Our Marine’s First Exercise
The typhoon post (promised at the end of the last post) has been, as they say in the military, OBE (“Overcome by Events,” a frequent phrase in this household). Exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian has begun. According to Wikipedia, “The exercise is the world’s largest computerized command and control implementation which mainly focuses on defending South Korea from a North Korean attack.” Given our Marine’s IT job, he’s knee-deep in the exercise, whose purpose is to strengthen readiness (of both US and South Korean forces) in a critical area of the globe.
I am *not* talking out of school or endangering operational security (OpSec) here; it’s a well publicized event. US Forces Korea even issued a press release. And the news media picked up on it, since China and North Korea are having their annual apoplexy over legitimate military exercises. (Does anyone else smile when protesters in a foreign country hold up signs in English?? Pandering to the media, anyone? From www.globalsaskatoon.com)
He’s adjusting to a 12 on/12 off schedule….and he drew the night shift. He posted to Facebook recently, “So I think I’m finally used to this crazy 12 on 12 off night shift.” He returns to a normal working schedule (and a normal sleeping schedule) when the exercise is over.
To complicate matters, the Kadena AFB weather station on Okinawa is monitoring the approach of yet another typhoon. (He has been barracks-bound this season at least twice.) If it heads for Oki, it’ll arrive smack in the middle of the exercise.
As US forces withdraw from Afghanistan, the Pentagon has shifted its primary focus to the Asia/Pacific region, as China gets stronger and North Korea makes ever-more-outlandish claims and challenges. While not related to the exercise, the recent news story on the disputed island (just “down the street” from Okinawa, figuratively speaking) visited by Japanese activists illustrates the tensions in the region.
This Marine mom will quite diligently be watching news stories from that area of the world over the next year or so.