Photo Information

U.S. Marines with Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division, currently attached to III Marine Expeditionary Force, enter the arrival terminal at Osan Air Base, Geyonggi, Korea, to begin exercise Freedom Shield 23, March 5, 2023. The 1st MARDIV attached to III MEF to serve as the ground combat element for the Combined Marine Component Command, Combined Forces Command, during FS 23. Freedom Shield is a defense-oriented exercise designed to strengthen the ROK-U.S. Alliance, enhance our combined defense posture, and strengthen security and stability on the Korean peninsula. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Frank Webb)

Photo by Sgt. Frank Webb

1st Marine Division returns to South Korea for Freedom Shield

14 Mar 2023 | Courtesy Story 1st Marine Division

U.S. Marines and Sailors from the 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force in Camp Pendleton, California, deployed to the Republic of Korea to participate in exercise Freedom Shield 23 on March 4.

The exercise, which takes place March 13-23, allows the 1st Marine Division to participate in a world-class training venue and deepen the Division's understanding of combined warfare with the 1st ROK Marine Corps Division. This is the first time the Division’s headquarters element has deployed to the peninsula in more than 20 years. The deployment reinforces the U.S. Marine Corps’ commitment to the ROK Marine counterparts.

"It's an incredible experience to participate in this exercise and revitalize the relationship with our ROK counterparts. We must be ready to deploy and fight together at a moment's notice. This exercise is the perfect opportunity to rehearse that with the 1st ROK Marine Division," said U.S. Marine Maj. Gen. Benjamin T. Watson, commanding general, 1st Marine Division.

The combined forces will rehearse command and control, tactical coordination of forces, and communication during the computer-based scenario. To increase the realism, the combined U.S. and ROK 1st Marine Division personnel will operate in a combined operations center.

"Our Marines and Sailors are learning a lot, most importantly, how to integrate with the ROK Marines so we can learn from each other and improve how we fight. We can accomplish far more as a combined team, and we've all worked to bring home some great lessons from this exercise," Watson said.

1st Marine Division's participation in Freedom Shield 23 underscores a shared history with the ROK, dating back to the 1950s when the Division fought against tyranny and an oppressive regime during the Korean War.

Freedom Shield is a defense-oriented exercise designed to strengthen the Republic of Korea-U.S. alliance, enhance our combined defense posture, and improve security and stability on the Korean peninsula.

For additional queries, please contact the 1st Marine Division COMMSTRAT Director, Maj. Lucas Burke at