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Forged during the Korean War and codified with the 1953 Mutual Defense Treaty, the United States–Republic of Korea (ROK) Alliance evolved into a comprehensive strategic partnership serving as a linchpin for security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.  Over 28,500 U.S. military personnel are stationed in Korea, and work closely with the ROK military and United Nations Command member countries to deter and defend against the threat from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and maintain the Armistice Agreement.

To deter DPRK provocations and attacks, the U.S.-ROK Alliance maintains a strong defensive military posture including, but not limited to, annual combined exercises, robust military sales, consistent reaffirmations of U.S. commitment to the security of the ROK through an enduring combined command structure, and close, consultative relations between U.S. and ROK senior leadership on security issues.  The U.S.-ROK Alliance is one of three bilateral mutual defense alliances the United States is party to in the Indo-Pacific region.

The U.S. government supports the ROK’s defense modernization efforts through defense sales in order to facilitate the ROK’s eventual leadership of the combined defense forces and strengthen its role as a regional security partner.  The U.S. has more than $30 billion in active government to government sales cases with the ROK under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system. FMS sales notified to Congress are listed here , and recent and significant implemented sales include: the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, P-8A Patrol Aircraft, Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile systems, Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, KF-16 aircraft Upgrades, Aegis Combat Systems, Harpoon Missiles, and AH-64E Attack Helicopters.

Since 2015, the U.S. also authorized the permanent export of over $7.7 billion in defense articles to the ROK via the Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) process.  The top categories of DCS to the ROK include: gas turbine engines, military electronics, and fire control and related equipment.

The ROK is a significant troop contributor to United Nations peacekeeping operations, with more than 600 personnel deployed to six missions.  In coordination with the U.S. Global Peace Operations Initiative, South Korea partners with U.S. Indo-Pacific Command by providing instructors to regional training events and by participating in peacekeeping exercises.

Since 1991, the ROK defrayed a portion of the cost of maintaining U.S. military personnel in Korea through successive U.S.-ROK Special Measures Agreements.  In 2019, the ROK provided approximately $920 million in cash and in-kind support for U.S. forces.

For further information, please contact the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at PM-CPA@state.gov, and follow the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs on Twitter, @StateDeptPM .

U.S. Department of State

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