By Anna Kim
After using the Navy badge for the past 16 years, a new Air Force combat diver badge has been created in order to honor Airmen who are combat divers. The badge was approved by Air Force Chief of Staff General Charles “CQ” Brown Jr.

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How Do You Get the Air Force Combat Diver Badge?

The combat diver badge is given to graduates of the Air Force Combat Dive Course at the Naval Support Activity in Panama City, Florida. In previous years, the graduates were given the Navy’s scuba badge instead. Now, Airmen will get to wear their own badges for divers and diver supervisors when they become available in Air Force Exchange Service stores and Army stores. Deputy Chief of Staff Operations Major General Charles Corocan said, “Air Force combat divers are essential to both combat and austere rescue situations… Having our own service-specific qualification badge accurately represents our unique capability to augment missions with any sister service component, and most importantly, highlights our members' heroic actions to conduct rescue and retrieval operations to ensure no one gets left behind.”

Air Force vs. Navy Combat Diver

Even though graduates previously wore the Navy badge, the capabilities of the Navy and Air Force combat divers are completely different. The Air Force combat divers train in the basics of tactical diving for extraction, insertion, and maritime recovery and rescue operations. Meanwhile, Navy scuba divers train for salvage and submarine diving. To be more specific, Air Force combat divers face diving missions and train to conduct Personnel Recovery. In the eight-week Combat Dive Course, the goal is to develop Airmen into safe combat divers and swimmers. They will undergo physical training, training in the classroom, pool familiarization dives, training in day and night tactical open water, and surface and subsurface pool exercises. Essentially, they train in waters up to 130 feet deep under stressful conditions in order to hone their skills. The distinction in training and missions is why the DoD has created a separate qualification badge for the Air Force.

Overview of the Combat Diver Badge

There were two badges created by the 350th Special Warfare Training Squadron.
  • The

    Air Force combat dive supervisor badge

    includes a closed-circuit rebreather.
  • The

    Air Force combat diver badge

    includes a sword crossed behind a scuba mask and a lightning bolt.
Fabric badges are said to be available at the end of this month, while metal badges are currently in the development phase.

A New Era for Air Force Divers

The Air Force may be one of the last service branches to have their own badge for divers, but better late than never. Back in 2001, the Marine Corps authorized the Combat Diver Insignia, and in 2004, the Army received special operations diver badges for divers. Now, after someone has successfully completed a combat diver or combat dive supervisor course, they’ll officially receive their Air Force combat diver badge.

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Image: U.S. Air Force graphics



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