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The Air Force has approved new badges for combat divers, which will replace the Navy scuba badge. The diver badge is on the left and the combat dive supervisor badge is on the right.

The Air Force has approved new badges for combat divers, which will replace the Navy scuba badge. The diver badge is on the left and the combat dive supervisor badge is on the right. (U.S. Air Force)

The Air Force’s elite combat divers will soon have a decoration of their own to wear.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown Jr. approved a new badge for divers and diver supervisors to replace the Navy scuba badge, the service announced Tuesday.

Since 2006, airmen who graduated from the Air Force Combat Dive Course have been awarded the Navy scuba qualification and badge even though their jobs are different.

Navy scuba divers are trained for submarine and salvage diving, while Air Force combat divers are involved in insertion, extraction, and maritime rescue and recovery operations, said Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Uriarte, the Air Force Command dive program manager.

Personnel from the 350th Special Warfare Training Squadron, which is based in San Antonio, developed the new badges, the Air Force said.

Two levels are authorized for wear: Air Force combat diver, which depicts a closed-circuit rebreather, and Air Force combat dive supervisor, identified by a star and wreath positioned on the rebreather.

Both officers and enlisted personnel may wear the new insignia as soon as it becomes available in Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores.

The patch version is expected to be in AAFES stores by the end of the month, but the metal badge is still being developed.

“Having our own service-specific qualification badge accurately represents our unique capability to augment missions ... and, most importantly, highlights our members’ heroic actions,” Maj. Gen. Charles Corcoran, deputy chief of staff for operations, said in a statement.

Other military services also have replaced the Navy scuba badge with their own.

In 2004, the Army replaced the Navy decoration for divers with the special operations diver badge. And in 2001, the Marine Corps authorized the creation of the combatant diver insignia.

A U. S. Air Force Combat Dive Course instructors test trainees on one-man drills at Naval Support Activity Panama City, Fla, in August 2019. The U.S. Air Force has approved a new badge for combat divers that replaces the Navy scuba badge.

A U. S. Air Force Combat Dive Course instructors test trainees on one-man drills at Naval Support Activity Panama City, Fla, in August 2019. The U.S. Air Force has approved a new badge for combat divers that replaces the Navy scuba badge. (Kevin Tanenbaum/U.S. Air Force)

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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