Osan combat drills include air sorties, ground operations
By MARCUS FICHTL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 1, 2017
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — The 51st Fighter Wing is leading more than 5,000 servicemembers in combat drills this week at Osan Air Base.
The quarterly exercise, called Beverly Herd 17-1, is designed to test base defense protection measures, combat operations and the ability to sustain forces in adverse environments, the 51st FW public affairs office said.
The drills, which run through Friday, come during a time of high tension on the divided peninsula after North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile known as a Pukguksong-2 on Feb. 12. The alleged North Korean assassination of leader Kim Jong Un’s half brother with VX nerve agent in Malaysia also has ratcheted up concerns.
The exercise includes a number of air sorties focusing on a close air support mission while also simulating ground operations.
“Beverly Herd provides the 51st Fighter Wing with the ability to train with assets that may become critical to the success of our wartime mission,” Col. Andrew Hansen, 51st FW commander, said in a statement.
Since late Monday, most participants have donned chemical- and biological-resistant suits along with weapons, body armor and helmets. Barricades and concertina wire have also been emplaced around the base, about 40 miles south of Seoul. Administrative functions, such as a wing-wide promotion ceremony on Tuesday, saw its participants dressed in protective gear.
Elements of the 177th Fighter Squadron from New Jersey’s Air National Guard also participated in the exercise.
The U.S. has some 28,500 servicemembers stationed in South Korea, which remains technically at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 conflict ended in an armistice instead of a peace treaty.