Pentagon must adopt military training safety recommendations, says Buchanan

SPC Nicholas Panipinto

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) has called on U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to immediately adopt new federal recommendations for reforming United States military training procedures.

The congressman’s request followed the June 14 release of a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which investigated tactical vehicle accidents outside of combat and found that a lack of driver training and failures to properly oversee and implement key safety procedures were largely to blame, according to a letter Rep. Buchanan sent to Secretary Austin last week. 

“The GAO also identified nine recommendations for the Department of Defense (DOD) to implement to reduce and eliminate future training accidents,” wrote Rep. Buchanan. “I am writing you today requesting your immediate attention to, and implementation of, these recommendations. We must take swift action to improve our military training capabilities, and more importantly, save lives.”

Rep. Buchanan also noted that training exercise fatalities are of particular importance to Florida’s 16th Congressional District, where his constituent Kimberly Weaver lives. Weaver lost her 20-year-old son, Army Specialist Nicholas Panipinto, in a U.S. Army training accident involving a tactical vehicle at Camp Humphreys. 

The “GAO report touches on some of the very same factors that contributed to SPC Panipinto’s tragic and preventable death,” wrote Rep. Buchanan, who cited information from Weaver saying that Panipinto did not have a license nor the required driver training or any classroom instruction before beginning his road test.

“It is imperative that the Pentagon adopt these new commonsense proposals in a timely manner,” the lawmaker wrote. “In the meantime, I will be drafting legislation requiring their enactment in order to ensure no more lives are needlessly lost.”