A navy lieutenant surnamed Hsu (許), who serves as a pilot flying S-70C anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters, was given two admonitions for bringing a cellphone equipped with a camera onto military bases and using it to take photographs while on duty, the navy announced yesterday.
Rear Admiral Lin Tien-liang (林天量), the Directorate of Political Warfare’s deputy director-general, said the navy handed out the punishments to Hsu in accordance with military procedure after an internal investigation found that he had brought a smartphone onto military bases, used the device to take self-portraits while piloting an S-70C and shared the pictures with acquaintances.
“The navy plans to launch another probe to ascertain whether Hsu had often engaged in such behavior and to establish if any of the photographs he took involved classified military installations,” Lin said.
A naval officer familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Hsu was serving in the 702nd Helicopter Squadron of the Naval Aviation Command’s 2nd ASW Aviation Group.
The officer said that to his knowledge, Hsu brought a smartphone onto a navy base without permission and carried the device with him while on an ASW operation off Hualien County on May 14.
“As well as a number of ‘selfies’ that he took during that mission, Hsu’s cellphone was found to contain several aerial photographs of Hualien and Taitung counties as well as Greater Kaohsiung’s Zuoying District (左營),” the officer said.
The officer said Hsu even went so far as to send the photographs to female friends via a photo-sharing app, adding that his “outrageous and idiotic behavior” not only blatantly violated military regulations, but also seriously undermined the service.
Under military regulations, military personnel are prohibited from carrying smartphones or other cellphones equipped with cameras onto military bases and violators are punishable with one or two admonitions.
However, such regulations are apparently for reference only, the officer said, as evidenced by the unspoken trend in the military by which officers carry two cellphones with them to bypass the rule — a camera-free mobile phone that is used while on duty and a smartphone that they use during the night and while off duty.
However, in the high-profile case of the death of army corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘), the conscript was punished with a period in detention barracks, rather than admonitions, for bringing a cellphone equipped with a camera onto an army base.