Six fatal military aviation accidents have killed 16 U.S. service members in just the last three weeks.
Shocking statistical evidence from a six-month study conducted by the Military Times links these tragic accidents with Obama-era budget changes, which cut $50 billion from the country’s defense budget over the course of 10 months. (RELATED: US Military Experiences Third Major Aviation Mishap In Two Days)
Data shows that at least 133 service members died in fatal aviation crashes from the years 2013–017; the death toll rose by almost 40 percent from the beginning of 2013 to the end of 2017.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the four U.S. Marines from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing who lost their lives in yesterday’s Southern California helicopter crash. We pray for their families, and our great @USMC.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 4, 2018
“The report is the first time the deadly crashes have been mapped against the sequester, showing the effect budget cuts may have on the military, according to Military Times Pentagon Bureau Chief Tara Copp, who authored the story,” Business Insider explains.
Retired Air Force Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle told the Military Times that the disturbing increase in military aviation fatalities is “actually a lagging indicator. By the time you’re having accidents, and the accident rates are increasing, then you’ve already gone down a path…If we stay on the current track…there is the potential to lose [more] lives.”
Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who led the Pentagon when the defense budget was cut by the Obama administration in 2013, told the Military Times he is not surprised by the rising death toll, blaming the casualties on a lack of readiness and a shortage in pilots.
“We stopped training, for months,” he told reporters. “Of course, all of that affected readiness. It’s had an impact on every part of our defense enterprise. And that means, surely, accidents.”
Joint Staff director Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie has insisted that words like “crisis” and “wave” should be avoided — rejecting the idea that these recurring incidents are representative of a larger problem within the military, supposedly in fear that it will negatively impact the mindsets of current military service members.
One active-duty Air Force maintainer disagrees with that mindset.
“Hopefully someone in Congress will wake up and realize things are bad and getting worse,” the maintainer told the Military Times. “The war machine is like any other machine, and cannot run forever.”
The full Military Times study, which reveals statistics gathered from Freedom of Information requests, is published on their website.