Special Operations Embracing Inclusion, Diversity

Special Operations Embracing Inclusion, Diversity

soldiers training
Photo by: U.S. Army

In a period of sharp focus on diversity, inclusion and equality, the Army Special Operations Command leader told Congress that he’s fully on board. 

“We understand the nation's continued trust in [special operations forces] is paramount, a responsibility that we do not take lightly,” Lt. Gen. Francis Beaudette told the Senate Armed Service Committee’s subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities. “Diversity is fundamental to what makes us special. We are stacking the deck with the best athletes, best innovators and best leaders, and we must be intentionally inclusive.” 

“We must be as diverse as our society,” he said, acknowledging there is room to do more. “We are learning a tremendous amount about what we can do better,” he said, noting that they’ve been surveying members for ideas on how to improve. “We are addressing issues as we speak.”  

Army special operations includes about 35,000 men and women, a significant part of the 70,000 troops in special operations across DoD. He acknowledged women are a small part of the force today, but efforts are underway to expand.  

“Women are integrated into every single one of our formations on the line and in leadership roles,” Beaudette said. “Our policy and programming focus is now to make sure we are supporting them and their families throughout their careers in special operations.” 

“We believe our women and men are without question the best in the world at what they do,” he said. “Our teams deploy in small, cost-effective footprints and deliver strategic impacts around the world. We are able to accomplish the missions asked of us because of our people.” 

“My message to the rising talent of any background is this: You are welcome, and we want you in our formations,” Beaudette said at the April 28 hearing.  

Special operations are not for everyone, he said. “Our standards will always remain high. They must. To place the right people in the right unit, at the right time, we need help finding and recruiting top candidates. We are currently limited in our ability to reach highly qualified pools of talent who do not know they are welcome in special operations, and it will require dedicated SOF recruiting initiatives and close coordination with our service to get better,” he said.