Cornerstone of USAF Aquatic Training

Fort Worth District, USACE
Published April 4, 2024

On a clear, blue-sky Texan day, personnel from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Southwestern Division and Fort Worth District, joined with their customers from Joint Base San Antonio and the Air Force’s Special Warfare Training Wing, in dedicating the Maltz Special Warfare Aquatic Training Center, located on the Chapman Training Annex, April 2.

Named in honor of Master Sgt. Michael Maltz, a former Pararescue Indoctrination Course instructor at Lackland AFB, this state-of-the-art facility was authorized in fiscal year 2020 and awarded as a design-bid-build project in June 2021.

With this grand opening, the new $61.4 million facility with more than 77,000 square feet of classroom, training, and locker room space, will provide special operator instructors and their trainees with a world-class facility geared to meet the training needs for the Air Force’s global aquatic combat operations.

“Today marks a significant milestone in our relentless pursuit of excellence and readiness as we forge these Airmen here in the Special Warfare Training Wing,” said Air Force Col. Nathan Colunga, SWTW commander. “This building is truly impressive, purpose-built for our mission. From maritime infiltrations, to combat dive operations, to open ocean rescue, this facility will be the cornerstone of our aquatic training regimen.”

Conceptualized more than 14 years ago and built over the past 2.5 years, the center will accommodate training for over 3,000 Air Force Special Warfare trainees every year when full operations begin later this month.

A key feature of the aquatic training center is the dual Olympic-sized pools with overhead catwalks for safety spotters and instructor observations, large access doors to accommodate boat entry, and dimmable lighting systems to simulate nighttime or low-level lighting conditions to replicate combat conditions.

“Water is a formidable adversary,” Colunga said. “It presents challenges and obstacles unique to the environments in which special warfare Airmen will operate. Through these doors, our trainees will hone their appointed skills, mastering techniques essential to their success in the most demanding and hostile conditions.”

Sheree Brown, the Corps of Engineers’ project engineer for the facility construction, was assigned to the project after the initial planning phase but could see the tremendous efforts it took to design such an innovative building.

“I can only imagine the efforts and hard work it took to incorporate all of customer’s very specific requirements and produce the plans and specifications to construct such an amazing facility,” Brown said. “Now, having seen the final product, I’m extremely proud to have been part of such a great team that overcame many challenges to get this project across the finish line, and we did it!”

U.S. Army Col. James Schultze, who serves as the deputy commander at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Southwestern Division, toured the facility and was also impressed with the breadth and scope of the inspiring facility.

“It is ‘one of the finest’ such facilities in the Corps of Engineers’ military construction portfolio, a training center that will truly enhance the readiness of our warfighters,” Schultze said. “I would like to acknowledge the team from our Fort Worth District and their South Texas Area Office, who worked tirelessly to deliver this innovative facility on time, within budget, and of the highest quality.”

Schultze went on to say that none of this would have been possible without strong partnerships between the USACE team, the Air Force Civil Engineer Center, the 802nd Civil Engineer Squadron, the 502nd Air Base Wing, along with construction contractors, and utility system owners, all to benefit the ultimate customers, the men and women of Air Force’s Special Warfare Training Wing.

A project unlike any other in the Army Corps of Engineers’ portfolio, this unique facility epitomizes the Army Corps of Engineers’ commitment to building innovative facilities that enhance the readiness of some of the finest warriors in the world.

As future generations of warfighters walk through the front doors, this facility also stands as a permanent sign of the heroic acts and ultimate sacrifice of Maltz, as well as others, who have died in performance of their duties serving our Nation’s calling.

Editor’s Note: The Maltz Special Warfare Aquatic Training Center is just one of the more than $1.3 billion worth of construction projects that the Army Corps of Engineers’ Fort Worth District is managing in the JBSA area.