FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center released its Fiscal Year 2017 Annual Assessment of the Army Safety Program today, offering a comprehensive review of mishap and fatality data across the Army last fiscal year.
The USACRC begins production of the assessment at the close of every fiscal year, analyzing trends for two to three months before Army-wide release. The goal is to provide senior leaders and commanders at all levels an overview of safety issues affecting the force, according to Brig. Gen. David J. Francis, USACRC commanding general.
"We often get caught up in numbers in safety," he explained. "This assessment offers context behind those numbers, which ultimately represent Soldiers lost in preventable mishaps throughout the year. When leaders understand the causal factors behind various mishaps, they can then work to prevent similar losses in their formations."
Mishap fatalities increased 11 percent between fiscal years 2016 and 2017, rising from 110 to 122, but remained 10 percent below the below the five-year benchmark recorded in fiscal 2013, when 136 Soldiers died in mishaps. An increase in off-duty fatalities, primarily those involving private motor vehicles, was responsible for the upward trend. On-duty mishap fatalities, meanwhile, remained stable with record lows recorded the last few fiscal years.
"We're losing Soldiers at a rate of 3-to-1 off duty versus on duty," Francis said. "Most of those mishaps involve Soldiers driving four-wheeled vehicles, with indiscipline as the primary causal factor."
As in years past, a majority of the indiscipline-related PMV fatalities in fiscal 2017 involved speeding, failure to wear seat belts, and/or drinking and driving. Motorcycle fatalities actually fell 18 percent for the year, but speeding and failure to wear personal protective equipment remained the most-cited indiscipline factors in those mishap reports.
"The Army has been fighting off-duty indiscipline a long time," said USACRC Command Sgt. Maj. Ernest D. Bowen. "We've certainly gotten better, and training and leader engagement are having a positive effect on motorcycle safety. This assessment serves as another reminder that we all must remain vigilant and encourage good risk decisions."
This year's assessment includes a brief discussion of the Army's safety performance during the past 35 years, highlighting spikes in fatal mishaps occurring at the beginning of operational deployments since Grenada in 1983.
"This assessment offers a first look at the work the USACRC is doing toward long-term safety trending," Francis said. "The Army is continuously training for future contingencies and, with knowledge of what's happened in the past, we can hopefully prevent another surge in mishaps during our next operation."