Welcoming new warriors
This month we recognize
the 65th anniversary of
the KATUSA program, a unique
organization forged in the fire of the
Korean War. Originally conceived as
a method to bolster U.S. Army unit’s
fighting strength, KATUSAs quickly
became the difference between victory
and defeat. Their contributions
remain critical to this day.
The first KATUSA class was made
up of 313 schoolboys and young
men conscripted from the streets of
Busan and Daegu. Poorly trained and
equipped, these men were committed
into the fight immediately. Many said
that the KATUSA program would not
work. However, as the program grew
and was employed, the naysayers
were quickly silenced.
In the 2nd Infantry and 1st Cavalry
Divisions, KATUSAs were
deployed side by side with U.S. Soldiers
in buddy teams. This method
was highly effective and was soon
adopted across the Korean theater.
Throughout the war, these KATUSA
and American battle buddies,
although often separated by lack of
common language and culture,
developed strong bonds on the
battlefields of Incheon, Chosin,
and Heartbreak Ridge. Between
1951 and 1953, 43,660 KATUSAs
fought and bled alongside their
American brothers. Their sacrifice
is staggering: 6,415 were killed in
action; 3,823 were wounded, and
1,667 are still missing.
Following the armistice, the
KATUSA program continued to
contribute to the combat effectiveness
of both the ROK and U.S.
Armies. KATUSAs learned tactics,
techniques, and procedures during
their service with the U.S. army
and brought them to the fledgling
ROK Army. Through this process,
the KATUSA program contributed
to the development of the powerful
professional force that is the
current ROK army.
But I really want to emphasize the
positive impact that KATUSAs have
had on the U.S. Army over the past
65 years. Over the last six decades,
KATUSAs have become a critical
component of U.S. forces in Korea.
Not only do they serve as critical
enablers, they also serve as a bridge
It is not uncommon to meet U.S.
Army veterans who still maintain
friendships and correspondence with
KATUSAs with whom they served
many years before. Last month,
members of the 2nd Indianhead
Division Association traveled to
Korea to commemorate the Division’s
50th consecutive year on the Korean
Peninsula. Many of these veterans
recounted stories of the friendship
and camaraderie they developed
with KATUSAs in their units. Today,
as you walk through the streets of
Uijeongbu, Dongducheon, Daegu,
or Pyongtaek, it is not uncommon
to see U.S. Soldiers and KATUSAs
spending time together off duty, as
friends; brothers in arms.
The KATUSAs stand as an integral
part of the ROK/U.S. Alliance.
They are indeed critical, the difference
between victory and defeat; a
cornerstone of the Alliance. Over
the past 65 years, more than 200,000
KATUSAs have contributed to this
common effort. Although this number
may appear small in a nation of
more than 50 million, their impact
has been large.
The KATUSAs in our formation
not only represent the future of the
Republic of Korea, they represent a
shared commitment to the ideals that
bind our countries together. Tomorrow,
ROK KATUSAs and U.S. Soldiers
will stand shoulder to shoulder,
as they have for the past 65 years, a
powerful deterrent to those who seek
to destroy our way of life.
Second to None!
Golden Warrior Week
On 1 July, the 2D Infantry Division/ROK-US Combined Division marked its 50th year of continuous service on the Korean peninsula. 2D Infantry Division/ROK-US Combined Division is the longest continuously forward-deployed division in the 240-year history of our Army. Since its return to Korea in 1965 the 2D Infantry Division/ROK-US Combined Division has been breaking new ground and leading the fight on freedom’s frontier and this year is no exception. 2D Infantry Division/ROK-US Combined Division became the first ever, Combined Division in the U.S. Army and now we celebrate 50 years of standing shoulder to shoulder with our Korean partners here at the tip of the spear.
To help us honor the 50th anniversary of the 2D Infantry Division/ROK-US Combined Division, 19 of its “Golden Warriors” returned to Korea for a week of reflection and celebration. These men represent decades of service and dedication to the people of Korea and the 2D Infantry Division/ROK-US Combined Division. During their weeklong visit, these veterans had the opportunity to visit the JSA/ DMZ and the old bases of the Western Corridor and laid a wreath at the Armistice Memorial in respect to their fallen brothers. They were also the honored guests for the 2ID/RUCD 50th Anniversary Celebration and the Transfer of Authority Ceremony between the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team and the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. For some of these veterans, it was the first time back in Korea since they left nearly 50 years ago. For many this was more than just a tour it was a return home. It was the first time many of them were able to see the fruits of their labor and hear firsthand the gratitude of the people they’d left behind so many years ago. “It felt like when we left Korea it was a child, and now we have returned to a grown up, and we are so proud,” said one veteran. Imagine that only 50 years ago, a country had been devastated by war could today be called the “Miracle on the Han.” We see a country whose economy ranks in the top 15 in the world while North Korea has fallen deeper into poverty and finds itself even more isolated from the international community. One of the veterans recalls being here in 1965 when the Soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division took off their patch and replaced it with the mighty Indianhead patch. During that time and for some time to follow Korea was the very definition of a “Hardship Tour”. This week these veterans had the chance to see Soldiers with their wives and hear the children at play. These “Golden Warriors” were able to see up-close the success of the ROK-US alliance and knew they played a role helping to ensure stability on the Korean peninsula.
