On Monday, the U.S. military began drilling to evacuate non-combatants from South Korea in case the red-hot rhetoric explodes into an all-out war between the United States and North Korea. This comes after North Korea resumed its threats against U.S. territory Guam amid the latest joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea which also began Monday involving the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet.

According to a statement by the military, this drill is to prepare “service members and their families to respond to a wide range of crisis management events such as non-combatant evacuation and natural or man-made disasters”.

Through a press release, the Navy stated that this practice evacuation was part of routinely scheduled drill known as “Courageous Channel” which is being conducted from Monday until Friday. Despite the U.S. military’s assurances that this is all routine, it seems that this particular addition is due to the escalated tensions in the region.

The cost of this war as it relates to our military members and those of our allies is immeasurable, especially if a nuclear exchange takes place. Despite assurances, our ability to protect the area against multiple nuclear strikes has never been tested in combat and North Korea’s latest missiles might be harder for the missile defense systems that are emplaced due to the Pukguksong-2’s solid rocket fuel which requires less fueling time.

The last time war ravaged this area, the civilian death toll was more than 2.7 million with one estimate by Air Force General Curtis LeMay being that 20% of the population of North Korea was annihilated. Since then, the population of the South has exploded and with the advances in weaponry now available, the costs of this conflict would be exponentially higher.

If war does come to the Korean Peninsula, the consequences would be catastrophic to the civilian population which exceeds 25 million people in the metropolitan area. Uncertainties abound but one thing is certain, the destruction to the region would be unfathomable and no doubt the consequences of such a conflict would ripple outward for decades to come. The world hopes the diplomatic efforts Secretary of State Tillerson mentioned on Sunday will not just continue but will win out before the bombings do.


Sources:  NY Times, Washington Post, CNN