By Staff Sgt. Brett B. McMillan, 200th MP CommandAugust 24, 2011
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea, Aug. 23, 2011 -- The Republic of Korea-United States Combined Forces Command exercise "Ulchi Freedom Guardian" runs through Aug. 26 with more than 530,000 troops participating from nine nations.
The Republic of Korea, United States and seven United Nations Command countries are taking part both on the peninsula and at U.S. military headquarters in the Pacific and the United States.
The annual computer-assisted simulation command-post exercise is defense-oriented, officials said. They said it is designed to improve the alliance's ability to defend the Republic of Korea by exercising senior leaders' decision-making capabilities and by training commanders and staffs from both nations in planning, command and control operations, intelligence, logistics, and personnel procedures.
"It is challenging and realistic training focused on preparing, preventing and prevailing against the full range of current and future external threats to the Republic of Korea and the region," said Gen. James D. Thurman, Combined Forces Command commander. "We are applying lessons learned out of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as those garnered by the Alliance's recent experiences with North Korean provocations on the peninsula and past exercises."
All of the Combined Forces Command's major units are taking part, and U.S. forces are being augmented by about 3,000 military personnel from the United States and other bases around the Pacific region.
The contingent deployed to Korea includes more than 50 Army Reserve Soldiers assigned to the 200th Military Police Command, headquartered at Fort Meade, Md.
Maj. Gen. Sanford E. Holman, commanding general of the 200th MPs, greeted his Soldiers Aug. 14 in a welcome briefing on Camp Walker, Korea, hours after their arrival on the peninsula, and explained the command's role as an enabling force with primary missions of supporting Noncombatant Evacuation Operations, or NEO, and a Reception, Staging, Onward movement and Integration, known as RSO & I, mission.
"The RSO and the NEO missions are the critical cogs in the wheel of successfully ensuring the security of the South Korean people. The on-post security that we are going to help facilitate is pivotal," Holman said. "Our ROK partners are going to take care of outside the wire, and we're going to take care of inside the wire. If we aren't here, then our logistician battle buddies have to do it and therefore they can't have full focus on the logistical operations -- the sustainment piece of the deep and close fight."
"So not only are we providing the MPs and CID agents for that, we are assisting with the command and control of that rear battle that must be successful in order for the deep and close battle that the rest of the Combined Forces Command is waging to be successful. That is very significant," continued Holman.
Originally called Ulchi Focus Lens, the exercise is one of two annual Combined Forces Command peninsula-wide exercises.
"Ulchi Freedom Guardian is a defensive exercise designed to enhance the interoperability of the Republic of Korea and U.S. military forces and integration of UNC sending state forces, while enhancing the combat readiness of the Alliance," said Thurman.
The exercise is named after Ulchi Mundeok, an early Korean military leader who repelled an invasion by China's Sui Dynasty in the 7th century.
United Nations Command has informed the Korean People's Army through their Panmunjom Mission of the exercise dates and the non-provocative nature of the training.