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South Korea Table of Contents

South Korea

Officers and Noncommissioned Officers

Officers were graduates of army, navy, or air force service academies, reserve officer training cadet programs offered at civilian colleges, or were recruited from enlisted personnel for selected short-term service in noncombat occupational billets. More than 90 percent of the field-grade officers chosen to command combat units at battalion and higher levels were graduates of the Korea Military Academy (in the case of the army), the Air Force Academy, or the Naval Academy. Applicants were chosen on the basis of their academic records, performance in competitive examinations, physical condition, and dedication to the mission of the armed forces. Each academy offered a fouryear curriculum to provide the cadet with a bachelor's degree and practical military skills. Graduates of the military academies were required to serve ten years in the military and made up 5 percent of the newly commissioned officers each year. Approximately 40 percent of the new second lieutenants were commissioned from the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) after two years' training and a two-year, three-month obligation. Another 40 percent of the new second lieutenants were from the Third Military Academy, which had a twenty- to thirty-six week training course. The remaining 15 percent were directly commissioned specialists, including personnel in the medical corps, judge advocates, and chaplains. Most of the recruits of the Third Military Academy were newly graduated from junior colleges or regular colleges. At one time the Third Military Academy was itself a two-year college. Historically, most of the ROTC officers left after completing their obligation, but the graduates of the Third Military Academy often stayed on to fieldgrade rank and were the dominant source of commission at that rank.

Advanced individual training for officers was provided at the Army's Command and General Staff College, the National Defense College, and military training institutes in other countries. The Command and General Staff College prepared selected field-grade officers for command and staff duties at division, corps, and army levels. The National Defense College trained a limited number of selected senior officers of the three services and some civilian government officials for the highest command and staff positions.

Each army branch, as well as the air force, navy, and marine corps, was responsible for selecting NCOs for training in their occupational specialty. Those selected were required to reenlist for two to seven years, depending on the availability of replacements in their branch. Army staff sergeants were selected from civilian applicants and eligible enlisted personnel who had completed the required courses of studies in branch schools. The navy recruited petty officers through examination at the time of conscription. After finishing basic training, candidates were trained for their duties in a branch school. The air force followed a procedure similar to the navy's. Combat marines were sent to army schools for NCO training, whereas marines in service branches usually attended navy schools.

Data as of June 1990