The leak of a recording of a live-fire exercise last month in which an instructor was accidentally wounded has caused consternation at the National Security Bureau (NSB), as the video showed the special service trainees engaged in a controversial combat training program.
In the video, trainees from the bureau’s Special Service Command Center were practicing “human shield” tactical exercises, firing live rounds while facing each other at a distance of only 2m.
The video also exposed deficiencies in the training regime, as trainees and instructors were not wearing flak jackets, bulletproof vests, helmets and other protective equipment.
Bureau officials yesterday demanded an internal investigation to determine the source of the leak.
During “human shield” exercises, trainees facing each other at close range fire at targets behind the opposite trainee while moving, with an instructor standing behind trainees.
Lieutenant Colonel Kuo Keng-hung (郭耿宏), the instructor, was allegedly shot in the neck during such an exercise at the center on Monday last week, in what was initially reported as an accidental shooting during target practice.
Kuo was wounded by a 9mm bullet fired from a Glock 19 semiautomatic pistol — standard issue for officers of the service. He is still being treated for a shattered cervical vertebrae, and doctors fear he could be paralyzed in his lower body.
Units from the center are tasked with providing personal protection for the president, vice president, their families, former presidents and other designated individuals, including presidential and vice presidential candidates.
Critics expressed their shock at the trainees undertaking a dangerous live-fire exercise without wearing any protective gear.
It has also been alleged that the “human shield” training regime was being practiced in preparation for a visit by members of the Control Yuan, who are scheduled to visit next month.
The center issued a statement dismissing the speculation, saying the training had nothing to do with the visit by Control Yuan members.
“This type of training has been carried out for years, and it has always been performed without any protective gear. This helps to enhance mental toughness and improve trainees’ ability to handle firearms,” the statement said.
One officer from the center, who wished to remain unidentified, said: “The training looks very dangerous, but it is necessary because we are protecting the president and vice president with our lives. Without such high-stress conditioning, we would not be able to do our jobs in an emergency.”
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