[EDITORIALS]Cleaning up the militaryThe Defense Security Command, which is responsible for internal army security, reported yesterday to the National Assembly that around 20 generals linked to cases of neglected military discipline and bribery are facing legal charges or are scheduled for retirement. There have always been cases that tarnished the army’s image, but the problem has never been bigger than it is this year. For an organization that bears the responsibility of defending the country, this is surely not good news.
The army has been trying for years to introduce reforms through constant education aimed at changing the military’s mentality. Nevertheless, looking at some of the dark activities some of the army’s officers have been involved in, there has been little change from the past.
Two days ago, two generals were arrested for allegedly accepting bribes from construction companies involved in the building of the outer defenses of the Incheon International Airport, while four other generals were charged in the seizure of funds from organizations that are financially supported by the army. The illegal use of funds originally designated for the operation of army facilities and bribery are still taking place in the army today.
These illegal activities have come out into the open only recently since they are remnants of past governments that used to turn a blind eye to them. Now, the old practices are no longer accepted and these efforts should be praised. In order to get rid of such problems once and for all, strict punishment is needed. The customary forced retirement that still guarantees a pension isn’t good enough to eliminate the problem. The special status of the army, where security plays a big role and investigations are often limited to internal probes, and lenient punishments for offenders, pose other problems.
It takes individual effort, time and money to groom a general. In order to protect that investment, we need a stringent system that prevents even the thought of doing the wrong thing. In addition, to cope with the vast defense budget, a new accounting system should be introduced as well.