More US troops die in training than on combat operations
A tragic vehicle accident that killed one cadet from the US Military Academy and injured several others on Thursday serves to remind the country of an alarming statistic: more American service members are dying during training exercises than in combat operations.
The incident at West Point saw one cadet lose their life and 21 others suffer from non-life-threatening injuries, including facial abrasions and a broken arm. The five-ton truck was driving through rough terrain during training when it rolled over, an official said.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the deceased and our injured," Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams stated. "I would like to commend the exceptional efforts and professionalism of the first responders and medical personnel and thank our great New York state police and our mutual aid partners."
Between 2006 and 2018, 31.9 per cent of active-duty military deaths were the result of accidents, compared to 16.3 per cent of service members who were killed in action, according to a congressional report updated last month.
A large majority of these accidents happened in circumstances unrelated to combat deployments, with the report stating: "Since 2006 ... a total of 16,652 active-duty personnel and mobilized reservists have died while serving in the US armed forces. Seventy-three per cent of these casualties occurred under circumstances unrelated to war."
According to a report from CNN, non-combat deaths have exceeded the number of military members killed in action every year since 2015.
A House Armed Services Committee report related to the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019 has claimed that nearly four times as many service members died in training accidents as were killed in combat in 2017.
"In all, 21 servicemembers died in combat that year while 80 died as a result of non-combat training-related accidents," the report, which was used by many lawmakers and military officials to argue for additional defense funds, said.
In 2018, the US military had a high rate of training-related deaths again, with a number of deadly non-combat military aircraft crashes prompting then-House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, to state the "readiness of the military is at a crisis point."