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U.S., South Korea stage military exercise simulating North Korea landing, rescue of refugees

By
Elizabeth Shim
U.S. and South Korean marine units practiced providing humanitarian aid to North Korean refugees during an exercise that simulated a landing. File Photo courtesy of Republic of Korea Armed Forces
U.S. and South Korean marine units practiced providing humanitarian aid to North Korean refugees during an exercise that simulated a landing. File Photo courtesy of Republic of Korea Armed Forces

SEOUL, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- U.S. and South Korean marines conducted an unprecedented joint drill on Thursday that simulated the rescue of North Korean refugees.

The drill was part of a larger U.S.-South Korea joint landing operation exercise and was held in an area near the South Korean city of Pohang, South Korean newspaper Maeil Business reported Thursday.

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The exercises began on Oct. 29 and are to conclude on Nov. 6.

South Korea's navy and marines formed a dedicated unit for civilian operations for the first time. The unit practiced duties that covered the reception, management and medical support of North Korean refugees.

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Joint U.S.-South Korea forces practiced landing in an operational area in North Korea, and trained in providing North Korean refugees with humanitarian aid once on the territory, according to the report.

More than 130 U.S. military personnel with experience in providing refugee support in Afghanistan participated in the exercise and members of the U.S. Marine Corps stationed in Okinawa joined them, a South Korean marine corps spokesman said on Thursday.

Other exercises included deploying tents where the injured could receive treatment, and transporting landing equipment and materials by aircraft carrier, a ship capable of conveying helicopters and armored vehicles.

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The exercises trained troops to quickly provide reinforcements of tanks and vehicles to those already on shore, the source said.

The United States and South Korea have increased the number of joint exercises conducted in and around the peninsula in 2016.

In October, naval forces of the two countries for the first time conducted drills in waters on both sides of the Korean peninsula to warn North Korea.

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