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Underwater engineers.

MANY engineers work with heavy construction equipment to build new schools in Iraq or perform demolition work in Afghanistan.

But a group of Hawaii-based Soldiers now in Kuwait to support Third Army/U.S. Army Central, views the world of engineering from quite a different angle--from beneath the murky waters of the Persian Gulf.

For these engineer divers the air tanks on their backs are a mode of transportation, said Capt. Dan Curtin, commander of the 7th Engineer Dive Team.

"Army engineer divers are all engineers. We do all engineer tasks," he said, "we just do them in the water.

It's a whole different world."

The 7th Engr. Dive Team's mission includes providing underwater engineering support to all countries in Third Army's area of responsibility; diagnosis and treatment of diving diseases and disorders; and port opening and harbor-clearance operations, said Capt. Curtin.

"These men are probably trained in more individual engineer tasks than non-diving engineers," he said.

Some of their expertise comes from working with divers from different services and nationalities.

Recently, dive team Soldiers worked with Navy explosive ordnance disposal divers and divers from the French navy, to see how they operate.

One of the main things a Soldier gleans from participating in this type of training is a better understanding of his own unit's capabilities, compared to those of other services and units, said team member Sgt. Nathan Haney.

The networking aspect of the training is important, too. "Divers from other countries and other services learn what we can do. If they've got something that they can't handle, they'll know who to call," he said.

The training opportunities are not all work, though. The divers get the chance to share dive stories and compare experiences.

"It's always a good time," Sgt. Haney said. "We're always trading patches and shirts with our allies and building camaraderie."

Whether they're exchanging T-shirts with members of foreign militaries or doing partnership dives, a common thread remains: "It doesn't matter what country we're diving for, we're diving, and we're in the military," Sgt. Haney said. Cooperation and understanding fall easily in place based on the commonalities, he added.

Staff Sgt. Patrick N. Moes is assigned to the public affairs office of the U.S. Air Force's 386th Air Expeditionary Wing.
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Title Annotation:Focus on Iraq
Author:Moes, Patrick N.
Publication:Soldiers Magazine
Geographic Code:7KUWA
Date:Sep 1, 2007
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