Eighth Army participates in annual NEO exercise
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea (Sept. 23, 2013) -- U.S. Forces Korea is holding its annual noncombatant evacuation exercise in South Korea this week.
Exercise Courageous Channel enables U.S. military dependents, non-emergency essential civilians and contractors to walk step-by-step through the process that would be used in a real-world noncombatant evacuation operation, or NEO.
"DOD-affiliated noncombatant participation is the most important aspect of NEO training," said Andrew Kim, the NEO planner for Eighth Army. "This helps in providing realistic training for both military personnel who execute the mission and noncombatant personnel who must know what to do during an actual crisis."
The annual exercise allows all DOD-affiliated noncombatants to practice every part of the evacuation process short of departing the Korean Peninsula, said Kim.
Kim encouraged DOD-affiliated noncombatants, including non-emergency essential civilians, to participate in the exercise.
According to Kim, Courageous Channel was moved from May to September this year to align it with summer transition and allow more new DOD-affiliated noncombatants to participate in the exercise.
Kim said select U.S. Forces Korea and Eighth Army planners will travel through the entire NEO process from Korea to their repatriation site in the United States.
"This allows us to rehearse and assess the evacuation process from beginning [in Korea] to end [in the continental United States], which further enables us to refine our NEO plan," said Kim, who is from San Diego.
Kim said a noncombatant evacuation operation can be conducted for a variety of reasons, as evidenced by the 2011 triple disaster that occurred in Japan when a massive earthquake-driven tsunami crippled a nuclear power plant.
"Courageous Channel will help to ensure the rapid and safe evacuation of our family members and DOD-affiliated noncombatants in the case of an emergency on the Korean Peninsula," said Kim.