Tactical Vehicle Rollover Accidents are becoming an increasingly visible risk to US Soldiers and Marines. These incidents are usually reported when there is the addition of a tragedy. These accidents make the news because of the serious injury or death of a servicemember. In these cases many of the costs are very obvious. The loss of life resulting in a grieving family, and a military unit stunned to silence from the death of a brother or sister, peer, and friend. In these incidents, we focus on that loss. The total cost, however, reaches deeper than those visible and emotional losses. Not every vehicle accident results in loss of life, but the costs associated with unit readiness, maneuver capability, training ability, and equipment repair mount very quickly.
According to Defense Industry Daily, based on awarded contracts, MaxxPro’s price per base vehicle is around $520,000 – $550,000. The vehicles must then be fitted with electronics, IED jammers, and other equipment. That can add hundreds of thousands of dollars to that base price, before they’re sent to the front lines. As a leader responsible for 18 MRAP Series Vehicles and four MaxxPro Dash ISS vehicles, it isn’t uncommon for a single company commander to have responsibility for $20 Million in vehicles. In these financial terms, every military vehicle accident is much closer to destroying a Bugatti Veyron (with prices over $1 million) than it is to a fender bender in a Camry.
Each Military Vehicle Accident where there is damage to equipment or any injury to a servicemember is investigated fully. That requires assignment of an Investigating Officer who then gathers evidence, speaks to those involved, documents all findings in accordance with military regulations and procedures, and presents findings to the Commanding Officer. The command level that addresses these incidents is usually at the Battalion or Brigade level for equipment loss, and the Division or higher level (General Officers in Command) for incidents that involve loss of life or serious injury. In the military it is difficult to quantify the cost of man hours. All active duty military personnel are salaried, and the hours worked are not tracked with any consistency. The total time spent by those investigating these accidents, reporting findings, and making command decisions, however, is at the cost of unit effectiveness, readiness, and/or operational and training efficiency.
In a combat environment, a vehicle rollover incident causes delays to operations, requires the investigating officer to travel to additional forward operating bases and combat outposts, and takes all servicemembers involved in the investigation away from primary duties. Each investigation brings with it additional risk and exposure in a combat environment and operational risk from servicemembers and units not on patrol or performing primary duties.
These equipment and man hour costs mount very quickly when there is serious or catastrophic damage to a vehicle in a rollover. When a servicemember is killed in the incident, the fiscal cost skyrockets. The human cost is very visible and felt by anyone exposed to the visuals of a grieving family, military unit, and community. The financial cost of a servicemember killed is played out through Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI), the Military Family Death Gratuity, 180 days of family housing after the incident, the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, Uniformed Services Survivor Benefit Plan, and continued benefits the family of the deceased receives. These necessary costs to support the families of services members after an incident like this can easily exceed $1 Million per service member. SGLI pays a max of $400,000 or $800,000 if the servicemember dies in combat in life insurance payouts. According to defense.gov the death gratuity program provides for a special tax-free payment of $100,000 to eligible survivors of members of the Armed Forces, who die while on active duty or while serving in certain reserve statuses. The death gratuity is the same regardless of the cause of death.
With vehicles valued at $500,000 to $1.5 million and death benefits to the families of servicemembers killed valued at $500,000 to $1 million, each Military Tactical Vehicle Rollover carries with it remarkable fiscal cost. We highlight this not to diminish the focus on the human cost, but because government department and agency decision-making always has a financial factor at play. These incidents are preventable with technology that is currently available, including that offered by Convergent3D. Each vehicle rollover prevented avoids the tragic human cost as well as millions of dollars in unnecessary costs to taxpayers.