U.S. Forces Korea conducts evacuation drill for American civilians

Troops transported military families to Japan for the first time in seven years in an annual exercise that prepares them for a scenario of war.
By Elizabeth Shim  |  Nov. 7, 2016 at 2:34 PM
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SEOUL, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- U.S. troops in South Korea simulated the evacuation of U.S. civilians in late October and early November in the wake of recent North Korea provocations.

The U.S. Forces Korea exercises known as "Courageous Channel" are held annually, but according to the U.S. Eighth Army this year's drill marked the first time in seven years training was held in the most lifelike setting, should war erupt on the peninsula.

U.S. troops conducted training that transported civilians to a U.S. military base in Japan, Yonhap reported.

"We exercise our non-combatant evacuations operations every year but this exercise is by far the most realistic. This is the first time since 2009 we have flown family members outside of the peninsula in support of this exercise," said Justin Sturn, an evacuation expert with the U.S. 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command.

Family members of U.S. military personnel, including children, participated in the exercises as non-combatant evacuees, according to the Eighth Army website.

The families were transported to a U.S. army base in the South Korean city of Pyeongtaek then traveled to another base in Daegu on Chinook helicopters.

They were then briefed at Camp Walker, weighed and processed through a relocation center, according to the military.

After spending the night in the area, they were sent to an airbase where they boarded a C-130 aircraft that departed from South Korea for Japan.

The exercise was held between Oct. 31 and Nov. 3.

Second Lt. Leigh Ostrander said a situation where U.S. civilians would need to be evacuated would be a "scary situation."

"We need to be really aware of who we're working with and what's going through their minds as well as ours," Ostrander said.

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