The course provides underwater tactical training and the skills needed to successfully conduct underwater navigation for infiltration and exfiltration. The candidates negotiate long distances in open water, infiltrating by surface and sub-surface, learning to deal with the hazards of a surf zone tangle and simulated equipment malfunctions.
The combatant divers course combines lecture, demonstration, and practical application in Oxygen charging procedures using the USMC Oxygen Transfer Pump System, or USMC OTPS. Upon the completion of this course, the Marines (of any MOS that attends) are given the Special "B" MOS 0324 Reconnaissance Man, Combatant Diver Qualified (NMOS) [formerly 8653].
The Combat Swimmers Course was previously taught at the United States Navy's Amphibious Reconnaissance School, Troop Training Units (TTU)s at either Expeditionary Warfare Training Group (EWTG); Pacific (EWTGPAC) or Atlantic (EWTGLANT). It was first formed during World War II to teach selected reconnaissance Marines and sailors the fundamentals of advanced swimming. They were located on both of United States's coasts, at the naval amphibious bases, NAB Little Creek and NAB Coronado.
By the late 1980s, some combatant swimming courses were taught using the Marine Corps's own infrastructure, by experienced Marine combat divers. Because of the lack of facilities on Marine Corps bases, the Navy continued to provide the necessary training grounds for such training activities. The USMC Combatant Divers Course was established in 1993 at the Navy Diving and Salvage Training Center (NDSTC) in Panama City, FL.
The USMC opened its doors to blacks in June 1942, with the acceptance of African Americans as recruits in segregated all-black units. Other races were accepted somewhat more easily, joining white Marine units. For the next few decades, the incorporation of black troops was not widely accepted within the Corps, nor was desegregation smoothly or quickly achieved. Spurred by executive orders in 1941 and 1948, the integration of non-white USMC personnel proceeded in stages from segregated battalions in 1942, to unified training in 1949, and finally full integration in 1960.
By 2006, approximately 20% of the USMC was Black American and 1518% Hispanic; more than the 30 to 31% of the U.S. ratio of minorities in the general population.
In America, blacks fought alongside whites in the Continental Army against Great Britain, and in every war up to the War of 1812. The first black American to fight in a Marine role was John Martin, also known as Keto, the slave of a Delaware man, recruited in April 1776 without his owner's permission by Captain of the Marines Miles Pennington of the Continental brig USS Reprisal. Martin served with the Marine platoon on the Reprisal for a year and a half, involved in hard ship-to-ship fighting, but was lost with the rest of his unit when the brig sank in October 1777.
At least 12 other black men served with various American Marine units in 17761777; more may have been in service but not identified as blacks in the records. However, in 1798 when the Marine Corps was officially re-instituted, Secretary of War James McHenry specified in its rules: "No Negro, Mulatto or Indian to be enlisted". Marine Commandant William Ward Burrows instructed his recruiters regarding USMC racial policy, "You can make use of Blacks and Mulattoes while you recruit, but you cannot enlist them." This policy was in line with long-standing British naval practice which set a higher standard of unit cohesion for Marines so that they would remain loyal, maintain shipboard discipline and help put down mutinies.
In the United States Civil War, some 180,000 African Americans joined the Union Army and mostly served in support roles as teamsters, laborers, construction workers and cooks. Some fought the Confederate Army under European American officers in segregated units. In later conflicts, the United States Army used black soldiers in the SpanishAmerican War and in World War I. However, when the United States Army Air Service was formed, only white people were allowed. Mexican Americans served in World War I integrated with European Americans in all of the service arms.
The United States Navy used black sailors as cooks, stewards, construction workers and unskilled labor, but did not train them to fight. The Marine Corps, being a combat arm of the Navy, did not recruit any black soldiers. Instead, the USMC was serviced by US Navy supply personnel including black laborers. Unlike the US Army which had separate regiments that a soldier could remain in for his entire military career, Marines were individually transferred to various ship's detachments and naval bases. After World War I, the number of blacks in both the Navy and the Army was reduced to about 1.5% of the total number of active servicemen, a proportion much lower than the number of blacks in the general population.