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U.S. Army Forces Command grounds aircraft for review

By Ryan Maass
U.S. Army Forces Command grounds aircraft for review
U.S. Army Forces Command ordered the grounding of 11 aviation posts following a string of deadly crashes. 101st Combat Aviation Brigade photo by Sgt. Duncan Brennan

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- U.S. Army Forces Command has ordered 11 Army installations in the country to stand down in the wake of an AH-64 Apache crash that killed two people.

The order follows three helicopter crashes in 10 days, marking what U.S. Army Forces Command spokesman Paul Boyce calls the first FORSCOM-wide stand-down of aviation assets in recent memory.

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"I have a duty to ensure that we are doing all that we can to prevent the 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," Gen. Robert "Abe" Abrams, commanding general of FORSCOM, said in a statement.

The order affects only those aviation posts located in the United States, excluding U.S. Army Europe and elsewhere.

Recent incidents include a crash in Fort Hood during a training mission on November 23, with two other pilots killed the same day in a helicopter training exercise crash in South Korea. A third U.S. Army helicopter crash occurred as two aviators flew out of Fort Campbell.

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During the stand down, the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center will begin an investigation, which will include reviewing the flight mission briefing process, Army aircraft coordination training, adherence to flight operations standards, and a broader examination of aircraft maintenance.

"We cannot allow tragedy to pass unacknowledged," Abrams added. "We must do whatever is needed to make certain that our soldiers are training and operating safely."

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