U.S. forces in South Korea on Monday began their annual five-day evacuation drills for military families and other civilians, a U.S. forces official said.

The U.S. forces made a rare move of publicizing the latest drills ahead of their Monday start, saying in a statement on Oct. 15 that it is "not directly tied to current geopolitical events."

U.S. forces command said the exercise, named Courageous Channel, "prepares 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."

The drills simulate the evacuation of U.S. civilians, including the transportation of personnel to a U.S. base in Japan by air, and are part of the exercises U.S. forces in South Korea conduct to maintain readiness.

The drills came amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula over North Korea's escalating nuclear and missile threats.