Diving competition held by the 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg


FORT BRAGG — Special Forces teams spent Wednesday and Thursday navigating murky waters, obstacle courses and craft to brag about being named the “best of the best.”

The nine teams participating in the second annual Best Combat Diver competition which was hosted by the 3rd Special Forces Group were teams from the 5th Special Forces Group, 7th Special Forces Group and a team consisting of a soldier from the 3rd Special Forces Group Special Forces and Air Force Special Operations Forces Terminal Attack Controller, organizers said.

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RP Sergeant 1st Class, whose name is withheld due to the nature of his job, is a Marine Operations Medical Sergeant with 3rd Special Forces Group and helped coordinate the event.

The idea began last year with two “dive lockers” or maritime operational support instructors, RP said.

Special Forces Soldiers compete in a two-day Best Combat Diver competition at Fort Bragg, Thursday, June 16, 2022. The event was hosted by the 3rd Special Forces Group.

“It’s a tough school, and there haven’t been a lot of resources to push it because for the last 20 years we’ve had operations in the desert,” he said. “Now all of a sudden with China and Russia and everything going on in Africa and around the world, there’s a lot of things related to water, whether it’s on rivers, lakes or the ocean or whatever. So now there’s a big push for that.

Staff Sgt. JM, who co-organized and developed the events, said the idea for the competition was to generate interest in maritime operations.

“It’s 99% for morale and awareness and people don’t know anything about us,” he said.

The events

Wednesday’s competition began with a physical fitness test and written dive exam before competitors headed to Fort Bragg’s Atchley Pool for stressful events, like seeing how long they could hold a 25-pound weight. above their heads in the water.

Navigating through a series of underwater obstacles, one of the tasks was to simulate a recovery with a dummy known as “Rescue Randy”, while finding an object in the pool used to aid in the rescue.

RP said the competitors used civilian diving gear, which means their underwater bubbles are seen, and also military diving gear, which means no bubbles are detected. Some equipment deliberately malfunctioned, and competitors also had to navigate an underwater obstacle course with blacked-out masks.

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Participating in Thursday’s events at McKellars Pond were Staff Sgts. AC and TH, who represented a team from the 3rd Special Forces Group.

“We’re part of our battalion’s diving team, so we do all the diving, so naturally when we heard about the competition, we wanted to participate,” AC said. “Our team participated last year. In fact, we had a teammate who won the competition last year, so it felt right to do it again this year.

TH said teams meant no one was a winner.

“It has to be a team effort,” he said. “So all the events of yesterday forced the team to collectively do together.”

Special Forces Soldiers compete in a two-day Best Combat Diver competition at Fort Bragg, Thursday, June 16, 2022. The event was hosted by the 3rd Special Forces Group.

TH said blacked-out masks during Wednesday’s obstacle course meant participants were forced to communicate underwater with teammates using non-verbal, non-visual cues.

RP said Thursday’s events also required teamwork.

Competitors started with an estimated sprint of 800 meters and boarded a rubber combat watercraft that deliberately had faults in the engine and fuel line, requiring competitors to repair it before starting the race. personal watercraft.

The craft had to be sailed around buoys in the pond and also sometimes had to be used in reverse.

After using kayaks and swimming, the next event involved scuba gear which required nitrogen purging and navigating murky waters with a compass, before moving on to shooting with targets and guns.

Special Forces Certified Combat Diver

RP said all competitors are certified in combat diving.

The advantage of being a combat diver, he said, is being among the 1% of special operations service members who have the certification.

To be certified, he said, participants must complete a two-week course before even qualifying for six weeks of training.

Although the Navy Seals may be more publicly recognized military divers, RP and other organizers and participants in Wednesday’s competition said they see certification as another plus for special forces soldiers.

“It just makes for a bigger deterrent, just like we have free fall teams and we have mountain teams and intelligence stuff,” RP said. “So we have all these different teams that are more specialized than the normal SF team to go and do this mission that might be called upon.”

Special Forces Soldiers compete in a two-day Best Combat Diver competition at Fort Bragg, Thursday, June 16, 2022. The event was hosted by the 3rd Special Forces Group.

The 3rd Special Forces Group Marine Operations Officer said Special Forces soldiers always utilize “every resource around them” and that being certified in combat diving provides soldiers with another ability “to accomplish the mission”.

With four combat diver qualification courses per year, he said there are also other maritime courses which teach how to use boats, swim properly, provide knowledge of tides and currents and involve airborne operations where soldiers land in bodies of water.

TH said he thinks the courses are helpful because there have been past examples of soldiers tasked with searching for things underwater.

“It also helps us partner with other countries that may have diving capability,” he said. “It gave us a reason to go to work and train with people in certain places. It’s just another tool in our toolbox.

Writer Rachael Riley can be reached at [email protected] or 910-486-3528.


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