Killing more Americans in uniform in training than battle: US Senator McCain mourns defence cuts

Senator John McCain  plans to take up a defence authorisation bill this week.
Senator John McCain plans to take up a defence authorisation bill this week. PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

WASHINGTON (Bloomberg) - Following a series of deadly accidents, Senator John McCain on Sunday (Sept 17) renewed his calls to address what he described as a US failure during the past eight years to ensure that the military is prepared, equipped and trained. 

"Whenever you cut defence capabilities, the first thing that goes is the training and the readiness, because that's easy enough to cancel," the Arizona Republican and chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee said on CBS's Face the Nation.

Mr McCain, a Vietnam War veteran from a military family, has been a long-time critic of the automatic cuts in US spending - including reductions in US defence - known as sequestration that began in 2013 under an earlier deal to raise the country's debt limit.

The Senate plans to take up a defence authorisation bill this week.

The US Navy, in particular, has had high-profile accidents that Mr McCain blamed on spending cuts, including an August collision near Singapore between an oil tanker and the USS John McCain, which killed 10.

The ship is named for the senator's father and grandfather. A collision off the coast of Japan in June between a US destroyer and a cargo ship killed seven US sailors.

"When you really look at how much time they have at actual training and readiness, it's continued to shrink," Mr McCain said. "We have accident after accident after accident. We are killing more Americans in uniform in training than we are in engagement with the enemy. That's not acceptable."