The Army and Marine Corps need to do more to cut down on accidents with tactical vehicles, according to the government’s chief watchdog agency.
In a report published earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted that there have been 3,753 such accidents between Oct. 1, 2009 and Sept. 30, 2019 – resulting in 123 service member deaths. GAO outlined several areas of concern that deserve attention in order to address the causes of these accidents. The report also pointed out that driver inattention, lapses in supervision and shortfalls in training each played key roles.
Additionally, even though both the Army and Marines have practices in place that would mitigate and prevent such accidents, individual units do not always use them. And although driver training has improved, more advanced training is needed. This is particularly true when teaching drivers how to operate tactical vehicles in varied road and weather conditions. As a result, not all drivers emerge from training with equal skills.
The GAO report made several recommendations to both services:
• Vehicle commanders should have more clearly defined roles for risk-management, and mechanisms and procedures for first-line supervisors such as vehicle commanders need to be put in place.
• Evaluations of the number of personnel within units that are responsible for safe operation of tactical vehicles are necessary. The evaluations would serve to determine if these units are staffed appropriately, and adjust workload levels accordingly if they are not.
• Ranges and training areas should be evaluated as well, to determine if they are owning up to responsibilities to communicate potential hazards to units. If workarounds do not exist and funding is inadequate, they should be addressed and given additional resources.
• The Army and Marine Corps should establish a “formal collaboration” that allows them to “share methods for identifying and communicating hazards to units with each other on a regular basis.”