[EDITORIALS]The Army is no university

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[EDITORIALS]The Army is no university

The administration and the governing party have produced what has been titled an “Integrated Military Human Resources Development Plan.” It would allow Army conscripts who joined the military while in college to earn up to nine university course credits per year. The Army would also establish an “E-learning Portal System,” installing 16 personal computers for each company and connecting them with universities’ online lecture programs. Soldiers not enrolled in university would be offered study programs for civil service exams or licensing tests.
Giving soldiers the chance to acquire a license, or to study commputing or foreign languages, will not only help the individual soldiers, it will make Korea more competitive overall. It will also do a great deal to ease draftees’ dissatisfaction over their “lost days,” and improve life in barracks.
But a good thing taken too far can do harm. There is a problem with allowing soldiers to take university courses while serving in the Army. First of all, dividing soldiers between those who are in college and those who aren’t will create a sense of incongruity. There are many soldiers who go on to enroll in a university after fulfilling their military duty. We should consider whether letting them do so while still in the barracks is the right thing to do.
There are also many problems with offering study courses for various license exams, including licenses to operate heavy equipment. Under the plan, highly educated soldiers would be selected to undergo intensive training for such licensing; the number of licenses obtained would affect their commanding officers’ records. This could lead to the comic situation of a first-class law student earning a license to handle dangerous chemicals.
Allowing students to earn course credits would only deepen the social gap between soldiers. Subjects for such study should be limited to language training and computing, which are helpful to all, regardless of educational background.
The Army is not a university. It is a special organization whose first priority is to build superior combat capability. If soldiers spend their time earning university credits, why send them to the military at all? Instead of a policy designed for public appeal, a better idea would be to make more fundamental reforms, such as shortening the period of service.
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