Friday, September 4, 2015

Special ops diversity woes dog Pentagon

Special ops diversity woes dog Pentagon: Concerns about diversity in special operations forces within the Pentagon — and on Capitol Hill — date back to the mid-1990s, but a host of social issues have kept the elite forces disproportionately white more than 15 years later.

U.S. Special Operations Command leaders, spurred by concern in the House of Representatives, commissioned a report in 1999 by the RAND National Defense Research Institute to determine why so few minorities joined special operations forces like the Navy SEALs and the Army's Green Berets. Many of the issues found then — passing the rigorous swimming test, for example — remain barriers to diversifying their ranks, according to a senior Pentagon official who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Last month, USA TODAY reported that despite the emphasis placed on diversifying the military by officials such as Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Army Gen. Joseph Votel, the top officer at Special Operations Command, the military's most elite forces continue to be led and manned mainly by white officers and troops. Military records show that African Americans make up 1% of the Navy SEAL officers despite outreach programs that have been in place for years.