Activists: Army to Limit Live Animal Training
Animal activists say the Army will bar nonmedical soldiers from participating in trauma training using live animals.
The change is one of several brought about by a review of medical readiness training, according to emails between People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Army officials.
Justin Goodman, PETA's director of laboratory investigations, called it a "step in the right direction" and "encouraging."
Goodman said the military's full report on efforts to phase out the use of live animals in trauma training is expected to be released today.
PETA provided the emails to The Fayetteville Observer. They show an exchange between a PETA official and a spokeswoman for the Office of the Army Surgeon General spurred by new language found in an Army contract solicitation.
Officials with the Office of the Army Surgeon General and at Fort Bragg were not available for comment Monday, which was a holiday for the military.
In the past, officials on Fort Bragg have confirmed that such training takes place on the installation, but they have declined to comment further.
The solicitation, dated March 20, is for medical readiness training for 200 soldiers in the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.
"Nonmedical personnel are not authorized to participate in training that involves the use of animal models," the solicitation reads. "Training of nonmedical personnel will be limited to the use of alternatives as noted below."
Those alternatives include training mannequins, actors and virtual simulators.
"The minimum number of animal models will be used to accomplish training objectives and the use of each animal will be maximized to the greatest extent possible," the solicitation states.
The military's use of live animals in trauma training has been controversial, particularly among animal activists.
Government documents have shown that, on average, soldiers on Fort Bragg killed 300 goats a month for medical trauma training that supporters said helps save lives.
Activists say the animals are shot, stabbed, bludgeoned and blown up to simulate the types of injuries soldiers face.
Supporters say the animals are anesthetized and respected. They say animals provided realistic training for wounds not available from other sources.
PETA officials estimate that thousands of animals are killed during similar training across the military, and have argued that simulators provide better training.
Goodman said the change in who participates in the training is the first and only change PETA is aware of.
The 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law in January, required the Department of Defense to provide Congress with a strategy and detailed timeline for the replacement of animals for medical training.
That report was initially due in March but was delayed, Goodman said. Now, he and others at PETA are eagerly awaiting its release.
"What we want to see is what we've been asking for for 30 years," Goodman said, referring to the end of the use of live animals in the training.
Previously, PETA has said that Fort Bragg training accounts for a third of all the animal deaths caused by the military each year.
Cutting down on such training at Fort Bragg, as the contract solicitation shows, is a big step, Goodman said.
"Every animal's life saved is a victory," he said.
According to the emails between PETA and the Office of the Army Surgeon General, the change in contract language is one of the changes set into place by the review of the medical training.
"With that review, you are beginning to see and will see other subtle changes to our medical readiness training programs," Col. Theresa Gonzales said in the email. "The contract solicitation noted in your email is one of our initial efforts from this team to ensure we have standardized, easily understandable, and executable medical readiness training standards that remove interpretation of requirements across the Army."