At a House Armed Services Committee hearing today, Navy admirals described a dire picture of military readiness to Congressman Scott DesJarlais, M.D., and other committee members.
Last month, ten sailors lost their lives, when the USS John McCain collided with a merchant vessel in the Pacific, just weeks after a similar collision involving the USS Fitzgerald, which claimed the lives of seven sailors. This summer, 42 service members died in on-duty accidents, one in Mississippi near Rep. DesJarlais’ home state of Tennessee.
Fifteen Marines and a Navy sailor died in the aircraft crash in Mississippi. Investigations into specific causes of recent fatalities are ongoing. However, defense experts at today’s hearing underscored the increasing strain on sailors and ships, as a result of expanding global missions and a depleted force.
To address the danger, Rep. DesJarlais (TN-04) voted to increase troop numbers, their pay, benefits, training and equipment in a defense funding bill that passed the House of Representatives in July. The bill awaits action in the Senate.
“The USS McCain and USS Fitzgerald accidents are more warning signs that our military readiness crisis is deepening,” said the Congressman. “It is imperative we learn from our mistakes and provide our fighting men and women with all the resources they need to defend our country and to ensure they return home safely to their families”.
Troops are now more likely to die in “peacetime” accidents than in combat. Rep. DesJarlais is member of the Subcommittees on Readiness, as well as Seapower and Projection Forces, working on rebuilding the military after heavy cuts under the previous administration. North Korea, China, Iran, ISIS and other U.S. adversaries grew more assertive, he explained. “Our job in Congress is to protect our military members, so they can protect us abroad.”