Saturday, October 18, 2003

My country has compulsory military conscription which all young male citizens have to go through. Recently, there were three separate and unrelated incidents of death during training, one of which occurred during so-called POW training in which the trainee's head was held under water for a total of four times, resulting in water getting into his lungs, and his consequently dying. Six others required medical attention after this same training. All of the trainers involved as well as the top commander have been suspended for conducting training which had not complied with the lesson plan.

One man who had undergone the same training a couple of years ago subsequently wrote into the newspapers and stated that the training was tough but not impossible to complete. Instead of pointing fingers of blame, he suggested that we should look into the quality of the soldiers now and see why it is that these people are not able to cope with the training despite the renewed emphasis on training safety over the past few years. In other words, and he did write this, are the soldiers too soft?

When a soldier dies during training, during something which is blatantly within his commander's control, I hardly think the correct conclusion would be: "Seeing as no deaths had occurred previously, the contents of this training should not have been the cause of death. So, it must be the fact that the deceased was unable to handle such training, which by virtue of the fact that so many others had managed to survive it, must be of an acceptable level. Therefore, the deceased was not strong enough i.e. he was too soft."

In response to the writer, all I can say is: Are you completely and utterly out of your mind? How could that possibly be a valid conclusion? Better yet, why don't you go up to his family and tell them what you've written? And his friends? Show some sensitivity, man, even if you can't seem to think straight.

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