Korea and U.S. troops mark 60th year of alliance
The United States military in South Korea yesterday marked the 60th anniversary of the founding of Korean augmentation troops, commonly called KATUSA, with a commemorative ceremony lauding their history.
It is the first time that U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) held such a ceremony since the Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army (KATUSA) program was inaugurated in 1950, during the early days of the Korean War (1950-53). The KATUSA program was created to provide U.S. soldiers with Korean-speaking troops and knowledge of local terrain.
“KATUSA remains one of the Republic of Korea-U.S. alliance’s most important strengths,” Gen. Walter Sharp, the top U.S. commander in the South, said during the ceremony at Yongsan Garrison, the main U.S. military headquarters in central Seoul.
“They are and will remain an integral part of this alliance. [KATUSA soldiers] stand shoulder and shoulder with their U.S. comrades and strengthen the strongest alliance in the world.”
Sharp leads the 28,500-strong USFK, which is stationed in South Korea as protection against North Korea.
Sharp also praised the unique role KATUSA soldiers play in expanding the cultural understanding of American soldiers.
Shin Sang-don, president of the KATUSA Veterans Association, expressed gratitude to the USFK for organizing the ceremony.
Currently, about 3,300 KATUSA soldiers serve alongside U.S. forces in Korea.
KATUSA soldiers are paid by the South Korean government, but live, work and eat with the U.S. troops.