Military officials vowed today to enhance radio communications and reduce leakage on amphibious assault vehicles, which caused the deaths of eight Marines and one sailor in a training accident last July.
During a House Armed Services readiness subcommittee hearing today, Gen. Gary Thomas, assistant commandant for the Marine Corps, called the accident "preventable in so many ways" while lawmakers advocated for the creation of a legal provision that would allow the families of servicemembers who die in such incidents to sue.
"We are looking at adding additional safety specialists at the right place to ensure that our exercises are as safe as they possibly can be," Thomas said.
Maj. Gen. Gregg Olson, the staff director of the Marine Corps, said that radio communications will be upgraded on the AAVs, both for operational and compatibility reasons. An internal communications model "modification" will also be installed, as will a backup battery power system.
"Excessive leakage" was discovered in the faulty AAVs, Olson said.
"We want to get that leakage down to about 18 gallons an hour, which is the standard that we believe is safe for operation," he said.
Two family members of two of the nine soldiers who died last July also testified at the hearing.
"We're going to be watching this very closely," said subcommittee Ranking Member Doug Lamborn (R-CO).