Marine Corps Changes Emphasis On Safety After Series Of Deadly Accidents In One Month

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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The Marine Corps will set up a new safety office headed by a general after a series of training accidents took the lives of five Marines in August and injured more, according to Marine Corps Times.

Marine Corps acting commandant Gen. Eric Smith said Wednesday that he intended to place a one-star general at the head of the Safety Division, which is currently supervised by a colonel, to cut out the amount of bureaucratic red tape the office must overcome to implement changes, according to Marine Corps Times. He added that the service’s safety culture is “exceptional” and dismissed concerns that some of the platforms Marines operate had proven inherently dangerous, Defense One reported.

“A general in charge of it to supervise it, to authoritatively direct it and ensure that ruthless adherence to our culture of safety: that, I think, will matter,” Smith told reporters on the sidelines of a conference Wednesday, adding it was “high time” the Marine Corps elevated the safety office. (RELATED: Armed Services Secretaries Call On Tuberville To Lift ‘Unfair’ And ‘Dangerous’ Holds In WaPo Opinion)

Congress allots the Marine Corps a limited number of general officer positions, just like other services, and right now it has 63 generals, according to Defense One. Smith did not say from where the general leading the new safety division would come.

“They don’t have to salute very many people and they don’t take, frankly, any junk from anybody,” Smith said, according to Defense One.

On Aug. 29, Smith ordered all elements of the service to conduct internal safety reviews and unit-level discussions and report back no later than mid-September, according to an All-Marines administrative message. Those reviews would help generate recommendations on improving Marines safety .

The order came after the Marine Corps suffered three major mishaps in August.

On Aug. 27, a MV-22B Osprey crashed during a training exercise in Australia, killing three, including the pilot, and injuring more than a dozen more. Another pilot died after his FA/18 Hornet crashed amid a training flight near Air Station Miramar, California, on Aug. 24, and on Aug. 17 a Marine died during nighttime life-fire training exercises at Camp Pendleton, California.

The Navy made a similar change in 2022 after a devastating fire aboard the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard and several training accidents, Marine Corps Times reported. The Naval Safety Center became the Naval Safety Command under the leadership of a two-star admiral.

“If there’s an incident, what I owe to every parent, to Congress, to the Department of Defense, the Department of Navy, is an absolute review to make sure that all of our processes are good,” Smith said, according to Marine Corps Times.

Smith said he expects feedback to reach his level by Oct. 1, according to Marine Corps Times. Then, he’ll work with Col. Everett Good, who leads the Safety Division, to evaluate the safety concerns brought to his attention, correct problems and reinforce good practices.

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