Group Charges Lives of U.S. Ground Troops Endangered by Inadequate GPS Training

A group of U.S. military veterans calling themselves Concerned Veterans For Soldier Safety (CVSS) leveled serious charges against the U.S. Army and Annapolis, Md.-based defense contractor ARINC, claiming that together they negligently endangered the lives of American ground troops now serving in Iraq and Afghanistan who are using the Defense Advanced Global-Positioning System (DAGR).

CVSS asserts that with the full knowledge of the Army, ARINC hired numerous unqualified and uncertified trainers responsible for training ground forces currently at war in Iraq and Afghanistan on the current GPS system, while charging that the salaries and wages paid to ARINC by the Army are non- commensurate with their experience level. ARINC did not reply to a request for comment.

In letters sent to President George Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and members of the House and Senate, CVSS has asked for a full-scale government investigation into the situation.

In publicly making these charges, and in asking for a full and thorough investigation into them by the United States Defense Department, the United States Congress, the General Services Administration and the United States Attorney General's office, CVSS firmly believes that these soldiers lives have been and continue to be in danger without the training CVSS says is needed to operate the GPS equipment.

David L. Billingsley Jr., a member of CVSS and a former GPS trainer, said, "Many of the qualified and certified GPS trainers repeatedly complained to ARINC about their hiring of these unqualified and uncertified personnel." Billingsley asserts that when one of the new equipment trainers (NET) managers directly complained to the Army about the unqualified trainers, he was fired by ARINC.

"It was unconscionable and unacceptable to the legitimate members of the GPS training corps," Billingsley further states, "to have these people training those who would in turn have the awesome and sobering responsibility of training our troops whose lives could very well depend on their proficient operational knowledge of these critical and complicated GPS systems. Because of this breach and this compromise, many of them including myself resigned their positions in protest."

Larry V. Green, attorney for CVSS, said the group is calling for the launch of a "full-scale and thorough investigation into these very serious charges against the Army and ARINC," and is calling on the Army and ARINC "to immediately stop these hiring and training practices that could ultimately result in the loss of the lives of American soldiers."

CVSS cited the importance of thorough and incisive GPS equipment training by soldiers in the field of war, highlighting the Private Jessica Lynch incident early in Operation Iraqi Freedom, when the lack of GPS experience and situational awareness of the troops operating the equipment put the unit in harm's way and resulted in lives lost and troops captured. CVSS also cited other examples of flawed GPS operational use in particular, air-support, friendly-fire incidents where incorrect GPS coordinates resulted in the bombing of the troops using the GPS equipment.

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