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GOP Lawmaker Compares Las Vegas Shooting Victims To Troops Killed In Training Accidents

On Thursday, Republican congressman Mac Thornberry (Texas), Chairman of House Armed Services, compared the number of people killed in this week’s Las Vegas shooting to the number of troops killed in training accidents this year to argue for an increase in military spending.

Thornberry was speaking to reporters ahead of the Heritage Foundation’s unveiling of its fourth annual “Index of U.S. Military Strength.”

“It’s alarming to me these trends…We have, give or take five, we have lost as many service members in 2017 to accidents as were killed in Las Vegas,” Thornberry told reporters at a breakfast roundtable at the Heritage Foundation, a comparison he repeated in his public keynote at the conservative think tank, according to The Hill.

A total of 59 people were killed and over 500 injured when a gunman opened fire at a country music festival in Las Vegas Sunday, the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

In the military, there have been a slew of high profile accidents this year. For example, over the summer, 17 sailors were killed in two ship collisions, while 16 Marines were killed in an aircraft crash.

In total, 57 troops have been killed in accidents this year.

Thornberry was among a handful of military spending addicts to vote against a stopgap spending measure last month despite its inclusion of Hurricane Harvey relief money that benefits his state.

In particular, Thornberry wants more money for missile defense because, he said, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “is not waiting until December” to work on his missile program.

“This is urgent,” he said. “Time is slipping away, and we can’t wait until December in my view to start making up for shortfalls in maintenance and missile defense.”

This year’s 400-plus-page index found that overall U.S. military power is “marginal,” meaning that the military would be able to fight one major regional conflict at the time, but “certainly would be ill-equipped to handle two simultaneous major wars.”

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