US

State Dept Lets Untrained Drivers Operate Tanks, At Least 13 Have Died

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At least 13 people have died since 2010 in accidents involving untrained drivers operating U.S. Department of State armored vehicles on overseas missions, according to a new State Department Office of Inspector General (IG) report.

The State Department requires specialized armored vehicle operator training for drivers of chiefs of mission and principal officers, but doesn’t make such training mandatory for all individuals operating the vehicles. Untrained drivers were behind the wheel in 12 “mishaps” that killed 13 people, and 23 incidents that hospitalized 26, from January 2010 to September 2015, the IG found.

“None of the operators was a chief of mission or principal officer driver and, so were not required to attend the course on armored vehicle operation,” the IG said.

Armored vehicles were involved in 773 incidents overseas from January 2010 to September 2015, nearly 60 percent of which were preventable, the IG said. Those incidents cost $4.5 million in property damages. The report doesn’t offer the identities or titles of any drivers or others killed or injured.

“OIG recommended that the department establish a mandatory training requirement on armored vehicle safe-techniques for all overseas professional chauffeurs and incidental drivers who operate such vehicles,” the report said.

The State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Office of Physical Security Programs, Defensive Equipment and Armored Vehicle division manages more than 4,700 vehicles worldwide, intended to protect mission personnel from terrorism, war and civil disturbance.

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