Tai­wan ‘soul of a sol­dier’ is MIA

The China Post - - COMMENTARY -

It’s a lit­tle more than seven months ago that the Min­istry of Na­tional De­fense pub­lished in its or­gan, Stru­fight (

Strug­gle Monthly), an ar­ti­cle on the Soul of a Sol­dier ( ). It is the name of a dag­ger Chi­ang Kai-shek, su­per­in­ten­dent of the Wham­poa Mil­i­tary Academy in Can­ton, gave to ev­ery cadet on grad­u­a­tion as a present. The dag­ger is also known as the Dag­ger for Sui­cide.

Gen­er­alis­simo Chi­ang, who at­tended a Ja­panese mil­i­tary academy, knew the soul of samu­rai, which is bet­ter known as bushido. He wanted his cadets to em­u­late Ja­pan’s samu­rai war­riors of yore. Gen. Hideki Tojo, who or­dered a sneak attack on Pearl Har­bor, cod­i­fied it in the Mil­i­tary Code, which taught sol­diers and sailors to kill them­selves rather than sur­ren­der to the en­emy in battle. As a mat­ter of fact, it paved the way for the Kamikaze sui­cide at­tacks to­ward the end of World War II.

Chi­ang’s Soul of a Sol­dier dag­gers re­minded his for­mer stu­dents that they had to ob­serve the five mar­tial virtues of wis­dom, hon­esty, benev­o­lence, brav­ery and res­o­lute­ness. The virtues were all cited in


Ja­pan’s 1882 Im­pe­rial Re­script to Sol­diers and Sailors, which had two more virtues Chi­ang left out. Em­peror Meiji re­quired all mil­i­tary per­son­nel to pledge ab­so­lute loy­alty to the Mikado and prac­tice fru­gal­ity. Per­haps, the omis­sion cost Chi­ang the de­fec­tion of his armies to Mao Ze­dong in the Chi­nese civil war and has led to the loss of the soul of a sol­dier among of­fi­cers of Tai­wan’s armed forces, ex­em­pli­fied by the Apache tour scan­dal.

It came to light when pho­tos show­ing TV en­ter­tainer Janet Lee sit­ting in the cock­pit of an AH65E Apache attack he­li­copter were posted on her Face­book page. In­ter­net searches also found a photo of Lt. Col. Lao Nai-cheng, chief pi­lot of the 601st Air Cav­alry Brigade who guided her fam­ily and her wealthy friends in an unau­tho­rized tour of Apache hangars in a base in Lung­tan near the Tai­wan Taoyuan In­ter­na­tional Air­port. In­ter­net searches also found Lao wear­ing his Apache pi­lot’s hel­met at a Hal­loween party.

Un­der pres­sure from an in­dig­nant public out­cry, the Min­istry of Na­tional De­fense or­dered an in­ves­ti­ga­tion and found an­other unau­tho­rized tour of the brigade’s base and a cover-up for the breach of mil­i­tary dis­ci­pline. Col. Lao was not court-mar­tialed, be­cause court- mar­tial­ing was abol­ished dur­ing peace­time af­ter the death by abuse of Cpl. Hung Chung-chiu in 2013, for which Min­is­ter of Na­tional De­fense Kao Hua-chu re­signed and Pres­i­dent Ma Ying-jeou apol­o­gized. Lao is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion by Taoyuan dis­trict pros­e­cu­tors.

Al­to­gether 16 Army of­fi­cers in­volved in the scan­dal were dis­ci­plined. Lao was fired. Dis­ci­plined top brass in­cluded Gen. Yen Tefa, chief of the gen­eral staff; Gen. Chiu Kuo-cheng, com­man­der of the Army; Lt. Gen. Chen Chien-tsai, com­man­der of the Army Avi­a­tion Spe­cial Forces Com­mand; and Maj. Gen. Chien Tsung-yuan, com­man­der of the 601st Brigade, which is un­der Chen’s com­mand. Adm.Kao Kuang-chi, min­is­ter of na­tional de­fense for a lit­tle more than two months, of­fered to re­sign to take re­spon­si­bil­ity, but was per­suaded to stay on by Pres­i­dent Ma Ying­jeou.

Lax Dis­ci­pline

The mil­i­tary is over­re­act­ing. Col. Lao has to be dis­ci­plined, of course. He shouldn’t have taken those vis­i­tors to the Lung­tan base, but he did not com­pro­mise mil­i­tary se­cu­rity be­cause the cock­pit of the he­li­copter gun­ship is not se­cret. Se­cu­rity com­pro­mise is a very se­ri­ous court-mar­tial of­fense, the pun- ish­ment for which is ex­e­cu­tion by fir­ing squad. In fact, Maj. Gen. Luo Shao-he, MND spokesman, went on the record by stat­ing, “Ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by the United States, all in­for­ma­tion that was al­legedly re­vealed through the pho­tos had al­ready been re­viewed and ap­proved by the United States Army.” There is no breach of se­cu­rity for any­one in the United States, for any­one can get on­line to take a good look at the in­side of the Apache cock­pit.

Col. Lao was wrong be­cause he let his rich friends tour the base with­out ap­proval. But the chances are that if he had asked for an ap­proval, his su­pe­ri­ors wouldn’t have given it. So, he thought he could get off scot-free in the Army with lax dis­ci­pline even though he guided an un­ap­proved out­ing or two for his friends. Mil­i­tary dis­ci­pline is lax in Tai­wan’s armed forces. As a mat­ter of fact, no­body would have known of Lao’s of­fense with­out the naive but vain celebrity post­ing the pho­tos on her Face­book page to show off her vain­glo­ri­ous sally.

Lax mil­i­tary dis­ci­pline has re­sulted from the loss of the soul of a sol­dier Gen­er­alis­simo Chi­ang tried to cul­ti­vate in of­fi­cers. But can the public blame them?

Few young­sters want to be ca­reer sol­diers. Still fewer par­ents wish their off­spring would go to ser­vice academies. Time has changed. Shortly af­ter Pres­i­dent Chi­ang re­opened the Mil­i­tary Academy in Feng­shan in 1950, preschool chil­dren sang with zest “So Long as I’m Grow­ing Up (

) a la “I Love Sol­diers Very Much” in pre-war mil­i­taris­tic Ja­pan. Tai­wan’s chil­dren’s song urges his fa­ther and el­der broth­ers to go to war with­out wor­ry­ing about the fam­ily, so long as he is grow­ing up. Many high school grad­u­ates went to ser­vice academies, then.

The siege men­tal­ity made na­tive Tai­wanese and newly ar­rived Chi­nese main­lan­ders work hard to­gether to work Tai­wan’s eco­nomic mir­a­cle of the 20th cen­tury. Tai­wan has be­come pros­per­ous, and pros­per­ity has made peo­ple change what they ex­pect of life, while the communal har­mony has been lost in the process. Tai­wan is di­vided. How­ever, prac­ti­cally all of them think life is for them to en­joy. Why should they go to ser­vice academies to be trained to de­fend the coun­try that in all like­li­hood won’t go to war against the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China? Isn’t Pres­i­dent Ma’s China pol­icy “no war across the Tai­wan Strait”?

So, don’t be too harsh on mil­i­tary of­fi­cers for los­ing their soul of a sol­dier.

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