Live-fire training suspended for Special Forces after range incident

Live-fire training suspended for Special Forces after range incident

The Army has halted all live-fire training for 1st Special Forces Command, and its subordinate units, after a soldier was accidentally shot during a training event at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, last week.

The injured soldier was admitted to Madigan Army Medical Center on base and is in stable condition. The factors that led to the event are still unclear.

The 1st Special Forces Command issued a 72-hour safety stand down Tuesday through Thursday of all ranges with live and blank ammunition after the incident on April 25, said Maj. Russell Gordon, a spokesman for 1st Special Forces Command.

Subordinate units were instructed to perform a 24-hour amnesty turn, or self-check, in order to flag any improperly stored ammunition and take stock of all ammunition storage facilities. These units include Special Forces, Civil Affairs, Psychological Operations, and Sustainment elements. Unit leaders were also asked to perform a review of ammunition storage and gun range safety responsibilities to bolster the effort.

“It was necessary to take prudent action now to ensure the safety and wellbeing of everyone,” said Gordon in an emailed statement.

Soldiers with 7th Infantry Division and 1st Special Forces Group were both using the range on April 25, but 1st Special Forces Group was overseeing range operations.

“The way ranges work, some group has to be responsible for the day,” Gordon said.

The soldier who was shot was from the 7th Infantry Division, however, it’s still unclear what unit the soldier who accidentally fired the weapon with live rounds was from. The investigation seeks to clear that up.

According to Military.com, which first reported the incident, soldiers from the 7th Infantry Division, along with soldiers from 1st Special Forces Group, were engaged in a training event that uses blank rounds as standard practice. Somehow live rounds were mixed in and accidentally fired by a soldier using a M249 light machine gun. The investigation currently underway aims to decipher what exactly went wrong.

“Our thoughts are with the soldier and their family during this difficult time,” said Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Jennifer Bocanegra in an emailed statement.

Riley Ceder is an editorial fellow at Military Times, where he covers breaking news, criminal justice and human interest stories. He previously worked as an investigative practicum student at The Washington Post, where he contributed to the ongoing Abused by the Badge investigation.

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