After a Green Beret drowned while training for combat diver school in the fall of 2021 at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, the Army Special Operations Command will test new programmable swim vests.
In 2021, Staff Sgt. Paul Lincoln Olmstead became the second Green Beret to drown while participating in dive training. In 2020, an airman drowned in the dive school for his branch of duty in the circumstances similar to Olmstead’s. When a swimmer submerges below a predetermined depth, the new programmed vests, available on the civilian market, automatically inflate using CO2 cartridges. Such equipment may have saved Olmstead’s life, after he fell unconsciousness on September 21, 2021. according to an investigation report Army Times was able to receive through a Freedom of Information Act request. The “inadequacy of the Aqualung Scout Swimmer Vest,” which needs a drowning victim to be conscious to activate the CO2 cartridges in their vest, was determined to be the “main contributing factor” to Olmstead’s death. The investigators also expressed concerns over additional procedures at the Maritime Assessment Course run by the 5th Special Forces Group, which trains soldiers to be combat divers.