South Korea's new civil-military drill, tentatively named the 'Ulchi Taeguk' exercise would take place in May 2019, bringing an end to the South Korea-U.S. joint exercise - Ulchi Freedom Guardian. The new civilian-military drills will be a combination of two existing ones - the Taeguk command post exercise and the Ulchi government exercise extracted from the UFG. Based on the concept of comprehensive national security, the 'Ulchi Taeguk' exercise will include the government, military and private sectors practicing a broad range of training drills to better cope with terrorism, large-scale disasters and armed attacks.
Ulchi Freedom Guardian was one of the largest annual military command post exercises in the world. The second of two annual exercises held in South Korea, UFG followed exercise Key Resolve/Foal Eagle, which took place each spring.
Seoul's defense ministry announced 19 June 2018 that South Korea and the US will suspend all planning as expected for the annual Freedom Guardian joint military exercises set for August. The defense ministry's statement said the decision came after close consultation between the two countries. The ministry said however, a decision regarding other annual joint military drills, like the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises, conducted in the spring every year,.. hasn't been reached yet.
South Korea's defense ministry spokesperson Choi Hyun-soo told reporters, during the regular press briefing that South Korea and the U.S. are closely working together, to ensure the ironclad security of both countries. "South Korea and the U.S. are fully prepared and our joint defense has complete readiness and will continue to do so."
The decision came a matter of days after U.S. President Trump said he wanted to halt what he called "war games" on the peninsula, saying that they are expensive and provocative. He first made those remarks during the press conference that followed last week's summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore. But Trump also stressed that the military exercises can start immediately if the denuclearization talks with the North break down.
South Korea's defense ministry spokesperson Choi also clarified the meaning of "suspension" in its statement. "As we stress how the denuclearization talks with North Korea will roll out, the suspension means that the decision by the South and the U.S. will be effective, as long as the denuclearization talks with Pyongyang are progressing."
In July 1976, in anticipation of the establishment of a Combined Forces Command, the annual ROK government mobilization exercise ULCHI was combined with UNC/USFK/EUSA’s CPX FOCUS LENS. Exercise ULCHI-FOCUS LENS was institutionalized to enhance ROK-US interoperability by training commanders and staffs from both nations in wartime planning, command and control operations, intelligence, logistics, and personnel procedures required for the successful defense of the Republic of Korea. The name of the exercise was changed in 2008 to ULCHI-FREEDOM GUARDIAN.
UFG is carried out in the spirit of the Republic of Korea and the United States Mutual Defense Treaty, signed between the United States and the Republic of Korea on October 1, 1953. The exercise highlights the historic and enduring partnership between two nations in their combined commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea and in ensuring regional peace and security.
UFG is a CFC-led warfighting exercise. It provides an invaluable opportunity to evaluate, train, and improve combined and joint coordination, procedures, plans, and systems necessary for the conduct of contingency operations by the Republic of Korea and U.S. forces. The ROK/U.S. Combined Forces Command was established in November 1978 by agreement between the Republic of Korea and United States governments for the sole purpose of deterring acts of external aggression against the Republic of Korea and, if deterrence fails, to defeat an armed attack against it.
'Ulchi' is a famous Korean general's last name. His full name is Ulchi Munduk. He was the Commander-In-chief of Army of Kokuryu (ancient Korean nation that existed through BC 37 to AD 668). According to Korean history book, he was Commander in Chief at the time of Soo Chinese empire. Over three hundred thousands Chinese soldiers attacked Kokuryu in 612 AD, but at that time Kokuryu didn't have that much military might, yet Kokuryo had Gen. Ulchi.
During the fighting, Ulchi commanded his army to pretend to be losing. Reacting to what they thought was to be an easy victory, the Chinese forces advanced inside Kokuryu territory. This is what Gen. Ulchi wanted, since he was more familiar with the local terrain. He then wrote a poetic, satirical letter to the Soo commander. Ulchi was an eloquent writer and poet. He said something like, 'You have won as much you ever will, so why don't you save yourselves and take back your forces?'
The enemy was a bit confused. Taking advantage of their confusion, Gen. Ulchi attacked the Soo's forces at the Salsu River. There, Gen. Ulchi waited for the Soo's forces and attacked when they were halfway across the river. Only about two thousands Chinese soldiers ever crossed the river. This was one of the greatest victories of Korean history, which made Gen. Ulchi one of the Korea's great generals.
Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2009
The annual exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian was the 33rd consecutive successful exercise conducted with Republic of Korea - U.S. Forces. Formerly Ulchi Focus Lens, Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2009 was a command post exercise that will provide valuable training as well as evaluate and improve combined and joint coordination, procedures, plans and systems necessary for the conduct of contingency operations in defense of Republic of Korea.
