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PETA steps up efforts to stop use of animals in military training

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is intensifying its efforts to stop training that involves animals at Fort Bragg and other military installations.

PETA officials said three recent military studies support their argument that life-like human simulators can be an effective replacement to using animals in trauma training.

The studies were presented last week at the Military Health System Research Symposium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, PETA said.

PETA is citing the studies in repeating its calls for the Department of Defense to switch to modern training tools. A letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel highlighting those studies is expected to be sent today, officials said.

The letter asks Hagel to consider "new and existing evidence powerfully demonstrating that simulators are effective - and in some cases superior - replacements for the use of animals in military medical training."

It urges Hagel to take immediate action to end the practice across the Department of Defense

PETA has long protested the training at Fort Bragg.

In 2013, government documents showed that, on average, soldiers on Fort Bragg killed 300 goats a month for medical trauma training that supporters said helps save lives.

PETA said animals are shot, stabbed and blown up in "Cold War-era training drills." The organization has said Fort Bragg training accounts for a third of all animal deaths caused by the military each year.

But supporters say the animals are anesthetized and respected. They say animals provide realistic training not available from other sources.

The U.S. is one of six NATO nations that continues to use animals in military medical training, PETA said.

In recent years, the Army has used new policies to restrict the use of animals in medical training, but a Pentagon report released last year warned that an early transition from using live animals would potentially lead to more battlefield deaths.

That report was compiled for members of Congress to outline the military's strategy for a transition from using animals for trauma training. The four-page report said the total investment required to stop using live animals is unknown but highlighted a $20 million, three-year research effort that began in 2010.

That research effort led to two of the three studies presented at the symposium that has PETA increasing its push to stop the use of live animals in the training.

The three studies include two that were funded by the Department of Defense and another from the Canadian Forces Health Services.

A University of Minnesota study found that medics who were taught hemorrhage control and other emergency medical procedures on simulators were just as good as those taught using animals.

A study involving the University of Minnesota and the University of Michigan found that medical staff taught intubation skills on simulators were more proficient than those trained on living cats.

The Canadian study found that a life-like human simulator was as effective to teaching traumatic injury management as the use of live animals.

"Across the board, these new military studies prove that medical personnel can effectively learn to save lives on the battlefield without shooting, cutting up and killing animals," Justin Goodman, PETA's director of laboratory investigations, said in a release. "The DOD must take animals out of the crosshairs and implement humane, effective and economical training methods."

brooksd@fayobserver.com

©2014 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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