A bipartisan pair of Congressmen has proposed a bill that will ban the use of live animals in all military medical trauma training.

The bill seeks to mandate the Department of Defense to prioritize the use of medical simulators and other “human based methods,” and phase out the use of live animals by October 1st, 2020.

The Department of Defense kills on average 8,500 animals a year. The animals used are mostly goats and pigs. The use of live animals in medical trauma training has been a hallmark of 18D Special Forces Medical Sergeant training for years.

Glen Doherty wrote an excellent piece for SOFREP in 2012 detailing the benefits of using live animal tissue training. Key points he related were the humane treatment of the animals involved: anesthetizing so the animal feels no pain before and throughout the process, and then euthanizing it after the procedure, and that the irreplaceable real world benefits of having medical personnel feel the pressure of keeping a living being alive.

Jack Murphy wrote an in-depth article detailing this particular portion, the Live Tissue Training (LTT), of the Special Operations Combat Medic Course, saying:

“Today, groups like PETA are engaging in political activism to try to shut down LTT in the SOCM school house at Ft. Bragg. This can’t happen. It will literally kill our soldiers. Groups like PETA have convinced certain politicians that the same quality training can be done on mannequins or medical training dummies. This simply is not true. There is nothing more realistic than living flesh and blood. Trust me, many Special Forces medic students would rejoice if they never had to see another goat again. But the training goes on because the concept is combat proven.”

The effort to ban the use of animals in military medical training is nothing new, numerous bills have been introduced over the years to ban the practice. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has made this a central criticism of the military for quite some time.

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What makes this bill unique is a joint Democrat and Republican team introducing the legislation, which now has 35 co-sponsers; 9 more than during the last Congress.

Representative Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), the primary sponsor of this bill and previous bills in the past, said with regard to using simulators instead of animals: “It may cost more for a simulator than for a live animal in terms of initial outlay, but you can only use that animal once, you can use the simulator repeatedly. So over the course of time, it’s better.”

The Congressman has said that he intends to use the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act as the means to finally ban live-tissue training from the Department of Defense.

Image courtesy of Reuters