News: Eighth Army trains for task force mission during UFG
Story by Walter Ham
NEW MEXICO RANGE, South Korea - Eighth Army will continue its transformation to a combined joint task force headquarters during Ulchi Freedom Guardian Aug. 19 - 30.
Operating out of its mobile command post named after first Republic of Korea Army four-star general, Gen. Paik Sun-yup, the U.S. Army's top operational command in Korea will train for its new mission as an operational-level headquarters capable of commanding combined and joint corps-level formations.
"UFG is a great opportunity to train with allies and ensure we are ready to deter aggression or fight and win if deterrence ever fails," said Eighth Army Commander Lt. Gen. Bernard S. Champoux. "This exercise enables us to leverage the full might of our combined defense team."
Champoux said Ulchi Freedom Guardian is designed to bolster the readiness and interoperability of the Republic of Korea-U.S. alliance.
In addition to American and South Korean forces, seven United Nations Sending States are scheduled to participate in the exercise, including Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, New Zealand, Norway and the U.K.
Ulchi Freedom Guardian is one of the largest computer simulation exercises in the world, involving units and personnel from bases in the U.S. and across the Pacific region.
The command and control exercise will incorporate the lessons learned from the U.S. military's operations in Iraq and Afghanistan during the past decade and from previous exercises on the Korean Peninsula.
Originally called Ulchi Focus Lens, UFG is defensive in nature and takes place around the same time every year. The Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission will monitor the annual exercise to ensure compliance with armistice agreement.
Named after Ulchi Mundeok, an early Korean military leader who repelled an invasion by China's Sui Dynasty in the 7th century, UFG is the second of two annual peninsula-wide exercises.
According to Champoux, while Eighth Army trains year round to maintain its readiness, exercises like Ulchi Freedom Guardian enable it to train together with its allies at operational and strategic level.
"We operate in a fluid, dynamic and challenging hybrid threat environment," said Champoux. "And our mission readiness helps to maintain security on the Korean Peninsula and stability in the Asia Pacific region."
The Eighth Army commander said Ulchi Freedom Guardian keeps Eighth Army and the ROK-U.S. Alliance ready to confront and defeat any potential threat.
"We will mark the 60th anniversary of our Mutual Defense Treaty this October and this exercise is a testament to our commitment to defending freedom on the Korean Peninsula," said Champoux. "Our alliance is 60 years strong and Ulchi Freedom Guardian will make it even stronger."