Opinion: much left unanswered after the senseless killing in the Southern Border

The killing of their superiors by AK-47 by the four young border guards shocked the country. What happened in military base of Fort-Hood, USA is being repeated here in small scale in Mongolia.

When I was little boy, I used to hear many stories like " poor guy, got beaten up by his superiors and now he is crippled", " he froze his feet because old soldiers made him stand outside in freezing cold to test his courage" etc. My uncle served in the People's Army for 5 years and came home safe and sound. When I inquired from him, what it was like in the army and if he had to go through "Deglelt" (rough treatment of new conscripts and soldiers by old and experienced soldiers and officers), "well, everybody had to go through this. You get used to it" and brushed off the topic. I still clearly remember his reluctance to talk about his time in the army.

Military tradition in Mongolia dating back to Chinggis Khaan's period dictates serving in military is must and pride for every able-bodied males.We have even saying that goes something like " man is not a man unless he is served in military".
Military boys always received respect and generosity from ordinary citizens. Before introduction of Lamaism, the Tibetan Buddhism, many of Mongolian tribal leaders were military men. Sukhbaatar, the famous hero of 1921 People's Revolution was military man. Newly established Mongolian People's Republic in 1924 with assistance of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics formed strong army to defend the country from possible Chinese invasion. During the communist rule, one third of GDP of Mongolia and much of Soviet assistance for Mongolia was spent on military. Military was to be supplied well and fed well. Largest Mongolian military base was in Zuunbayan southern Gobi.Later, journalist Erdenebaatar of "Ardchilal" (Democracy) newspaper called the Zuunbayan " largest open-air concentration camp in Mongolia". That was in 90s when Mongolia became democratic.

Along with excessive military spending and worship, came abuse of power and emergence of untouchable military class system. The system is very hierarchical and based on seniority and rank. New conscripts were in bottom of this system. In 1970-1980s, military service term was five long years.
What happens when you have large concentration of males with plenty of time in their hands and special status?
Well, in Mongolian Army case, old and experienced and high ranking soldiers regulary beat up and tortured new soldiers and conscripts just for fun.All that happened in military barracks off the public limit. Many soldiers who were beaten up by older and high ranking ones acted just like their torturers when they became old soldiers.

Top military brass somehow knew all this and they say, Avkhia, then minister of Defence and top general went up to one military unit where many new conscripts were tortured and beaten up. He lined up the whole unit and asked who is doing all this. One old soldier walked forward. General just pulled his pistol and shot him dead on the spot just to get others scared and stop all this "Deglelt".He wanted to let everybody know that this will not be tolerated and those who brutalize other soldiers under their command will be punished severely.

I heard similar phenomenon was occuring in the Soviet army also. I don't know if it was as widespead as in Mongolia army.By 1990s, the military service term reduced to two years. That was a good news for many young people and their parents. Mongolian public just confirmed what they knew about abuse of power or "Deglelt" in the Army from many of the newspapers that was launched after the Democratic revolution in 1991. Still many dreaded to go to Army. A friend of mine went to Army in 1990 and later we heard that he died while on duty. Cause of death was unknown. Many said he was beaten to death by his superiors. Many similar cases and deaths and cripplings were hushed up.

Many questions left unanswered what led these 19-23 year old young men to shoot and kill their superiors in the middle of night.
Were they under pressure by their superiors and hated them so much?

Were they mentally and physically prepared to serve in the most tough condition of Gobi desert? I hope these will be answered after the investigation and causes for such senseless killings among the Mongolian Border Troops will be eradicated.

By Shagai, the "other Mongolian"


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