JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. –
The U.S. Army’s 511th Engineer Dive Detachment, from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, deployed eight Soldiers to Kuwait in support of Operation Spartan Shield 2023 in support of Task Force Spartan.
Operation Spartan Shield is a joint mission under U.S. Central Command, providing capabilities such as aviation operations, logistics, and force protection. The mission also facilitates theater security cooperation activities, including joint exercises, and humanitarian assistance and disaster response planning.
“In Kuwait, Bahrain, or other locations in that region, we’ll support with force protections swims, making sure ports are clear for vessels to come through for Army, Navy, Coast Guard or the Department of Defense (DoD) with our diving capabilities,” said Army Capt. Olivia Schretzman, 511th Engineer Dive Detachment commander.
Leading up to the deployment, the Army divers trained in various locations and environments throughout the United States to include Washington, Texas, and Alaska. The training also included the Army Corps of Engineers conducting port opening exercises, underwater welding and cutting, and hydrographic survey operations for this specific deployment.
“There’s a really big range of operations that we do, and I also want them to be ready to respond quickly to any location in the area of responsibility (AOR),” said Schretzman. “We’re not just doing things at the tactical level, but we’re also doing it at the operational and strategic level, and I think that’s really important for Army engineer divers. Our capability is vast and we’re ready to work here at JBLE, Kuwait, and all over the world to include combat operations.”
The team is also deploying with a recompression chamber, which provides the capability to capability to recreate compressed aquatic depths. The divers within the chamber can then very slowly, then very slowly bring the compression “up” in a controlled manner.
“It provides hyperbaric treatment to support aviators with decompression sickness, and also special operations forces and our engineer divers. We can conduct dive operations in the entire area of operations because of that chamber,” said Schretzman.
The deployment for the 511th, also named Team Trident, is a scheduled one which will continue on a rotational basis with both new and experienced divers.
“I definitely do believe that us being out there is a big part of Operations Spartan Shield in Kuwait,” said Spc. Brian Warren, 511th Engineer Dive Detachment, second class diver. “We get a lot of odd jobs, but that’s the perk of being a jack of all trades is that the Army can throw many tasks at us, and odds are we have something we can do it with.”
During a pre-deployment ceremony, Capt. Schretzman addressed the team and recognized the hard work, training, and importance of the mission for their deployment. Schretzman also emphasized the importance of the team to operate in a manner ensuring each soldier returns safely.
“We operate very carefully and effectively,” said Warren. “I am fully confident that with the Soldiers I’m going with that we should have little to no issues, even if we do go to an area of higher risk.”
Trade ports are essential to the importing and exporting of goods in the CENTCOM region. As a result, partner and allied nations need divers to ensure safe and secure waters in and around them. These tasks may involve clearing debris, search and salvage, and could include the safe removal of sea mines.
“As of late we are being utilized a lot more as we should, because we have an immense capability,” said Schretzman. “With our Navy and Coast Guard partners, we can be unstoppable.”