I agree with complacency combined with the significant increase numbers of service members doing MFF. Being completely ignorant of the specifics of the March 18, 2015 fatality focused on in the article, it is somewhat interesting the statistics used in the article includes Special Operations Forces static line parachute fatalities with complacency being emphasized as a significant contributing cause for the majority, if not all, of the fatalities.
A Military Times review of accident investigations involving Army, Navy and Air Force special operations personnel revealed troubling training shortfalls, lapsed jump qualifications, and a number of accidents and deaths at least partially attributed to overconfidence on the part of the jumpers or the 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.
Although possible and potential organizational culture problems contributing to complacency factors attributing to compromise to training safety must be considered, attributing it a stigma of the qual being the measuring up to being among the peer group misplaces emphasis of putting organizational cultural problems undermining safety primarily on those giving the training o others and those getting trained. The perspective being organizational culture extends beyond the trainers and the students.
Initial MFF qualification and to lesser degree combat diver qual has gained a stigma since the 1980s of the qual being the measuring up to being among the top of the Special Operations Forces peer group. I use stigma as since the 1980s as not only numbers of service members getting such quals and sustaining such qual has significantly increased in numbers, this expanding amount of numbers have concurrently significantly increased to include VIP training and initial qualification to service members in support duty positions lacking an inherent and essential part of the duty position to preform MFF duties which contribute to breeding a compromise in training standards towards just being good enough to get by.
Why organization culture not being unique to the Special Operations fraternity as the article suggest is connected to not only the increased numbers of service members getting initial qualification training and sustaining proficiencies, but also inclusive in these numbers demographics are significant numbers of duty positions where such qualifications are required primarily for administrative only purpose of being desirable of adding distinction to attract people to put into the duty position. This is not necessarily wrong or bad, but it may and can contribute to a operational loss of training perspectives away from being sufficiently proficient and competent towards the gamble of putting somebody into doing a more demanding training jump profile where their being good enough to get by past success isn't good enough and the accident happens. For example being ordered to perform the complicated jump before being ready may and can be voluntarily performed the jump because everybody thought the jumper was ready. This is particularly a problem for MFF and combat diver qual and duties as getting through the initial qual courses are often a one time offered opportunity that allows one and perhaps two set backs in training before the student is eliminated from training.
Yeah it's hard to argue that the exponential expansion of the number of service members receiving MFF training coupled with less time to do both static line and MFF jumps during the GWOT has had an impact on number of fatalities.
Jumping 4 times a year does not make one proficient.
12 plus years of war made jumping a secondary activity, now we are starting to dust off skillsets that didn't get a lot of attention.
All those high jump NCO/Officers have moved on, and we are essentially re-learning a lot of skills.
Don't be surprised at an increase in the Class A rate either as we moved back into low-level training.
I only have experience with static line. After deployments all JM's had to go through JM refresher and JMPI, including the "3 jumpers in 5 minutes" standard. New JMs were trained regularly and the HSC's were tasked with running at least 2-3 jumps a quarter, but between Group HHC and multiple HSC's, there were 3-4 jumps a month available. My HSC and some teams in the BN were big on making every jump a combat equipment job to combat complacent attitudes, and of course pad the log for Senior and Master Wings. At least one night jump every couple months, that was just due to scheduling and aircraft availability.
There were a couple deaths in the 82nd while I was at Bragg. One soldier had a weak exit, hit the side of the aircraft. Another soldier had a malfunction in the primary and burned in without deploying the reserve.
Jumping is dangerous and I know Army FF school prides itself on an excellent safety record. The HALO team members I worked with could not say enough good things about the school and instructors in Yuma.