By Steve Peacock
A U.S. Navy SEAL minority recruitment initiative has added yet another group to its target list of underrepresented populations within the elite Naval Special Warfare units: Iranian Americans.
According to a revised Performance Work Statement that WND located via routine database research, interested contractors must be able to carry out “awareness and education efforts” in minority communities inclusive of “Persian Americans,” as it referred to people of Iranian descent.
NSW this past week formally reached out to marketing and recruitment-service providers to help correct this “demographic disparity” in the predominantly white SEAL team units.
The Minority Awareness and Education Services Regional Campaigns project initially emphasized the recruitment of African Americans. A draft document released earlier this year had declared that the “widest discrepancy” existed between the percentage of African American citizens and those serving on SEAL teams and as Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen, or SWCC.
The revised document removed that Afrocentric emphasis – indeed, the Navy noted that it intentionally removed the first two pages of the draft solicitation where it made such delineation – and it now appears to place equal weight on recruiting “African American, Hispanic, Asian Pacific Islander, Native American, Arab American, and Persian American” candidates.
Congress likewise has raised concerns about minority under-representation among Navy SEALs as well as in the officer ranks of all the U.S. Armed Forces.
Late last month the House Committee on Appropriations approved a military funding bill and accompanying report that “supports efforts to conduct effective outreach and recruiting programs in minority communities.”
House Report 112-493 directs the commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command “to provide a report to the congressional defense committees not later than 90 days after enactment of this Act on the challenges of recruiting prospective Navy SEAL applicants from underrepresented communities.”
It also would require SOCOM “to provide recommendations to increase the competitiveness and to encourage recruitment of such candidates.”
The NSW project’s main purpose is to elevate “the number of these candidates who can qualify for Navy enlistment contracts.”
It made clear, however, that a quota system was neither desired nor expected, pointing out that the unit will not assess future contractor performance “based on the number or percentage of candidates selected for training.”
On the other hand, the document established minimum expectations for the number of minority males in the 16-24 age range for whom the contractor will arrange participation in public “awareness events and initiatives.”
The revised plan offers a more ambitious vision for the number of such High Potential Candidates, or HPCs, and upped its initial expectations from 1,000 attendees to 2,000.
NSW warned potential contractors to ensure they do not “exclude others who may want to participate in open events.”
However, it simultaneously issued a reminder that the contract’s focus “is on minority HPCs and as such the contractor will only be given ‘credit’ for the target minority males who attend and participate.”
The plan also seeks to bring aboard at least 100 “influencers” – such as athletic directors, coaches, counselors, clergy, and educators – of the targeted population. The contractor will be tasked with developing “friends of NSW” who will have the greatest “influence on career decision-making of potential SEAL candidates.”
NSW ultimately wants to sign up at least 300 HPCs for whom the contractor will craft an individual “education and development plan” on the path to a possible Navy SEAL or SWCC career. It hopes to have a minimum of 100 candidates and 10 influencers sign up and participate in the Training Forum on the Navy SEAL and SWCC Scout Team’s website.
A core part of these individual plans include the development of an HPC swimming instructional component.
“Since the waterborne feature of SEAL training is often the most formidable obstacle for prospective candidates,” according to the document, “especially among minorities with little swimming experience, the swim training program is usually the most challenging of the preparation components.”
- Outreach to male athletes and fraternity members at junior colleges, colleges, and universities with high percentages of minority student enrollment;
- Participation in conferences, events, and engagements, recognition of student leadership awards, and outreach to educators in the minority communities;
- Engagements with athletes, coaches, and influencers associated with predominantly minority high school and collegiate swim and football teams;
- Inner-city schools initiatives providing education to high school students in a “swim with a SEAL” program;
- Relationship building with coaches and influencers, offering mental toughness presentations to select audiences, and delivering appropriate fitness events on a not-to-interfere basis at regional athletic competitions;
- Leveraged social media engagement utilizing existing NSW website (sealswcc.com), Facebook, and Twitter, and consisting of direct first engagements with HPCs, social media “experiences” and “conversations” ultimately to allow for self-selection to begin online;
- A public relations component outreach to deliver serious HPCs to scheduled events;
- Marketing and outreach with a heavy balance of leveraging earned media (versus buying radio and TV advertising);
- Conducting education and swim programs to give serious HPCs the opportunity to complete all parts of the NSW Physical Screening Test.
Depending upon proposals and cost estimates received, 40 percent of the overall project will target one of three major metropolitan areas: Detroit, Miami, or the region between Atlanta and the “Golden Triangle” (Raleigh, Durham, and Greensboro) of North Carolina.
Another 40 percent of the campaign level of effort will center on the mid-Atlantic region, specifically from Norfolk and Richmond Virginia “and north to the Greater Baltimore/Washington DC Corridor.”
The remaining 20 percent will target Southern California, specifically from San Diego, through Orange County, and across the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
Despite targeting minority communities to encourage future SEAL team and SWCC members, the Navy at the same time has embarked upon a separate contractor-supported initiative that simply recruits and prepares the best possible candidates for SEAL officer positions, irrespective of ethnic background.
The two-pronged endeavor – known as the Naval Special Warfare Seal Officer Accession Support and the Fleet Concentration Area Swim Programs initiatives – will target midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md.; Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps commands nationwide; Officer Candidate School commissioned officer graduates; and transfers from “active duty warfare-qualified officers from the Fleet or the other Services.”