UPDATE: The New York Times Editorial Board called for a ban on animal use in military medical training, citing PETA’s efforts, stating, “It shouldn’t take an act of Congress for the Pentagon to give up this practice.” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial Board called for an end to this “horrific torture of animals,” and The Toledo Blade Editorial Board urged the Pentagon to end its “shameful and unnecessary” mutilation of animals in trauma training drills.
Following efforts by PETA, in recent years the Department of Defense (DOD) committed to replacing the shooting and stabbing of live animals in several medical education areas with high-tech life-like human simulators—as it should. But for cruel and deadly combat trauma training, progress has been slow, and members of Congress want to know why.
As covered by The Hill, in a letter sent this morning, 71 bipartisan Congress members led by Rep. Joe Heck (R–Nevada) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D–California)—both members of the House Armed Services Committee—are asking Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to outline what progress the DOD has made toward its commitment to modernizing military medical training.
The coalition of Congress members—which includes many military veterans—outlined, as PETA did, the educational benefits and cost savings of the simulators. The legislators also asked for information on the DOD’s expenditures on animal use vs. simulators, as well as trends in DOD animal use.
Military animal-use regulations require that non-animal training methods be used whenever possible—but there has been little accountability and transparency regarding the DOD’s continued use of animals, thousands of whom are shot, stabbed, dismembered, and killed each year in crude trauma training drills.
“While I went through live animal tissue training early in my Army career, advances in human-based simulation have made this new training more accurate,” says Rep. Heck, a physician, an Iraq War combat veteran, and chair of the Armed Services Committee’s Military Personnel Subcommittee.” Ending the use of live animals in military training and transitioning to simulations will increase military readiness and combat effectiveness, reduce training costs, and save the lives of countless animals.”
Rep. Speier, the ranking member on the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, says, “The Department of Defense has the responsibility to provide the best available combat preparation to its medics. But according to its own studies, simulations are more effective than maiming and killing animals for medical training. I am pleased to join Dr. Heck in ensuring that the DOD is following its own procedures to phase out this unnecessary and cruel practice. This is a no-brainer, and we expect there will be no further delays in ending this barbaric practice.”
“I’m all for military readiness. But if we can preserve it without harming or killing innocent animals, then that’s the path we should pursue,” said Rep. Ed Royce (R-California), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “Transitioning to simulations will improve combat effectiveness, reduce training costs, and save the lives of animals.”
As revealed by PETA, thousands of healthy animals are maimed in military trauma training even though DOD and civilian research shows that widely available simulators are superior. The BEST Practices Act (H.R. 1095), a bipartisan bill, would phase out military animal laboratories by the end of 2020.
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Note: PETA supports animal rights, opposes all forms of animal exploitation, and educates the public on those issues. PETA does not directly or indirectly participate or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office or any political party.