Life with my Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army (AKA: KATUSA)
I first became aware of the #KATUSA program when I went to Korea during a short training mission in 2016. So when I arrived there for a full two-year assignment in the summer of 2018 I had a basic understanding of their role. The KATUSA system was established in July 1950 during the #KoreanWar. It started as a spoken agreement between President Syngman Rhee and U.S. General Douglas MacArthur.
In Korea there is a mandatory military service for males. Most serve in the Republic of Korea Army (#ROKA). However, some are fortunate to have been educated fluently in English. Applicants for this job must pass oral and written tests to verify their English abilities since the heart of their job is translating. (Listen to a KATUSA interview on the podcast and hear all about it!)
“ Korean Augmentation to the United States Army (KATUSA) is a scheme of military duty in South Korea. Under this program, soldiers in the South Korean Army are given posts in U.S. Army bases that are located in several places in South Korea. KATUSA soldiers are under the command of both the South Korean Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Defense."
The #UnitMinistryTeam is normally slotted one chaplain and one chaplain assistant, (now called Religious Affairs Specialists.) However, in Korea we have an additional KATUSA slot and therefore have the benefit of one more team member. They wear the U.S. uniform but display the Korean flag on their sleeve. In addition to reporting to their assigned section, they also have a ROK Army captain who oversees them at the battalion level. Their value becomes obvious whenever we go out into the Korean populous for any purpose. I once ventured out on a Soldier event far from post without SGT Ahn. When I returned I said to myself, "I'll never do that again."
At the time of this writing, SGT Ahn will complete his required duty in about a month. When I first arrived and we talked about his timeline, he said that by the time he finished we would be like family. I agree.
The end of his KATUSA journey. Kapshi Kapshida!