Based at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM or SOCOM) administers the Special Operations Component Commands of the United States Army, Marine Corp, Navy and Air Force. With authority over the nation’s elite troops, its role includes the planning and execution of high-stakes anti-terror operations.
But in recent years, SOCOM has been hit by a growing number of deaths in training accidents. Representing a 60 percent increase over the preceding five-year period, a total of 11 special operators died during training events between 2011 and 2016, including four SEALs who lost their lives in jumps since 2013.
Nearly half of the fatalities occurred in the year 2015, prompting a wide-ranging review of SOCOM’s freefall programs. The review included the retraining of all jumpmasters and a careful examination of program theory, procedures and equipment. SOCOM has since boosted its training safety measures. However, the investigators were unable to pinpoint a single underlying cause for the training deaths.