The KMAG Advisor: Role and Problems of the Military Advisor in Developing Indigenous Army for Combat Operations in Korea

The Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) were created in 1948. At that time, the Provisional Military Advisory Group was set up to assist the ROK in building up its internal security forces, particularly a national police force. It was superseded by the Korean Military Advisory Group (KMAG) in 1949. Shortly after the outbreak of the Korean War on 25 June 1950, President Syngman Rhee placed the ROK armed forces under US (Eighth Army) command. Simultaneously, KMAG was placed under the command of the Eighth Army, and designated as Eighth Army’s advisory agent to the ROKA.  Although ROKA units were commanded by ROKA officers, whom were advised by US officers assigned as their advisors, some ROKA commanders occasionally delayed or resisted acting on advisors’ recommendations despite  both the ROK government and Eight Army agreement that any ROK commander failing to obey the advisor’s recommendations would be relieved of duty.

This study is concerned primarily with the advising of tactical and service units, with emphasis on the former because Korea afforded a special opportunity to study advisory duty under active combat. Hausrath examined the job and problems of the KMAG advisor, particularly from the advisor’s point of view, in the last year of the Korean War. Augmented by observations and records, the study is based on the experiences, opinions, feelings, and judgments of KMAG personnel and included former KMAGers in addition to those on duty in Korea, in the summer of 1953, when field data was collected.

Hausrath writes:

“Advisory duty in a tactical unit of a local national army, particularly under combat conditions, is exceedingly difficult and frequently frustrating, and personnel selected for such duty must be temperamentally and physically able to withstand these stresses, in addition to being professionally competent. Qualities needed include tact, patience, emotional stability, self-sufficiency, self-discipline, and – in tactical units – command and combat experience is possible.” [page 14]

This report was released to the Nautilus Institute under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

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