An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | June 10, 2024

KATUSAs: 74 years of friendship and service

By Stanley James, U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan-Casey

United States Army Soldiers and Korean Augmentation To the U.S. Army (KATUSA) Soldiers stationed throughout the Korean peninsula participated in a variety of events and activities designed to strengthen the teamwork and comradery of military service members during KATUSA Friendship Week, June 10-14.

This year is the 74th anniversary of the KATUSA program, which began as a gentleman’s agreement between the Honorable Syngman Rhee, president of the Republic of Korea, and General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, commander in chief, United Nations Command.

On July 15, 1950, just three weeks after the Korean War began, the two leaders initiated the KATUSA program, informally marking the start of a long and rich history of friendship and cooperation between the Republic of Korea and the United States of America. The KATUSA program predates the mutual defense treaty signed by the two countries more than three years later, which pledges “collective defense for the preservation of peace and security” in the Pacific region.

Brig. Gen. Sean Crockett, the Deputy Commanding General of Operations, Eighth Army, described the significance of KATUSA Friendship Week to the ROK-U.S. alliance and how it improves the readiness of warfighters. More than ever, facing the challenges of the modern battlefield require creativity, teamwork, focus, and commitment.

“Whether or not you know it, this week you have been trained,” said Crockett. “Combat is a team sport. Cohesive teams work and train hard together. Every team that was put on the field had to figure out their positions and how they were going to contribute to the larger overall team to accomplish the mission. This is exactly how it’s going to work on the battlefield of tomorrow.”

KATUSA Friendship Week, which is hosted annually by Eighth Army and ROK forces, has become a cherished tradition that enhances cross-cultural understanding and unity among the two nations' military service members. This year's events included a six-mile ruck march, U.S. Army birthday run, airborne operation, sporting competitions, language exchanges, cultural booths, a film festival, singing contest, K-pop performances, and more.

Cpl. Jeong Juwon, also known as JJ, is a KATUSA assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan-Casey. Juwon was chosen by his teammates to be the anchor in the tug-of-war competition due to his sturdy frame and team-orientated mentality.

“It was really fun,” jubilantly stated Juwon after winning the first round of the competition. “Lean backwards like Michael Jackson and be strong! I recommend everyone participate in any events they can.”

The Republic of Korea has its own flavor, enabling military service members to have unique experiences that become part of their lifelong memories. On June 13, hundreds of Soldiers and KATUSAs gathered at Camp Casey’s Impact Zone to enjoy world-class performances by the ROK Ministry of National Defense Honor Guard, the 1st ROK Army Corps taekwondo team, RUVICHE, Floria, Gi Daon, Microdot, Hashtag, Laysha, Dreaming Sandae, and many more talented individuals.

Cpl. Seung Jin Lee, a KATUSA assigned to 210th Field Artillery Brigade, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, sang a soulful rendition of Park Kyo-shin’s “Breath” during a talent show held shortly after the closing ceremony. Jubilant cheers reverberated throughout the venue as military service members, old and young, unwound at the end of a week of friendly competition and cooperation.

“I was nervous because it was my first time to sing this song in front of a crowd,” said Lee. “My friends gave me so much praise and encouragement I was able to go on stage and perform my best.”

KATUSA Friendship Week demonstrates the strength and resilience of the partnership between the United States and South Korea in the face of new and evolving challenges in a diverse theater of operations. Memorable events like KFW boost the morale and camaraderie of military service members, which can provide strength in times of adversity while reinforcing the long-cherished bonds of friendship between the United States and the Republic of Korea.

​“Katchi Kapshida,” – “We go together,” is a slogan commonly shared within the U.S.-ROK alliance that captures the very essence of the enduring friendship between ROK and U.S. Soldiers over the past 74 years.