Training Accident Investigators Arrive in Kuwait
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 16, 2001 A DoD investigation board arrived in Kuwait March 15 to determine the cause of a training accident that killed six coalition service members and injured seven others.
Central Command has asked the board to finish their work no later than April 16, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. Craig Quigley told reporters here.
A Navy F/A-18 Hornet dropped three 500-pound gravity bombs near an Observation Post on Kuwait's Al Udairi Test Range. Five of those killed were U.S. service members; the sixth was a New Zealand military officer.
No U.S. forces have used the bombing range since the accident occurred March 12, Quigley said.
All of the injured Americans, who are now listed in good condition, and the remains of those killed are now in Landstuhl, Germany, he added. No details are yet available on when the service members' remains will be returned to the United States.
"We will be working very closely in the days ahead with the families on their desires," he said.
Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Mike DeLong heads the investigating team, made up of one member each from the Air Force and the Navy and two from the Army. New Zealand and Kuwait accepted DoD's invitation to contribute advisory members and observers.
Each of the services will also conduct safety investigations, Quigley said. While the investigation board works to ascertain the accident's cause and glean lessons learned, safety investigators would look at specific safety issues rather than hardware or equipment problems, he noted.
"Gen. DeLong's efforts on the ground in Kuwait will make sure the safety investigations are deconflicted from his own team's work so that both objectives are met," Quigley said.
DeLong's report will include the board's findings, recommendations and any possible follow-on legal actions, Quigley said.
At this point, he stressed, it's too early to try to assign blame or speculate on an overarching cause of the accident.
DeLong has a "broad charter to learn all the details he can that will shed light on how this tragic accident occurred," Quigley said.