ARMY’S 10TH SPECIAL FORCES GROUP WINS COMBAT DIVER CONTEST

a group of people running down a street at sunset
Competitors in the 2024 U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) Best Combat Diver Competition participate in a two-mile run as part of a physical fitness test at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School's Special Forces Underwater Operations School, at NAS Key West, Florida June 10, 2024. Twelve teams competed in the event to test the skills and abilities of combat divers, build esprit de corps between organizations and advance the capabilities of military divers. (U.S. Army photo by K. Kassens)

The Army’s Special Forces Underwater Operations School at Fleming Key hosted the second annual Best Combat Diver Competition June 10-12. But before the grueling competition among the military’s most elite forces began, all branches paused to honor the eight soldiers who have died during the high-risk training program since the Fleming Key compound opened in 1964. The most recent death was in 2021.

“To build the best skilled maritime operators for such dangerous missions, the training these soldiers undergo is inherently dangerous,” Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jim Dougherty of the Special Forces Underwater Operations (SFUWO) said at the ceremony.  “Until now, no memorial existed to honor the memory of the brave soldiers who took their last breath.”

Following the dedication and an opening ceremony, the competition began.

Twelve two-man teams from across U.S. Army Special Forces, U.S. Marine Forces Special Operations, and U.S. Air Force Special Operations competed in a 10-event, multiple-day and night competition to demonstrate skill and capability through performance.

Events included underwater swims in the pool, a helicopter jump into Key West Harbor to test their navigation skills, a 4-mile run and other challenges.

The competition included rigorous tactical underwater events, boat movements and airborne insertion related to real-world combat dive operations, states an Army release.

The combat diver team from the Army’s 10th Special Forces Group won this year’s contest. The 1st Marine Raider Battalion took second place.More information about the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School in Key West is at swcs.mil.

a military helicopter flying over a body of water
A competitor in the 2024 U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) Best Combat Diver Competition jumps off the tailgate of an CH-47 at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School’s Patton Water Drop Zone, at NAS Key West, Florida June 11, 2024. Twelve teams competed in the event to test the skills and abilities of combat divers, build esprit de corps between organizations and advance the capabilities of military divers. (U.S. Army photo by K. Kassens)
two people in a kayak with a helicopter in the background
Competitors in the 2024 U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) Best Combat Diver Team Competition take part in a kayak race following a helocast at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School’s Patton Water Drop Zone, at NAS Key West, Florida June 11, 2024. Twelve teams competed in the event to test the skills and abilities of combat divers, build esprit de corps between organizations and advance the capabilities of military divers. (U.S. Army photo by K. Kassens)
a group of men standing next to each other
A competitor in the 2024 U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) Best Combat Diver Competition undergos a Dive Supervisor Pre-Inspection prior to validating his equipment at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School’s Special Forces Underwater Operations School, at NAS Key West, Florida June 10, 2024. Twelve teams competed in the event to test the skills and abilities of combat divers, build esprit de corps between organizations and advance the capabilities of military divers. (U.S. Army photo by K. Kassens)
a group of people in scuba gear in a pool
Competitors in the 2024 U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) Best Combat Diver Competition validate their equipment at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School’s Special Forces Underwater Operations School, at NAS Key West, Florida June 10, 2024. Twelve teams competed in the event to test the skills and abilities of combat divers, build esprit de corps between organizations and advance the capabilities of military divers. (U.S. Army photo by K. Kassens)
a man swimming in a pool of water
A competitor in the 2024 U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) Best Combat Diver Competition participates in a swimming event at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School’s Special Forces Underwater Operations School at NAS Key West, Florida June 11, 2024. Twelve teams competed in the event to test the skills and abilities of combat divers, build esprit de corps between organizations and advance the capabilities of military divers. (U.S. Army photo by K. Kassens)
Mandy Miles
Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.