Two recent helicopter crashes that killed six in training accidents led the Army to ground its entire rotary fleet of about 1,000 aircraft in the continental U.S. to conduct safety reviews. The five-day stand-down at 11 bases ordered by Gen. Robert B. Abrams of U.S. Forces Command began Thursday and will continue through Monday following the crashes at Fort Hood in Texas and Fort Campbell on the Kentucky-Tennessee border. "We cannot allow tragedy to pass unacknowledged," Abrams said. "We must do whatever is needed to make certain that our soldiers are training and operating safely." The causes of the recent crashes remain under investigation. Abrams said the review will stress "adherence to flight-operations standards and disciplines" as well as the "flight-mission briefing process with an emphasis on risk mitigation, crew selection, flight planning, crew/flight briefings, debriefings and after-action reviews." In addition, he ordered the bases to "review their unit's aircraft-maintenance training, procedures and supervisory responsibilities." Abrams said, "I have a duty to ensure that we are doing all that we can to prevent loss of life and aviation accidents, and that is why we're standing down to review our procedures and reaffirm our commitment to operating our aircraft safely and effectively." Forscom is the Army's largest command, overseeing training of all combat units based in the U.S. The order did not affect the service's rotary fleets overseas, which are controlled by the combatant commanders. Abrams acted quickly after the crash Wednesday of an AH-64D Apache in Tennessee near Fort Campbell during a routine training mission that killed both aircrew members aboard. The Fort Campbell incident followed the Nov. 24 crash during another routine training mission of a UH-60L Black Hawk helicopter at Fort Hood that killed four soldiers. On Nov. 23, the Army suffered another fatal accident in its rotary fleet. Two Army pilots were killed when their AH-64 Apache crashed during training in South Korea on a mountain road about 50 miles east of the U.S. base at Camp Humphrey. The aircraft was from the Army's 2nd Division, which is under U.S. Pacific Command. Abrams' statement did not say whether the crash in South Korea factored into his stand-down order but he noted that "investigations are underway in several recent Army aviation accidents." --Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@military.com.
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