The annual, regularly scheduled event includes forces from major ROK units representing all services to include joint U.S. forces and ROK military. More than 10,000 servicemembers will participate in the exercise across the country and was the second such exercise which featured ROK military assuming the supported role while U.S. servicemembers were in the supporting command. By ROK assuming the supported role, it prepares everyone for the planned OPCON transition in 2012, when Korea Command was scheduled to be activated.
Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2010
The Republic of Korea (ROK) Armed Forces and the United States Forces Korea and Combined Forces Command (USFK/CFC) conducted the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) exercise from August 16 – 26, 2010. UFG 10, like all other major CFC exercises, was designed to improve the Alliance’s ability to deter aggression and if deterrence fails, fight tonight and prevail in the ROK. These exercises are designed to help teach, coach, and mentor Service Members on staff and leadership decision-making processes.
UFG is an exercise that takes place about the same time every year. Alliance Forces must be agile and adaptive to meet the challenges of the current and future security environment. This year’s UFG was a CFC-led exercise to ensure that our Alliance is prepared to respond to threats across the spectrum of conflict, to include north Korean provocations.
The scope of the exercise extended well beyond the Korean peninsula and takes a whole-of-government approach. All of the Alliance’s major commands participated, augmented by approximately 3,000 U. S. personnel from the United States and its bases in the Pacific region. They joined over 500,000 South Korean military and government participants, 27,000 U.S. Joint Forces, and multi-national representatives from the United Nations Sending States. They were connected by communications and computer simulation networks that reach from locations in South Korea to Washington, D.C. and U.S. military headquarters around the world.
Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2011
U.S. and South Korean troops began the 10-day Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise Aug. 16, 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 mobilized in and around the South Korean capital of Seoul for the computer-assisted simulation command post exercise.
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.
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.
Led by the ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command, the exercise provided commanders and staff at all levels the opportunity to train for full-spectrum military operations. During the exercise, the 8th U.S. Army moved its operational headquarters from one post to another and set up a joint task force headquarters.
Exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian concluded Aug. 26, 2011 after two weeks of intense training across South Korea. The computer simulation exercise is held every summer to hone the warfighting skills of the combined defense team in South Korea.
Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2012
The annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise took place from Aug 20-31, 2012. As the Department of Defense shifts its focus toward the Asia-Pacific region, UFG exercises became more important than ever. UFG 12 presented an opportunity to showcase US commitment to the region and improve ROK/U.S. combat readiness and joint/combined interoperability.
With Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen throughout Korea, at Pacific Command, and operating from locations across the U.S., UFG 12 was one of the largest Joint Staff directed theater exercises in the world. UFG 12 provides the combined team an opportunity to develop improved organizational structures and enhance our command and control relationships.
United States Army Soldiers flew thousands of miles from several of the 50 states, including Hawaii, California, Maryland, Alabama and Utah, to support the Republic of Korea-U.S. Alliance during 2012 Ulchi Freedom Guardian Exercise in South Korea. Subject-matter experts, PhDs, maintenance crews, military police and observer controllers were just a few of the skill sets added to this year's Ulchi Freedom Guardian.
UFG 12 was an opportunity for the USARPAC Contingency Command Post to validate capabilities across the Pacific area of operation. Participating in operations like this forced Soldiers to think on a strategic level and continue to refine their own internal systems of doing things.
Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2013
The Republic of Korea – U.S. Combined Forces Command conducted the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise Aug. 19 through Aug. 30. This year’s training event involved computer simulations hosted at various sites across the Republic of Korea and the U.S. UFG allowed senior leaders to exercise their decision-making capabilities and trained commanders from both nations in combined planning, military intelligence, logistics and command and control operations. UFG also allowed the ROK and U.S. to evaluate and improve joint air coordination procedures, plans and systems including Combined Space Operations.
Service members and civilians from the Republic of Korea and the United States took part in the exercise. Participants came from the Korean peninsula, the U.S., and elsewhere in the Pacific region.
Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission observers monitored the exercise to ensure it is in compliance with the Armistice Agreement. Seven United Nations Command states participated this year: Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, United Kingdom, New Zealand and Norway. The UNC Military Armistice Commission informed the Korean People’s Army at Panmunjom of the exercise dates and of the routine nature of the training.
Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2014
Ulchi-Freedom Guardian 2014, a 10-day annual computerized command-and-control exercise, kicked off Aug. 20, 2014. More than 25 Hawaii-based Soldiers from the 8th Theater Sustainment Command, joined the 50,000 South Korea troops, and 30,000 U.S. Soldiers throughout the Pacific, for the combined and joint training.
