Honor and Loyalty : Defending the Fatherland: an imperative and binding duty

No blunder! No collateral damage! This is the firm nature of some of the instructions given to soldiers as they embark on armed operations. It turns out that neither of these two expressions appears in the operational lexicon of the Armed Forces. Blunder refers to a disproportionate use of force, and collateral damage to the idea of an involuntary act causing additional damage, and in all inappropriate cases, it entails maintaining the soldier in an attitude of totaland permanent control of his reflexes.

With opportunity, gradualness, intensity and precision as so many prerequisites to be met and observed before, during and after any action, the soldier of the Republic is trained and conditioned to respect human life which, in the same way as others’ property, cannot under any pretext undergo profit and loss. Any act contrary to this red thread engages the statutory and penal responsibilities of the offending soldier. The Rules of General Discipline in force within the Defence Forces, the Code of Military Justice, and the Penal Code are explicit on the matter, without prejudice of course, to the presumption of innocence that is applicable toevery citizen under judicial investigation.

It thus becomes clear that the imperative duty to defend the territory, citizens or property, is not enough to justify any taking of liberties vis-à-vis the rights conferred by the State on the human person. The intransigence of the military hierarchy towards cases of indiscipline such as the recent happening in the North-West administrative Region, is not only part of the perspective of corrective repression, but also and above all, such intransigence aims to prevent the possibility of perpetrating acts whose gravity and subsequent repercussions are likely to ruin the atmosphere of understanding and cordiality, which our Army hopes to find among the people, to fulfil its missions effectively and with equanimity.

Not even mentioning the repercussions on the reputation of our country at the international level.

While waiting for the enigma and consequences of this highly regrettable tragedy to be resolved, the mission must continue, with abnegation, determination and professionalism, in a spirit of honour, loyalty to our Republican Institutions, as well as loyalty to the Women and Men who embody them. /-

Navy Captain

ATONFACK GUEMO,

Head of Communication Division - MINDEF