USSOCOM Publishes Diversity & Inclusion Strategic Plan

About once a decade the call goes out to “diversify” America’s Special Operations Forces. Each time, a study is completed and it turns out that not enough minorities are volunteering for the various training pipelines associated with SOF. Various “fixes” are proposed and invariably fail.

Regardless, SOF is more diverse today than it was just even a few years ago, as more jobs have been opened to female service members. As big as the personnel numbers look (over 70,000 at last count), the enablers in the command are far greater in number and diversity than their operations counterparts. However, few of them spend a career in SOF as they are assigned and promoted by their parent services. Looking out for their careers is hardly the purview of SOCOM. Obviously, this is a double-edged sword for SOF leaders. The operations side of the command isn’t diverse due to lack of interest and the enabler side is diverse but isn’t the primary mission of the organization, leading to support troops often feeling like “second class citizens.”

While efforts should be made to interest a wider audience in service in special operations, abandoning standards for quotas will eventually result in mission failure. As the nation’s political leadership continues to rely upon its special operators to accomplish missions of national importance, failure is not an option. 

While the plan doesn’t call directly for quotas, the words used by bureaucrats are there to justify their agenda of mediocrity. The tip of the spear must be free of political interference. 

The plan is available for download here

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29 Responses to “USSOCOM Publishes Diversity & Inclusion Strategic Plan”

  1. BFW says:

    “Diversity and inclusion” with the intent to draw from a larger talent pool is a fantastic idea. Ex: Larger sports vs smaller, more niche sports. The one able to draw from a larger talent pool ends up reaching a higher level, given enough time.

    That’s not what this sounds like. This sounds like diversity for the sake of diversity. They keep saying that it’s an inherent positive, but never really quantify that statement. I suppose if they just continue saying it, some people will believe it. I’ve still got a challenge coin from Gen Clarke, when he was 82ABNDIVCOM. Bummer that his name is on this.

  2. Jerry says:

    How about we stop worrying about “diversity”? Let’s worry about finding the right man for the job. This concern for inclusion does not really seem to help in our wars does it? The enemy worries about defeating you and wiping our side from existence. Not what color we are or whom we want to have sex with. These officers that push this crap are just angling for the next promotion. Do we really want people like that in charge? Stop worrying about feelings and concern yourself with results and we will have a much stronger force.

  3. rodney says:

    How much longer are we going to let this stuff happen?
    I keep thinking how we and future generations are going suffer from inaction.

  4. Marcus says:

    We have the premier SOF on the globe because our process for sourcing candidates is sound, our screening process is incredibly tough and our standards for members are high. Our mission success rates are high because of it. They are the “go-to” option for a reason. It takes a certain type of determined person to fit that profile and succeed. You want to widen the pool we pull from to potentially improve that process? Have at it. You want to lower standards in order to say you have one of those and two of these, expect failure to follow. I’m a little sick of the hucksters, malcontents and wokeists subverting standards and undermining mission integrity to promote their sophistic, divisive and destructive personal agendas.

  5. ejb3 says:

    Bartender, I will take two of what he just said…

  6. Chuck Mac says:

    Letting in 100,000 un-vetted, non-English speaking, tribal, third world migrants per month to live in DoD housing spaces = diversity achieved. Game over. Diversity already won.

  7. Alpha2 says:

    Of course they are…

    This just makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside knowing that we’ll have inclusiveness at the tip of the spear because surely skin color will make all the difference in closing with and destroying the enemy.

  8. Stickman says:

    No winners, only losers when we fail to pick the best candidate and alter the standards.

  9. Chris says:

    Ultimate joke.

  10. Terry Baldwin says:

    I just got back on Sunday, having spent most of the last week at Fort Campbell with members of 5th SFG(A). I had a chance to engage with team guys, support soldiers, and even had some one-on-one with the Group leadership.

    This SOCOM guidance did come up when I talked to the leaders – briefly. However, for all the historical and practical reasons SSD outlined above, it was neither a surprise, nor particularly noteworthy, or cause for any alarm or drama. I know people on the internet like to get spun up over anything and everything, but – just so you know – nobody there was spun up over this.

    In a nutshell, and to paraphrase BFW above, “Diversity and inclusion” with the intent to draw from a larger untapped talent pool has always been considered a good thing in SOF. The reality is, as SSD also points out, we haven’t had much measurable success in our efforts over the years.

