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Korean War News




A bazooka team of British Royal Marine commandos watched for enemy tanks

On August 15, 1950, the Far East Command directed the Eighth U.S. Army to employ Korean recruits in American divisions in Korea and in the 7th Infantry Division, which was preparing for movement to Korea. Each company or battery was to receive 100 Koreans. The Koreans were to be part of the ROK Army, to be paid by the ROK government, but they would be fed and equipped by their American unit. Each augmentation soldier was to be paired with an American in a “buddy" system. The 7th Infantry Division, which had been greatly depleted by the three divisions preceding it to Korea, was to receive 8,625 KATUSAs. This large replacement force would arrive at the 7th Division camps in Japan only three weeks before the division’s landing at Inchon.

The program was initially too drastic. Many of the Koreans were simply seized off the streets. To have expected these raw recruits, many just schoolboys who could not speak English, to be ready for combat in three weeks was unrealistic. This hasty program demonstrated its shortcomings during the fighting withdrawal from North Korea a few months later. The KATUSAs were unprepared for combat and could not be effectively used by the 7th Division. Not surprisingly, these poorly trained recruits were easily demoralized and many hid in foxholes, never firing their weapons. Early problems with the KATUSA program contributed to the breakdown of the “buddy system” in some of the American divisions. The 1st Cavalry and the 2nd Infantry Division maintained the buddy arrangement, with American soldiers training the recruits in weapons use and American tactics. In the 24th Division, however, the Koreans were placed in separate squads and platoons. These Korean squads proved effective in specialized tasks such as guarding, scouting and patrolling. They were also employed to move heavy weapons over the tough Korean terrain.

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Sandler, Stanley. The Korean War: An Encyclopedia. Garland Publishing, Inc. (1995)

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