I was invited by the venerable SOFREP Senior Writer Luke Ryan to contribute a measure of an addendum to his series on the on-going crisis in Thailand, the Tham Luang Nang Non (Cave of Our Sleeping Lady) soccer team rescue. The request for a follow-on update, yes, but from the perspective of a military diver.

I am a graduate of the U.S. Army Special Forces Underwater Operations Course, basic course, and the advanced Diver Supervisor Course. Stepping out of those two courses I was qualified for an honorary Advanced Open-Water Diver qualification from MAUI. I came into the Army already with a civilian rating and formal qualification with PADI.

Caveat: Army tactical combat divers do not presume to be Navy SEALs; that is, they have a dive mission that encompasses only a portion of the broader mission statement that their Navy counterparts, SEALs, embrace and train for. I don’t pit one diver against the other; both are highly efficient at their assigned mission intent.

The bad news, the crisis in the Chiang Rai cave system is far from over.

The good news, the crisis in the cave system is far from over. If the young men of the soccer team had expired, the crisis would indeed be over, but they are still with us material slobs and that’s great news, but getting them out has already proven a major undertaking.

The entrance to Tham Luang cave is seen during heavy rains that hampered rescue efforts due to floodwaters inside the cave, around 26 June 2018. | By NBT [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
To recap the essentials of the situation; the soccer team led by the team leader was on a simple exploratory outing to the cave system that was known by all the boys on the soccer team as well as their coach. An element not factored in was the fact that the monsoon season was upon them and dumped a torrential amount of rain while they were in the cave, flooding the system and essentially trapping the young men about two miles into the cave.

Location of the Tham Luang cave entrance. | Google Maps

Whose fault specifically it is — well, that is an issue we all hope we have the privilege of hashing out with the team at a later date when the immediate crisis is behind us, and we all feel froggy enough to ignite the Blame Throwers.

Finding the victims was approximately half the fight, and it’s a stellar thing that they were found alive at all. The rest of the crisis, in much the same fashion as the Chilean Mine Rescue in recent past, rests with the potential solutions on how to get them rescued from their perhaps precarious position deep inside the cave.