Courageous Channel 2016: Team 19 Exercises Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations

by Cpl. Sung Guk Byun
19th ESC Public Affairs

DAEGU, SOUTH KOREA – 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command successfully evacuated close to 300 Soldiers acting as non-combatant evacuees for the annual Courageous Channel 2016 exercise from Area I to Area IV, Oct. 17 to Oct. 19.

The rapid and safe evacuation of U.S. Soldier’s families, civilians and other non combatant U.S. citizens is one of Team 19’s most critical missions.

“NEO [Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations] is important because, as ROK-US allies, our job is to evacuate U.S. affiliated personnel and personnel that the U.S. Department of State and other department of states deem necessary to evacuate the country in time of contingency or crisis,” said 1st Lt. Jiwook Ryu, 551st Inland Cargo Transfer Company, 498th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, the officer in charge of the processing center.

19th ESC performs this yearly exercise in order to hone procedures and enhance readiness to evacuate U.S. personnel in the event of a crisis including major natural disasters, financial crisis or contingency.

19th ESC worked closely in cooperation with different organizations across the Korean theater of operations and beyond.  

1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Soldiers on a nine-month rotation participated as non-combatant evacuee role-players during their redeployment to Fort Hood, Texas.  19th ESC set the conditions for the rotational unit to experience the entire evacuation process, just as an evacuee would in the event of a real-world crisis.

On day 1, 19th ESC conducted Forward Command Post operations at Camp Carroll, Daegu.  The FCP served as the central location for mission command to plan, coordinate, and execute the exercise.  Once established, each Team 19 prepared to accept the NCE role players traveling from Area I to the Camp Carroll relocation center by bus and helicopter.

On day 2, Soldiers of the 19th ESC rehearsed emergency evacuation center operations. The NCEs went through the process of reception and weigh-in just as evacuees would do in a real situation. 498th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion Soldiers welcomed the NCEs and processed them through a defense identification system. The NCEs were then taken to the life support area where they stayed for the night before leaving the Republic of Korea.

On day 3, Team 19 Soldiers transported the NCE role-players from Camp Carroll to Gimhae airport in Busan. There, 25th Transportation Battalion Soldiers assisted NCEs with final screening procedures before being guided onto a plane to take them to their final destination.

Eighth Army commanding general, Lt. Gen. Thomas S. Vandal, visited the Gimhae flight line to show his appreciation for the Soldiers in 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division participating as non-combatant evacuees during CC16 prior to take-off.

Staff Sgt. Jorel Coleman, 665th Movement Control Team, 25th Transportation Battalion, was the transportation management supervisor for the exercise.

"I think it went really well, especially for this exercise being the first time. I think we were well prepared, especially the 25th Transportation Battalion. We do a lot of missions already with passengers throughout the peninsula," said Coleman.

1st Lt. Ryu also said that this training was a great opportunity to test Team 19’s capabilities and identify shortfalls.

“The exercise gives us a real world assessment of where we actually are in conjunction to if there was actual real world crisis or contingency," said Ryu.

Team 19 and strategic partners will use the lessons learned from this exercise to improve their non-combatant evacuation operations systems for the next phase of Courageous Channel 2016 which includes an exercise evacuating real DoD dependents off the Korean peninsula in early November.

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