UPDATE : 2020.10.19 월 23:58

[Vol.82] Everything about KATUSA

카투사에 대한 모든 것. 카투사, 그것이 궁금하다 김진산 기자l승인2019.11.29






 I served my military service as a KATUSA. KNUE students do not know much about KATUSA, so I gathered questions to give information about KATUSA to other KNUE students.

Q. What is KATUSA?

A. KATUSA stands for Korean Augmentation to the United States Army. They belong to the Korean Army but are assigned to the United States 8th Army in Korea. KATUSAs’ overall military lives, such as barracks life or field exercises are controlled by the U.S. Army but personnel, leaves and disciplinary actions are under the Korean Army. In other words, KATUSAs serve as a ‘military diplomat’ between the Korean and the U.S. Army

Q. What should we do to become a KATUSA?

A. If you want to apply to become a KATUSA, you need English certified grades. For instance, you have to get at least 780 in TOEIC for your application. You must submit your grades and choose which month you want to join. Recruitment is held every September and roughly 180 KATUSAs are selected every month. If you apply once, there is no chance of applying again even if you fail. Each month, an average of only one of every ten applicants are selected for the program. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Defense announced they will decrease the number of KATUSAs from 3,500 to 1,600, so the competition rate is expected to soar.

Q. Which training faciilty do KATUSA go to and how do they train? What are their daily routines after the assignment?

A. KATSUAs join the Nonsan Korean Army Training Center for five weeks, and then they move to KATUSA Training Academy, working in the U.S. Army training course for three weeks. They prepare for a physical fitness test, general English test, and English Military Language test in order to be stationed under the U.S. Army. The scores they achieve, English certified grades used for applying, university majors and miscellaneous certifications or licenses are considered in assigning different units. If you fail the test, you will be a holdover and restart the course with newly joining privates. The daily routine depends on each unit, but usually, every day starts with morning PT and you work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Q. What advantages do KATUSA have?

Firstly, KATUSAs get a pass to leave the base every week. Usually, they get a two day pass from Friday 5 p.m. to Sunday at 8 p.m. every week because KATUSAs follow U.S. regulations. Also, KATUSAs are free to go off post from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Free time and privacy is guaranteed, so you can do whatever you want on or off post unless you do something illegal.

Secondly, KATUSAs have a lot of opportunities to use English because they live with U.S. soldiers. From morning PT to their workplace, KATUSAs spend a considerable amount of time with their U.S. battle buddies, so speaking English is inevitable.

Thirdly, KATUSAs benefit the same welfare as U.S. soldiers. They live alone or with a roommate in a barrack, furnished the same as a normal household. The camp I was stationed in, Camp Humphreys, Pyeongtaek, was constructed like a city so there were theaters, malls and even a golf course. Also, KATUSAs eat meals in a restaurant called the DFAC. They can choose one main dish and eat side dishes, drinks, and whatever desserts they want.

My Story

 I was assigned as a Medic in Behavioral Health, or in other words, Mental Health. I worked at a reception desk, dealing with patients' care, making appointments and various administration work. What surprised me was Americans do not perceive behavioral health patients negatively, as people do in Korea. Patients were going through insomnia, stress problems or they just visited the clinic to find someone to talk with. Some were suffering from traumatic experiences. However, most of the patients do their best at their position with an amicable personality. They were not treated inappropriately just because they were patients of behavioral health. They were sick because they were loyal to their country, sacrificing and volunteering to maintain peace so they were not ashamed of themselves. Watching them for two years, I regret thinking of them with bias. After that, I try to be confident and have faith in myself like the patients did so that I can change, speak out and express myself.

 Every unit has a senior KATUSA. He is in charge of his unit’s KATUSAs and conducts a daily roll call. I was a senior KATUSA and it was a big task for me to lead my unit in the right path and to take care of my men. One day, it occurred to me that tasks as a senior KATUSA are similar to being a teacher. Teaching students, guiding them and gaining responsibility is what teachers do and as a senior KATUSA, there was no big difference. So I changed my mind that I was getting ready for my future. I learned that mindset is important because it helped me to enjoy my military life and strengthen my will for self-improvement. As a result, this is my first semester after I returned to school, and I can say that I am passionately living my school life.

 I despised joining the army, but I was fortunate to be a KATUSA. It was tough dating back those times but all those moments became cherished memories. Some say that they feel two years of life as a soldier just vanished, but for me, I met good people, learned and experienced a lot so there is no regret. I still keep in touch with my battle buddies and when I reminisce about my army life, I sometimes miss those days as a KATUSA.

 This overused phrased is used only if you are summarizing what was previously said. You are not doing that here.

 I served my military service as a KATUSA. KNUE students do not know much about KATUSA, so I gathered questions to give information about KATUSA to other KNUE students.

김진산 기자  hanjieun124-@naver.com
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