Pressed About Skeletal Injuries, Army Chief Cites Soldiers’ Poor Health
SOURCE: The Hill ~ The Congressional News Paper
By John T. Bennett
The Senate’s top appropriator is concerned about injuries spawned by the weight of gear soldiers carry into combat, but Army brass say the poor health of America’s youth is to blame also.
As the Army and other military services have fielded more and more advanced combat gear — especially electronics equipment — U.S. troops have been instructed to strap more and more weight to their bodies.
That means injuries, which does not sit well with Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), a decorated World War II Army veteran. He said his combat pack and gear never weighed more than 25 pounds.
The average Army trooper’s gear now approaches 125 pounds, Inouye said,noting a 2001 Army Science Board study recommended no soldier should carry more than 50 pounds at a time.
During an Appropriations Defense subcommittee hearing Wednesday, Inouye told Army leaders he was “shocked” by a recent Johns Hopkins University study that found musculoskeletal spinal injuries are now “double that of combat injuries.”
What’s more, “musculoskeletal injuries have increased tenfold in the last four years,” Inouye said. “The cost of medical benefits or disability benefits exceed annually $500 million.”
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey replied that the matter is a “constant issue” for service leaders, and one that crosses his desk at least once a week. (more…)