[EDITORIALS]Shock and anger over reportDefense Minister Cho Young-gil made a remark that upset the announcement of the joint government investigation team on the incident in which our patrol boats fired warning shots after a North Korean naval vessel crossed the Northern Limit Line.
Mr. Cho’s remarks not only shock us but drive us to despair. At the defense committee of the National Assembly, he said, “The operational commander of the Navy was afraid that his superiors might give him an order to stop firing if the communications with the North was reported through the military chain of command.”
His words overthrew the report of the joint investigation team the day before. He meant that the omission of the report was not a mistake out of carelessness but that the military intentionally did not report the North Korean message.
The biggest question is why the joint investigation team announced such distorted facts as investigation results. The Blue House reacted to his remark by saying it was aware of the omission.
That means the investigation team announced its findings after fine-tuning the contents of its report with the Blue House. How can this be possible? The report of the investigation team is a report to the people, not to the Blue House.
After hearing the report, people thought that the conflict between the Blue House and the military was coming to an end. Quite unexpectedly, however, the defense minister came forward and contradicted the report saying, “In fact, that was not true, but the truth is here.”
We are only amazed. The Ministry of Defense’s explanation exemplifies a case of extreme irresponsibility: “We intended to clarify it during a question and answer session with the press, but couldn’t do so because of time limits.”
People get angry and frustrated because they don’t know whom to believe. Mr. Cho and the Blue House must clarify the background of the incident in detail before the public. If they announced what really happened from the beginning, and said, “Considering the morale of the military, the punishments were reduced,” there might have been no problem.
They must confess, before the people, the reason why they made such a fuss. They have to keep in mind that this is the only way they can restore people’s confidence, which has hit bottom.
It is also shocking to hear that the operations commander of the Navy was afraid of a “cease-fire order” from his superiors. It is disclosed that the military’s chain of command was in such disarray that the highest-ranking field commander had to make such a decision. How can we entrust national security to a military that is full of distrust not among junior officers, but among the highest level military leaders?
The Blue House and the military must apologize to the people for creating confusion over a national security issue. The minister of defense must resign from his post.
The leadership of the military must be restructured completely. Distrust between the military and the Blue House, the front line and its commanding post and between the highest and the second-highest military commanders shouldn’t be ignored. We must make a military that will concentrate only on national defense without being swayed by politicians and biased public opinion.