How many US soldiers die in peace-time training accidents?

My fraternity brother (and dear friend) who is in the Army just told me (us) on a private message board that he’s decided to go to Iraq. His post included several pro-Bush sounding statements that I will address over there. However, I’d like confirmation or disputal of this one item that I find unbelievable:

I find this hard to believe. Any help?

A PDF with the figures. Accidents are broken out per year.

It’s true there are a lot of accidents, but it’s more like 500 a year. 20 years ago, it was 1500, but the military was a lot bigger too back then, which accounts for some of that.

Yeah, a lot of people in the military die in vehicle accidents. There are a couple of reasons for this: soldiers often ride around without using seat belts, and vehicles on nighttime maneuvers often don’t use their headlights.

One time when I was in the Marines deployed Okinawa, we were doing a live fire excercise (real ammo, not blanks) with actual movement (not stationary). One guy did not follow the exact procedures and was shot through the kneecap. Luckily he did not die. However, a month later, we were doing a 50 mile hump (hiking with packs, etc.) and one person died of from the heat.

A lot of times you would hear about people who would die on leave, car accidents, etc. Also, you have the suicides. Maybe the figure you read consists of military deaths in general, which supports the arguments that more servicemembers die in peacetime than in battle.

Actual training accidents? Most deaths that occur during training are from something like heat stroke or dehydration. After that, you have vehicle accidents during training. And then the occassional person who was actual shot or something you’d actually think of when you hear the phrase “training accident”. Oh, and there’s also the occassional airborne op fatality. There’s more of those than the ‘accidentally shot or accidentally exploded’ during training fatalities.
Also, if you look at numbers that address “casualties”, they may be much higher than “deaths”. Some people sustain injuries that put them out of the Army, but they don’t necessarily die. These people are casualties. But they never died.

I’m not sure how relevant it is to a discussion about Iraq. It’s not like there aren’t going to be training accidents in addition to combat losses when the US is involved there.

I would think that someone on the discussion board was defending the amount of casualties over there by saying something to the effect of “there are ____ number of casualties a year in a non-combat situation”.

Well, then that person is logically challenged.

He decided? Really? :dubious: Unless of course he is a Guardsman who was previously deployed to a warzone, in which case he can request not to go again.

Or is he not full-time active duty, and planning to go to work for a civilian contractor?

No actual information as to the question in the OP- that one bit just struck me as funny.

I live just outside of Fort Benning, and in the last few years there have been at least one heat-related death during training a year. The one I remember the most vividly was a young man in Basic Training who did of heat stroke - the kid was from ALASKA! What in hell were they thinking to put a kid from Alaska in training in summer in the South? Since his death, there are much stricter standards about training in the heat, and the sergeants are required to monitor the trainees intake of water.

We see a fair number of active-duty deaths in my morgue. We probably see a death during physical training (heat-related, or unsuspected cardiac problem) every four to six months. We see as many homicides as we do PT deaths, and a few more suicides than homicides. I have not yet in four years seen a person killed during training by accidental friendly fire or accidental head injury or some such.

We see many more motor vehicle deaths than that; the vast majority of them are alcohol-related. News bulletin, sometimes nineteen-year-old males drive drunk. Whaddaya know.

We see occasional deaths in military dependents (baby left in hot car, shaken baby). Naturally we do not see any death occurring in people known to be sick, who die in hospital of a medically diagnosed disease, without the occurrence of any kind of violence.

I’d say drunk driving wins hands down for deaths of active duty members not in combat.

One key thing to remember, those ‘accident’ deaths for the military include vehicle crashes. Not just while in an Army vehicle, but ALL vehicle crashes: on the way to the grocery store, driving home drunk from a bar (happens more than I’d care to think), etc.

I was attached to a US Army brigade back in the mid 80’s. We had about 3000 soldiers & officers in that unit.

In 3 years IIRC we killed 4 people in accidents that were directly related to training. Two were jeep crashes in the field, one guy got run over by an APC at night, and one guy screwed up a helicopter insert-rapelle & fell some 100’ to the ground.

In the same time period we lost about 1 a month to DUI or other similar “died while young, dumb, and full of testosterone” cause. We lived in an area with excellent SCUBA conditions & several people drowned or were lost at sea while recreating.

During my 8 years in the USAF the units I was associated with lost 1 airplane & zero pilots/crew. I don’t recall any training losses of USAF ground guys; combat engineering, police and such that engaged in potentially dangerous training-play. I suspect there was probably one but the memory is just too hazy to report here as a fact. The bases I worked on had 3000-4000 people on them.

We did lose a few to DUI & YDfT, but not nearly at the rate the Army did. Maybe one every 6 months.

One man’s anecdotal evidence, YMMV.