Army, Cambodia divers work together to de-mine Pacific waters
By Staff Sgt. Gaelen LowersDecember 12, 2013
SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia - The Pacific theater's waterways are still filled with explosive remnants of war, sunken munitions that are dangerous if mishandled. Clearing out these munitions and making these rivers safe for everyone who relies on them for subsistence is the goal of a joint effort between U.S. divers and their Pacific neighbors.
As part of Pacific Command's Humanitarian Mine Action initiative, the 7th Engineer Dive Detachment, 130th Engineer Brigade, equipped, trained, and certified Cambodian Mine Action Center divers on military diving protocol and salvage diving operations, Nov. 29 - Dec. 12, in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.
"This training is important not only to build regional partnerships throughout the U.S. PACOM area of responsibility, but also to specifically enable the CMAC dive team to clean up Cambodia's waterways," said Capt. Robert Meyer, the 7th Dive's commander.
Meyer said, "The CMAC divers have a very critical mission, and it's an honor for my team to be involved in building their capability during this phase of training and the following phases to come."
By traveling to Cambodia, the soldier divers of the 7th Dive were forced to focus on aspects of their mission that they may ordinarily overlook or take for granted.
"Really this training is forcing us to really know our equipment, diving procedures, and techniques," said Spc. Tony Garcia, a second class diver with the 7th Dive. "To instruct you really have to understand and know the material you're teaching, and given how bright these CMAC divers are, we really have to be on our game. They ask great questions and are very eager to learn, so we are constantly being tested on everything we need to know as divers."
Both countries benefited from the training. The 7th Dive was able to revisit training techniques and interact with a culture foreign to them, while the CMAC divers learned proper maintenance procedures, salvage techniques, and military diving protocol, ultimately building a program to replicate U.S. military diving standards.
"Having the opportunity to interact with foreign divers and teach them has increased my confidence," said Garcia. "Also, knowing we are helping these CMAC divers to do their mission is very rewarding and I'm proud to say I was part of this exercise to help make them successful."