On Wednesday, a Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Alabama, killing two crew members of the Tennessee National Guard. Unfortunately, these tragedies happen more often than you may realize.
According to the Defense Casualty Analysis System, there were 310 accidental deaths in 2021 (2022 stats have not been released yet). The previous year, there were 317 accidental deaths. These figures are around 30 times the toll for deaths listed under “Hostile action.”
The number of reported accidental death were nearly even with reported suicides.
Many will remember the fatal MV-22 Osprey crashes last year that claimed the lives of too many service members. In addition to the rash of vehicle rollovers in the news, some are questioning the practices in place to ensure the safety of our troops.
According to a government report, the Army & Marine Corps reported 3,753 non-combat accidents resulting in 123 servicemember deaths during FY 2010-2019.
The report cites the most common reasons being, “driver inattention, supervision lapses, and training shortfalls.”
Non-fatal Motor Vehicle Crashes (MVC) have also proven a detriment to combat readiness. Another study, focused on the early years of the GWOT, found “The average cost per MVC related to property damage and injuries was $36,039 and $24,038, respectively.”
Furthermore, it discovered “the majority (66%) of Soldiers in MVCs were in military vehicles within the continental United States (68%). The average age of individuals involved in MVCs was 27.7 years old. Males had a consistently higher MVC rate than females.”
Shit happens, equipment breaks, and all humans make mistakes, but that is not a license for commanders to overlook the cold hard fact that exponentially more troops are currently dying from accidents than combat.
Military, veterans, and civilians alike must all impress upon our elected leaders that action must be taken. The purpose of training is to prevent bloodshed on the battlefield. It is unacceptable for the very tool meant to save lives to be responsible for a third of all folded flags being delivered to grieving families. Call your Congressman.