Friday, May 15, 2009
* Text informed by Lindis Percy on May 14, 2009
* Image Source/description: same as the article below
'Pvt. Andrew McDowell, far right, of the 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion, tests the noncombatant evacuation computer system by checking himself into it Tuesday afternoon at U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan’s Collier Field House. McDowell and other troops from the 1st BSTB in Area I will check in civilians during the Courageous Channel exercise, which begins Thursday and ends Saturday. '
10,000 to practice S. Korea evacuation
By Ashley Rowland, Stars and Stripes Pacific edition,
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Ashley Rowland / S&S
SEOUL — The number of participants in this weekend’s Courageous Channel exercise — essentially a dress rehearsal for U.S. civilians for evacuating South Korea in case of an attack or natural disaster — is expected to climb in Area I, where the number of troops stationed with family members has increased, according to a coordinator for the exercise.
Maj. Jaren Price of the 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion said about 10,000 people are required to participate in the NEO, or noncombatant evacuation operations exercise. Of that number, about 5,000 to 7,000 — often mothers who register their families while children are in school — will pass through evacuation control centers across the peninsula between Thursday evening and Saturday night.
In addition to U.S. government noncombatants, the U.S. would have to evacuate about 140,000 civilians from South Korea during an emergency, including private U.S. citizens and their families, and citizens of the countries that make up the United Nations Command.
Family members of U.S. servicemembers, and nonemergency-essential civilian employees and their families, are required to participate in the semiannual exercise.
At each evacuation control center, participants must pass through a series of stations where they practice the steps they would go through during a real emergency: undergoing a security check, giving their car keys to a soldier who would move the vehicle for safekeeping, registering, and receiving a white armband with a bar code on it. That bar code would be used to track them until they arrived at their final destination in the U.S.
Adults and children can also stop at a station and practice putting on gas masks with help from soldiers.
"This is the one day a year they get to practice this," Price said.
A few dozen civilian volunteers will travel from Osan Air Base to Japan on Friday to practice an actual evacuation.
Evacuation control centers will be open from 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The process will take about 30 to 45 minutes during peak hours, Price said.