Glory built on tragedy
As a former Republic of China (ROC) Air Force security force (SF, now under ROC Military Command) field unit commander who led many young men and women like the wrongly executed Chiang Kuo-ching (江國慶), I wanted to respond to Wu Ching-chin’s (吳景欽) insightful article (“Chiang Kuo-ching deserves justice,” June 4, page 8) and raise additional points from a tactical leadership view as well as points about the ethics of professional military officers.
First, on the issue of moral awareness and military morale, following the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office Special Investigation Panel’s (SIP) decision not to indict any of the officers involved in this notorious case, the public response was overwhelming and continues to be the topic of conversation across the country.
To ease the public outcry, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), as commander-in-chief of the ROC Armed Forces, has personally offered a solemn apology and expressions of regret to Chiang’s mother, the brave surviving parent after his father passed away after many years of living with frustration and anger over the loss of his beloved son.
The president has demanded that the Ministry of National Defense re-investigate the case and clear Chiang’s name, which is belated justice for an innocent young man who was brutally tortured before being killed for a crime he didn’t commit.
This process must be carried out in a timely manner to promote moral awareness among all officers, junior and senior, and sustain morale for a military that has been tremendously impacted by this case.
Second, the decision-making should be based on the rule of law and due process, not on a military commander’s personal opinion of “not airing dirty laundry in public.” In Chiang’s case, the poor judgement of the air force commander led to a series of mishaps.
When crimes are committed inside military barracks, as in this case, the military police should be the first to investigate, according to the nation’s military justice system, not a --counter-intelligence unit whose task is to handle military -intelligence-related violations, such as espionage or treason, within the armed services.
The third is the lack of professional training received by counter-intelligence unit officers who were involved in the investigation, most of whom were trained in general political warfare with very limited knowledge of criminal investigation, not to mention forensics.
Their initial assignment to the investigation resulted in the mishandling of the case, which was characterized by inhumane treatment (torture) and improper gathering of evidence.
The fourth point I would like to bring up is the ironic issue of officers’ code of ethics.
As an SF field unit commander of those airmen and airwomen serving our nation, we were instructed by senior political warfare officers not to use any verbally abusive language nor to use corporal punishment against service members under any circumstances.
Any officer found in violation of those instructions faced serious punishment, which would negatively impact one’s military career.
In Chiang’s case, all officers involved did just the opposite. Incredibly, they were not punished, but received medals and promotions. This is a slap in the face to all the good officers in the ROC Armed Forces who have exhibited positive leadership and treated soldiers like young brothers and sisters.