I was with 1st Group of the Green Berets (GB) Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) 155 at Aleutian Island chain Naval Air Station (NAS) Adak, Alaska. We were the combat dive detachment in my battalion. We were been given a most unusual mission to execute in Adak as part of a training exercise: mimic a Russian Spetsnaz unit and cause chaos, havoc, and unrest on the island. Create a real pickle of a situation for the U.S. Navy security forces at the naval air station, and conduct a final assault on a key technological node. That is easy enough for a Green Beret to digest, but what were the left and right limits in that mission statement? What were the parameters? What was the specific guidance? There was none. That would equal several weeks of misery for a lot of the inhabitants of Naval Air Station Adak.

There were two Special Forces ODAs from my company deployed on the mission, with a U.S. Navy Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine in support. The main assault ODA deployed from Bangor Submarine Base in Washington State. That was not far at all from Ft. Lewis, Washington, where 1st Special Forces Group hung their hats. Both of our ODAs went to conduct dockside training on the re-sinkable boat (Navy personnel often refer to a submarine as a boat), though my ODA would not conduct the final submarine-launched assault. We deployed to Adak days in advance to start intense reconnaissance of the air station security forces and prepare the battlespace.


The loose guidance from the mission statement called for a tactical underwater operation to emplace simulated explosive charges onto the piers of a key dock structure to render it inoperable in the conduct of the exercise. That explained why my ODA would not make the submarine transit and dry-deck launch to shore. The dive operation would be in extremely cold water after midnight. We would wear heavy polypropylene garments under a bulky Viking drysuit. We would not use traditional open-circuit SCUBA tanks, since they emit bubbles and betray a diver’s position with a turbulent surface signature. We opted for the tactical closed circuit Dreager LAR-V (LAR-five) pure oxygen rebreather.