TAIPEI, Taiwan - Military officials announced the expansion of the wave of disciplinary actions coming from the recent Apache helicopter scandal yesterday after revealing that another officer had arranged an unauthorized tour of the sensitive military craft. Later, Army Commander Chiu Kuo-cheng stated he has taken disciplinary action upon himself following the scandal, without providing further details.
Ministry of National Defence (MND) spokesperson Luo Shou-he revealed in a morning press conference that Army Special Forces 601 Brigade Commander Maj. Gen. Chien Tsung-yuan had also led a group of family and friends numbering four individuals in an unauthorized tour of the Apache helicopter on Feb. 20, including the helicopter's cockpit. This brings the number of unauthorized tours to three and involves 40 individuals, including the two tours organised by Lt. Col. Lao Nai-cheng on Feb. 22 and March 29. Including Chien and Lao, prosecutors are now seeking charges against 14 individuals involved in the scandal.
Lt. Col. Lao to be Discharged after New Charges Leveled
Detailing their ongoing investigation, military officials divided the recent Apache scandal into two cases, one involving violations to internal administration, and the second pertaining to the personal use of a special aviator helmet connected to the helicopter, which involved six officers.
In the MND's second wave targeting violations to internal administration within the 601 Brigade, it handed out 12 additional disciplinary actions toward individuals including Army Special Forces Director of Political Warfare Maj. Gen. Wen Tien-you, the highest ranking officer to be disciplined. Maj. Gen. Chien, after accruing three demerits, will be removed from his post as brigade commander of the unit.
Lt. Col. Lao, already disciplined with one serious demerit and removed from his post due to the two unauthorized tours, was issued another serious demerit for his role involving the private use of the special aviator helmet. Officials confirmed that Lao will eventually be discharged within the year.
Army Lists Major Shortcomings
In materials provided to the press, the R.O.C. Army detailed eight major institutional shortcomings highlighted by Lao's unauthorized tours. They included non-compliance with the provisions of military grounds, room for further implementation of internal management, oversight deficiencies in restricted areas, lack of security and safety verification during entry of military grounds, lack of security awareness, the need for information security management and control, false reporting of military inventory, and concealing the truth to mislead investigations.
MND officials addressed these shortcomings by listing several actions including the review of current management and inspection procedures across all branches of the military to reform regulations and safeguards.
Defence Minister Apologizes, Vows Thorough Investigation
Minister of National Defence Kao Kuang-chi who made an unannounced visit near the end of the press conference apologised to the nation and promised to spare no one involved in the scandal in ongoing investigations. Kao further detailed the formation of a committee to foresee the investigations, to be lead by Deputy Defence Minister Liu Chen-wu.
MND Cold on Janet Lee's Volunteer Offer
Responding to Janet Lee's offer to become a volunteer following her recent remarks regretting her actions in the scandal in order to repair the damage done to the military's reputation, spokesman Luo stated that he hoped Lee's feelings of regret were genuine, and that there are many avenues of volunteering that do not involve national defence.