Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Did Budget Cuts Cause Military Helicopter Crashes?

Slew of military helicopter deaths raises question of whether budget cuts endanger troops 
Stars and Stripes
By Tara Copp
Published: January 25, 2016
Retired Cmdr. Chris Harmer, who flew SH-60F Sea Hawk helicopters for the Navy, and who now is a defense analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, said there is a direct tie.
WASHINGTON — A threefold increase in helicopter crash deaths last year is raising questions about whether budget cuts are endangering troops by forcing deep cuts in maintenance and training.

Twelve helicopter crashes in 2015 killed 30 servicemembers — three times as many deaths as in 2014. Twelve more died Jan. 14 when two U.S. Marine CH-53 Super Stallions collided off the coast of Oahu in Hawaii during a night training flight.

Marine commanders including Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, deputy Marine commandant for aviation, and Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, are looking at why so many helicopters are crashing, according to a senior defense official familiar with the discussions.

Almost all the deaths, including those on Jan. 14, occurred during home-station training missions.

Nondeployed units at their homes stations have dealt with reduced flight training opportunities for years. The continued high pace of wartime operations meant units deploying to conflict areas got priority for training.
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