Chief of general staff, Army commander punished over Apache incidents

Taipei, April 8 (CNA) Two more senior military officers were punished Wednesday in a case in which an Army pilot gave a local TV personality and other civilians access to Taiwan's most advanced attack helicopter, the AH-64E Apache, and wore the helmet used with the chopper to a private party. Chief of the General Staff Gen. Yen De-fa (???) was given a minor demerit and Army Commander Gen. Chiu Kuo-cheng (???) was given two minor demerits over the Apache scandals, in accordance with a decision made by President Ma Ying-jeou (???). The president imposed the punishments for lack of proper supervision, said Presidential spokesman Charles Chen (???). The decision came after Defense Minister Kao Kuang-chi (???) and other senior military officials meet with Ma earlier in the day to report on the Defense Ministry's latest investigation into the incidents and its plans for tightening military discipline. The president demanded that the military get to the bottom of the incidents and make every effort to reinforce military discipline and maintain the military's capabilities, Chen said. Ma said he will continue to closely monitor the matter, according to the spokesman. Meanwhile, although Kao tendered his resignation to take responsibility for the scandals, the president did not accept it, and he asked the minister to remain in his post, Chen said. At the center of the scandals is Lt. Col. Lao Nai-cheng (???), the deputy head of a helicopter squadron in Taoyuan under the Army Aviation Special Forces Command, who has since been removed from his post. Lao was found to have brought a group of people, including TV hostess Janet Lee (???), her relatives and friends, to see the Apaches at their base in Longtan March 29 without approval from his superiors. Some of the visitors even boarded an Apache to take photos. The case came to light after Lee posted four photos of the tour on her Facebook page, including one of her in the chopper's cockpit, drawing media criticism of loose security in Taiwan's military. It was also found that Lao, a pilot in the Army's 601st Aviation Brigade, had not returned an Apache flight helmet after a training mission last October but rather had worn it as part of a Halloween costume at a party at his home, according to a Defense Ministry investigation. (By Kelven Huang and Elaine Hou)