USAF halts parachute, dive and mountain training ops following airmen deaths

Parachuting, diving and mountaineering training and related operations are off-limits to U.S. airmen for now as Air Force Special Operations Command investigates the deaths of two special tactics airmen.

AFSOC ordered the suspension earlier this month to allow officials to inspect associated equipment and review safety procedures, spokeswoman Maj. Amanda Reeves said in an email Tuesday. The news was first reported by Air Force Times.

“After a comprehensive evaluation is complete and any necessary changes are identified and implemented, operations are expected to resume,” Reeves said. She added that officials have not identified a specific end date for the suspension.

Officials want to be “confident our safety procedures, training, and guidance protects the lives of our airmen to the maximum extent possible,” she said.

In October, Tech. Sgt. Peter Kraines, a pararescueman with the 24th Special Operations Wing, Hurlburt Field, Florida, died “from injuries sustained in an incident while performing mountain rescue techniques in Boise, Idaho.”

Then in November, Staff Sgt. Cole Condiff, a Special Tactics combat controller with 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, 24th Special Operations Wing, fell out of a C-130 Hercules into the Gulf of Mexico during a planned static-line jump during training. Rescue teams began search efforts immediately, and had canvassed roughly 700 square miles of the Gulf for four days before ending their recovery attempts.