Photo: United States Forces Korea
U.S. military personnel around the world go though extensive training and war games in preparation for whatever scenario or conflict confronts them.Their families have rehearsals too.
In South Korea, where U.S. 28,500 troops and thousands of their families are stationed, the defence Department (DoD) is making sure American non-combatants know how to leave the country and repatriate just in case tensions with North Korea boil over into an emergency situation, or war.
Jon Rabiroff at Stars & Stripes reports the annual evacuation rehearsal, called exercise Courageous Channel, is taking this week so that more than 20,000 DoD-affiliated people — such as defence Department civilians, contractors, and families — will practice the procedures necessary to leave the peninsula. And it’s mandatory.
United States Forces Korea holds mock Noncombatant Evacuation Operations (NEO) every spring.
We found an official slideshow manual for evacuees, listing which forms must be completed, and what items to keep with you. And here are a few instructional gems:
- The “50m Test”: If you you can’t pick everything up and sprint for 50m, you’ve got too much — the defence Department emphasises this in block letters and an exclamation point. They’re serious about this.
- “Ship later”: Large pets are to be left behind.
- “It’s cold in a military plane” — so bring extra clothing even in the summer, says the DoD.
Rabiroff puts the experience into context:
In a country where the U.S. military lives by the motto “ready to fight tonight,” the families of servicemembers in South Korea are asked always to be prepared to take flight at very short notice.
It is one of the realities of living in the shadow of North Korea, a country with a history of provocations and unpredictable behaviour.
NEO planner Andrew Kim told Stars & Stripes that rehearsal evacuations for family members have a positive trickle-own effect on soldiers.
“It gives them [families] some kind of confidence that in the event of an actual evacuation, as long as they’re ready, the soldiers are ready as well,” he said.
Photo: 8th Army
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