translators were spies for Vietcong and NVA. Koreans also had better field intelligence than their American counterparts. Koreans conducted counterinsurgency operations so well that American commanders felt Korean AOR was the safest. This was further supported when Vietcong documents captured after the Tet Offensive warned their compatriots to never engage Koreans until full victory is certain. In fact, it was often that the NVA and Vietcong were ambushed by Koreans and not vice versa. Fact|date=February 2008

Apparently the ROK Marines were experts at locating enemy weapons caches. The official U.S. report on South Korean participation in Vietnam, entitled "Vietnam Studies: Allied Participation in Vietnam," (chapter 6 of this manual), states that "The enemy feared the Koreans both for their tactical innovations and for the soldiers' tenacity. It is of more than passing interest to note that there never was an American unit in Vietnam which was able to 'smell out' small arms like the Koreans. The Koreans might not suffer many casualties, might not get too many of the enemy on an operation, but when they brought in seventy-five or a hundred weapons, the Americans wondered where in the world they got them. They appeared to have a natural nose for picking up enemy weapons that were, as far as the enemy thought, securely cached away. Considered opinion was that it was good the Koreans were 'friendlies.'" [ "Vietnam Studies: Allied Participation in Vietnam, Chapter VI: The Republic of Korea." pages 149-150. ]

One of the most notable operations during the Vietnam War was The Battle of Tra Binh Dong in which just under 300 marines successfully defended their base against over 2,400 Viet Cong. Fact|date=February 2008 Another notable operation is Operation Flying Tiger in early January of 1966; here, the Koreans accounted for 192 Viet Cong killed as against only eleven Koreans. ["Vietnam Studies: Allied Participation in Vietnam, Chapter VI: The Republic of Korea." page 145. ]

The U.S. Army manual on Korean participation in Vietnam also states that " [t] he Koreans were thorough in their planning and deliberate in their execution of a plan. They usually surrounded an area by stealth and quick movement. While the count of enemy killed was probably no greater proportionately than that of similar US combat units, the thoroughness with which the Koreans searched any area they fought in was attested to by the fact that the Koreans usually came out with a much higher weaponry count than US troops engaged in similar actions." ["Vietnam Studies: Allied Participation in Vietnam, Chapter VI: The Republic of Korea." page 143. ]

A total of 320,000 Koreans served in Vietnam, with a peak strength (of any given time) at around 48,000. [ "Vietnam Studies: Allied Participation in Vietnam, Chapter VI: The Republic of Korea." page 131. ] About 4,000 were killed. The Korean forces in Vietnam were frequently able to amass a kill ratio of about 25:1 compared to the average American kill ratio of less than 20:1. The U.S Army manual on Korean participation in Vietnam states that " [a] n analysis of an action by Korean Capital Division forces during the period 2329 January 1968 clearly illustrates the Korean technique. After contact with an enemy force near Phu Cat, the Koreans reacting swiftly...deployed six companies in an encircling maneuver and trapped the enemy force in their cordon. The Korean troops gradually tightened the circle, fighting the enemy during the day and maintaining their tight cordon at night, thus preventing the enemy's escape. At the conclusion of the sixth day of fighting, 278 NVA had been KIA with the loss of just 11 Koreans, a kill ratio of 25.3 to 1. Later in 1968 a Korean 9th Division operation titled Baek Ma [Korean for "white horse," after the White Horse Division] 9 commenced on 11 October and ended on 4 November with 382 enemy soldiers killed and the North Vietnamese 7th Battalion, 18th Regiment, rendered ineffective. During this operation, on 25 October, the eighteenth anniversary of the division, 204 of the enemy were killed without the loss of a single Korean soldier." ["Vietnam Studies: Allied Participation in Vietnam, Chapter VI: The Republic of Korea." page 148. ]

The official U.S. military record on South Korean participation in the Vietnam war reads, "In summary, it appears that Korean operations in Vietnam were highly professional, well planned, and thoroughly executed; limited in size and scope, especially in view of assets made available; generally unilateral and within the Korean tactical area of responsibility; subject to domestic political considerations; and highly successful in terms of kill ratio." ["ROK Army and Marines Rock-solid in Vietnam War."]

1970s and 1980s

In 1973, once a separate branch of the ROK Armed Forces, the ROKMC became a part of the ROK Navy. Headquarters Republic of Korea Marine Corps was re-established in 1987.


The ROKMC has approximately 25,000 personnel, and is organized into two divisions and one brigade under Headquarters Republic of Korea Marine Corps and primarily dedicated to protecting the nation's islands.

It has such responsibilities as landing operations, accomplished in coordination with the ROKN using landing craft, surface fleets and aircraft. ROK Marines have the ability to accomplish a variety of missions including ground battles, special fighting scenarios, facility protection and security services. To execute amphibious operations, it possesses a range of amphibious equipment, including amphibious vehicles, as well as its own means of fire support. A major naval evolution during Foal Eagle 2000, an annual combined U.S. and Republic of Korea (ROK) exercise, was an amphibious assault launched by U.S. and ROK Marines from U.S. Navy ships belonging to 7th Fleet's permanently forward-deployed Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) based in Japan.

Order of Battle

*Headquarters Republic of Korea Marine Corps (대한민국 해병대사령부)::*Yeonpyeong Unit (연평부대)::*Education and Training Group (교육훈련단)::*Amphibious Support Group (상륙지원단):*1st Marine Division (1해병사단):::*1st Tank Battalion: equipped K1 MBT :::*1st Assault Amphibian Vehicle Battalion: equipped KAAV7A1:::*1st Reconnaissance Battalion:::*1st Engineer Battalion:::*1st Support Battalion::*2nd Marine Regiment::*3rd Marine Regiment::*7th Marine Regiment::*1st Marine Artillery Regiment: equipped K55 SPH / KH179 TH:*2nd Marine Division (2해병사단):::*2nd Tank Battalion: equipped M48A3K:::*2nd Assault Amphibian Vehicle Battalion: equipped KAAV7A1:::*2nd Reconnaissance Battalion:::*2nd Engineer Battalion:::*2nd Support Battalion::*1st Marine Regiment::*5th Marine Regiment::*8th Marine Regiment::*2nd Marine Artillery Regiment: equipped K55 SPH / KH179 TH:*6th Marine Brigade (6해병여단) HQ Kumhwa:::*6th Amphibious Reconnaissance Co:::*5 Island Garrisons in the West Sea

See also

* Military of South Korea
* Battle of Tra Binh Dong
* Once a Marine, Always a Marine


External links

* [ ROKMC official website] (Korean language only)
* [ ROKMC Guide (]

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