by Col. Thomas James
111th Air Operations Group
9/25/2015 - HORSHAM AIR GUARD STATION, Pa. -- From
August 17 - 28, members of the 111th Attack Wing deployed to Osan Air
Base, South Korea, for Exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2015.
Ulchi Freedom Guardian is the annual Republic of Korea and U.S. Forces
Korea defense-oriented exercise designed to enhance Combined Forces
Command's readiness, protect the region and maintain stability on the
The second of two Korean deployments for the 111th ATKW this year alone,
UFG 2015 involved 30,000 U.S. troops alongside 50,000 South Korean
counterparts. Members from around the 111th ATKW and 193rd Force Support
Squadron, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, were integrated into the Air Force
forces staff, a medical group, a security forces unit, a simulation cell
and many other duties.
Working 12-hour rotating shifts on both the exercise and during real
world tensions, UFG 15 featured a number of scenarios and training. The
operations were meant to improve response to military strikes, potential
terrorist attacks, and the use of chemical or biological weapons in
major South Korean cities.
During the 111th ATKW's time in Korea, real world tensions were at a
20-year high; and North Korean mines seriously wounded two South Korean
border guards. North and South military forces exchanged artillery fire
along the de-militarized zone, air defense aircraft were airborne on
combat air patrol. According to open news sources, more than 50 North
Korean submarines -70 percent of their fleet - set sail from their bases
as tensions rose. North Korea had also ordered its front-line troops
onto a war footing during this drastic rise in tensions.
News sources cited that North Korea saw the exercises as a veiled threat
of war. The source stated that Kim Jong-un, the supreme leader of the
Democratic People's Republic of Korea, had vowed to respond with the
"strongest military counteraction" if UFG 15 was not canceled.
UFG 2015, however, pushed on.
There were seven United Nations Sending States participating in UFG 15:
Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, New Zealand, and the
United Kingdom. Also, the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission
monitored UFG 15 to ensure its compliance with the Korean Armistice
Agreement, signed in 1953.
So, despite the threats and real-world military action taken against the
region, the Pa. Air National Guard and participating entities completed
their mission. Once again, continuing forward with operations, the
111th ATKW and its members displayed professionalism and dedication at
home and abroad.