Saturday, July 23, 2005

Maybe now the heat can come off the US soldiers for a bit.

On Wednesday, three men surprised two Korean soldiers and took their weapons. The incident took place near Donghae, Gangwondo, about 100km south of Sokcho.

From the Joongang daily:
"The latest incident occurred shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday when the three men approached the soldiers, a first lieutenant and a corporal, and pretended to ask for directions. The Army unit to which the soldiers are attached has a policy of aiding tourists in the area." ... "Saying the incident demonstrates a breakdown in military discipline, the Grand National Party urged yesterday Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung to resign, but Uri Party officials said the call was politically motivated. After a fatal shooting incident in which eight South Korean soldiers were killed by a fellow soldier, the Democratic Labor Party voted with the Uri Party to defeat a resolution calling for the resignation of Mr. Yoon earlier this month."

I think linking the two incidents is crazy. The first incident, where a soldier killed many of his fellows, was probably preventable and does display problems in military discipline. The second incident was a crime of opportunity. It could have been preventable in specific although the general type is likely to success occasionally

Perhaps, the soldiers should have a policy of ignoring civilians or flat out warning them to keep their distance, although I don't know how exactly to do that with short-term conscripts. Soldiers are everywhere in coastal Gangwondo, and so are tourists and they are there for the same reason; the coastline. Should the soldiers drive away anyone who approaches within four meters? Should the soldiers ignore people appearing to have medical problems? Provincial and district officials would raise havoc with the army officials if the army drives out tourists.

I can't access GI Korea while at camp (I can't even access my own blog, only post to it). He may have already commented on the attack. In my uninformed opinion, the only way to prevent such attacks and seizures would be to increase the size of patrols, at least including an unarmed liaison member, whose only job is to interact with civilians and maintain some distance between soldiers and civilians. Distance is the only effective defense. I believe that Ontario Provincial Police doctrine is that a holstered pistol cannot be drawn swiftly enough if the assailant is already within five meters so other defenses need to be used (batons, unarmed combat, etc).

As an aside, OPP doctrine (both my father and grandfather were members of the OPP) also calls for firearms to be used only as deadly force - that is to kill opponents. Disabling shots are too chancy and dangerous to possible bystanders. Some Korean police forces are trained to try for legs, arms or shoulders and I think this is a dangerous restriction.

1 comment:

GI Korea said...

A two man patrol is too small of a patrol especially when carrying weapons. If you are going to do a two man patrol it should at least be within visibility of another guard post to assist them in case something shady like this happens.