Unethical military practices

Experimental visualization of narrower problems
Other Names:
Corruption in the armed forces
Military corruption
Blackmail in the military
Illegal military activity
Incompetent military officers
Criminal involvement with the military
Scandal in the military
Military misconduct
Abuse of military power

In India in 1992 inquiries were still continuing into a scandal allegedly involving £32 million in illegal commissions on a £775 million import of arms from a Swedish manufacturer in 1986. The commissions had been paid through a network of intermediary companies and individuals. Allegedly some of the funds were received by the government. The governing party was defeated in 1989, largely as a result of this affair. Even though it regained power in 1991, in 1992 the foreign minister was forced to resign after it emerged that he had formally requested the Swiss government to slow down its investigation of the ownership of the secret accounts into which the disputed amounts were known to have been transferred.

In Israel a major scandal in 1993 involved allegations of kickbacks and fraud in the procurement of weapons from the USA by senior officials of the air force and defence ministry using financial assistance supplied by the USA. Funds were diverted and other officials assisted in covering up the operation.

In South Korea in 1993 5 generals were arrested for giving bribes ranging from US$37,700 to US$377,000 to the air force chief in return for promotions. Similar bribery charges had been made to 5 navy officers for their promotions. In 1993 the defence minister of South Korea offered to resign because of his brother's implication in a scandal involving multi-million dollar arms deals. In Thailand it is alleged that the attempted military coup in 1992 was less a response to corruption in government than against the steady slide of patronage from the military to those with financial power.

In China in 1993 there was widespread concern that commercialization and corruption had undermined the traditional role of the army as a guardian of political stability although, like other organs of the state, they had been encouraged to go into business. The transformation of army factories to civilian commercial use was so successful that by 1992, 70% of its industrial output was for civilian use. The commercial excesses of the army and its disregard of financial discipline aroused concern however. High-ranking officers warned that unhealthy tendencies and negative phenomena were posing a threat to the development of the military. All facets of military life had become subordinate to doing business. It had been necessary to issue a directive to the armed forces banning speculation in foreign currencies and land, as well as involvement in some development projects. There was concern that military funds were being diverted into personal savings accounts. The army general staff reportedly had a direct financial interest in the production and sale of arms around the world. There were strong family links between arms dealers and the Chinese leadership. In 1993 army entrepreneurs had been exposed in a major scandal as providing kickbacks whilst the navy had been heavily involved in smuggling vehicles from Japan and South Korea. Army licence plates were being sold to criminals to discourage investigation by the police.

In the USA considerable publicity was given to the improper conduct, including sexual harassment, on the occasion of an annual convention in 1991 of the Tailhook Association, a private group of navy aviators. The Pentagon report implicated 117 officers, finding that 51 had lied during investigations into their behaviour. The report found that 83 women and 7 men had been assaulted on that occasion. Of the 117, 23 were determined to have participated in indecent assaults and an additional 23 in indecent exposure. The 1,500 participants included 33 admirals.

In the UK in 1993 it was alleged that an army officer had used confidential advance information about the movement of equipment and supplies for UK troops in the Gulf War to arrange for a particular shipbroker to benefit by supplying the necessary shipping. As a result only 8 UK ships profited from the 146 voyages in a £180 million operation.

Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Problem Type:
C: Cross-sectoral problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST