Soldiers near Korean DMZ take monthly drills seriously
September 24, 2006
STORY RANGE, South Korea — Even when the drills come every month, troops based at Camp Bonifas have one thing that helps them stay focused: the knowledge that they’re sitting just a few miles from one of the world’s largest military forces — and not necessarily a friendly one.
The troops know that when you’re based next to the Korean Demilitarized Zone, with the massive North Korean military concentrated within 90 miles, you must be ready for anything, beginning with the first day of your assignment.
So servicemembers at Camp Bonifas practice different types of air, river and land evacuations monthly, officials said. Thursday’s task was to practice the routine that would be followed to get civilians and servicemembers from the area as quickly and smoothly as possible.
As Black Hawk helicopters from the 2nd Infantry Division, Combat Aviation Brigade were landing at a remote field not far from the DMZ, U.N. Command Security Battalion commander Lt. Col. Mike Anastasia was briefing commanders on the operations order.
Anastasia said he was looking for quick, decisive movements from all involved while following the plan.
“If you’re not sure … just do something aggressively and you should be moving in the right direction,” he said.
The air crews took off, then returned to pick up another group of evacuees. They were to spend about 45 minutes in the air, with Apache helicopters acting as route security, before landing in another spot not far from the pickup point.