Special forces training is risky business. This is a solemn fact taken for granted in the world of elite warfighters.
Of course all military training comes with its risks. According to some assessments, training for any fighting man in the U.S. military is four times more dangerous than actual combat. But elite unit training is different, not just in intensity but in the whole paradigm of the training regimen. By definition, Special Forces operators are meant to be able to overcome obstacles and perform feats above and beyond the “normal” challenges faced in warfare. Thus trainees are pushed to objectively dangerous limits and intentionally placed in dangerous situations—and with regularity.
Soldiers enter the service understanding there are risks in serving. And they also recognize these risks largely begin on the first day of boot camp.
But any freedom-aspiring society always needs to be assessing the cost-benefit of its practices.
Recently, chief of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) General Aviv Kochavi announced changes would be made to training programs of the Israel’s Commando Brigade, the umbrella unit that houses most of the IDF’s elite groups. Kochavi’s announcement follows the release of a report by a special military panel set up in late 2018 to investigate trends of training accidents in Israel. Several accidental deaths in elite units triggered the panels creation, the most recent being that of Staff Sgt. Shachar Strug. An operator in the famed Duvdevan unit, Sgt. Strug was shot accidentally by a fellow squad member in March 2018.
Noteworthy is the fact that the U.S. military is also grappling lately with issues of training safety. A series of injuries and deaths in elite units have brought the problem more to the fore. The most recent tragedy occurred several weeks ago when a Ranger operator assigned to Fort Benning, Georgia died in a free-fall accident. Two Army special operators have died in jump accidents this year, up from recent years.