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United Nations Command Korea

United Nations Command (Korea)

The United Nations Command (Korea) is the unified command structure for the multinational military forces supporting the Republic of Korea (South Korea or ROK) during and after the Korean War. After troops of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea or DPRK) invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 82 calling on North Korea to cease hostilities and withdraw to the 38th parallel. On June 27, 1950, it adopted Resolution 83, recommending that members of the United Nations provide assistance to the Republic of Korea "to repel the armed attack and to restore international peace and security to the area. Security Council Resolution 84, adopted on July 7, 1950, recommended that members providing military forces and other assistance to South Korea "make such forces and other assistance available to a unified command under the United States of America.

On August 29, 1950, the British Commonwealth's 27th Infantry Brigade arrived at Pusan to join the UNC, which until then included only ROK and U.S. forces. The 27th Brigade moved into the Naktong River line west of Taegu.

Troop units from other countries of the UN followed in rapid succession; Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Ethiopia, France, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, Thailand and Turkey. The Union of South Africa provided air units which fought alongside the air forces of other member nations. Denmark, India, Norway, and Sweden provided medical units. Italy provided a hospital, even though it was not a UN member.

The United Nations Command and the Chinese-North Korean Command signed the Korean Armistice Agreement on 27 July, 1953, ending the heavy fighting. The armistice agreement established the Military Armistice Commission (MAC), consisting of representatives of the two signatories, to supervise the implementation of the armistice terms. The North Korean-Chinese MAC has been replaced by Panmumjon Representatives under exclusive North Korean management. Regular meetings have been stopped, although duty officers of Joint Security Area, commonly known as the Truce Village of Panmunjom, from each side meet regularly.


During the three years of the Korean War, military forces of these nations fought and died together as members of the UNC.

Peak strength for the UNC was 932,964 on July 27, 1953, the day the Armistice Agreement was signed:

Republic of Korea - 590,911
United States - 302,483
United Kingdom - 14,198
Canada - 6,146
Turkey - 5,453
Australia - 2,282
Philippines - 1,496
New Zealand - 1,385
Ethiopia - 1,271
Greece - 1,263
Thailand - 1,204
France - 1,119
Colombia - 1,068
Belgium - 900
South Africa - 826
The Netherlands - 819
Luxembourg - 44

1953 onwards

In the confusion of the early days of the Korean War, Seoul placed its armed forces under the command of General Douglas MacArthur as United Nations (UN) commander. This arrangement continued after the armistice. For some twenty-five years, the United Nations Command headquarters, which had no South Korean officers in it, was responsible for the defense of South Korea, with operational control over a majority of the units in the South Korean military. The command was the primary peacetime planning organization for allied response to a North Korean invasion of South Korea and the principal wartime command organization for all South Korean and United States forces involved in defending South Korea. In 1978 a binational headquarters, the South Korea-United States Combined Forces Command (CFC), was created, and the South Korean military units with front-line missions were transferred from the UN Command to the CFC's operational control. The commander in chief of the CFC, a United States military officer, answered ultimately to the national command authorities of the United States and the Republic of Korea. Under the law, the Commander, US Forces Korea, is dual-hatted as Commander in Chief of the ROK-US CFC. And Deputy Commander is 4-star general from the ROK Army, who is also dual-hatted as the ground forces component commander.

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