The Army released the name of Cadet Christopher J. Morgan as the fatality in the MTV roll over this past Thursday. May God comfort his family as they deal with his unfortunate death in the service to the nation.
I do know about the trucks used. The Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles fully replaced the “Deuce and a Half” and all but the last of the “5-Tons” in the US Army. They are a good vehicle, however, when you take them off road you run the risks of being off road.
I do know about the culture of safety in the Army. Traditionally the US Army has lost more people to accidents than any other cause. This cause the US Army to invest in safety personnel, enact inane and ineffective but highly visible nostrums like the infamous “PT Belts” and a culture where leaders would be crucified for not conducting a thorough risk assessment. Be assured that a thorough investigation into the “Class A Accident” at West Point will be conducted. Any incident with loss of life or permanent disability of a person is a “Class A Mishap.”
So what do I believe I know about this incident? Well having spent more than my fair share of life in an LMTV or FMTV, there are only two likely reasons for the rollover. The first reason is environmental, such as rain softening the ground and giving way causing the vehicle to roll. The weather yesterday was supposedly partly cloudy, and the incident happened over an hour past sunrise. The second is operator error, either going to fast, or choosing a path of travel too steep of a side slope for the vehicle. At this point either option is equally valid, and investigators will go to the scene and attempt to discover the truth from the evidence. Sometimes it’s human error, sometimes it’s an “act of God” on the final report.
What I do know for sure, is that the remaining Cadets who survived the roll over, will never pencil whip a risk assessment. Going through an experience like that, where thorough planning, and control over the execution of operations. And even with all their care, men and women serving will still die, because Army operations, like everything, are impossible to reduce to zero risk.