Military cost cutting leading to costly accidents and deaths
A rash of recent military crashes has cost the lives of several service members as well as billions of dollars worth of damages. The wave of accidents has raised questions about the training of pilots and the maintenance of aircraft, with top brass pointing to slashed budgets and aging fleets strained by prolonged conflict.This is largely a bipartisan problem although the Obama administration bears most of the responsibility. The cuts came because Obama refused to cut domestic spending and pushed a deal he though Republicans would reject that cut spending across the board including huge cuts for the military. The GOP called his bluff and thus we had the huge cuts that are cost lives and equipment at a high rate.
Last week, an MH-60S helicopter crashed in the James River in Virginia during a training mission. Earlier this month, two F-16C fighter jets collided in the skies over Georgia.
In the first incident all of the helicopter crew were rescued and in the second the two South Carolina Air National Guard pilots managed to safely eject. But a few days earlier, a Blue Angels pilot was killed when his jet crashed. An Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration squadron jet crashed the same day, but that pilot managed to successfully eject.
During congressional testimony in March, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. John Paxton, acknowledged the growing rate of accidents.
"We are concerned about an increasing number of aircraft mishaps and accidents," he told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
He blamed funding shortfalls for the increase, saying, "If you don't have the money and you don't have the parts and you don't have the maintenance, then you fly less."
He continued, "If you fly less and maintain slower, there's a higher likelihood of accidents. So, we're worried."
The Navy has suffered the heaviest losses of the three military branches since October 2014.
From that time through April 2016, the Navy has reported accidents that total over $1 billion in damages, according to statistics provided to CNN by the Naval Safety Center. They included a Marine AV-8B Harrier jet that crashed off the East Coast during takeoff in May, costing about $62.8 million, and a Navy F/A-18A crash in Nevada in January that cost $71 million. Both pilots survived.
In joint congressional testimony in April, the senior naval leadership overseeing aviation, Vice Adm. Paul Grosklags, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Jon Davis and Rear Adm. Michael Manazir, reiterated Paxton's contention that planes and funds are running short.
"We continue to have lower than acceptable numbers of aircraft available to train and fight," he said.