Ma in­spects mil­i­tary unit to bol­ster morale

The China Post - - LOCAL - BY JOSEPH YEH

Pres­i­dent Ma Ying-jeou yesterday in­spected a mil­i­tary unit in North­ern Tai­wan in an ef­fort to bol­ster mil­i­tary per­son­nel’s morale there that had pre­vi­ously been bat­tered fol­low­ing a scan­dal.

Ma yesterday vis­ited the north­ern Taoyuan-based Army Avi­a­tion Spe­cial Forces 601st Brigade that had pre­vi­ously been un­der the media spotlight fol­low­ing a high­pro­file scan­dal when a pi­lot at­tached to the unit al­lowed civil­ians to take pho­to­graphs of the AH-64E Apache he­li­copter within breach of proper pro­ce­dure.

Dur­ing his ad­dress made to ser­vice­men and women of the unit, the pres­i­dent gave pep talks to en­cour­age them to re­main in high morale de­spite the in­ci­dent that has largely tar­nished the im­age of the unit and Tai­wan’s Armed Forces as a whole.

“The public and media have set higher moral stan­dards for mem­bers of the mil­i­tary be­cause you are tasked with the im­por­tant duty of de­fend­ing our coun­try and thus should be care­fully su­per­vised,” Ma said.

Us­ing the Apache in­ci­dent as an ex­am­ple, Ma called on sol­diers to learn from the ex­pe­ri­ence and do their best to live up to higher morale stan­dards to meet public ex­pec­ta­tions.

“We all make mis­takes; the im­por­tant thing is that we should learn from our mis­takes,” he said.

In­stead of feel­ing up­set, the pres­i­dent said the mil­i­tary should face up to the in­ci­dent, make amends and re­form, to make sure sim­i­lar cases will not hap­pen again.

Ma’s visit to the mil­i­tary unit also came a day ahead of the Dragon Boat Fes­ti­val, one of the three ma­jor an­nual Chi­nese fes­ti­vals cel­e­brated in Tai­wan.

At the cen­ter of the scan­dal was Lt. Col. Lao Nai-cheng ( ), deputy head of a he­li­copter squadron of the 601st Brigade.

Lao was found to have al­legedly al­lowed lo­cal TV per­son­al­ity Janet Lee ( ) and other civil- ians ac­cess to the AH-64E Apache late March, even al­low­ing some to wear a NT$2-mil­lion tac­ti­cal hel­met.

The case came to light af­ter Lee posted photos of the tour on her Face­book page, draw­ing media crit­i­cism of loose se­cu­rity in Tai­wan’s mil­i­tary.

It was also found that Lao had not re­turned an Apache flight hel­met af­ter a train­ing mis­sion last Oc­to­ber but had worn it as part of a Hal­loween cos­tume at a party at his home.

Lao has since been re­moved from his post and is cur­rently un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the mil­i­tary and pros­e­cu­tors.

He did not show up dur­ing Ma’s in­spec­tion yesterday.

The 601st Brigade is one of the most elite forces of the R.O.C. Army.

The De­fense Min­istry re­cently con­firmed that the Army Avi­a­tion Spe­cial Forces 601st Brigade has formed a sis­ter unit with the Hawaii-based U.S. Army’s 25th Com­bat Avi­a­tion Brigade.

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