Dep. SECDEF Promises Something WILL Be Done
Aviation and other types of serious
accidents across DoD have gone up and the department's senior
leaders have vowed to do something about it.
"Most accidents are preventable accidents," said David S.C. Chu,
the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.
Chu, who's leading DoD's accident prevention effort, pointed to
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's May 19, 2003, memo on the
In the memo, Rumsfeld said, "World-class organizations do not
tolerate preventable accidents. Our accident rates have increased
recently, and we need to turn this situation around." The secretary
then challenged DoD's military and civilian leaders and rank and
file "to reduce the number of mishaps and accident rates by at
least 50 percent in the next two years."
Rummy: It Can Be Done
These goals "are achievable," Rumsfeld continued,
"and will directly increase our operational readiness. We owe no
less to the men and women who defend our nation."
Chu said military
aviation accidents, have gone up. In fact, a recent DoD news
release noted that 82 personnel died in aviation mishaps in fiscal
2002 - that's 17 more fatalities than the previous year.
Some accident prevention involves using common sense,
Chu said. For example, he noted, sailors should know it's an unsafe
practice to run across an aircraft carrier's wet deck. Chu also
pointed out the department's concern about fatalities and injuries
caused by motor vehicle accidents involving military and civilians,
on and off duty. Not drinking and driving, and using seat belts, he
observed, can greatly reduce deaths and injuries caused from auto
A DoD safety council -- comprised of senior military and
civilian leaders -- has been formed, Chu noted. That group, he
said, is studying methods, processes and strategies - including the
implementation of best business practices - to reduce accident
rates across the department in line with meeting the secretary's
goals. Also, service member and civilian ideas on accident
prevention - to include observations about dangerous types of
equipment and gear - will be sought out and considered.
The defense secretary's desire to implement better
accident-prevention practices across DoD has been a top goal since
he took office, Chu remarked. He noted that he and the secretary
want to bring about a sea change in the department's attitude and
culture regarding accident prevention.
"We don't need to lose people or to get people hurt . These
accidents are preventable," Chu emphasized, adding, "our real goal
is getting preventable accidents to zero."
Special thanks to Gerry J. Gilmore, American Forces Press