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More Troops Have Died In Aviation Mishaps Than In Afghanistan Combat Over The Past Year
This post has been updated.
More U.S. military service members have died in aircraft mishaps over the past year than have died while serving in Afghanistan under the Operation Freedom's Sentinel mission.
That terrible sentence makes me think there is a definite crisis in military aviation. It should give Pentagon leaders pause that a junior soldier can be more confident of their safety downrange, receiving imminent danger pay, than sitting in the back of a helicopter stateside.
Pentagon leaders, apparently, disagree.
“I would reject ‘wave’ and ‘crisis,’” Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., director the Joint Staff, told reporters Thursday at the Pentagon when asked about the recent, well, wave of air incidents that have killed 14 service members since the beginning of March.
“Those are that mishaps that occurred," McKenzie continued. "We are going to look at each one in turn. Each one is tragic. We regret each one. I’m certainly not prepared to say it’s a wave of mishaps or some form of crisis.”
If this isn't a crisis or a wave, I'd like to know what is:
- April 17, 2017: Army UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crashes in Maryland. One soldier killed, two injured.
- June 23, 2017: Air Force F-16 flips over after skidding off the runway. Pilot injured.
- July 10, 2017: Marine KC-130 explodes in mid-air over Mississippi. 15 Marines and one Sailor killed.
- Aug. 5, 2017: Marine MV-22 Osprey helicopter crashes off Australia coast. 3 Marines killed.
- Aug. 12, 2017: Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet crash lands at Bahrain International Airport. Pilot survives after ejecting.
- Aug. 15, 2017: Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashes off coast of Hawaii. Five soldiers killed.
- Aug. 25, 2017: Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashes off coast of Yemen. One soldier killed.
- Sep. 28, 2017: V-22 Osprey suffers "hard landing" in Syria. Two service members injured.
- Oct. 1, 2017: Navy T-45C Goshawk trainer jet crashes in eastern Tennessee. Two naval aviators killed.
- Oct. 11, 2017: Marine CH-53E helicopter burst into flames after crash landing near residential area in Okinawa, Japan. All seven crew members survive.
- Nov. 22, 2017: Navy C-2A Greyhound crashes southeast of Okinawa, Japan. Eight of 11 crew rescued. Three sailors lost at sea.
- Jan. 22, 2018: Army AH-64E Apache helicopter crashes during training in California. Two soldiers killed.
- March 14, 2018: Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet crashes off Florida coast. Two naval aviators killed.
- March 15, 2018: Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter crashes in western Iraq after hitting a power line. Seven airmen killed.
- April 3, 2018: Marine AV-8B Harrier crashes shortly after takeoff in Djibouti. Pilot ejects and survives.
- April 3, 2018: Marine CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashes during training in California. Four Marines killed.
- April 4, 2018: Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon crashes during routine aerial demonstration training flight. Pilot killed.
That's 47 service members dead, in just one year. Over that same time period, 31 service members died in Afghanistan.
What the hell is going on?
If I missed any incidents, please let me know here.
Correction: A previous version of this article said the Jan. 22 crash involved an AH-64A. It was actually an AH-64E.
KABUL/WASHINGTON/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - The United States and the Taliban will sign an agreement on Feb. 29 at the end of a week long period of violence reduction in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Taliban said on Friday.
In the wee hours of Jan. 8, Tehran retaliated over the U.S. killing of Iran's most powerful general by bombarding the al-Asad air base in Iraq.
Among the 2,000 troops stationed there was U.S. Army Specialist Kimo Keltz, who recalls hearing a missile whistling through the sky as he lay on the deck of a guard tower. The explosion lifted his body - in full armor - an inch or two off the floor.
Keltz says he thought he had escaped with little more than a mild headache. Initial assessments around the base found no serious injuries or deaths from the attack. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, "All is well!"
The next day was different.
"My head kinda felt like I got hit with a truck," Keltz told Reuters in an interview from al-Asad air base in Iraq's western Anbar desert. "My stomach was grinding."
A video has emerged showing a U.S. military vehicle running a Russian armored truck off the road in Syria after it tried to pass an American convoy.
Questions still remain about the incident, to include when it occurred, though it appears to have taken place on a stretch of road near the Turkish border town of Qamishli, according to The War Zone.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
We are women veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Our service – as aviators, ship drivers, intelligence analysts, engineers, professors, and diplomats — spans decades. We have served in times of peace and war, separated from our families and loved ones. We are proud of our accomplishments, particularly as many were earned while immersed in a military culture that often ignores and demeans women's contributions. We are veterans.
Yet we recognize that as we grew as leaders over time, we often failed to challenge or even question this culture. It took decades for us to recognize that our individual successes came despite this culture and the damage it caused us and the women who follow in our footsteps. The easier course has always been to tolerate insulting, discriminatory, and harmful behavior toward women veterans and service members and to cling to the idea that 'a few bad apples' do not reflect the attitudes of the whole.
Recent allegations that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie allegedly sought to intentionally discredit a female veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA medical center allow no such pretense.
Survival expert and former Special Air Service commando Edward "Bear" Grylls made meme history for drinking his own urine to survive his TV show, Man vs. Wild. But the United States Air Force did Bear one better recently, when an Alaska-based airman peed in an office coffee maker.
While the circumstances of the bladder-based brew remain a mystery, the incident was written up in a newsletter written by the legal office of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on February 13, a base spokesman confirmed to Task & Purpose.