Fifteen U.S Army ROTC cadets reported to Fort Knox May 11 preparing to deploy to South Korea on their CULP mission trip. The mission and the team were unlike previous ones; it was the first time that the Cadets had the opportunity to go on a military-to-military CULP mission to South Korea. All 15 Cadets had unique backgrounds; out of the 15, ten were either proficient in Korean or had some previous knowledge of the language and culture. In addition, one of the Cadets had previously served with the Republic of Korea Army (ROK), which further enriched the mission experience for his fellow ROTC Cadets.
After finishing the Soldier Readiness Packet (SRP) at Ft. Knox, the Cadets reported to the Eighth Army Headquarter in USAG Yongsan May 15. There, the Cadets had the opportunity to speak with the Commanding General of the Eighth Army, Lt. Gen. Champoux and Command Sgt. Maj. Devens. Cadets learned about the integration of the U.S Army in South Korea and the strong ties that it has with the ROK Army. From Yongsan, Cadets reported to the Second Infantry Division in Camp Red Cloud where they were stationed for three weeks.
At the Second ID, the Cadets went through what all new “Second to None” Soldiers go through when they get stationed in South Korea, The Warrior Readiness Center (WRC). Through WRC, the Cadets learned introductory Korean, Korean culture, and the history of South Korea. They also had the opportunity to visit the Korean War Memorial Museum and the new National Museum of Korea.
In addition, the Cadets had the opportunity to work with KATUSAs (Korean Augmentation to the United States Army). Cadets were paired with a KATUSA soldier and each Cadet had the chance to work and participate in PT with their Korean counterpart. The Cadets also had the opportunity to visit the Korean Military Academy (KMA). There, the ROTC cadets paired up with the KMA cadets, which provided for a strong bonding experience.
The fifteen ROTC Cadets visited the ROK 17th Infantry Division and met with the ROK infantry platoon leaders in order to explore the similarities and the differences between platoon leaders in the U.S Army and the ROK Army. On this visit, some Cadets fluent in both English and Korean acted as translators and were able to bridge communication with the ROK Army soldiers.
Even though this was a military-to-military mission, the Cadets still had the opportunity to enjoy some culture time in Korea. They explored cities such as Seoul and Pusan, traveling by the bullet train and the subway system to see different parts of South Korea. Travel allowed for the Cadets to try traditional Korean food including live squid, raw fish, and other traditional Korean dishes. All in all, the CULP mission to South Korea was a rich experience for the cadets. CULP Korea’s military-to-military mission is indeed a valuable tool to prepare Cadets to become well-rounded and well-cultured second lieutenants in the U.S Army.