The training accident at Hawthorne Army Depot came during a live-fire exercise. These exercises carry risk, but military officials say they are needed to prepare troops for battle.
Lance Cpl. Uriel De Luna-Felix/US Marine Corps/Reuters/File
The deaths of seven US troops – and the injuries of several others – in a live-fire training exercises at a military base in Nevada Monday raises questions about just how necessary such training is for troops in an era of modern warfare.
Though the cause of the fatalities, which happened Hawthorne Army Depot at 10 p.m. local time, is still under investigation, it appears that a 60-millimeter mortar shell exploded as Marines were preparing to fire the shell.
Would they get the same experience using blank rounds that still simulated the noise and confusion of battle, for example? Senior US military officials say the answer to that question is "no." Though such exercises entail some measure of risk, they are vital, the officials suggest.
Some argue that the danger inherent in live-fire exercises is key to instilling a sense of fear, so that troops can come to envision in some small measure what battle will be like. Others contend that using live rounds during training hones troops by making them more focused during drills.