Ma inspects military unit to bolster morale
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.