AFSOC Pauses Parachute, Mountaineering, Dive Training Following Deaths

Following the deaths of two special tactics airmen within about one month, Air Force Special Operations Command has suspended all parachute, diving, and mountaineering training to review safety equipment and procedures.

The command is reviewing its regulations, along with the equipment and procedures used in the training. “After a comprehensive evaluation is complete and any necessary changes are identified and implemented, operations are expected to resume,” AFSOC spokeswoman Maj. Amanda Reeves said in a statement.

The decision comes after SSgt. Cole Condiff, a combat controller with the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, fell from a C-130 during parachute training Nov. 5 near Hurlburt Field, Fla. Condiff is presumed dead following an extensive search of the area where he was last seen.

Just weeks before, in early November, TSgt. Peter Kraines, a pararescueman with the 24th Special Operations Wing, died from injuries sustained while performing mountain rescue techniques in Boise, Idaho.

The pause in training began Dec. 3. AFSOC did not provide a timeline for when the operations would resume. The stand down was first reported by Air Force Times.

“The safety of our airmen is of the utmost importance,” Reeves said. “While there is inherent risk in the specialized skills required of our airmen, we must balance the need to practice and execute those skills with our duty to effectively manage the risk to our force. Our obligation to our airmen is to ensure our regulations, training, procedures, and equipment are as safe as possible.”