UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Courageous Channel

Courageous Channel is a regularly scheduled exercise. It is unrelated to any current or specific event. Noncombatant readiness exercises called "Courageous Channel" are conducted semi-annually, usually during the spring and fall each year. During these exercises, a full dress rehearsal of NEO is conducted. The purpose of this exercise is to train all participants in the procedures to follow during the alert and assembly phases to instill realistic expectations. In order for any plan to work, it is essential that the participants fully understand all aspects and stages of the plan. To make the whole process work successfully requires practice.

The participation of noncombatants is the most important aspect of any NEO training. This helps in providing realistic training for both military personnel who execute the mission and noncombatant personnel who must know what to do in an actual crisis situation. It is mandatory for all DoD-affiliated noncombatants, including non-emergency essential U.S. Government employees and contractors, to participate in the Courageous Channel exercise. Military retirees are also encouraged to participate. The participants process through the Evacuation Control Centers (ECCs) to verify the completeness and accuracy of NEO packets and to become familiar with processing procedures.

The Republic of Korea has the most heavily defended border in the world. Though the probability of conflict remains low, the potential of hostilities occurring on the Korean peninsula is greater than in many other parts of the world. Noncombatant Evacuation Operations (NEO) is, as the name suggests, a plan to ensure that family members and other noncombatants can be evacuated to a safe place in the event of a natural disaster, civil unrest or any likelihood of military conflict.

During some exercises, selected noncombatants will be evacuated through the system to test the relocation, evacuation and safe haven phases of the plan. The USFK full time NEO staff uses the lessons learned from these exercises and from actual evacuations around the world to continually refine the military assisted evacuation plan for Korea.

In the event of a crisis, the U.S. Embassy will monitor the situation, and based on the seriousness of the crises, will put the NEO plan into effect in stages. "First, the embassy will advise the American community through travel advisories and warnings. This is the voluntary phase of NEO. Noncombatants would be advised by the embassy about the changes to the current security situation and might be advised to consider departing the affected area or not traveling there. During this phase, the embassy would provide all possible assistance to U.S. noncombatants.

The second phase is more serious and might include an ordered departure of U.S. government and DoD noncombatant personnel. The embassy would inform al U.S. citizens about the ordered departure and would again advise U.S. citizens to depart the affected area.

If a situation develops quickly and the Department of State requires assistance in the evacuation of noncombatants, the the Secretary of State will request that the military assist in the evacuation. This is the third phase of NEO. During this stage, the military will assemble the noncombatants and then either relocate or evacuate them to a safer place.

Each unit has NEO wardens who are responsible for checking on his or her group of noncombatants and continuously updating the group on any new information. In the event of a developing crisis, people should stay at home or a safe place, listen to American Forces Network - Korea television and radio for advisories, and prepare to react to instructions from their NEO wardens.

In the event of a military assisted evacuation, US Forces Korea would establish 18 assembly points on the Korean peninsula where noncombatants will assemble. Once the noncombatants are screened for eligibility, the military will move the noncombatants to an evacuation port or relocate them to a safe place on the peninsula until they can be evacuated.

The readiness of participants will ensure that the process of evacuation will be achieved smoothly and without unnecessary stress. An actual NEO may require thousands of noncombatants to travel for several days on very short notice. Because of the limited time during a crisis, noncombatants should prepare for any contingency by having a NEO kit assembled. Each family should prepare and keep ready a NEO kit for this or a similar situation. The NEO kit (usually a backpack or other sturdy carryall) should contain emergency supplies that allow a family to travel for several days on short notice as well as a folder or NEO packet with documents proving eligibility for evacuation and documents that support the family's immediate relocation to the continental United States. Emergency supplies in the NEO kits should include a three-day supply of lightweight, high energy, ready-to-eat food; bottled water; a 30-day supply of prescription medication; a small transistor radio, flashlight, with extra batteries; toiletries; and a three-day supply of baby formula, diapers and other baby hygiene items for noncombatants with infants. This suggested list of items is not all-inclusive and can be modified to tailor to the noncombatants needs. Keep in mind during an evacuation a noncombatant is allowed up to 66 pounds in luggage.

In the event of a NEO situation, noncombatants should also carry with them any non-replaceable documents, about $100 and 30,000 won in cash for any emergencies, extra seasonal clothing, a first aid kit, a flashlight with extra batteries and a blanket or sleeping bag. More detailed information and helpful things are available in USFK Pamphlet 600-300, the Department of Defense Noncombatants Handbook.

The groups that will be covered by the NEO will include Military sponsored family members, DoD Dependent Schools faculty and staff, U.S. Embassy non-essential staff and dependants, DoD invited contractors - who are not mission essential - and their dependants. Others who will also be covered by the plan will include U.S. citizens in commerce and industry in Korea, U.S. citizens' alien spouses and/or children, legal permanent residents of the U.S., nonessential diplomatic staffs and U.S. citizen tourists.

U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) conducted Courageous Channel (CC) 2002-1, a semi-annual noncombatant evacuation operations (NEO) exercise, March 7-9, 2002. The goal of this Courageous Channel was to process 100 percent of Department of Defense (DoD)-affiliated noncombatant community. The key to making that goal is ensuring people know about it. The challenge is personnel turnover, which means new family members and other noncombatant evacuation eligibles arrive regularly requiring these new members of our communities to take the time to process through one of the evacuation control centers. Prior to the assembly operations at evacuation control centers March 7-9, NEO wardens were required to contact all their families and complete a 100 percent inspection of NEO packets and kits.

During the Courageous Channel (CC) 2002-1 exercise, approximately 100 volunteer noncombatants from several areas in the ROK were relocated and evacuated to the exercise safe haven off peninsula. Volunteers assembled in designated areas on the peninsula and depart on military aircraft March 8 from Osan and Kimhae air bases for Kadena, Okinawa. The noncombatants returned 10 March.

CC 2002-1 also exercised the NEO Tracking System (NTS). The purpose of exercising the NTS is to evaluate operator proficiency and demonstrate performance improvements in the system's ability to track noncombatants as they move through the evacuation process from Korea to the repatriation sites in the continental United States. This is a joint training exercise that will involve the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps personnel.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:22:35 Zulu