The hardest US Army Special Forces course takes place underwater. Here is why it must be brutal.

Special Forces Fight Diver Qualification Course college students floor after a 1,000-meter swim in Key West, February 21, 2020.US Army/Ok. Kassens

  • There’s a very small Army group that goes by way of the Fight Diver Qualification Course.

  • Individuals, largely Inexperienced Berets, are examined on their diving know-how and skill to carry out underneath stress.

  • It is arguably the Army’s hardest course and is prone to be in larger demand in an period of great-power competitors.

When somebody talks about frogmen or fight divers, most individuals instantly think about Navy SEALs, the devoted maritime element of the US special-operations group.

However SEALs aren’t the one ones who do fight diving. There’s a very small Army group, largely made up of particular operators, that goes by way of the Fight Diver Qualification Course to turn out to be fight divers.

It is arguably the hardest course within the Army, and because the focus shifts from floor wars within the Center East to competitors world wide, the talents it teaches are prone to be in larger demand.

Right here there be monsters

Army Special Forces combat diver qualification course

College students enter the water for the three,000-meter open-water swim in Key West through the Fight Diver Qualification Course, March 11, 2010.US Army/Maj. Dave Butler

Established within the Nineteen Sixties, the Fight Diver Qualification Course takes place in Key West, Florida.

An necessary function of the course is its adaptability to present or future threats, and it has gone by way of many variations. It usually lasts between 4 and 6 weeks. Solely a choose few attend.

“The vast majority of college students that attend CDQC are particular operators from the Inexperienced Berets, Particular Mission Units, Rangers, and sometimes troopers from infantry and reconnaissance items. Along with active-duty service members, ROTC cadets from universities round America and West Level cadets can also attend,” a retired Inexperienced Beret who was a course teacher instructed Insider.

The course is split into two phases.

In the course of the first part, instructors give attention to bodily health, tools familiarization, and teamwork. Subsequent, college students are paired in teams of two and turn out to be “dive buddies.”

The primary part ends with the dreaded pool stress occasions. Instructors check the scholars’ coolness, proficiency, and skill to comply with procedures that would probably save their dwell or their buddy’s lives down the road.

College students have to go customary occasions: the 50-meter underwater swim, retrieval of a 20-pound object from the underside of the pool, and the two-minute water tread.

Special Forces Combat Diver Qualification Course

Fight Diver Qualification Course college students follow restricted visibility gear retrieval throughout preliminary open-circuit SCUBA coaching in Key West, June 6, 2018.US Army/Robert Lindee

The scholars additionally must excel academically.

“Tutorial lessons overlaying topics similar to diving physics, harmful marine life, diving physiology, diving accidents, and decompression are taught and examined. College students be taught the usage of open-circuit SCUBA tools, which is used throughout search dives, ship hull searches, and open-water deep dive,” the retired Special Forces operator mentioned.

College students additionally be taught the all-important decompression procedures. Incorrect decompression protocol could cause paralysis and even demise as dissolving gases turn out to be bubbles contained in the physique’s tissues, also referred to as “divers’ illness.”

The second part covers the tactical features of fight diving. Specifically it focuses on the Mark 25 Draeger oxygen rebreather, a closed-circuit underwater respiration equipment that does not emit bubbles, enabling particular operators to swim undetected.

College students additionally conduct a number of underwater dives to hone their navigation abilities and work with small boats and plane, similar to helicopters, as totally different insertion and extraction strategies all through the course.

The course ends with a full mission profile that features insertion by air and a closed-circuit dive.

The Army’s hardest college

Army Special Forces combat diver training MH-47 helocast

A US Army Special Forces scholar jumps off an MH-47 throughout helocast coaching as a part of the Fight Diver Qualification Course in Key West, February 21, 2020US Army/Ok. Kassens

Members of the Army special-operations group usually agree that the Fight Diver Qualification Course is the toughest course.

All course candidates must undergo a pre-course choice, the Maritime Evaluation Course, to even qualify for the Fight Diver Qualification Course. Most of the particular operators who attend the course fail or drop out, and the vast majority of them have already been assigned to a special-operations unit.

The course’s issue is measured in three alternative ways, “the first being adaptability in a water surroundings whereas in irritating conditions — this being the one side which college students cannot absolutely put together themselves for till they’re within the course,” the retired Inexperienced Beret and former teacher instructed Insider, talking anonymously to keep away from compromising ongoing work with their former unit.

“Bodily health is evaluated and emphasised all through your complete course, making it probably the most troublesome programs within the army. Thirdly, college students’ tutorial talents are monitored and examined all through the course,” the retired Inexperienced Beret added.

Army Special Forces combat diver qualification course

A scholar in a Special Forces Group maritime evaluation class bobs underwater whereas certain hand and foot, September 25, 2019.US Army/Employees Sgt. Christopher Case

Moreover the extent of toughness, the Fight Diver Qualification Course can be harmful. The course has stringent security precautions, however deaths have occurred. Two Special Forces operators died whereas attending the varsity in late 2021.

Those that do graduate earn the coveted Fight Diver insignia and rejoin their items. Within the case of Inexperienced Berets, who make up many of the college students, they be part of a fight dive group that is a part of their Special Forces group.

A cadet not too long ago made historical past by changing into the primary girl soldier to graduate the course and turn out to be a fight diver. A girl going by way of an Air Power special-operations pipeline has additionally graduated the Army course.

The Army fight diver group has typically been missed and underused through the previous twenty years, as there was no need for fight divers within the wars within the Center East.

As great-power competitors with near-peer nations, specifically China and Russia, heats up, fight divers are prone to be referred to as on extra to use their capabilities within the waters of Europe, Asia, and world wide.

Stavros Atlamazoglou is a protection journalist specializing in particular operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (nationwide service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins College graduate.

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