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AFSOC resumes jump, dive, mountain operations after deaths

Air Force Special Operations Command has now recertified all its units to conduct parachute, dive and mountaineering operations after a review sparked by the deaths of two airmen last fall.

In an email, AFSOC spokeswoman Maj. Amanda Reeves said that the recertifications were conducted unit-by-unit and were finished as of Friday.

AFSOC suspended those operations last December as it investigated the deaths of pararescueman Tech. Sgt. Peter Kraines and combat controller Staff Sgt. Cole Condiff, both of the 24th Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field in Florida.

Kraines, 33, died Oct. 8 from injuries suffered while practicing mountain rescue techniques during a training exercise in Boise, Idaho. Condiff, 29, was lost in the Gulf of Mexico Nov. 5 after falling from a C-130 — which the Air Force referred to as an “unplanned parachute departure” — south of Hurlburt.

Pararescueman Tech. Sgt. Peter Kraines, left, and combat controller Staff Sgt. Cole Condiff, who were both of the 24th Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Florida, both died last fall in separate incidents. (Air Force)
Pararescueman Tech. Sgt. Peter Kraines, left, and combat controller Staff Sgt. Cole Condiff, who were both of the 24th Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Florida, both died last fall in separate incidents. (Air Force)

Reeves said Monday that experts from across the Air Force and U.S. Special Operations Command helped with the unit-by-unit inspections. AFSOC Commander Lt. Gen. Jim Slife approved each unit’s recertification based on recommendations from the unit’s leadership and AFSOC’s director of operations, Brig. Gen. Brenda Cartier.

“Throughout this process, AFSOC maintained our ability to support our host nation, sister service and cross-[major command] operations,” Reeves said. “Our obligation to our airmen has been to ensure our regulations, training, procedures and equipment are as safe as possible.”

“We are confident resuming operations at our recertified units, knowing that we are mitigating as many risks as possible when conducting these critical mission sets,” Reeves said.

Reeves would not say how many units were recertified, citing the need for secrecy regarding AFSOC’s capabilities and readiness.

Kraines was from Albany, N.Y., and is survived by his wife and two children.

Condiff, who was with the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, was from Dallas, and is survived by his wife and two daughters, his parents, sister and two brothers.

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