Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Soldier’s death is a wake-up call

Taiwanese soldiers during Han Kuang 29 on Penghu
Hung’s death should be an occasion to take a serious look at the conditions under which our soldiers operate and the means by which the military can be made more attractive 

As if the Ministry of National Defense did not already have enough on its plate as it makes the fitful transition to an all-volunteer military system, the death of a 23-year-old soldier under mysterious circumstances on July 4 risks making the task of attracting recruits all the more onerous.

Army Corporal Hung Chung-chiu’s (洪仲丘) death in Taoyuan, from what the public is told was heat stroke, is a stark reminder of the risks that come with a job in the armed forces, as well as of the culture of violence that exists in military establishments the world over. It is one thing for soldiers to be reprimanded when they break regulations, or for their training to push them to the limits of their physical abilities. After all, the military needs to produce individuals who are capable of handling stress and able to operate under extraordinary hardships. However, it is another to engage in what can only be described as “hazing” or mistreatment, which rather than embolden soldiers serves only to undermine their morale and damage the reputation of the armed forces.

My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here. (Photo by the author)

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