Battleland

Just In Case: U.S. Has Plans for Americans to Flee South Korea

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Courageous Channel isn’t some new offering from your cable TV provider.

It’s the name of the regular Noncombatant Evacuation Operation exercise done by the U.S. military in South Korea to practice getting thousands of U.S. civilians out of the country in a hurry if it looks like war with North Korea is imminent.

Each spring, U.S. military dependents, non-emergency essential civilians and contractors do everything except board an airplane for such an eventuality. They’re told what to bring (“3 days food/water…30 days meds…limited cash $100-200”) and what to do about pets (“pets are considered family members…do not have priority over people…pets cannot be abandoned”). There’s even a handy video “to learn how to correctly employ the Infant Chemical Agent Protection System,” along with lots of other tips on what to do the day no one hopes ever comes.

“Each person,” the guidelines issued by U.S. Forces Korea say, “is allowed one airline carry-on & one check-in bag totaling no more than 66 lbs.” Don’t overpack for doom, in other words.

(PHOTOS: Scenes from North Korea’s Kaesong Industrial Zone)

Any evacuation decision would be made by the State Department in consultation with the Pentagon and other elements of the government. Such an action, U.S. officials said Thursday, would be politically difficult because it would telegraph the U.S. believes war is imminent, if not inevitable — a belief the South Koreans would no doubt like to minimize. A State Department official said there are “no plans to implement a noncombatant evacuation operation at this time.”

The most recent exercise took place last May. “This increased readiness will ensure the rapid and safe evacuation of our family members and other U.S. government-affiliated noncombatants in the case of a contingency, crisis or hostilities,” Drew Kim, the U.S. Army’s noncombatant evacuation operations – NEO — planner, said during the training. “The goal of this exercise is to train our soldiers in the execution of NEO and to familiarize 100% of our military dependents and other U.S. government-affiliated noncombatants on the registration and evacuation processes.”

Things are changing in the U.S. military’s approach to providing troops for the U.S. Forces Korea command  (whose website, mysteriously, has been down for a couple of days…and its public-affairs shop apparently hasn’t tweeted since…June). There are roughly 28,500 U.S. troops assigned to South Korea, consisting mostly of Army (19,000) and Air Force (8,000) personnel.

The U.S. military is in the middle of converting most of its one-year tours without families into three-year tours with families. More Americans in harm’s way if war breaks out — that’s bad news. But they’re also relocating thousands of troops and families further south, purportedly beyond the range of North Korean weapons (greater Seoul is only 35 miles away, and DMZ tours are available). That’s the good news.

(MORE: Is Kim Jong Un Driving North Korea to a Nuclear Dead End)

Army General James Thurman, the top U.S. commander in South Korea, told his Senate confirmation hearing in 2011 that moving U.S. troops south and concentrating them near major transit hubs makes sense:

Consolidation will also enhance the execution of noncombatant evacuation operations. By reducing the dispersion of transportation assets, movement times are reduced. By separating U.S. forces from initial wartime threats such as North Korea’s long-range artillery and its ground forces threatening Seoul, the vulnerability of these forces is reduced and their survivability enhanced.

U.S. troops are now scattered at more than 100 posts, concentrated around Seoul but stretching across most of South Korea. Over the next several years, the Pentagon plans on moving those troops to half as many bases, many clustered near the cities of Osan and Daegu.

The challenge of evacuating thousands of Americans is exacerbated by the tight confines of any war between the Koreas. The North has about 13,000 artillery tubes within range of Seoul and most of the roughly 150,000 Americans now in South Korea. Any Korean war game that triggers martial tits-for-tats could suddenly erupt into full-scale war with thousands of U.S. military dependents in the crossfire. North Korea “has the world’s largest artillery force that is positioned as far south as possible and that can rain on Seoul today,” then-U.S. Army General Walter Sharp, commander of all U.S. forces in Korea, warned in 2009.

(MORE: Trying to Plumb the North Korean Mindset)

Sharp championed a plan to build more housing, schools and other facilities so that about 12,000 married troops will be able to bring their families with them to South Korea for three-year tours. He said he valued the stability and reduced stress offered by longer, accompanied tours, and the savings they’d generate by keeping troops in place longer. Between 2008 and 2010, the number of troops with command-sponsored families had risen from 1,800 to 4,500, where it remains due to a lack of housing, schools and other infrastructure needed to support more.

The U.S. move south can also been seen as a kind of retreat, giving the South Koreans more responsibility for their own defense. In 2015, the South Koreans are supposed to assume command any combat operations that might take place on the peninsula.

While the movement of U.S. troops further south in South Korea has been delayed due to a lack of funds, U.S. officials say it is going to happen. “We are moving out of this place, all right?” Thurman told a U.S. military gathering in Seoul in January. “Everybody thinking they’re going to be here for years and years to come, I think that’s not going to be true…in 2016, we’re going to be pretty much down there.”
Just three short years away.

26 comments
Mizzquagmire
Mizzquagmire

Real smart to leak this out - don't they realise that this should be a "confidential" plan of evac?

outspoken
outspoken

HOW PATHETIC  IS IT   TO LEAVE  A FRIEND  OF  60 +  YEARS.

Kabakasman
Kabakasman

All that the chubby boy wants is world attention. They might be sadists when it comes to how they treat their people but I dont think they are suicidal. No need for worries for thats what the North Koreans want. U do that and u are playing straight into their hands.


RoachGeorgia
RoachGeorgia

The physical fitness of many of these family members is scary.  They need to do some work there !


남윤호
남윤호

I`m Korean(south).

Rokaf still work and noisy. It means Korean gorverment doesn`t think the war in a short term. North forback their  well trained sordure and borders fight level. It is that I don`t want to damage and fight. so if something happend, korean will win on 386 line.

