HONOLULU – The Army says it’s critical to saving the lives of wounded soldiers. Animal-rights activists call the training cruel and outdated.
Despite opposition by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Army proceeded to shoot live pigs and treat their gunshot wounds in a medical trauma exercise Friday at Schofield Barracks for soldiers headed to Iraq.
Maj. Derrick Cheng, spokesman for the 25th Infantry Division, said the training was conducted as scheduled under a U.S. Department of Agriculture license and the careful supervision of veterinarians and a military Animal Care and Use Committee.
“It’s to teach Army personnel how to manage critically injured patients within the first few hours of their injury,” Cheng said.
The soldiers are learning emergency lifesaving skills needed on the battlefield when there are no medics, doctors or facility nearby, he said.
PETA, however, said there are more advanced and humane options available, including high-tech human simulators. In a letter, PETA urged the Army to end all use of animals, “as the overwhelming majority of North American medical schools have already done.”
The soldiers being trained are with the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, which is deploying to Iraq this year.
“We understand (PETA’s) concerns and point of view. At the same, the Army is committed to providing the soldiers with the best training possible,” Cheng said.
PETA has instructed its 2 million members to inundate the Army with calls and e-mails.
“We are not going to let it drop,” said Kathy Guillermo, director of PETA’s Laboratory Investigations Department.