Army should outsource

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Army should outsource

The National Defense Committee of the National Assembly has proposed a bill transferring responsibility for the military’s non-combatant jobs - such as cleaning and removing weeds in and around bases - to the civilian sector. The bill will help hundreds of thousands of soldiers on the front line to take care of their own private space in the barracks by transferring tedious chores to civilians at an annual cost of 24 billion won ($21.89 million).

According to the proposal, five civilian workers will be assigned to each battalion. The measures are expected to encourage soldiers on the border to concentrate on training and guarding their posts. We welcome the legislature’s initiative to let our troops fulfill the military’s original mission of reinforcing soldiers’ combat capabilities.

The Army had originally planned to execute the new approach in two divisions on the eastern and western fronts and then expand it to all the divisions on the border depending on the results. After lawmakers called for improvements in our military culture, the Army has decided to increase the budget for soldiers serving their military duty on the front lines. Officials from the Ministry of National Defense expressed the hope that the new measure will help eliminate our military’s deep-rooted, seniority-based barracks culture by relieving soldiers of the extra burden from other chores. The Army must draw up a detailed list of action plans and implement them so that the new measure can substantially contribute to improving barracks culture among officers, non-commissioned officers and other enlisted men.

Such innovations can extend to other fields beyond the boundaries of military compounds. For instance, the Army needs to take into account the economic benefits to people who live around bases in case jobs are offered to them by closely cooperating with local governments when it commissions jobs. That could also consolidate the relationship between the Army and local communities.

Our military must use the occasion as an opportunity for further outsourcing non-combatant jobs - including cooking as well - from the private sector at the maximum level so the Army can concentrate on its original goal of strengthening combat capabilities. If the military determines it wants to outsource the dining halls to the civilian sector, it can free up the labor of a battalion-sized combat force. The military must pay heed as to how not to waste military manpower. It must not forget that a strong army comes from unceasing innovations.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 14, Page 34

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