Exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian, which culminated last week in South Korea, is helping strengthen U.S. partnerships in the Pacific, said the commander of U.S. Army I Corps.
In a media roundtable yesterday, from South Korea, Lt. Gen. Stephen Lanza, commander of I Corps, said his unit served as an operational headquarters for the exercise in support of the 3rd Republic of Korea Army.
The Combined Forces Command’s annual computer-assisted simulation exercise with the Korean military began Aug. 18, and ends today, with the after-action review, Lanza said.
Along with strengthening U.S. partnerships in the Pacific region, Ulchi Freedom Guardian streamlines operations with partner nations, Lanza said. In addition to 30,000 U.S. forces, the exercise also included troops from 10 U.N. Command nations – Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom.
Interoperability was a key element of the training, Lanza said. The exercise focused on an amphibious operation in a contested situation, he explained.
“We hone our skills to train commanders from both staffs in our wartime planning, increasing our ability to conduct command and control, intelligence, logistics and fires (air and ground fires integration), more importantly supporting the defense of South Korea,” Lanza said.
The exercise involved computer simulations hosted at various sites across South Korea and the United States. It was the largest operational exercise for South Korea for the year, he said.
This year’s exercise built on lessons learned from last year, he said.
“They’re more than just mil-to-mil exercises, they really involve how we’re going to execute contingency operations as part of our contingency planning,” Lanza said.
The exercise further strengthened the combined defense and enhanced the readiness of South Korea, the United States Combined Forces and U.N. sending nations, said Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, commander of the Combined Forces Command.
“The exercise was based on realistic scenarios that enabled valuable training on our essential tasks and ensured we are fully prepared to defend the Republic of Korea should the need arise,” Scaparrotti said in a statement about the exercise.
The Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission observed the exercise to validate its defensive and deterrent nature, as consistent with the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement.
Training exercises like Ulchi Freedom Guardian are carried out in the spirit of the Oct. 1, 1953, Republic of Korea-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty, and in accordance with the armistice, according to Combined Forces Command.
The exercises highlight the longstanding military partnership, commitment and enduring friendship between the United States and South Korea, while helping to ensure stability and security on the peninsula, and reaffirm U.S. commitment to the northeast Asia region, the statement said.