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Military working to turn around troubling, sometimes deadly training mishaps

32% of all military fatalities from 2006-2018 took place during training - not combat.

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers are trying to get to the bottom of a rash of military training accidents.

Between 2006 and 2018, 32% of all active duty fatalities in the military took place during training exercises, not in combat.

A Navy E-2-C Hawkeye crashed in a farmer's field last summer in Accomack County on Virginia's Eastern Shore during a routine training exercise, following field carrier landing practice at NASA's Wallops Island.

Fortunately, all four crew members bailed out safely. But, the $80 million turboprop early warning aircraft was destroyed.

House Armed Services Committee members made clear that they want the military to make training safer.

"Let me be clear: whether the trends are rising, falling, or vacillating unpredictably, any preventable loss of life is unacceptable," said HASC Readiness Subcommittee Chairman, Rep. John Garamendi (D-California). "It is shameful that the nation with the most powerful military in the world loses more service members in non-combat settings than in war."

Garamendi continued: "While the services focus on the conduct and results of individual accident investigations, I fear we are missing the bigger picture. These mishaps reveal that the basic elements of manning, training and equipping are challenged across the force. In addition to causing loss of life, this neglect is diminishing the readiness and effectiveness of our military."

He said one part of the problem was a shortening of requirements and a lack of dependable equipment.

"We’ve seen in recent years that, in order to pursue modernization initiatives, the services have shortchanged unit manning, flying and training hours, depot maintenance and spare parts. This leaves our operators insufficiently trained with equipment that is too often unavailable for use or in poor material condition." 

The military experienced more than 6,000 aviation mishaps from 2013 to 2019, killing 224 pilots and air crew members.

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