Preventable tragedyAccidents take place in the military in a variety of forms. A soldier shoots his fellow soldiers at a guard post in the demilitarized zone. The maintenance records of fighter planes are falsified. A civilian takes firearms and bullets from a soldier at a guard post. This time, a guard post at the ocean border collapses, killing three Marines.
This is one of the most unbelievable accidents, indeed.
Some accidents are probably bound to happen in the military because there are as many as 600,000 soldiers. The recent accident, however, is hard to understand. A guard post on the frontline that is supposed to check an enemy’s invasion collapsed simply because it was old and worn out, not because of an enemy attack or a landslide.
Most Marines knew that the guard post was 40 years old. Commanders should have checked it and been more careful. The cause of the accident must be investigated thoroughly and those who are responsible severely punished.
Most of the guard posts in our military are worn out and not well cared for. The budget for improving strategic facilities which can be used for maintaining guard posts is merely 23 billion won ($22.3 million).
A higher category where this budget is included is a budget for building and maintaining military facilities, with a 1 trillion won allocation.
But the military explains that most of the budget is used for other more urgent work. For instance, the cost for improving living quarters for soldiers takes up 65 percent of the 1 trillion-won budget.
This practice must change. There is no guarantee that the same type of accident won’t happen not only in the Marine Corps but also in the guard posts of the rest of the military.
Particularly during heavy rains, guard posts located in mountains or by the shore become more dangerous. If the same accident occurs again, the military will come under heavy criticism by the people.
The people’s distrust in the military will deepen because of the recent accident. Parents particularly will worry if their children can be safe in the army.
Words can’t describe the sadness and grief that the families of the soldiers must feel now. Their sons chose the Marine Corps because they wanted to become Marines only to fall victim to this unbelievable accident.
Leaders of the military must realize the seriousness of the situation and present corrective measures, even if that means reducing ordinary expenditure or delaying imports of high-tech weapons.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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