The Army’s Diver badges are awarded to qualified Army personnel who fall into one of two broad categories that AR 611–75 Management of Army Divers classifies as Combat Divers and Engineer Divers—but oddly enough the actual names of the badges do not have those words in their titles.

In 2004, the Scuba Diver badges awarded to Army Divers who had successfully completed a Combat Diver Qualification Course (along with meeting numerous other requirements) were redesignated Special Operations Diver badges. Diving Officers, Diving Medical Officers, and Diving Medical Technicians are clasified as Combat Divers in AR 611-75, but there are no unique badges awarded for these qualfication. However, AR 600–8–22 specifies that qualifying officers and medical officers may wear the appropriate Navy badges upon approval by the Army’s Human Resource Command.

Engineer Divers, on the other hand, are awarded the Army Diver badge in one of four degrees: Second Class, Salvage, First Class, and Master.

Although the Army conducts preliminary diver training courses designed to give Diver candidates a good idea of the challenges they will face earning qualification, the vast majority of its Diver training programs are conducted at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center (NDSTC). In 2006, the Army revamped its program of instruction for Phase I of its Army Engineer Diver course, upping the length from 11 to 18 days and focusing much more heavily on physical fitness and basic diving concepts and knowledge. As a result, the dropout rate for Diver candidates who began the second part of their training at the NDSTC fell by nearly 25 percent in less than a year.

To earn the entry-level Second Class Diver badge, Soldiers must in paygrades E1 to E4, complete both phases of the Army Engineer Diver course and be awarded the related MOS, maintain CPR qualifications as set forth by the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association, and pass both Army Physical Fitness and Diver Physical Fitness Tests.

Eligibility for the First Class Diver badge features similar qualification standards but at higher levels of expertise, and is restricted to Staff Sergeants and above who complete the 70-day Engineer Diver Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course (BNCO). Failure to complete the course in two attempts or within a three-year period after reaching the rank of Staff Sergeant will lead to Soldiers being involuntarily reclassified to another MOS. A rank of Sergeant First Class or Master Diver is required to earn the Master Diver badge, and it too carries the 2-attempt/3-year time limit for completing requisite dive training.

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