May 21, 2010:
In South Korea, the semi-annual American evacuation (for American civilians) exercise has been cancelled. This was because relations between North and South Korea are particularly tense. It was felt that this exercise, which involves setting up the 18 evacuation points and having 10,000 people actually go through some of the procedures involved during an evacuation, might make the unstable North Koreans do something rash. The tension is the result of North Korea torpedoing a South Korean warship two months ago, killing 46 sailors. The North Koreans officially denied they did it, although North Koreans have been congratulating each other about it, and the North Korean general in charge of such things was very publicly promoted for no particular reason. Recently, South Korea announced it was certain the ship was sunk by a North Korean torpedo. North Korea called that accusation an insult and threatened war.
Called Courageous Channel, the evacuation drill has been held twice every year (in the Spring and Fall) since 1996. That was when someone noticed that there a lot more U.S. citizens living in South Korea, particularly in and around the capital Seoul. This city contains a quarter of South Korea's population, and is a primary target for any North Korean invasion. The city is within range over a thousand North Korean guns and rocket launchers. If there were an actual evacuation, some 140,000 American citizens (and some non-citizen dependents) would be moved south.
During the Cold War, even larger evacuation plans were in place for American citizens living in West Germany. There, as in heavily urbanized Seoul, many military planners doubted the evacuation would succeed. That's because a Russian invasion was expected to occur, if it did at all, with little or no warning. In addition, there would be millions of Germans attempting to flee, and many NATO military units trying to use the same roads. The Russians were expected to attack the roads, to cause more chaos and slow the movement of NATO troops. The evacuation plans were believed to be more of a morale building exercise, than anything else.