The U.S. Army Combat Diver Qualification Course
By: CDT Kevin Bubolz
This past summer I had the rare opportunity to attend the Army’s Combat Diver Qualification Course (CDQC), which is almost exclusive to special forces operatives. This course is 6 weeks long and is conducted in Key West, Florida. However, prior to being eligible for CDQC, I was required to pass a pre-CDQC course, which was two weeks longs at West Point, New York. Pre-CDQC consisted of PT every morning followed by a four-hour pool session followed by a long distance surface swim. During the pool sessions we practiced events such as, weight belt swims, 50m underwater swim, drown proofing where your hands and feet are tied and your are required to accomplish certain tasks, treading water with weight bricks, underwater knot tying, and equipment recovery which involves removing all of your equipment in one breath at the bottom of the pool and then retrieving it in one breath.
Following completion of pre-CDQC, I went to the main course where the training was even tougher, and more exciting. Pool week was where students became very familiar with pushing themselves to their limits while remaining calm and accomplishing the tasks at hand. Following pool week, students started using open-circuit scuba and conducted a 130-foot deep dive, ship bottom search, and underwater navigation swims. Then we were introduced to closed-circuit LAR V rebreathers, which do not emit any exhaust bubbles thus allowing for stealthy insertion. During advanced closed-circuit we used DPDs (Diver Propulsion Devices) and Zodiacs/CRRC (Combat Rubber Raiding Craft) to work together as 12-man ODA teams to accomplish missions. Next was spec-ops week where we jumped out of C-130’s with Zodiacs on SOCEPs (Special Operations Combat Expendable Platforms) and landed in the water and did helocasting which is a tactical insertion into the water from a moving helicopter. Overall, I learned a great deal at CDQC and was very lucky to experience training with the Army’s best NCO’s and Officers.