Thursday, August 12, 2004

Computer war exercises to start later this month

As U.S. Army troops leave for Kuwait and eventual Iraq duty, others will come to South Korea for what’s been billed in previous years as the world’s largest computer-driven war simulation.

Ulchi Focus Lens (UFL), involving U.S. and South Korean troops, will run from Aug. 23 through Sept. 3, according to a U.S. Forces Korea news release. “CFC’s preparedness is an effective deterrent to external aggression and serves as the foundation for diplomatic efforts to achieve peace and stability on the Korean peninsula,” according to the USFK release.

Friday, South Korean Ministry of National Defense officials confirmed many details of the exercise, but declined to say how many South Korean troops would take part. Also Friday, USFK said the Combined Forces Command, a U.S.-South Korean warfighting command, had formally notified North Korea of the exercise, a common practice.

On Saturday, North Korea’s official news agency called the exercise “preparation for war.” The North frequently criticizes U.S. military moves, claiming they are preludes to an invasion.

A USFK news release stated, “UFL is designed to evaluate and improve combined and joint coordination, procedures, plans and systems for conducting contingency operations between the forces of both countries. The exercise involves a number of U.S. military units assigned on the Korean peninsula, as well as ROK forces and a small number of U.S. forces deployed from outside the country.”

UFL is part of a series of exercises conducted by the combined command, a mesh of U.S. and South Korean officers. This year marks the 30th UFL exercise, although it has not been held annually.

While small groups of U.S. servicemembers will come to South Korea for UFL, about 6,500 others will take part in the exercise from the United States, according to USFK. No large-scale deployments are expected.

Over the last few years, the exercise’s field activities have been curtailed as relations between North and South Korea have improved. In years past, the South Korean military conducted a high-profile tank crossing on the Han River along with a bridge defense exercise.

UFL “provides an opportunity for commanders and staffs to focus on strategic and operational issues associated with general military operations on the Korean peninsula,” according to, a military think tank. Ulchi Focus Lens is a command post exercise “with the tactical situation portrayed through the use of computer simulation models and master scenario events list.”

The exercise further improves combined and joint coordination, meaning cooperation within the U.S. military and with the South Korean military. Also tested are plans and systems for conducting contingency operations between the forces of both countries.

The exercise is named after Ulchi Munduk, a Korean general, according to He was commander in chief of the army of Goguryo, the former name for Korea. Ulchi outsmarted attacking Chinese forces around 612 A.D., making him one of Korea’s most famous military officers.

Kelly & Milo on Stanby

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