[EDITORIALS]Remedy needed, not reformAn Army officer and a corporal on patrol duty were robbed of their rifles and ammunition by three unidentified assailants. The barbed-wire fences along the central Demilitarized Zone have been penetrated repeatedly, conscripts at boot camps were forced to eat human excrement, and troops at a guard post were killed ruthlessly by a fellow soldier. Now, discipline has broken down so far that two soldiers were robbed of their weapons.
The soldiers surrendered their rifles to robbers, who pretended to be passers-by asking directions. Military authorities explained that the soldiers had no choice but to hand over their weapons because they were attacked with a knife. But that is an excuse. They were on duty with their firearms. They were supposed to deter enemies that might infiltrate via the shoreline or by land routes at any moment.
Moreover, the area has often been infiltrated by armed North Korean agents in the past. It is basic that troops defending such a strategically weak area should be alert at all times. Nevertheless, the soldiers’ weapons, their lifeline, were taken without proper resistance. We wonder whether they were attacked because they went on patrol with a lax attitude that “everything will go all right.”
This incident proves the military leadership’s words that the Army aims to build an elite force are empty rhetoric. The fact that this and other incidents involving a breakdown in military discipline occurred repeatedly while the troops were on duty under a higher alert status, proves that overall military discipline has become a joke. Nevertheless, the leadership of the military, including the defense minister, only make apologies and try to take slipshod emergency measures.
How long will the defense minister watch the disintegration of military discipline with his arms folded? What on earth are the military reforms the minister is talking about? While he shouts about military reform, the reality we face is repeated military discipline violations. He should first fix this state of affairs before crying out for military reform.
The credibility of the people accorded to the Army has also hit bottom. More than anything else, how can we call it an Army when soldiers fail to provide measures to stop infiltration across the border, the shoreline and in all other directions.
We need an immediate, fundamental measure, not a superficial one.