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New Air Force combat dive badges approved

  • Published
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. approved new Air Force combat dive badges and associated wear criteria for Airmen who have been wearing the Navy scuba badge.

Airmen who have graduated the Air Force Combat Dive Course are now authorized to wear the new Air Force-specific qualification badges for divers and diver supervisors as soon as they become available in Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores. 

“Air Force combat divers are essential to both combat and austere rescue situations,” said Maj. Gen. Charles Corcoran, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations. “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 member’s heroic actions to conduct rescue and retrieval operations to ensure no one gets left behind.”

The Air Force Combat Dive Course was established in January 2006 at Naval Support Activity Panama City, Florida. Prior to the establishment of the AFCDC, Air Force personnel had to attend the U.S. Army Combat Diver Qualification Course or U.S. Marine Combat Diver Course to earn combat diver qualifications.

Upon graduation, graduates were awarded the Navy Scuba qualification and badge, even though the Navy-designed badge does not accurately represent Air Force combat diver capabilities.

“Navy scuba divers are trained for submarine and salvage diving,” said Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Uriarte, Air Force Command Dive Program manager and diver. “In contrast, U.S. Air Force combat divers are trained in the fundamentals of underwater tactical diving for insertion, extraction, and maritime rescue and recovery operations.”

These fundamentally different qualifications drove the requirement to establish a separate and distinct qualification badge for Air Force members and follows the precedent of other military branches replacing the Navy scuba badge with their own.

The new badges were developed by 350th Special Warfare Training Squadron Detachment 1 personnel. Two levels are authorized: Air Force Combat Diver, with a closed-circuit rebreather and Air Force Combat Dive Supervisor, identified by a traditional star and wreath on the badge, positioned on the rebreather.

Eligibility for wear of the respective badges is approved for graduates, both officer and enlisted, who have completed a Combat Diver or Combat Dive Supervisor course authorized in accordance with AFI 10-3504, Air Force Dive Program, paragraph 3.7.

The Air Force combat dive badges will be worn in accordance with AFI 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel, guidance for wear of Miscellaneous Badges.

The textile badges are expected to be available in AAFES by the end of October 2022. The metal badges are currently in pre-production development.