Read Part 19 HERE

“I’ve worked with a lot of different nations and Korea is one of the best in Asia. Singaporeans are pretty good, Japanese are good, but Koreans are well structured, disciplined, and well equipped,” Tae said. With American help the damage caused by the war would be minimized however.

The North Korean threat has also evolved over time. While it has been long-expected that a war with the North would take place in a chemical warfare environment, today it would also take place in a nuclear environment. Instead of using tunnels like in the 1970s, an atomic blast could cut right through the defenses at the DMZ, creating a hole that North Korean forces could rush through. The acquisition of long-range ballistic missiles means that North Korea could launch attacks against US military installations on Japan and menace the Japanese civilian population. Seoul would certainly be flattened by a massive artillery barrage in the opening hours of the conflict.

If doomsday ever comes, Detachment K will serve as the command, control, and intelligence glue that holds the coalition together as SOCKOR’s only maneuver element in the field until Rangers, SEALs, and Special Forces ODA’s hit the ground days later. As the unit’s former Sergeant Major, Jack Hagan said that, “it is the sole shining example of what one Det can do if you let it do its mission.”

Colonel Maxwell described the Detachment’s legacy as:

The best alliance organization for ROK/US alliance and one of the best advisory organizations that we have ever created. The relationship between ROK Special Forces and US Special Operations Forces is very important and US Special Forces deserve a lot of credit for that. It speaks very well of our Special Forces NCOs who have a tremendous impact. You have Master Sergeants advising one star Generals in their doctrine and training. I think it is an excellent example of part of the glue that holds the alliance together. The legacy is how well trained the ROK Special Forces is which correlates with US/Korean SOF relationships going back 50 years.”

The success of South Korea cannot be attributed to the United States but rather to the tenacity and determination of the Korean people and yet, Detachment K played a low-key but important role in forming and maintaining America’s special relationship with Korea. For a unit that is only funded with 200 to 500 thousand dollars a year, the Detachment provides the maximum bang for the American taxpayer’s buck.

Former 3rd Special Forces Group Commander, Mark Boyatt has in the past advocated for having a Special Forces ODA working out of every US embassy where they would be that country’s resident team much like Detachment K. Dan Zahody believes that the detachment’s success could be replicated elsewhere. “We should expand this model to Taiwan. We should establish a SFDROC, Special Forces Detachment in the Republic of China,” Zahody said. US Special Forces started a resident detachment in Taiwan in 1960 but it was later disbanded.