Elite force to be deployed to border

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Elite force to be deployed to border

The military plans to select group of elite combat troops among volunteers to serve at frontline bases in an effort to eradicate violence in the barracks in units along the inter-Korean border.

“We will select the elite combat troops and deploy them starting January next year,” the Army said in a press release. Applicants can select when they want to join the military and in which frontline unit they want to serve. Those chosen will be deployed to guard posts and general outposts at the coastal and riverside bases of the 1st and 3rd Field Army.

According to the military, it is the first time that elite soldiers will be selected from among volunteers to be deployed to those posts.

Applications can be submitted through the Military Manpower Administration website, and the application period runs from today until Nov. 12. Five-hundred elite combat troops will be selected, the Army said. The military will recruit 10,000 soldiers through the program next year and up to 1,200 troops will be selected each month.

Final selection for the first 500 elite soldiers will be announced next month.

The new program is a follow-up measure to the shooting spree that took place in June, when a 22-year-old sergeant fatally shot five of his fellow soldiers and injured seven others in a rampage on June 21 at a general outpost (GOP) in Goseong County, Gangwon.

An investigation later revealed that he had been categorized as a Class-B soldier - needing focused supervision due to perceived emotional instability. However, the soldier was able to perform border patrol duties.

The evaluation divides psychological problems into three categories: Class A, which indicates a need for “special attention” and prohibits a soldier from performing border patrol duties, a responsibility that carries a high risk; Class B, requiring “focused attention”; and Class C, which calls for “basic-level attention.”

The military has vowed to improve the working conditions at the border units because violent and cruel treatment at the barracks is more frequent among frontline troops who undergo harsher training with tighter discipline.

Until now, riflemen for the 1st and 3rd Field Army were randomly selected from among conscripts. The Army said it will now choose elite troops from volunteers in order to improve the military’s combat readiness at the frontline while improving the soldiers’ satisfaction and pride in their service. Various incentive programs are planned for the soldiers selected, including more leave days.

In addition to regular leave, they will be given three more days in their monthly leave in accordance with their period of service.

For example, those on patrol duty along the border will be given 18 additional days of leave for six months of service, up from the current six days.

The Army also plans to provide higher wages to those serving at the border. An applicant should be a conscript between 18 and 28 years old, be taller than 165 centimeters (5 feet 4 inches) and weigh more than 60 kilograms (132 pounds). High school attendance records will be taken into account.

BY SER MYO-JA [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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