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By Lt. Jacob Treat
BUSAN, Republic of Korea – The United Nations Command Naval Component Command Mine Countermeasures (MCM) Symposium and the Republic of Korea Navy Multi-National Mine Warfare Exercise (MNMIWEX) 2023 concluded Oct. 27.
The three-day long symposium was designed to enhance mine countermeasure coordination, training, cooperation and improve capabilities in mine countermeasures operations. The symposium’s theme for 2023 was Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T) in mine warfare and included presentations from participating militaries and industry specialists on autonomous mine detection and clearance technologies.
"The 2023 Mine Countermeasures Symposium had the greatest participation to date and is the first time since 2014 that U.S. Naval Forces Korea has expanded participation to allies and partners outside of the United Nations Command,” said Lt. Cmdr. Natalia Widulinski, a Foreign Area Officer assigned to Naval Forces Korea. “The expansion of the symposium highlights the importance of mine warfare as a mission area, and focuses on improving interoperability between the ROK, U.S., UNC member states, and allies and partners.”
Nations participating in the symposium include Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Symposium attendees also participated in a wreath laying ceremony at the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan, honoring those who had given their lives in Defense of Korea and reaffirming their commitment to maintaining peace and security in the region.
MNMIWEX 23 is part of an annual series of exercises hosted by Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) designed to increase proficiency in mine countermeasure operations between numerous naval forces. During the exercise, participants worked together to clear a route for ships through a simulated minefield using unit-level mine warfare tactics to include mine hunting, detection and neutralization.
Capt. Michael O’Neill, commodore of Mine Countermeasures Squadron Seven, said, “The exercise provided a great opportunity to operate in a challenging, multilateral maritime environment, and afforded us the opportunity to build on our already strong relationship with the Republic of Korea and international partners.”
The multinational mine warfare force worked together throughout the exercise to conduct mine countermeasure operations. This training allowed all the units to practice communicating and operating in a combined environment and provide increased mine countermeasures interoperability and readiness to respond to a contingency on the Korean peninsula.
Participating nations contributing forces for the exercise include Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Greece, Italy, New Zealand, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.
Participating U.S. forces include staff from Mine Countermeasures Squadron (MCMRON) 7, Mine Countermeasures Helicopter Squadron 15 Detachment 3A, USS Chief (MCM 14), USS Warrior (MCM 10), and USS Pioneer (MCM 9).
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the U.S.-ROK Mutual Defense Treaty, which serves as the foundation of our alliance and a force for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia.
MCMRON 7, forward deployed to Sasebo, Japan, is responsible for conducting integrated mine countermeasure operations using air, surface, and explosive ordnance disposal assets in both exercise and regional conflict scenarios throughout the U.S. Seventh Fleet area of responsibility.