The Military's Aviation Crisis Is Definitely 'Not A Crisis,' Pentagon Insists

Bullet Points

Less than a week after nine Puerto Rico National Guard airmen with the 156th Airlift Wing were killed in the crash of their WC-130 in Savannah, Georgia, the Department of Defense is really sticking to its talking point that no, there is no military aviation crisis, and yes, everything is just fine, thanks!

  • "This is not a crisis," Pentagon Press Secretary Dana White said told reporters on May 3. “But it is a crisis for each of these families, and we owe them a full investigation, and to understand what’s going on. But these are across services, and these are different individuals and different circumstances."
  • "We’re not out of the norm at all," Navy Secretary Richard Spencer told reporters on May 2 regarding Navy aviation mishaps just hours after the WC-130 crash.
  • Bullshit. A thorough Military Times investigation reveals that both the number of Class A military aviation mishaps and service members killed hit a six-year high this year, with 35 pilots and aircrew lost in 12 fatal accidents since the start of the fiscal year back in October. Indeed, aviation mishaps increased by a whopping 40% between fiscal 2013 and 2017.

Flames and smoke rise from an Air National Guard C-130 cargo plane after it crashed near Savannah, Ga., Wednesday, May 2, 2018.Associated Press/James Lavine

  • Aviation mishaps currently kill more troops than Afghanistan. As T&P;'s Paul Szoldra observed back last month, Class A aviation mishaps claimed the lived of 47 service members between April 2017 and April 2018; that's 50% more than the 31 troops who died while serving in Afghanistan under Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
  • Trend? What trend? Playing dumb won't satisfy lawmakers. During an intense House Armed Services Committee hearing on aviation mishaps on April 12, Naval Air Systems Command chief Vice. Adm. Paul Grosklags insisted that "each one of those mishaps will have a unique cause, so there’s not a universal panacea" — a claim lawmakers quickly rebuked.
  • I don’t buy that ― that it is merely just individual incidences,” Rep. Mike Turner, Republican from Ohio and chairman of the HASC subcommittee on tactical air and land forces, responded to Grosklags. “If you have vehicular accidents that occur at a particular intersection repeatedly, they each have their own story. But, at times, there is something wrong with the intersection.”

White and Spencers' lines mesh nicely with Secretary of Defense James Mattis' March 2017 guidance, which suggests DoD spinmasters “be cautious about publicly telegraphing readiness shortfalls" in the name of operational security: "While it can be tempting during budget season to publicly highlight readiness problems, we have to remember that our adversaries watch the news too."

Does OPSEC really trump acknowledging and addressing systemic aviation issues? I suspect those 9 airmen who died in that WC-130 crash last week might disagree — if they could.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Matt Herbst.

Search and rescue efforts have ended without locating a sailor from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, who was reported overboard on Wednesday, Navy officials have announced.

Read More Show Less

An American citizen who allegedly served as a sniper for ISIS and became a leader for the terrorist group is expected to appear in federal court on Friday after being returned to the United States by the Defense Department, officials said.

Ruslan Maratovich Asainov, who was born in Kazakhstan and became a naturalized U.S. citizen, is charged with providing and attempting to provide material support to ISIS, the Justice Department announced on Friday.

Read More Show Less
Members of the Iranian revolutionary guard march during a parade to commemorate the anniversary of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), in Tehran September 22, 2011. (Reuters photo)

LONDON/DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran's Revolutionary Guards said on Friday they had captured a British-flagged oil tanker in the Gulf after Britain seized an Iranian vessel earlier this month, further raising tensions along a vital international oil shipping route.

Britain said it was urgently seeking information about the Stena Impero after the tanker, which had been heading to a port in Saudi Arabia, suddenly changed course after passing through the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf.

Read More Show Less

U.S. military advisors could be taking a self-driving pack mule back to Afghanistan with them on their next deployment.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Army/Chavaughn Washington

Over 300 soldiers were found to have enlisted after either failing a required fitness test, or never taking it at all, according to documents obtained by Army Times.

Read More Show Less