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I Corps on point in the Pacific

Ulchi-Freedom Guardian 2014 tests capabilities

Lt. Gen. Stephen Lanza, commanding, I Corp Joint Base Lewis-McChord, spoke enthusiastically about I Corps' role in exercise Ulchi-Freedom Guardian 2014 in South Korea. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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I Corps continues to lead the way in the Pacific area of operations.

"We're moving ahead," said Lt. Gen. Stephen Lanza, commander, I Corps, said in a telephone interview from South Korea earlier this morning.

"We have gone beyond rebalancing in the Pacific; we are building on the work done in the past."

I Corps is a leading partner in a 10-day annual computerized command-and-control exercise known as Ulchi-Freedom Guardian 2014, or UFG 14.

The exercise is the world's largest computerized command and control implementation which focuses on defending South Korea from an attack from North Korea.

UFG 14 is a Combined Forces Command-led war fighting exercise, which provides opportunities to evaluate, train and improve combined and joint coordination and systems necessary for contingency operations.

The exercise involves most of the South Korean military and over 30,000 American soldiers.

Other nations participating are Australia, Canada, Columbia, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom.

"The importance of their participation in UFG 14 highlights the importance of our alliance partnerships and teamwork," Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander, Combined Forces Command, explained in an earlier interview.

"This is a critical milestone as we continue to enhance interoperability and common understanding to best support the defense of the Republic of Korea."

Along with strengthening the partnership with the South Korean forces, the simulation called for I Corps conducting an amphibious landing on the Korean peninsula.

"We've raised the bar on the coordination between air and ground forces," said Lanza.

"We will continue to build out all parts of our contingency plans."

One of those "build outs" is called Pacific Pathways.

Since the Army is involved in a number of annual multilateral exercises in the Pacific, some planners want to use the series of established training exercises with Pacific nations as "training pathways" in order to build partnerships, enhance inoperability and cut costs.

According to Gen. Vincent Brooks, the Army's commander in the Pacific, his forces need to be able to quickly respond to small conflicts, isolated acts of aggression and natural disasters.

Brooks wants to increase regional familiarity and keep key elements of an infantry brigade to Asia for months at a time, moving every few weeks to different nations to conduct training exercises.

To that end and as UFG 14 winds down, Joint Base Lewis-McChord's 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division will soon begin a round of exercises in Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan.

"We continue to move ahead," Lanza said, "and we will continue to build on this."

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