Speaking of heard, the 2nd Infantry Band sounded its last performance on 4 July and disbanded (no pun intended). The band served as ambassadors of the Army and the 2D Infantry Division/ROK-US Combined Division to the Republic of Korea, showcasing America to their audiences. Their professionalism and talent made them a treasured part of this division, and they will be missed. Their performances boosted the morale of both the Soldiers and our Korean neighbors.
The band is not the only unit to leave 2ID. On 2 July, we said goodbye to the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team and their subordinate battalions. During a ceremony at Camp Casey’s Indianhead Field 1ABCT cased its colors for the last time. This is a storied brigade with a rich history. The Manchus of 2-9 Infantry, Crusaders of 1-72 Armor, 4-7 Cavalry, “Out Front” since 1866, and others served with honor day in and day out each day on the Peninsula. They worked tirelessly to ensure they were ready to “Fight Tonight” and increase the interoperability with their Korean Army counterparts. 1ABCT legacy will live on as the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2D Infantry Division/ROK-US Combined Division reflags as the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2D Infantry Division/ROK-US Combined Division.
While I am very sad to see Iron Brigade’s colors being cased, I am equally excited about receiving 2nd Armored Brigade Combat, 1st Cavalry Division here to Korea. They are a well-equipped and trained armored brigade from Fort Hood, Texas. This brigade is no stranger to Korea. We are going literally back to the future with the arrival of the 2/1 CAV returning to the Korean peninsula. Remember 1 July 1965 2D Infantry Division/ROK-US Combined Division took over responsibility for the defense of the Republic of Korean from the 1st Cavalry Division.
2/1 CAV is not the only new unit to the Division from Fort Hood either; in June the 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery Regiment joined the division as the latest rotational battalion. 2/20 FA is a multiple launch rocket system battalion further enhancing the capability of the division and is already making a difference here. In their first month, they have already partnered with the Shin Heung School in Dongducheon. This partnership is important because at the heart of the alliance is the people-to-people ties. By volunteering time at these schools allows each of us to learn about the other person’s culture, brings our relationship that much closer.
As you can tell, there is never a slow day in the 2D Infantry Division/ROK-US Combined Division. The Warriors are on the move, and making history every day!
Second to None!
Armies of the U.S. and the Republic
of Korea formally became the first
ever combined division in U.S. and
Korean history during an activation
ceremony held on the Village Green
at Camp Red Cloud, South Korea,
The ROK-US Combined Division
is the first of its kind at any time in our
history. We will literally operate under
one flag with one unified priority, to be
always ready to “Fight Tonight.”
“This ceremony reflects much more
than just a change to our official title,
and a new insignia on our uniforms,”
said Maj. Gen. Theodore “Ted” Martin,
commanding general of the ROK-US
Combined Division. “It serves as a signal
to the world, and to our potential
adversaries in particular, that we have
made the transformation that is necessary
to succeed on the battlefield.”
For 50 years consecutively, ROK-US
armies have been standing shoulderto-
shoulder defending Freedom’s
Frontier keeping the Korean Peninsula
secure against an aggressive and
oppressive North Korean regime.
“We now have the best that both
Armies in the Alliance have to offer,
an all in one Division, under one flag,
fighting united in effort and purpose,”
As the Warrior Division enters a
significant phase in our nearly 100-
year history, the ROK-US Alliance is
growing even stronger. We have been
successful, but the ROK-US Combined
Division must constantly seek
ways to further improve readiness and
strengthen the historic Alliance we
share with the Republic of Korea.
“It is no coincidence that the 2nd
Inf. Div. will lead the way with the first
ROK-US Combined Division,” said Lt.
Gen. Bernard Champoux, commanding
general of the eighth U.S. Army.
“The Warrior Division has a storied
legacy of service and sacrifice and they
have been the tip of the spear for the
ROK-US Alliance for the last 50 years.”
The goal of all ROK and U.S. Alliance
initiatives is to build adaptive
capabilities, to deter and defeat future
provocations, and to fight and win on
the peninsula, should deterrence fail.
“The ROK-US Combined Division
will be a linchpin in maintaining
the peace and stability on the Korean
Peninsula by deterring North Korea’s
provocations and firmly responding,
should they provoke us,” said Gen.
Kim, Hyun-jib, TROKA commanding
“By working closer together, it will
better allow the combined division
to share common doctrine and procedures,
and will greatly enhance the
overall interoperability between our
armed forces,” said Champoux.
Second to None!