By Gen. Ray Odierno,
Chief of Staff of the Army, U.S. Army
Nationally, deaths in private motor vehicle accidents peak during August, a trend our Army generally follows. While Army accidental fatalities are down 17 percent from this time last year, we’ve lost 14 Soldiers to motorcycle accidents since the beginning of June. That number represents half of all motorcycle fatalities for fiscal year 2013, occurring within just two months’ time. This is both unacceptable and unsustainable, and if we don’t address our problems with motorcycles now, the worst could be yet to come.
Disturbingly, an overwhelming majority of this year’s motorcycle fatalities involve leaders: sergeants to sergeants first class. We expect our leaders to set a clear example of behavior. NCOs are the standards-bearers of our profession. We must all join together to rectify this leadership challenge now. Every Soldier is important to our Army. Leaders at every level are responsible to train and enforce standards, which includes developing systems to help ensure the personal safety of our Soldiers. Vehicular and motorcycle accidents impact the individual and collective readiness of our force. Every leader is entrusted with ensuring the health and welfare of America’s sons and daughters. Working together, we can and we must reduce the incidents of vehicle and motorcycle fatalities across our force.
We are a great Army. The strength of our Army is our Soldiers. Any Soldier lost to an accident is one too many. I expect everyone from private to general will enforce our standards. Leaders must check leaders!
This was published on Army Live, the official blog of the U.S. Army on Aug. 8, 2013.