U.S., South Korea to Begin Ulchi Freedom Guardian Exercise

WASHINGTON, Aug. 15, 2011 — U.S. and South Kore­an troops will begin the 10-day Ulchi Free­dom Guardian exer­cise tomor­row, con­duct­ed annu­al­ly by the Repub­lic of Korea-Unit­ed States Com­bined Forces Com­mand to improve com­bat readi­ness.

Tens of thou­sands of U.S. and South Kore­an troops are expect­ed to mobi­lize in and around the South Kore­an cap­i­tal of Seoul for the com­put­er-assist­ed sim­u­la­tion com­mand post exer­cise, com­mand offi­cials said.

Like all the command’s exer­cis­es, offi­cials said, the Ulchi Free­dom Guardian is rou­tine and defense-ori­ent­ed. It is designed to improve the alliance’s abil­i­ty to defend South Korea by train­ing ser­vice mem­bers while exer­cis­ing senior lead­ers’ deci­sion-mak­ing capa­bil­i­ties, they added.

Ulchi Free­dom Guardian 2011 is a demand­ing exer­cise that presents “a great oppor­tu­ni­ty” for joint and com­bined forces to eval­u­ate the mis­sion-essen­tial and crit­i­cal sup­port­ing tasks, said Army Gen. James D. Thur­man, Com­bined Forces Com­mand com­man­der.

“Ulchi Free­dom Guardian is designed to enhance the inter­op­er­abil­i­ty of the Unit­ed States and Repub­lic of Korea mil­i­tary forces while enhanc­ing the com­bat readi­ness of the alliance,” he said. “UFG 11 will present the alliance with tough and real­is­tic train­ing events focused on prepar­ing, pre­vent­ing and pre­vail­ing against the full range of cur­rent and future threats to the Repub­lic of Korea and the region.”

Unit­ed Nations Com­mand offi­cials said the North Kore­an army was informed through their Pan­munjom Mis­sion of the Aug. 16–26 exer­cise and its non­provaca­tive nature.

Last month, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, Joint Chiefs of Staff chair­man, praised South Kore­an lead­ers for their “poise and calm” dur­ing North Korea’s provo­ca­tions in 2010.

“The north should not mis­take their restraint as a lack of resolve, nor should they inter­pret it as a will­ing­ness to accept con­tin­ued attacks,” Mullen said dur­ing a media round­table in Seoul.

South Kore­an Pres­i­dent Lee Myung-bak has made clear that his coun­try won’t tol­er­ate more attacks like the sink­ing of the South Kore­an navy ship Cheo­nan in March 2010 that killed 46 sailors or the artillery strike on Yeon­pyeong Island in Novem­ber that killed four, includ­ing two South Kore­an marines, Mullen said.

“This alliance is firm,” the chair­man said in Seoul on July 14, the day Thur­man assumed com­mand of Unit­ed Nations Com­mand, Com­bined Forces Com­mand and U.S. Forces Korea. “There may have been a change of com­mand here today, but noth­ing has changed about the Unit­ed States’ mil­i­tary resolve and readi­ness.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)