Navy Seeking More Minority SEALs

Mark Thompson, Yahoo! News, February 24, 2012

In nature, most seals are black, with relatively few white ones. The Navy’s SEALs have exactly the opposite problem—they’re overwhelmingly white, with hardly any blacks. So they’re trying to do something about it.

It’s a fundamental challenge in a democracy with an all-volunteer force: recruits may be drawn from all segments of society, but elite military units—and none is more elite these days than the SEALs, following their dispatch of Osama bin Laden last May—tend to draw from small pools of talent. For the SEALs, that includes athletic young men who are smart and good in the water. For whatever reason, that has led to an overwhelmingly white SEAL force.

Say the SEALs:

Gaps exist in minority representation in both officer and enlisted ranks for Special Warfare operators. Diverse officers represent only ten percent of the officer pool (for example, African Americans represent less than 2% of SEAL officers). Diverse enlisted SEALs account for less than twenty percent of the total SEAL enlisted population. Naval Special Warfare is committed to fielding a force that represents the demographics of the nation it serves. This contract initiative seeks effective strategies to introduce high potential candidates from diverse backgrounds to the opportunities available in Naval Special Warfare.

The SEALs are considering hiring help to attract thousands of “minority males in the 16—24 year-old target age range” to become SEALs. “This contract will create a mechanism to enhance Naval Special Warfare’s ability to conduct outreach, raise awareness, mentor, and increase self-selection to a career as a SEAL within minority communities,” a recently-posted draft contract solicitation says.

The Navy isn’t seeking only black SEALs: “Challenges for minority recruitment also exist in the Hispanic, Asian Pacific Islander (API), Native American, and Arab American populations among others,” the announcement notes. “Given shifting demographics, these gaps in representation need to be corrected to ensure continued access. There are sustainment, societal, educational, and operational drawbacks to failing to correct this disparity.”

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On the cover of the latest issue of Newsweek are 10 SEALs. All of them appear to be Caucasian. That’s the reality.

But when you go to the SEALs’ recruiting website, there are only two SEALs. Both of them appear to be African-American. That’s the desire.

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The SEALs are seeking a contractor to generate SEAL-related contacts with at least “a thousand (1000) minority males aged 16-24 per metropolitan region” over a 12-month period. {snip}

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The Contractor will be required to develop and sustain an appropriate level of mentorship for HPCs identified during the specific events and regional campaigns conducted under this contract . . . Since the waterborne feature of SEAL training is often the most formidable obstacle for many prospective candidates, especially among minorities with little swimming experience, the swim training program is usually the most challenging of the mentoring components and the largest.

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