Combined Rear Area Operations 

in the Korean Theater

by Major Maxine C. Girard

The mission of the United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command/U.S. Forces Korea (UNC/CFC/USFK) is to deter war, maintain stability on the Korean peninsula, and, should deterrence fail, defend the Republic of Korea (ROK) against North Korean aggression. Together, these commands face the world's fourth largest military force, and they must be prepared to engage the enemy in deep, close, and rear area operations.

The combined rear area (CRA) of the Korean peninsula is the same as the area of operations of the commander in chief (CINC), United Nations Command (UNC) and Combined Forces Command (CFC). Operations occurring in the CRA are crucial to the implementation of the CINC's warfighting objectives. Those operations will be successful only when the broad functions performed there are coordinated and synchronized to provide swift, decisive support to the deep and close battles.

CRA Operations

Among the functions performed in the CRA are command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I); wartime host nation support; reception, staging, onward movement, and integration (RSO&I); and noncombatant evacuation. The CINC outlines the conditions for success in CRA operations by defining the CRA, designating a CRA coordinator, and establishing a C4I network. The CRA coordinator is the primary agent for orchestrating the broad functions of the rear area and integrating the execution of those functions within the operation plan. He also ensures that all aspects of rear operations are focused on the deep and close battles.


C4I systems are managed centrally and executed decentrally across the spectrum of operations in theater. The end state of effective C4I is information dominance on the battlefield. Information dominance provides an operational advantage to the warfighter in deep, close, and CRA operations. The CFC's main tool for attaining U.S. armistice support in the rear area is an interoperable, secure, reliable, and efficient common operating picture.

The common operating picture provides the CRA coordinator with real-time visualization and awareness of the battlefield. It is an effective decision support mechanism that enhances the CRA coordinator's ability to support the deep and close battle. Assured, combined communications are the bedrock of the common operating picture. On this bedrock rests a structure that includes integrated intelligence and computer-supported information dominance. Intelligence collection, analysis, production, and distribution are essential for planning and conducting successful operations on the Korean peninsula.

Wartime Host Nation Support

Wartime host nation support is a combat multiplier that provides the CINC timely combat support and combat service support resources for RSO&I, as well as sustainment of U.S. forces. This flexibility enhances the flow of forces and the management of time-phased force deployment data.

The USFK wartime host nation support program is based on an "umbrella" agreement between the ROK and the United States signed on 23 December 1992 by the U.S. Secretary of Defense and the ROK Minister of National Defense. The program is designed to augment engineering, communications, transportation, ammunition, field services, supply, medical, petroleum, maintenance, nuclear-biological-chemical, security, personnel, and labor support to reinforcing forces. When available U.S. forces cannot meet requirements, ROK provides support of rear operations, including evacuation of noncombatants.

In addition to providing logistics and planning support for rear operations, wartime host nation support enhances the defense of the peninsula and strengthens the bonds of mutual interest between the ROK and the United States. Host nation assistance missions generate goodwill and solidify the alliance between the two governments.


RSO&I is the heartbeat of CRA operations. RSO&I operations provide vital sustainment to deep and close CFC operations. They are a function of the national service component command in the CRA (for example, the commander of the Eighth U.S. Army—the senior U.S. Army commander). Consequently, the national service component commanders organize and coordinate RSO&I requirements with the CRA coordinator. The CRA coordinator synchronizes all CRA functions, including RSO&I flow, according to the CINC's priorities. Before unit or sustainment materiel arrives at the port of debarkation, the RSO&I process begins.

Reception is the offloading of personnel and materiel from the aircraft or ship at the port of arrival and their movement to pre-battle positions. The CRA coordinator ensures that adequate assets and materiel are available to support offloading and provides transportation of assets to each unit's staging sites. Detailed planning and coordination link the functions of force tracking, cargo document control, movement control, and security of the reception area to create a synchronized staging process. Reception ends upon arrival at the staging area.

Staging is the organization and preparation for movement of personnel and materiel at designated areas to build forces that are capable of meeting the operational commander's requirements. The size of the deployment, the condition of local infrastructure, and the requirement to disperse arriving forces may call for the creation of multiple staging areas. Each staging area must provide sufficient space to process equipment, track the force, issue basic ammunition loads, and provide life support. Staging areas are highly attractive targets for enemy attacks in the theater, particularly for theater ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction, so rapid processing of units through these areas reduces some of the risk.

Onward movement is the relocation of forces to their initial fighting positions. Three areas that require detailed planning and attention during the onward movement phase are transportation, command and control, and security. The CINC coordinates movement requirements with a deputy CRA coordinator assigned from the CINC's staff to help execute rear area operations. The CRA coordinator synchronizes movement times, routes, and route security to meet the CINC's priorities.

Integration is the hand-over of personnel and equipment by the rear area commander to the operational commander so they enter the fight at the proper place and time. The CINC specifies to the USFK commander the readiness level that must be achieved before authority is transferred. Successful RSO&I operations depend on integrated execution within the overall concept of CRA operations. The CRA coordinator synchronizes contacts between U.S. Army and ROK Army operations and simultaneously occurring combined operations.

Integration of personnel and equipment on the Korean peninsula has to be both seamless and timely. Seamless means freedom from operations that potentially can interrupt operating tempo. Integrated, combined planning provides the right mix of personnel and equipment at the right place and time. The process is a challenging task that can be further hampered by attacks from enemy forces in the rear area.

Noncombatant Evacuation Operations

A major concern to the CINC and the CRA coordinator is removing noncombatants from harm's way. Although noncombatant evacuation operations are a Department of State responsibility, they are closely coordinated with, and supported by, the CINC and USFK. Successful evacuation of noncombatants from Korea is a high priority, in part because Department of Defense families and civilians make up such a large part of the population.

The Secretary of State or the U.S. Ambassador to Korea decides when U.S. citizens must be evacuated. When the scope of the ordered evacuation exceeds the capabilities of the U.S. Embassy, the Department of State can request assistance from the Department of Defense. The noncombatant evacuation operations mission in Korea provides life support and secure transportation for departing U.S. citizens and their dependents. To achieve this, USFK maintains and exercises detailed noncombatant evacuation operations plans and works with the U.S. Embassy to improve the plans. Noncombatant evacuation operations present challenges throughout the Korean peninsula that require timely and thorough coordination with the host government and the CRA coordinator.

UNC/CFC/USFK operate in a complex and fluid theater of operations. The CRA offers perfect examples of the complexities that have been faced since the armistice was signed at Panmunjom 47 years ago. A better understanding of the ROK Government, combined operations, close coordination among components—both national and combined—and a thorough understanding of CRA functions will achieve the CINC's objectives for rear operations support. ALOG

Major Maxine C. Girard is the Deputy G3 Plans Officer in the 1st Corps Support Command, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. When she wrote this article, she was the Support Operations Officer for the 20th Support Group, Taegu, South Korea. She is a graduate of the Quartermaster Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, the Army Command and General Staff College, Airborne School, and Aerial Delivery and Materiel School. She has a master's degree in management from Webster University in Missouri.