2nd Combat Aviation Brigade completes NEO exercise

by Chung Il Kim
U.S. Army

CAMP HUMPHREYS – Family members, Department of Defense civilians and noncombatants from the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade visited the Super Hangar Oct. 30 to participate in Courageous Channel, an annual noncombatant evacuation operation training exercise.

The exercise familiarizes noncombatants with the processes they would follow during a real-world crisis such as a military conflict or natural disaster.

“We replicate what will happen when we evacuate non-combative personnel out of the country,” said Capt. Guecheon Theobal, the support operations officer for the 602nd Aviation Support Battalion, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade.

The exercise not only prepares community members for a potential evacuation, it also trains military personnel to execute the massive undertaking should a situation ever call for action.

“NEO gives an opportunity to let Family members learn the system and an opportunity for us to run the system,” said Theobal.

The 2nd CAB’s NEO training includes administrative and document procedures as well as the opportunity to fly in military aircraft.

Sgt. Christopher Weinkel, a NEO Warden for the 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 2nd CAB, helped civilians board the CH-47F Chinook helicopters.

When the engine started, a young boy covered his ears with his hands and leaned toward his mother. As the Chinook lifted into the air, people took pictures to capture the exciting moment.

“We perform military air flights with our Chinooks under the same process that would take place during an actual evacuation,” said Weinkel. “During the entire procedure, safety is foremost in our minds.”

Every year, the NEO staff continues to improve the process.

“Compared to last year, the entire procedure is way more efficient,” said Jennifer McBroom, the spouse of Chaplain (Capt.) Philip McBroom, a 2nd CAB assistant chaplain. “NEO training is helpful, so we know what to expect in case of an emergency.”

“There are aspects of a real-world situation you just can’t simulate, but we do our best to make sure what people see when they come into the NEO Center is almost the same as they would see in a real event,” said Theobal. “Once this year’s exercise is over we will go back and take lessons learned and continue to refine our process, so that we can evacuate everyone as safely and quickly as possible.”

The exercise is planned to be good training and fun for the noncombatants. They were able to learn what needs to be done during a crisis, but also got to go out and fly in a helicopter which not a lot of people can say they do. It was definitely an exciting moment that most people wanted to capture with a photograph.

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