* This site is privately owned and is not affiliated or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any other government agency.

Korean Augmentation to the United States Army (KATUSA)


Korean Augmentation to the United States Army (KATUSA) refers to a program established in 1950, where South Korean soldiers are integrated into United States Army units to increase efficiency and cooperation between the two armies. These KATUSA soldiers serve alongside their U.S. counterparts and participate in joint military trainings and operations. The program aims to strengthen the alliance between South Korea and the United States while promoting understanding and cultural exchanges between the two nations.

Key Takeaways

  1. KATUSA is a cooperative military program between the United States and South Korea, aimed at augmenting the U.S. Army with Korean soldiers, thereby enhancing the military partnership between the two countries.
  2. Established in 1950 during the Korean War, KATUSA enables South Korean Soldiers to serve alongside U.S. Army personnel, largely focusing on areas such as communication, logistics, and administration.
  3. As part of the KATUSA program, eligible South Korean male citizens can complete their mandatory military service by serving directly with the U.S. Army, which strengthens bilateral defense cooperation and offers valuable cross-cultural experiences for both South Korean and U.S. Army participants.


KATUSA, or Korean Augmentation to the United States Army, is an important term in the context of VA benefits as it refers to the unique military program that integrates South Korean soldiers into the U.S. Army to enhance their combined defense capabilities.

Established during the Korean War, this partnership serves as a crucial element in maintaining stability and promoting peace on the Korean Peninsula. For veterans and service members, understanding the significance of KATUSA enables them to appreciate the contributions of these individuals and the long-standing alliance between the United States and South Korea.

Furthermore, KATUSA soldiers may be eligible for certain VA benefits, reinforcing the value of this term as it pertains to support and services for those who have served alongside the U.S. Army.


The Korean Augmentation to the United States Army (KATUSA) is a unique program established to strengthen military cooperation and readiness between the United States and South Korea. Its primary purpose is to enhance the interoperability and effectiveness of the combined defense system, thereby promoting the national security interests of both nations. Initiated in 1950 during the Korean War, the KATUSA program exemplifies the enduring alliance between the United States and South Korea, which is specifically designed for unified action in the face of potential threats, such as those posed by North Korea.

Additionally, the program fosters cross-cultural exchanges and understanding between the American and Korean soldiers, further solidifying this critical alliance. Under KATUSA, selected South Korean soldiers are integrated into US Army units and serve alongside American soldiers. This integration offers enhanced opportunities for sharing expertise, knowledge, and tactics while improving the overall combat readiness of the combined force.

These South Korean soldiers undergo a training regimen that familiarizes them with American military culture, standards, and equipment, fostering a cohesive and collaborative force that can effectively respond to any security-related challenges. Furthermore, since KATUSA troops are fluent in both Korean and English, they serve as vital communication channels between the US and South Korean military forces during joint operations and exercises. This mutually beneficial partnership underscores the importance of strong diplomatic and military ties in protecting the shared values and strategic interests of the United States and South Korea in the Asia-Pacific region.

Examples of Korean Augmentation to the United States Army (KATUSA)

Joint Military Exercises: Every year, the United States and South Korea carry out joint military exercises, such as the Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) exercise. During these exercises, KATUSA soldiers work alongside the United States Army to strengthen and coordinate their defensive capabilities against potential threats. These exercises serve as a testament to the strong alliance and cooperation between the United States and South Korea, and the KATUSA system has played an essential role in facilitating and maintaining this relationship.

Humanitarian Assistance Missions: KATUSA soldiers have also been involved in numerous humanitarian assistance missions that demonstrate the joint U.S.-South Korean commitment to global security and peace. For example, in response to the devastating earthquake in Nepal in 2015, the United States and South Korea sent a joint team to assist in search-and-rescue operations and provide medical support to the affected communities. Among the team members were KATUSA soldiers who used their language skills to facilitate the efforts and help bridge the communication gap between local communities and foreign aid workers in the affected areas.

Cultural Exchange Programs: The KATUSA system provides unique opportunities for cultural exchange between South Korea and the United States. KATUSA soldiers not only receive military training from their American counterparts, but they also get to experience living in a foreign country and learn about American culture, values, and customs. Similarly, American soldiers stationed in South Korea have the chance to work with and learn from their KATUSA counterparts, which can help promote greater understanding and respect between the two countries. This cultural exchange encourages camaraderie and strengthens the bond between the two allied nations.

FAQs about Korean Augmentation to the United States Army (KATUSA) Benefits

What is the Korean Augmentation to the United States Army (KATUSA) program?

The KATUSA program is a unique partnership between the Republic of Korea Army (ROK) and the United States Army (USA) that was established in 1950 during the Korean War. South Korean soldiers are assigned to work alongside American soldiers, promoting cooperation, interoperability, and a strong alliance between the two countries.

How can I become a KATUSA soldier?

South Korean males who wish to serve as KATUSA soldiers must first pass the KATUSA English Test, which is a mandatory part of their military service. After passing, candidates must apply for the program during the designated application period. Finally, candidates go through a random selection process provided by the ROK Army.

What are the benefits for KATUSA soldiers?

As a KATUSA soldier, you have the opportunity to work closely with American soldiers, develop language skills, and gain valuable experience in a variety of military disciplines. You may also improve your cross-cultural understanding, as well as enhance your communication, adaptability, problem-solving, and leadership skills.

Do KATUSA soldiers have access to the same facilities as US soldiers?

Yes, KATUSA soldiers have access to many of the same facilities as their US counterparts on US military installations, such as dining facilities, fitness centers, libraries, and recreational centers. However, some restrictions may apply based on current policies and regulations.

What happens after a KATUSA soldier completes their military service term?

Upon completing their mandatory military service term, KATUSA soldiers are typically discharged and return to their civilian lives. Many KATUSA soldiers use the skills and experience they gained during their service in their future careers and pursue further education, or they find employment opportunities in various fields such as business, government, or nonprofit organizations.

Related VA Benefit Terms


  • United States Army
  • South Korean Military
  • Korean War
  • Combined Forces Command
  • ROK-U.S. Alliance


Sources for More Information