Over 100 Republic of Korea (ROK) soldiers were embedded within each Australian battalion from 1953 as part of the KATCOM (Korean Augmentation to Commonwealth Division) scheme. They served side by side with Australian soldiers, wore Australian Army uniforms, ate the same rations and carried the same weapons. Over 1,000 were attached to the Australian, New Zealand, British and Canadian armies. They received 16 weeks of basic training with the ROK Army and continued to be paid by them while serving as KATCOMs.
On 28 March 1953, the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (2RAR) received 120 KATCOMs. The same month, 3RAR received 100 KATCOMs. Over the four months they were attached to Australian units (before the Korean armistice agreement was signed on 27 July 1953) the KATCOMs suffered over 20 casualties, including three killed in action and one captured. They continued to serve with the Australians in 1RAR and other units in the post-Armistice period until 1956.
The KATCOM scheme was based on KATUSA (Korean Augmentation to the United States Army), which began in August 1950 shortly after the outbreak of war as a verbal agreement between General Douglas MacArthur and South Korean President Syngman Rhee. The KATUSA program still runs today out of Camp Casey near Uijeongbu.
The aim of the program was to create an exchange of information and training between the different countries. Koreans learned Western military tactics and weaponry and improved their English, while the Australians learned some Korean and gained the ability to distinguish their allies from enemy troops. The KATCOMs bolstered battalion numbers and provided knowledge of Korean geography and culture. They served and died alongside their Australian comrades.