Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The St. Paddy's Day Massacre

All this and more really happened, and things got a little stupider. And probably because I said "how could things possibly get any stupider?" some of my OWN soldiers decided to get in trouble in stupid ways, and it got stupider again. And then it started raining.

As I suspected from my first day on the peninsula, the US Army in Korea has several priorities ahead of combat readiness - foremost among them keeping soldiers from causing public relations disasters with the Korean public and government. Stars & Stripes has a pretty good archive of them (including the illustrated incidents) here: Bad Behavior in the Pacific.

The command's options to affect this are pretty limited: Curfews, restrictions, mass punishment, and blaming the next level of leadership beneath them. Our apparently enlightened Division Commander published a letter suggesting that giving all soldiers a psychological screening before they came to Korea would still be cheaper than the legal and administrative costs of a few troubled soldiers getting in serious trouble. He also recommended that the Army not send young, brand-new soldiers here, and stop sending misbehaving soldiers here as a punishment (Korea is one destination for soldiers who get kicked out of Ranger Regiment). Pretty forward-thinking, right? (In the Army, stating the obvious is usually about as avant-garde as it gets. Do so at your own risk).

The only actual solution (too obvious for the good General to say out loud) is to stop sending all these soldiers here in the first place. Those of you in the military will know that's true, and those of you familiar with the actual security situation in Korea will not be alarmed by that idea.

P.S. For my readers familiar with neither Korea or the Army, please don't get the idea that Korea is some kind of cesspool of military vice. Well, my area is, but much less so than any base stateside, where the frequency* and severity of offenses outmatches anything USFK does. The key difference is that when you punch a cop outside Ft. Bragg, it doesn't become an international incident.

*With the exception of sexual assault. US Army Korea leads the force there.