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U.S. Army conducts evacuation exercise in S. Korea amid N.K. threat

2016/11/07 15:47

SEOUL, Nov. 7 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. Army recently conducted an evacuation exercise of its noncombatant citizens from South Korea in case of a conflict with North Korea, an official Army web page said.

The 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command (ESC) evacuated about 300 soldiers acting as families, civilians and other noncombatants for the annual Courageous Channel 2016 exercise that ran from Oct. 31 through last Thursday, the web page content posted last week said.

"We exercise our noncombatant evacuation operations every year, but this exercise is by far the most realistic. This is the first time since 2009 we have flown people outside of the peninsula in support of this exercise," said Justin Sturn, the ESC's noncombatant evacuation expert.

The roleplayers were briefed about the exercise at Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers south of Seoul, and were flown in two Chinook helicopters to Daegu Airbase and then transported to Camp Walker in the country's third-largest city of Daegu, 302 km south of Seoul, the Eighth Army said.

After spending a night in Daegu, they boarded a C-130 aircraft that temporarily took them outside of South Korea before they returned to the country, it said.

This year alone, North Korea has conducted two underground nuclear tests in January and September and some two dozen ballistic missile tests. Such developments have escalated global fears that the North is approaching its stated goal of developing a nuclear-tipped long-range ballistic missile that can even hit parts of the U.S. mainland.