State secrets at stake

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State secrets at stake

Our military’s deviant actions ring loud alarm bells. Even before the shocks from the fatal shooting spree last month at a General Outpost (GOP) in Goseong County, Gangwon, subsided, it turned out that active officers have delivered sensitive military secrets to arms dealers. The Board of Audit and Inspection found that the Air Force even allowed its men and their families to use aircraft for personal purposes. We are dumbfounded at the lax discipline and corruption in our armed forces.

The leaks of military secrets a government watchdog has uncovered go beyond our expectations. An Air Force lieutenant colonel, surnamed Park, delivered 21 pieces of confidential information to an arms dealer, surnamed Kim, eight times. The way he passed secrets to the arms broker has also changed with the times. In contrast with the old practice based on hand-written memos, he handed over secret documents through social network services, including KakaoTalk, a multiplatform messaging application widely used in Korea. An Army major, surnamed Cho, who was working for the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), also provided Kim with confidential information on the current status of a small gunship that’s being developed by the Army.

The two senior officers were found to have received cash or time at a hostess bar in return for delivering their military secrets. A colonel, surnamed Cho, at the DAPA, was accused of leaking two pieces of handwritten confidential information to Kim after receiving hospitality at hostess bars. And the malpractice did not stop there. Major Kim ordered his female civilian workers in their 20s to partner with other officers at group dinners.

The military rests on security. If there is a hole in the security network, the nation faces a crisis. That’s why the military always underscores the value of security to both officers and soldiers. And yet, if our senior officers leak military secrets, who will entrust them with our survival? The military authorities must punish those involved in the leaks and find effective ways to prevent a recurrence of such incidents.

Needless to say, the leaks of sensitive military information were the result of shady connections between the military and former officers now working in the civilian sector. The authorities must come up with a fundamental solution to cut the ugly chain of corruption. The government must strictly restrict retired officers from being rehired by the defense industry. We urge the authorities not to forget the age-old warning, “Our enemies are among us.” JoongAng Ilbo, July 17, Page 30
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