Washington, Dec 24 (IANS): US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey has emphasized "zero tolerance" for bullying in the armed forces, after eight US soldiers were charged with hazing that led to the death of a fellow Chinese-American soldier in Afghanistan.
Writing in a posting on his Facebook site and Twitter account, Dempsey stressed that bullying and hazing "undermine everything the military stands for", the American Forces Press Service reported Friday.
He added that every member of the armed forces has a personal responsibility to uphold its "zero tolerance" standard and should intervene to stop any such occurrences, reported Xinhua.
Hazing is a new or potential recruit to the military being told to perform strenuous, humiliating, or dangerous tasks.
"We are currently investigating several allegations of hazing within our ranks," Dempsey said in the posting.
Dempsey posted the message after the US Army charged Wednesday eight soldiers for being allegedly involved in the death of Army Private Danny Chen, a Chinese-American from the Chinatown in New York.
Chen, deployed to southern Afghanistan in August with the 25th Infantry Division, was found dead Oct 3 in a guard tower from "an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound", army investigators said.
"These appear to be isolated instances of misconduct, but I want to be very clear: hazing is simply intolerable," Dempsey said in his message. "It undermines our values, tarnishes our profession and erodes the trust that bonds us."
"Every service member should be aware that participating in hazing or even observing it without reporting it are both wrong. We are duty-bound to protect one another from hazing in any form," Dempsey added.
The death of Chen shocked New York's Asian-American communities, which strongly urged the US military to launch a thorough investigation into the incident.
US military officials revealed to Chen's family that he had been subjected to physical abuse and ethnic slurs by his superiors, who dragged him one night out of bed and across the floor when he failed to turn off a water heater after showering.
This is the second such incident in the past year after the suicide of another Chinese-American soldier Harry Lew, a Marine from California, who killed himself in April in Afghanistan. Investigators found that Lew was subjected to a brutal hazing by his fellow Marines, three of whom were ordered court-martialed in October.