This year’s training event involved computer simulations hosted at various sites across the Republic of Korea and the U.S. UFG allowed senior leaders to exercise their decision-making capabilities and trained commanders and staffs in combined planning, military intelligence, logistics and command and control operations. UFG also allowed the ROK and U.S. to evaluate and improve joint air coordination procedures, plans and systems including Combined Space Operations.
"This year's UFG 14 (Ulchi-Freedom Guardian 2014) training exercise will include 10 United Nations Sending States members. Their importance of their participation in UFG 14 highlights the importance of our alliance partnerships and teamwork," said Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, the commander of the Combined Forces Command. "This is a critical milestone as we continue to enhance interoperability and common understanding to best support the defense of the Republic of Korea."
The 10 United Nations sending states scheduled to participate in UFG 2014 are: Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom. In addition, the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission observers will monitor the exercise to ensure it is in compliance with the Armistice Agreement for the Restoration of the South Korean State (1953).
Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2015
The Republic of Korea – United States Combined Forces Command conducted the annual exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2015 Aug. 17 to Aug. 28. UFG is a routine and defense-oriented exercise designed to enhance CFC readiness, protect the region and maintain stability on the Korean peninsula. UFG is planned months in advance and it is not connected to any current world events. U.S. forces will join ROK military forces representing all services, and ROK government participants.
There are seven United Nations Command Sending States scheduled to participate in UFG 2015, including Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. In addition, the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission will monitor the exercise to ensure it is in compliance with the Armistice Agreement.
Through its Panmunjom mission, the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission has informed the North Korean People's Army of the exercise dates and the non-provocative nature of this routine training.
North Korea promised to take the "strongest military counteraction" in response to the joint U.S.- South Korea exercises. As many as 80,000 U.S. and South Korean forces were taking part in the exercises. South Korean President Park Geun-hye called for a strong military readiness on the Korean Peninsula. "However, North Korea distorts and condemns the essence of the Ulchi exercise every year, continuing military threats," said Park.
Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2016
South Korea and the United States began their annual joint military exercise under the threat of military retaliation by North Korea on 22 August 2016. About 50,000 South Korean troops are involved in the two-week Operation Ulchi Freedom exercise, which is largely simulated. Approximately 25,000 total US service members participate in the exercise, with about 2,500 coming from off-peninsula The drill set to last till early September is aimed at building the capacity of the allied forces to deal a sudden preemptive nuclear strike during the contingency on the Korean peninsula. It is also to apply a phased war scenario geared to occupation of the DPRK.
The United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission (UNCMAC) informed North Korea’s Korean People's Army (KPA) through its Panmunjom mission of the exercise dates and the non-provocative nature of this training. Nine United Nations Sending States are scheduled to participate: Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Italy, Philippines, United Kingdom and New Zealand. In addition, the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission observers will monitor the exercise to ensure it is in compliance with the Armistice Agreement for the Restoration of the South Korean State (1953).
The annual drills routinely anger Pyongyang, which says it sees the drills as a rehearsal for a full-scale invasion of the North, despite insistence by Seoul and Washington that the drills are purely defensive in nature. A statement issued by the North's military said its first-strike units were ready to turn the US and Washington "into a heap of ashes through a Korean-style preemptive nuclear strike," if North Korea's sovereignty is threatened. The spokesman for the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army said in a statement on August 22: “They should be well aware that from now on, the KPA combined units for primary strike are constantly on high alert to deal a preemptive counterstrike to all the enemy’s offensive groups involved in the drill." The nuclear war maniacs should keep in mind that the KPA would mount a merciless preemptive nuclear strike of Korean style to the source of provocation to reduce it to rubbles if they show any slight sign of aggression against the DPRK’s territory, waters and airspace, he added.
Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2017
South Korea and the US planned to conduct joint military drills at a similar level to last year’s exercises, Seoul’s military said Friday, contradicting rumblings that they may limit maneuvers so as to not rile North Korea. Set to begin Monday 21 August 2017 and complete August 31, Pyongyang views movements like the Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) exercises as dress rehearsals for invading the communist nation.
Yonhap News Agency quoted a South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff official telling a press briefing, that "This year's military drills will be similar in size to those conducted last year." An official with the South’s Ministry of National Defense said the two militaries had not considered changing the size of the drills.
Some 50,000 South Korean service members took part in last year’s UFG exercise, which brought about 25,000 US troops, including roughly 2,500 personnel from the US Pacific Command and the mainland. There would be additional troops participating from Canada, Denmark, Australia, Colombia, the UK, the Netherlands and New Zealand.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency quoted North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on 14 August 2017 warning Washington about the upcoming drills. If "the planned firepower demonstration is carried out as the US is going more reckless, it will be the most delightful historic moment when the Hwasong artillerymen will wring the windpipes of the Yankees and point daggers at their necks, underlining the need to be always ready for launching into action anytime our Party decides."
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