US frequent military moves near China contribute to accident rates: expert

By Liu Xuanzun Source: Global Times Published: 2020/7/21 19:13:40

A fire burns on the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard at Naval Base San Diego on Sunday in San Diego. Photo: AFP

Struggling to maintain its global presence and attempts to contain China, the US military is stressed with frequent major accidents amid the pandemic. With warships burned, fighter jets crashing and overseas bases plagued with COVID-19, the US military's combat readiness saw a decline in the past months, Chinese military experts said on Tuesday.

A fire broke out aboard the under-construction USS John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier on Monday at Newport News Shipbuilding, Fox-affiliated TV station WFXR reported the same day. The fire has been extinguished and no one was hurt, it said.

In the past week, two US amphibious assault ships, the USS Bonhomme Richard and the USS Kearsarge, caught fire, with the former one sustaining major damage, reports said.

Warships are not the only victims of recent accidents, as different types of US fighter jets have crashed in the past few months. An F-22 and an F-35A crashed at Eglin Air Force Base in May, an F-15C crashed into the sea off the coast of the UK in June, an F/A-18F carrier-borne aircraft in June crashed into the Philippine Sea in June, and two F-16s crashed in South Carolina and New Mexico in June and July, respectively, Business Insider reported.

Zhang Junshe, a senior research fellow at the PLA Naval Military Studies Research Institute, told the Global Times on Tuesday that these incidents may have different causes, like loose management or failure to carry out regulations. But US military exercises are highly intensive and the deployment period of US troops are lengthy.

The US has some of the world's best warships and warplanes, but it is flexing its muscle around the world and acting like a world police even during the pandemic, which could be a main reason behind its problems, Zhang said.

Accidents are common in frequent military operations, but the US military's accident rate this year is higher than normal, possibly due to the combination of its COVID-19 epidemic situation and its obsession with global presence and containing China, military observers said.

Multiple US bases around the world, including those in Guam and Okinawa, Japan, are reportedly plagued with COVID-19. Several US warships, including aircraft carriers, also saw many infections.

As of Monday, the US has more than 3.76 million cases of COVID-19, the country's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

COVID-19 has brought challenges, including personnel shortage, more complicated work procedures, fatigue, and a lack of regular training, which could more easily trigger accidents, particularly when the troops are stressed with intense operations, analysts said.

Despite these, the US has dispatched two aircraft carriers to the South China Sea for exercises in July, increasingly sent warplanes near the island of Taiwan since June, and even frequently conducted close-up reconnaissance operations on southern coastal areas of the Chinese mainland with aircraft and warships, reports said.

The US should give up its Cold War mentality and focus on epidemic control, Chinese experts said.

Newspaper headline: Frequent provocations contribute to US military accidents

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