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The Republic of Korea Army Officers’ Military studying-abroad in United States and Its Effects during the 1950s

Minsik Kim 1

1

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ABSTRACT

Since the end of WWII, in order to prevent the USSR’s expansion, the U.S. government had provided military assistances to Free World countries. With a view to maximizing the effects of the military assistance, the US government intended to ‘Standardize’ the allied countries’ military. Specifically, the military education programs at the U.S. military institutions was considered as an important prerequisite for the success of the military assistance. Meanwhile, in 1951 the Korean War had entered into the phase of a cease-fire agreement. The U.S. government was interested in preventing the Korean War from expanding to WWIII and establishing its dignity in Asia and for this purpose was in need to intervene in the operation of the Korean military. Simultaneously, the Korean government was in dire need to import the advanced U.S. military system in a short period. Likewise the massive dispatch of Korean Army officers to U.S. military institutions was undertaken in furtherance of the mutual interest. The U.S. government arranged the Korean Army officers to participate in the Special Allied Officers Course, an amended education program based on the Officer’s Basic Course. The Special Allied Officers Course included basic studies on military etiquette, commandership, leadership etc. In sum, the U.S. government provided that the young Korean Army officers would learn not only the military knowledge but also the customs and norms of the US officer corps, thereby embodying the ‘American style military concept’. The Korean Army officers who participated in the program aforesaid understood that the teaching methods of the US military education system are ‘reasonable’. And the Korean military appointed those officers to positions in charge of education and training thereby inducing them to propagate the knowledge and techniques. And their technological and administrative knowhow and skills were introduced to the Korean military’s branch education, and subsequently propagated into the Korean society. The massive military education in the United States had resulted in the standardization of the Korean military system based on the U.S. system. As the Korean officers’ expertise grew further in late 1950s, however, they began to perceive that the U.S. military education system may not perfectly capture the requirements of the Korean military education suited to local characteristics. In the Korean military history, this was a time marked with overwhelming American influences and yet the Korean government and military was recognizing their initiative roles as shown in their responses repeating accommodation and struggles vis-à-vis the intellectual and moral hegemony of the United States.

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