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YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — U.S. Forces Korea will test its readiness next week to evacuate large numbers of noncombatants in case of a natural disaster, civil unrest or military conflict.

As part of Courageous Channel, a semi-annual, peninsula-wide Noncombatant Evacuation Operation (NEO), dozens of volunteers will uproot themselves and be taken “to safety” by military transportation.

The main thrust of the exercise will be held at Yongsan Garrison’s Collier Field House and the Hannam Village Chapel from Oct. 23-25.

“In order for any plan to work, it is essential that it is rehearsed and all participants fully understand all aspects of the operation,” said Capt. William Rene, the Area II NEO officer, in a military news release.

Officials say that all noncombatants should remain prepared by keeping a NEO kit prepared in advance. That kit should contain a NEO checklist form; proof of U.S. citizenship or residency; ID card and passport; birth and marriage certificates; and other important documents.

It also should contain personal protective masks, a three-day supply of food and a 30-day supply of any prescription medications.

In the event of a real NEO, officials said, evacuees would be limited to two pieces of luggage weighing 66 pounds or less.

Pets can be evacuated as long as they weigh less than 25 pounds and can be hand-carried by the evacuee.

For more information on the exercise or on NEO preparedness, call the Area II NEO coordinator at 738-4682.

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