While politicians pose for pictures and play games with the budget our service men and women are put in harms way not in combat but in training or the lack of training . A lack of training and maintenance has led to the death of service men the grounding of air craft .
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.
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.
Cuts by Congress and the White House to funds used by the Marines and other services to pay for flight time and helicopter repairs means that there may not be enough air-worthy aircraft available for nondeployed units to train safely.
For the Marines, for example, almost one-fifth of their helicopters aren’t available due to maintenance requirements.
During testimony at the Senate Armed Services Committee in March, Davis said the Marine Corps is “having a difficult time, you know, getting our ready bench, which [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine] General [Joseph] Dunford calls a ‘ready bench,’ ready to deploy,” he said. “We do a great job getting the guys out the door … with assets and training, but it’s training that next group that’s ready to go” that is more difficult, he said.
“There is no doubt whatsoever that reduced flying hours equal increased [accidents] and fatalities,” he said.
“The reality is flying is a perishable skill,” he said. The type of flying that the helicopter units train for, such as close formation flying during nighttime operations “is highly calibrated and coordinated. If you lose currency it is extremely difficult and dangerous to regain it.”
In late 2015, a string of Army helicopter crashes led the Army to order all helicopter units to stand down for several days in December. About 1,000 Army helicopters not deployed or assigned to critical needs were grounded to force their squadrons to look closely at whether there were problems in maintenance, flight training, crew coordination and operations procedures.
Reductions to training and maintenance budgets are a result of several years of cuts in Congress, said Mackenzie Eaglen, a senior defense fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, a nonpartisan policy group in Washington.https://www.stripes.com/slew-of-military-helicopter-deaths-raises-question-of-whether-budget-cuts-endanger-troops-1.390587
This past year, the Navy was able to avert some of the foreseen challenges caused by budget cuts as a result of legislative action; however, as Admiral Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), testified in his March 2015 posture statement, the Navy was “compelled to further reduce the capacity of weapons and aircraft, slow modernization, and delay upgrades to all but the most critical shore infrastructure” due to continued budget shortfalls of $11 billion.6
The “biggest shortfall” assessed in the 2016 Index is the same as in the 2015 edition: “small surface combatants: Littoral Combat Ships, frigates, and mine countermeasures (MCM) ships.”16 The main driver of this gap is the retirement of all remaining Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates by the end of FY 2015 (September 2015).17 Of the larger battle force ships (including destroyers, cruisers, amphibious vessels, and aircraft carriers), the aircraft carrier fleet currently has a shortfall of one vessel (10 instead of 11), but that is considered to be a temporary condition that will be remedied in early 2016.
Without significant funding increases, it appears unlikely that the Navy will reach its own capacity goals for the foreseeable future.20 Due to expected funding shortfalls relative to fleet goals, “the Navy projects that the fleet would experience a shortfall in small surface combatants from FY2016 through FY2027, a shortfall in attack submarines from FY2025 through FY2036, and a shortfall in large surface combatants (i.e., cruisers and destroyers) from FY2036 through at least FY2045.”21http://index.heritage.org/military/2016/assessments/us-military-power/us-navy/
Although the Navy can still deploy forces in accordance with GFMAP requirements, various factors indicate a decline in readiness over the past year. Admiral Michelle Howard, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, reported that “Navy readiness is at its lowest point in many years,” which can be attributed chiefly to budget reductions.64 Admiral Greenert acknowledged that continued cuts under BCA limits “compelled us to reduce both afloat and ashore operations, which created ship and aircraft maintenance and training backlogs.”65 As a result, unit deployments were also extended, exacting a cost not only on the service life of the ship, but also on the resiliency of the sailors assigned to the vessel.66