U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Cody J. Ohira

Recent comments from the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Robert Neller, made clear that 2017 was far from a banner year for Marine Corps aviation in terms of safety. The 10 Class A aviation mishaps — mishaps involving manned aircraft — are the most in over a decade. Despite the age of aircraft and operational commitments around the world, the commandant explained that the high rate of aviation mishaps was not generally due to the material condition of the airplanes. The 10 Class A mishaps, where a Class A mishap is defined as an accident that resulted in death, a permanent total disability, or more than $2 million in damage, are reminiscent of another difficult time in aviation safety history. The previous spike in aviation mishaps, in 2004, was a watershed year for aviation safety in the Marine Corps.

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U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Jessica N. Etheridge

The Marine Corps will not be able to stop suicides, sexual assault, and substance abuse in its ranks. Despite a report that shows an upward shift in suicides in the Marine Corps. Despite a 2014 Rand Corporation study that shows the sexual assault rate in the Marine Corps surpassing that of all other services. Despite a 2004 report from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism that shows the rate of alcohol abuse highest among Marines, in comparison with its sister services. The Marine Corps cannot do it for one reason and one reason only: It’s just too busy.

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