Editor’s note: The full names and identifications of those serving in the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) are withheld due to safety and security of the Soldiers and their Families.
By Sgt. Ashley Sanders | 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne)
ASTORIA, Ore. — Being unseen, unheard and undetected during maritime operations is an unmatched artistry of 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) combat divers. Recently, the highest-qualified dive team of 10th SFG(A) took on the cold waters and deep depths of the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean to conduct three weeks of intense maritime and dive requalification training.
“Diving is used as a form of infiltration,” said the dive
detachment commander, who is also a combat diver. “It is a clandestine method of (inserting Green Berets) to then go on to accomplish their core mission set, whether it is a direct-action raid or special reconnaissance of an objective.”
To remain proficient in their performance capabilities, the dive teams must train regularly, covering a multitude of skill sets while training in both local and remote, unfamiliar locations.
“It is important that combat divers are able to operate in a variety of environments,” said the commander.
For this reason, the detachment, commonly referred to as “America’s Dive Team,” has trained across the country in varying water and surf conditions. These locations include areas such as Coronado, California; Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Key West, Florida; and, most recently, above the Arctic Circle in Alaska, he said.
Requalification training, administered semi-annually, is more than just diving underwater. Level One Dive Qualification training consists of a minimum of six closed-circuit dives, one underwater search dive, one deep dive of 70 feet or greater,
one 3,000-meter surface swim, an over the horizon boat navigation of 15 nautical miles and two full mission-profile dives.
Using a compass board held by an assigned navigator, the divers must navigate as a team in an environment that may possess fast-moving currents, heavy surf and murky water with little-to-no visibility, while submerged at 15-20 feet. These variables, separate or together, can make precise navigation more difficult and dive missions significantly more challenging, he added.
“To prepare for the training, the detachment conducts regular pool physical training events to strengthen muscles required for long underwater movements,” said the commander. “The detachment also regularly incorporates maritime training into their training progression locally at Fort Carson.”
Although the underwater facet is a unified effort among the dive team members, portions of dive requalification training require joint operation exercises between 10th SFG(A) combat divers and other military elements and organizations. For Astoria, America’s Dive Team used the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) to help carry out dive team operations.
“The detachment was able to partner with and support multiple organizations,” said the commander. “This included 4th Battalion, 160th SOAR, (which) supported helocasting, water hoists, water exfiltration, small boat water insertions and fast rope insertion operations.”
“Additionally, the detachment supported the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Coast Guard during their deep dive operation, which was conducted to help confirm or deny the existence of a possible historic submarine pen,” he said.
“The biggest takeaway of the training is that learning never stops,” the commander said. “No matter if it was the most qualified dive supervisor on the detachment, or the youngest graduate from the Combat Diver Qualification Course, each detachment member gained new knowledge or skill on every operation.”