We need to issue that they say "hi".

valentine.godoflove
valentine.godoflove

IDIOTS!!!!!!         IDIOTS!!!!!!!!!         IDIOTS !!!!!!!!       WHEN THE NORTH KOREAN KATYUSHA ROCKETS AND MISSILES HIT THE SOUTH.....THERE WILL BE NO TIME TO GET OUT OF THERE !!!!!!!!  SAY AGAIN ......THERE WILL BE NO TIME TO GET OUT OF THERE !!!!!.....PLANES WILL BE SHOT DOWN.....SHIPS WILL BE ATTACKED !!!!!!!!!.....THIS IS MODERN WARFARE !!!!

IF THE NAZIS COULD BLITZ FRANCE IN 2 WEEKS......THE NORTH KOREANS COULD CROSS INTO THE SOUTH IN 1 DAY!!!!!!!

WHO ARE THESE AMERICAN PLANNERS OR GENERALS THINKING WE CAN EVACUATE THOUSANDS OF CIVILIANS?

I STALIN WERE ALIVE......HE WOULD HAVE HAD THEM SHOT FOR SUPIDITY !!!!

VALENTINE.....COMEDIAN.....LOL

stowevt024
stowevt024

When I was stationed with the U.S. Army in West Germany (at the time) in the late 70's & early 80's and the Cold War was in its heyday, we were fed the same B.S. The only problem was that all the airports would have been targeted and they would have been the first to go after all the military bases were nuked and incinerated.  I can guarantee that if "...the balloon goes up..." no one will be flying out of South Korea. We referred to the N.E.O.'s as Nuked Every One.

melonheadx13
melonheadx13

let's get our troops out of korea so li'l un can declare victory and hopefully tone it down.  china has the golden opportunity to raise its status and prestige in world affairs by pressing li'l un to the wall to calm the situation down.  china's the last place where north korea would even think of aiming military firepower.

JamesGilliss
JamesGilliss

Observations:

1 As a majority of US forces are around Seoul, so too are their families.

2. Evacuation relies on sufficient warning and lots of buses, all driven by South Koreans, who likely will decide  to look after their own families/safety first. Military helos and C-130s, if available, would be challenged to make much of a difference in moving dependents and baggage.

3. The total number of U.S civilians in S. Korea exceeds 200,000. No plans cover those not linked to the DoD.

4. Assembly/rally points to the South would be ideal psychological strike targets for enemy tactical rocket fires and clandestine enemy forces. The entire peninsula is in harms way

5. An evacuating family of one adult and three children would be lugging around 130 -150 pounds of emergency supplies, and small children. This NEO Evac. plan as described does not seem sound, nor something I would trust to protect my loved ones.

chacalcdn1
chacalcdn1

It's just baby tantrum, give him a signed basketball,(oups) he already has one.

A giant Disney lollypop and a snoopy blanket, that should do the trick. LOL

antonmarq
antonmarq

It's always amazing how we just like to blab about our strategic efforts in an area, when we seriously need to keep our mouth AND MEDIA, shut. Information of this sort puts American lives in danger, threatens area security, and incites malicious thinking and fears.  

RugeirnDrienborough
RugeirnDrienborough

Back in the mid-80's,when I was at the US Embassy in Seoul, I was responsible for updating the numerical estimate of how many people would need to be evacuated. I discovered that the estimates from previous years had been mechanically regenerated each year by essentially cutting and pasting the previous year's numbers. 

You see, it's not just US military dependents. It's not just US civilians and dependents. The US has treaty obligations with a number of other countries, particularly Taiwan, to evacuate their nationals as well. That's where the huge increase in numbers came from. The US had not bothered to keep track of the huge increase in the number of third country nationals.

I redid the basic research and came up with a number that was about an order of magnitude larger than the previous figures. When I submitted that report, the document disappeared into the political section of the embassy and was never heard of again. I hope it's been fixed since, because if it hasn't, and they implement the plan, they will have a gigantic disaster on their hands.

Smiles909
Smiles909

This is a good opportune time to free North Koreans, who are starving and deep trouble. Just attack, get rid of this leadership. If US and Britain could attack Iraq then, why not North Korea now ?

남윤호
남윤호

It`s a mordern warfare. but North weapon system has a fect of precise to attack. your view of weapon is too hight to suppose the north

steelgoat67
steelgoat67

Heh, I'm sure they'll greet us as liberators, right?

RunningWriting
RunningWriting

@Smiles909 

That would be a good result, but with significant costs. There would be a flood of refugees, into South Korea and into China. A war could damage the South Korean economy and possibly the Japanese economy too, which would have a significant impact on the U.S. as well. The world economy is already fragile as it is, without a war breaking out in one of the premiere economic centers on the globe (including China).

StephenSwain
StephenSwain

@Smiles909 How did that Iraq deal work out?  In that light, does this sound like a good way to invest lives and treasure?  Or were you just kidding?

melonheadx13
melonheadx13

@ViableOp if only the chinese could quit stuffing their pockets with money for like 5 minutes they might take li'l un's rants seriously and do something about it.

남윤호
남윤호

so they  made a bio and nuclear and chemistry things. so..

RoachGeorgia
RoachGeorgia

@melonheadx13 @ViableOp   Maybe the Chinese are quite happy with the current situation.

If the U S gets bogged down, Taiwan could be taken with a barely a shot fired.

joejack5000
joejack5000

@남윤호 제생각에는 전쟁대신에 2010년깥은 도발행의 할꺼예요.  아마도 연평도 폭격이나 저난함저럼 배를 공격할꺼예요.  서울에 사는 친구 많이 있으니까 전쟁 나면 진짜 안됩니다.


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