By Pvt. Choi Keun-woo (USAG-Yongsan)May 21, 2008
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea - Yongsan Garrison held a semi-annual noncombatant evacuation operation exercise May 15-17 designed to familiarize families and other noncombatants with evacuation procedures.
Soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Division turned Collier Field House into an Evacuation Control Center, setting up stations and walking "evacuees" through the steps to quickly move noncombatants out of Seoul.
"The NEO exercise requires a lot of coordination from a lot of units," said Jeffry Waye, U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security. "The 2nd ID from Area I takes command and control. What we do here in Yongsan Garrison and IMCOM-Korea is provide logistical support."
Brig. Gen. Al Aycock, Installation Management Command-Korea Commanding General, toured the ECC and received briefings from organizers.
"This is a very, very efficient system which will allow people to know exactly what to do," General Aycock said. "The battalion commander (Lt. Col. Thomas Isom) has NEO in a box. This was an excellent exercise."
For one spouse, Cho Eun-young, who has participated in NEO exercises for 24 years, NEO procedures have improved dramatically over the years.
"There used to be many unnecessary steps that I had to go through such as watching briefing videos, even after having gone through the process for many years," said Cho, who works at the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center. "It used to take a long time to complete the procedure. I think the current system if very efficient."
"Every time we come down here, this place runs very smooth," Isom said. "It's all about getting the families prepared."
A NEO can be ordered in the event of natural disaster or hostilities or any other reason when the safety of American citizens is deemed at "undue risk" by the U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Korea.