Slack discipline

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Slack discipline

A month ago an Army private from a guard post along the inter-Korea border threw a hand grenade into barracks where his fellow soldiers were sleeping, seriously injuring many of them.

With the shock of the incident still fresh in our memories, we now learn that senior officer had a drinks party at guard posts near the heavily fortified border. It is hard to imagine how such an event, one that has degraded the reputation of our country’s military, could take place.

The guard posts, called GP, are at the interface of our dealings with North Korea as they are only a few hundred meters from the North’s military posts. You would think that the soldiers manning these vital posts would be the most disciplined in the military and alert at all times while they are on duty.

But this doesn’t seem to be the case. Senior officers apparently bullied their juniors, suggesting that military discipline is deteriorating rapidly.

The chief officer in charge of the GP where the grenade-throwing accident took place decided to cut the guard force at the post, an action that works against the golden rule that a guard who fails can never be forgiven.

It hardly bears thinking about, but what would have happened if the North’s military launched some kind of attack while the guards were sipping beer?

This slack military discipline has left many of us utterly speechless.

Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee has repeatedly emphasized the importance of a strong military since he took office.

“A military unit should be able to win even if the battle begins tonight, and the servicemen should be professional fighters capable of doing just that,” he said.

But his comments have been completely undermined by the incredibly stupid actions of the guards on inter-Korea military border, making the minister’s words sound hollow.

After the grenade-throwing accident took place, the military said it would allow only first lieutenants to be in charge of GPs, modifying the previous system that allowed second lieutenants to be in control.

But now even first lieutenants seem unlikely candidates following the beer drinking.

Now is time for the military to rethink its strategy and improve discipline among junior commissioned officers instead of simply churning out short-term stopgaps.

The military faces a daunting task to review its training methods for commissioned officers.

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