Marines Hold Safety Stand-Down
All flying units of the U.S. Marines will take a 24-hour operational pause over the next 10 days "to focus on the fundamentals of safe flight operations, standardization, and combat readiness.” Because the days off will be scattered among all the units over that time period, the Marines say there will be no operational impact. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller made the call after two serious fatal accidents involving Marine aircraft in the last month. Last July, a KC-130T crashed in Mississippi, killing 15 Marines and one Navy corpsman, and last week an Osprey tiltrotor went down off the coast of Australia, killing three Marines. The Marines insist the rotating stand-downs are not symptoms of a larger problem. "Pauses in operations are not uncommon and are viewed as a responsible step to refresh and review best practices and procedures so our units remain capable, safe, and ready," the Marine Corps statement said.
Budget constraints have cut flying time for pilots in all branches of the military in recent years and there have been suggestions the reductions have caused an erosion of skills. "The Marine Corps' decision to temporarily ground all aircraft is further, indisputable evidence that America's military is in a readiness crisis, and that the crisis is costing lives," Rep. Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement. In testimony to the committee last month, Air Force Gen. Paul Silva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agreed the budget squeeze cut training but said that doesn’t necessarily link directly to individual accidents.