KEY WEST, Fla. (Feb. 10, 2015)-- While proud to be part of the greatest land force the world has ever seen, combat divers of the Army's Special Forces Underwater Operations School recently proved their underwater prowess to Army Secretary John McHugh.
The Army's top civilian leader was in Key West for a tour of the SFUWO training compound after visiting Soldiers serving at the U.S. Detention Facilities Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The SFUWO School has been creating combat divers, combat dive supervisors, and combat dive medics for over five decades, officials said. SFUWO is headquartered by the United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, the Army's Special Warfare Center of Excellence, Fort Bragg, N.C.
After observing an instructor demonstrate a free-swimming ascent technique in the Sgt. Maj. Walter L. Shumate Free Ascent Diving Tower, McHugh said he was impressed by the competence and character of the staff and students. The tower is a 50-foot deep tank utilized to train and familiarize combat divers on ascent and breathing techniques in preparation for advanced diving techniques in the open water.
"I've long said that with the proper training, equipment and support, there's nothing America's Soldiers can't do." McHugh said. "And that's the case whether the mission is on terra firma or under the ocean waves."
These already highly-trained Special Forces and Ranger Soldiers focus on advances waterborne operations, which include day and night subsurface navigation dives, team infiltration dives, deep dives, search dives, over-the-beach landing, submarine lock-in/lock-out familiarizations, advanced closed-circuit dives (rebreathe systems), small boat operations, water airborne operations, and a culminating exercise that tests and challenges all the skills they've learned.
Upon graduation, various Army units receive specialized, highly-trained soldiers with a unique infiltration technique, allowing them to infiltrate by sea or air several miles away from a target, then move undetected through many different waterborne insertion platforms to a beach landing site where the soldiers can then begin to conduct their mission.
"These are impressive facilities, filled with even more impressive instructors," McHugh said. "America demands a lot of her Army and this is part of how we meet that demand. The combat options our Soldiers can deliver to combatant commanders are staggering."
"SFUWO will continue to be at the cutting edge of combat diving -- leading the community of combat diving, advocating for modern equipment, validating tactics and techniques, and producing combat divers that are ready to respond to 21st Century warfare around the globe," said Maj. Josh Eaton, commander of SFUWO.