South Korea and U.S. servicemembers began another year of training in a familiar peninsula-wide exercise Aug. 16.
U.S. forces and their South Korean allies first gathered here last week to ramp up for the multi-day, defense-oriented command post exercise Operation Ulchi Freedom Guardian. This is one of two major annual combined exercises at the Pacific-Theater level. It is scheduled to continue until Aug. 26.
Participants stationed at Osan Air Base are joined by hundreds of augmentees from around the world, each bringing a different background and skill set to the simulated fight.
Many of these representatives have had to break from the familiarities of their daily jobs and apply their skills in new ways to support the exercise.
“This is a fast-paced learning experience,” said 1st Lt. David Grusch, an UFG intelligence duty officer who volunteered to participate.
“It took me out of comfort zone and pushed my operational knowledge”, explained Grusch, who serves as a wing space control intelligence officer at Peterson Air Force Base, Co.
Although the Air Force has the lead here, exercise participants at Osan AB consist of representatives from all U.S. military services who have come together to assure mission success.
The 3rd Battlefield Coordination Detachment, a 40-person team stationed here, provides situational awareness to the air component about what occurs as troops fight on the ground.
“(This exercise) is completely different from my day-to day-duties,” explained Spc. Christopher Reeves, a 3rd BCD intelligence analyst. “I am used to battalion-level work, where I provide very specific, small-scale intelligence. I now have to look at a much bigger picture.”
UFG is designed to help, teach, coach and mentor these service members while exercising senior leaders’ decision making capabilities and improving the Alliance’s ability to defend S. Korea.
“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, the 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.”
UFG is carried out in the spirit of the Mutual Defense Treaty signed by the United States and S. Korea Oct. 1, 1953. It highlights the nations’ longstanding partnership and combined commitment to the defense, peace and security of the region.