Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Special Operations Forces Face A Dangerous Rise In Parachuting Deaths
The military’s elite special operations forces are facing a troubling and deadly rise in the number of parachute deaths that occur during training. According to Military Times, which broke the story, 21 special operations forces have died while performing high-risk parachute training since 2004.
The findings are based on information from the military’s investigations into the deaths, released to Military Times under the freedom of information act.
On March 18, 2015, Navy SEAL Petty Officer 3rd Class Jason Kortz was killed while performing a high-altitude, high-opening jump. The resulting Navy investigation determined that Kortz was ordered to perform the jump before he was ready, and that his death was “preventable,” reports Military Times.
Following Kortz’ death, Adm. Brian Losey, then-commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, ordered a review of his command's air operations. According to Military Times, Kortz’ death was not an isolated incident. He was one of 11 special operators killed between 2011 and 2016, which marks a 60% rise over the past five years, based on records obtained by Military Times.
Equally troubling is that there appears to be no common link between the incidents. Since 2013, the Navy SEALs have lost four operations in parachute accidents. The Marines lost three since 2009 and the Army lost one Green Beret and one Ranger in the same time period. Neither was there a single factor attributed to the jump deaths, Military Times notes. Of the 11 SOCOM parachute deaths that occurred since 2011, eight involved free falls with heavy combat gear. This includes high-altitude, high-open jumps as well as the most dangerous jump, high-altitude, low-open jumps. Three of the 11 jump deaths involved static-line jumps, where the parachute opens immediately after leaving the aircraft.
The rise in training deaths alarmed senior leaders at U.S. Special Operations Command and in September 2015, two weeks after the investigation into Kortz’ death was completed, SOCOM’s commander at the time, Army Gen. Joseph Votel, halted all free-fall jumps for three months.
What followed was a SOCOM-wide review of all free-fall programs, with a focus on procedures, doctrine, and equipment. All jumpmasters were retrained and sent back to their units to re-qualify all jumpers and the Military Freefall Working Group was established to review lessons learned from these incidents.
According to Military Times’ review of the accident investigations involving special operations personnel, training shortfalls, a lapse in jump qualifications, and a number of accidents were at least partially attributed to overconfidence on the part of the jumpers or trainers.
“To that end, the spike in deaths has raised the question of whether there is a cultural problem inside some parts of Special Operations Command, and whether its fraternity of elite warriors fostered a complacency that undermined safety,” write Military Times’ David Larter and Meghann Myers.
However, the SOCOM-wide review in 2015 does appear to have had a positive impact, with one jump death reported in 2016, notes Military Times.
13 Marines at Camp Pendleton charged with crimes related to smuggling of undocumented immigrants from Mexico
Thirteen Marines have been formally charged for their alleged roles in a human smuggling ring, according to a press release from 1st Marine Division released on Friday.
The Marines face military court proceedings on various charges, from "alleged transporting and/or conspiring to transport undocumented immigrants" to larceny, perjury, distribution of drugs, and failure to obey an order. "They remain innocent until proven guilty," said spokeswoman Maj. Kendra Motz.
The recruiting commercials for the Army Reserve proclaim "one weekend each month," but the real-life Army Reserve might as well say "hold my beer."
That's because the weekend "recruiting hook" — as it's called in a leaked document compiled by Army personnel for the new chief of staff — reveal that it's, well, kinda bullshit.
When they're not activated or deployed, most reservists and guardsmen spend one weekend a month on duty and two weeks a year training, according to the Army recruiting website. But that claim doesn't seem to square with reality.
"The Army Reserve is cashing in on uncompensated sacrifices of its Soldiers on a scale that must be in the tens of millions of dollars, and that is a violation of trust, stewardship, and the Army Values," one Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, who also complained that his battalion commander "demanded" that he be available at all times, told members of an Army Transition Team earlier this year.
According to an internal Army document, soldiers feel that the service's overwhelming focus on readiness is wearing down the force, and leading some unit leaders to fudge the truth on their unit's readiness.
"Soldiers in all three Army Components assess themselves and their unit as less ready to perform their wartime mission, despite an increased focus on readiness," reads the document, which was put together by the Army Transition Team for new Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville and obtained by Task & Purpose. "The drive to attain the highest levels of readiness has led some unit leaders to inaccurately report readiness."
Lt. Gen. Eric J. Wesley, who served as the director of the transition team, said in the document's opening that though the surveys conducted are not scientific, the feedback "is honest and emblematic of the force as a whole taken from seven installations and over 400 respondents."
Those surveyed were asked to weigh in on four questions — one of which being what the Army isn't doing right. One of the themes that emerged from the answers is that "[r]eadiness demands are breaking the force."
The Army thinks China will surpass Russia by 2028. Here is how the service is planning to take them on.
If you've paid even the slightest bit of attention in the last few years, you know that the Pentagon has been zeroing in on the threat that China and Russia pose, and the future battles it anticipates.
The Army has followed suit, pushing to modernize its force to be ready for whatever comes its way. As part of its modernization, the Army adopted the Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) concept, which serves as the Army's main war-fighting doctrine and lays the groundwork for how the force will fight near-peer threats like Russia and China across land, air, sea, cyber, and space.
But in an internal document obtained by Task & Purpose, the Army Transition Team for the new Chief of Staff, Gen. James McConville, argues that China poses a more immediate threat than Russia, so the Army needs make the Asia-Pacific region its priority while deploying "minimal current conventional forces" in Europe to deter Russia.
In leaked documents, Army family reports waiting weeks to have gas line and roof leaks fixed in on-base housing
As the saying goes, you recruit the soldier, but you retain the family.
And according to internal documents obtained by Task & Purpose, the Army still has substantial work to do in addressing families' concerns.