JBLM soldier shot on range

By Ranger Staff on May 9, 2024

In response to an incident at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where a soldier from the 7th Infantry Division was accidentally shot during a training exercise on April 25, the U.S. Army's Special Forces units are initiating a comprehensive safety stand-down this week. The soldier, who was struck by fire from an M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW), is in stable condition and receiving treatment at Madigan Army Medical Center, according to a Military.com story.

Effective this week, all Special Forces, civil affairs, and psychological operations units underwent a three-day pause in operations to prioritize safety measures, the news story stated. Major Russell Gordon, spokesperson for the 1st Special Forces Command, confirmed that this entails the cancellation of all live weapons training sessions scheduled for the duration of the stand-down, according to Military.com. The unit to which the shooter belongs remains undisclosed, although Joint Base Lewis-McChord hosts the 1st Special Forces Group.

The incident occurred during a force-on-force training exercise, wherein live ammunition was inadvertently mixed with blanks, the news organization reported. Blank ammunition, while lacking a projectile, functions similarly to live rounds in firearm operations. The Army maintains stringent protocols to prevent such mixing, as it poses significant safety risks.

In light of this incident, the Army is conducting a thorough internal assessment alongside the safety stand-down, Military.com reported. Investigations are ongoing to determine how live ammunition found its way into the training environment.

Distinct visual disparities exist between blank and live ammunition, raising questions regarding the loading of the SAW with live rounds, Military.com reported. Units have been instructed to conduct inventories of their arms rooms and ensure compliance with Army regulations concerning ammunition storage. Additionally, team rooms, commonly used by Special Forces soldiers to store equipment, will undergo scrutiny by senior leadership. An amnesty period has been implemented for soldiers to surrender improperly stored ammunition, the news organization reported.

Further steps include enhanced training for noncommissioned officers in ammunition handling and firearm safety protocols.