By Spc. Ashton Koller
U.S. Army Central
Soldiers of the 511th Engineer Dive Detachment conducted their annual shallow brown training at Kuwait Naval Base, Kuwait, July 19, 2019. This training focuses on lower enlisted Soldiers getting an opportunity to train and become subject matter experts on underwater operations and equipment used.
The detachment is deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Spartan Shield for U.S. Army Central. The mission of engineer divers provide support to assure mobility for the forward movement of troops and equipment. Divers provide support to disaster response, general engineering, and geospatial engineering operations in and around water.
Staff Sgt. Tyler Tyson, diving supervisor, 511th Engineer Dive Detachment, said this annual event is critical to the junior enlisted Soldiers.
“We call this one our ‘shallow brown;’ it’s one of three major training operations we conduct annually,” said Tyson. “Our operational environment always changes out here in Kuwait, so we need to make sure that everyone is well versed on the conditions that we’re going to be diving in, and training exercises like this help facilitate that.”
Tyson believes this training is vital to the unit’s’ junior enlisted Soldiers by getting them prepared for any mission they are called to do.
“This training in particular is focusing on our junior enlisted Soldiers and up-and-coming salvage divers;, basically we want to make them SMEs of the equipment, the air systems, and the life support equipment that we work with on a daily basis.”
Knowing that having a constant state of readiness within the unit is critical to mission success, Tyson said it’s very important to make sure they conduct realistic training to allow Soldiers to gain experience.
“While we’re in theater, we need to be ready at a moment’s notice,” said Tyson. “We have gear staged for when we do receive that call, so it’s vital that these Soldiers are well versed on the equipment. Without that, our detachment and our operations would fall apart.”
Diving deep below the surface is only part of the battle during this training. Soldiers are also required to perform a variety of tasks with equipment they must be familiar with in order to have mission success.
“We have a variety of tools that we work with,” said Tyson. “We try to choose the tools that we most commonly work with, and we design a training platform that has different projects. They will have to problem solve underwater. A lot of the tools are brand new to the Soldiers, although they’ve seen them in dive school, this is their first time to work with them out with the detachment.”
Private first class Richard Ratliff, Army diver, 511th Engineer Dive Detachment, who was one of the divers participating in the training event, understands the importance of taking this training seriously.
“This training is very important because let’s say I were to go down there and I’ve never used the breaker before. That would be a pretty bad time for me to learn how to use it while we’re on the job,” said Ratliff. “Thanks to this training, I now have the experience I need to do my job effectively.”
Although the training may be difficult, Ratliff said he gained a lot of experience out of it.
“It gets pretty dark when you start working with tools under water; it kicks up all the sand and silt, but it was a really good experience,” said Ratliff.
“I learned a lot. I learned how to better handle myself when working with hydraulic tools under water.”
With the training complete, the 511th Dive Detachment can move forward with its mission with confidence in the Soldiers.
“The training went very well,” said Tyson. “We’re fortunate to have some very solid junior enlisted Soldiers. This is always interesting to see how they will react and conduct themselves in an operational environment. This is a great test to do that. I think the guys are doing really well, in lieu of the heat, everyone is doing pretty awesome.”
U.S. ARMY RESERVE
DEPT. OF DEFENSE
U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND
DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY
BEST WARRIOR COMPETITION