The DoD announced today that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has challenged the heads of the military departments and the defense agencies to reduce the number of mishaps and the mishap rates by 50 percent in the next two years. This action was taken as the mishap rates have recently increased and the secretary wants to reverse this trend.
"World-class organizations do not tolerate preventable accidents," said Rumsfeld in a May 19 memo. "These goals are achievable, and will directly increase our operational readiness. We owe no less to the men and women who defend our nation."
This direction applies to all DoD activities and includes military on and off-duty, active duty, as well as Reserve and National Guard forces, and all civilian employees. The reduction goal also applies to all operations of aircraft, weapons, ordnance, motor vehicles, maritime assets, and installations.
In fiscal 2002, 82 personnel died in aviation accidents. That is 17 more than the 65 aviation flight related deaths in fiscal 2001. Likewise, 63 aircraft were destroyed last year compared to 46 destroyed aircraft in the previous year. These accident statistics do not include the 184 deaths due to the terrorist attack at the Pentagon. DoD updates these aviation rates on a daily basis and posts them at http://www.denix.osd.mil/SOH-public/Accidents.
Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness David S.C. Chu has been designated to lead the accident reduction effort. This is a concerted effort to engage all levels of DoD leadership in mishap prevention strategies and initiatives. Initiatives include: developing a real-time mishap decision support system; applying commercial technologies, where practical, on high-risk equipment such as aircraft; and finding ways to implement best practices from industry and other government agencies into DoD activities.