DOD uses live animals, in addition to alternatives such as training videos, mannequins and cadavers, for trauma training–that is, training for military personnel to treat acute battlefield injuries. However, the use of animals in medical education has faced long-standing scrutiny due to a continuing focus on animal welfare and continued improvement in other training methods. Various laws have addressed how animals can be used in government testing, research, and training programs and have sought to reduce this use where possible. DOD has, among other things, established a two-level review process for documents justifying animal use for trauma training, called “protocols”.
GAO was asked to review DOD’s use of animals for trauma training. GAO evaluated the extent to which DOD has (1) made progress in its efforts to refine, reduce, and replace the use of animals for trauma training and (2) consistently applied guidance for reviewing and approving animal use protocols for trauma training. GAO analyzed DOD guidance and reviewed 21 fiscal year 2018–2020 animal use protocols for trauma training from the DOD component oversight offices included in GAO’s review.