WASHINGTON, D.C. (WVEC) -- To say it's been a tough year for the U.S. military, particularly the Navy, would be an understatement.
The guided-missile destroyers, Fitzgerald and McCain, suffered collisions with merchant ships, leaving 17 U.S. sailors dead and the two warships needing hundreds of millions of dollars in repairs.
In total, the 7th Fleet has suffered five major non-combat incidents in 2017 involving ships and an additional two incidents involving aircrafts, including last Wednesday's C-2 crash in the Philippine Sea that killed three crew members.
"And sometimes, tragedy happens," said MCPON Steven Giordano, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy. "And that's an unfortunate inherent nature of our business. And our sailors need to have trust and confidence in our leaders that we'll learn from these things."
At the Pentagon, the enlisted leaders of the military branches insisted that the military is not broken, and it is not in crisis.
They said the key is to learn from the mishaps and to move forward.
"We've fought for 16 years and we're still in the fight," said Sgt. Major Ronald Green, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. "And we're winning. But understand, 16 years of war has consequences."
Sgt Maj John Troxell is a senior advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He said, "We're concerned about any death we've had, whether it's combat-related or not. But here recently, we've had more non-combat related deaths. We need to look internally at ourselves to see where we need to be at managing risk and getting better at being safe."
The Sergeant Major of the Army, Sgt. Maj. Daniel Dailey, said the Congress could help out going forward. "What I worry about in 2018 is to be sure we have predictable and consistent funding to ensure our soldiers are resourced appropriately for the threat and the emerging threats," he said.
And sadly, for the first time in six years, combat-related deaths are also up this year. A total of 31 American service members have died in action overseas so far this year. That's up from 26 in all of 2016.
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