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.

Photo: US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

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It is unclear how many of Pino's customer's now face criminal charges of their own. Federal indictments generally don't provide that level of detail and Assistant U.S. Attorney William B. Jackson declined to comment.

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Photo illustration by Paul Szoldra/Task & Purpose

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Now looking back on what happened some seven years later, it was anything but routine.

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U.S. forces must now ask the Iraqi military for permission to fly in Iraqi airspace before coming to the aid of U.S. troops under fire, a top military spokesman said.

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Horne, 23, was assigned to the 351st Military Police Company, 160th Military Police Battalion, an Army Reserve unit based in Ocala, Florida, a Pentagon news release says.

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Joshua Yabut/Twitter

The soldier who was arrested for taking an armored personnel carrier on a slow-speed police chase through Virginia has been found not guilty by reason of insanity on two charges, according to The Richmond-Times Dispatch.

Joshua Phillip Yabut, 30, entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle — in this case, a 12-ton APC taken from Fort Pickett in June 2018 — and violating the terms of his bond, which stemmed from a trip to Iraq he took in March 2019 (which was not a military deployment).

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