[EDITORIALS]Bad habits in the militaryDefense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung has ordered military commanders to stop using subordinates for private purposes. The usage of military vehicles during holidays and leaves has also been forbidden, while the number of soldiers that can be assigned to a commander’s official residences has been limited.
Since the birth of the military, various methods of “privatizing” military personnel have existed. Soldiers doing private petty jobs for commanders at their official residences is not even considered a big deal. They also had to follow the orders of the commander’s family members or wife. Privately tutoring the children of commanders or serving as a ball boy for commanders’ tennis match or golf round are also some of the tasks given to soldiers.
Although these bad habits are not as commonplace as they used to be, there are still some left under the pretext of custom. Recently, a soldier was beaten by a commander for not taking good care of his anchovies. This is also an example of these bad habits.
In terms of following orders from the top, the military is the place where a chain of command is most visible. This relationship between superiors and subordinates is for work and combat, but one’s rank does not tell much about one’s character. A superior-subordinate relationship is not equal to that of a master and his servant. It’s a relationship between colleagues who have an equal social status and who fight against an enemy alongside one another. They are comrades, so to speak. The combat power of the military depends on the soldiers’ morale. It’s only natural for a soldier who is treated like a human being to be more committed in combat and at work than a soldier who is treated like a slave. This is especially true when a commander is respected by his soldiers ― the rank and file become one.
The privatization of soldiers is proof that commanders have not gotten rid of habits that stem from old pre-modern Japanese influence. The former commander of the U.S. forces stationed in Korea once said, “If you take good care of your subordinates, your subordinates will take good care of you.” This is a notion that our commanders need to take to heart. Soldiers serve for a certain period and return to society. If they return with negative feelings about military that still runs according to old habits, distrust toward the military will run high.
Let’s hope that the defense minister’s orders don’t end up being anti-climactic.