SEOUL, South Korea -- After years of preparing troops for military scenarios in Europe and the Middle East, a specialized Army Reserve unit is extending its training operations to the other side of the world -- the Far East.
For the first time this August, nearly 100 soldiers with the 75th Training Command participated in the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian training exercise in the Republic of Korea. And, although this was the unit's first UFG, it will not be the last, as it is expected to become an enduring mission.
"Exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian is an important mission for the 75th, the Army Reserve and our nation," said Maj. Gen. Jimmie Jaye Wells, commander of the unit. "It is a tribute to the reputation and expertise of the soldiers of this command that we have been requested to place this rock in our training rucksack."
Ulchi Freedom Guardian is an annual partnership exercise on the Korean peninsula between the Republic of Korea- United States Combined Forces Command, and is centered on readiness, deterrence, and the ability to defend the Republic of Korea.
The event allows senior leaders to exercise decision-making capabilities, and trains commanders and staffs from both nations in many mission management disciplines. These include combined planning, command and control operations, military intelligence, logistics, and personnel procedures. It is one of the largest computer simulation exercises in the world, involving units and personnel from bases in the United States and across the Pacific region. More than 30,000 US personnel participated in the exercise.
Soldiers of the 75th Training Command served as exercise control staff, observers, post-exercise review facilitators, and augmentees to both US Forces Korea and 8th Army headquarters units during the exercise.
According to Jude Shea, the director of the Korea Battle Simulation Center , the 75th's participation in UFG 2012 came about as a joint effort between Wells and the previous division commander, Maj. Gen. Eldon Regua, who is now the deputy commanding general of 8th Army. Shea said the unit's involvement and plans for a continual relationship in Korea is of mutual benefit to both the 75th and the simulation center.
"The 75th provides the rank and experience that we couldn't get before and it reduces our dependence on augmentees from the active duty troops here on the peninsula," Shea said. "And it exposes the 75th to exercises at higher levels than they normally operate."
Wells said the Ulchi Freedom Guardian mission was an opportunity for the 75th Training Command to expand its horizons. "Our 75th soldiers hone their simulation skills using the latest modeling techniques and software, operate in a real-world environment with a threat just across the border, and finally are able to train in a joint,inter-agency,inter-governmental and multi-national role," he said. "No other training environment gives us that ability."
Although Ulchi Freedom Guardian is the 75th's initial entry into exercises in the Pacific theater, the simulation center director said it may just be the beginning of a larger scope of operations, including the annual Yama Sakura exercise in Japan, between the US and the Japanese self-defense force. "There will probably be other opportunities in the Pacific theater and Korea," Shea said.