[EDITORIALS]Stop cruelty in the militaryDefense Minister Yoon Kwang-woong said, “The ministry will make this year a year of rooting out beatings and cruelty committed in the military barracks.” The chronic bad behavior in barracks has been a problem for a long time. The situation has deteriorated, requiring the defense minister to initiate action himself. Most of the 12 cases of suicide in the military this year, were caused by some kind of cruelty directed at the victims. A Marine Corps private was beaten unconscious by a superior.
The military proposes various preventive measures whenever such acts occur. However, the situation has only gotten worse. We can no longer tolerate stopgap measures.
A thorough investigation is needed into whether the rights counseling service, which was implemented after the human excrement incident at a boot camp happened, is operating as hoped. It should be firmly established that those who commit violence destroy their careers.
Most of all, it is necessary that commanding officers set an example and show affection for their men. Once the commander of the U.S. Forces in Korea, General Leon LaPorte, set out his motto as: “If you take care of your men, they will take care of you in return.”
He is right. Considering the special characteristics of the military where orders from superiors are followed by subordinates, various problems, including beatings, will be minimized if a superior officer is a role model.
The commander of a division in the field once scolded his men who were delivering presents from an outside source to an officers’ mess.
He said, “Why do you feed officers, while it was the soldiers that suffered the most?”
The most important measure is stopping the practice of beating. The use of violence under Japanese rule survives in our society even after democratization. We have to keep in mind that a military that achieved democratization is stronger than forces under dictatorial rule.
We have to induce participation and devotion, not subordination, through the use of force. If people suffer from such cruelty, who would want to serve in the military?
Attention must be paid to Minister Yoon’s word this time. If cruelty continues even after the army’s commander-in-chief’s declaration, people’s distrust in the military will grow enormously.