    What was more concerning for the leadership was that retention of 18 Series folks was not as healthy as we would want and that we would like to retain more of our support soldiers longer in Group. Unfortunately, we have not been able to make much head way there either. Meaning, we have considerably more turn over at every level than would be optimum.

    Bottom line, and despite any handwringing from the peanut gallery, I would say that “retention” is the more pressing and troubling personnel challenge. Not this, frankly, routine and habitual repetition of diversity guidance. Seriously, I can assure you, there is no cohort of unqualified candidates waiting in the wings for the standards to be lowered just enough so that they can pass any particular SOF selection course.


    • Front Line Trace says:

      I beg to differ; group command are only a few steps removed from the same people that are publishing these ridiculous initiatives. That same generation of senior officers and NCOs were mentored and grew up under the people that put their names on these ideas. They are pretty out of touch with the rest of the force. Sounds like some grade-A deflection to me.

      • Terry Baldwin says:

        Front Line Trace,

        Yes, I know. “Those bastards at platoon have no idea what it is like here at the front.” If you are in any Group or other SOF element than I suggest you talk to your senior leadership and get their perspective on “diversity” – or any other professional subject – directly.

        You can objectively test your premise that everyone who is successful must have “sold out” and therefore become “out of touch.” I would assert that you are mistaken, but there is no need to take my word for it. Get realtime information right from the sources.

        Reference retention, I should have been more clear in my original comment. No, people are not running to the door because of “diversity” or any other single issue.

        As I understand the state of play, the younger guys are re-enlisting in sufficient numbers. It is the older guys just reaching retirement age who are getting out sooner than we would like. What that means is we all end up with a “younger” force that may not have the depth of experience and professional maturity we would like to have on an ODA.


    • Yawnz says:

      Perhaps all this talk of “diversity” etc. is part of the reason why retention is in the gutter?

      • Terry Baldwin says:


        I never said retention is “in the gutter,” you just did. I would say that there are certainly a number of much more relevant factors than “diversity talk” that are contributing to a dip in retention. One is that a good part of the force is simply ageing out of the job and are choosing to retire at 20 rather than stay longer. People and families are naturally getting tired of the high OPTEMP of deployments which make walking away more attractive. We have experienced that cycle before and it is not a new phenomena; however, because many of the factors are beyond any unit control or mitigation, it is hard to counteract.


  11. Iggy says:

    Logically a larger talent pool should raise standards proportionally, increasing professionalism and the elements to retain that. Having seen the current process in action this isn’t what’s going on at all. I’d say they’ve really only extended the scope of entry, not tapped a larger pool of potential at all.

  12. Front Line Trace says:

    This won’t work; the first step is a “top down approach”. Bureaucracy never gets in its own way… ever. This is a symptom of the perceived success over the last 20 years. Everyone sees the end product and thinks they can skip steps in the process to get to that end state.

  13. Ex Coelis says:

    If it ain’t broke…

  14. Philip says:

    Why aren’t these senior leaders addressing the statistical elephant in the room?

    Ethnic minorities do not enlist into combat arms specialties with the same frequency as Caucasians. This is a statistically-backed trend that has been observed for years and has remained fairly constant. It isn’t racist, it isn’t indicative of a lack of diversity, it isn’t some nefarious plot to keep SOF exclusive… it’s literally just statistics.

    I don’t know any reasonable person serving who cares about the demographic makeup of their unit; only that the most-qualified people are on the job. The fact that someone raised their right hand is good enough for me…what capacity it’s done in is a moot point.

  15. Chuck says:

    Less than 25% of the 18-27 adult population of the US is suitable for military service (and this is similar for most western militaries). Diversity and inclusion is a strategy to maximize the pool of available candidates. Its a neccessity. Its not about lowering standards or a fundemental culture change – it just makes sense. We need every able-bodied young person. Selection is still selection.

  16. El Terryble says:

    The last time America won a real war, the military was comprised 95% cisgendered white males. “Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity” are just commie propaganda code words meant to enable the destruction of America, and put females and non-hackers, like Lloyd Austin, in front line combat so we lose the next war.

    • Terry Baldwin says:

      El Terryble,

      It has always amazed me that you have so completely convinced yourself that your overweening ignorance and bigotry are actually virtues. They are not.


      • Desert Lizard says:

        He’s right. You’re the one that believes people are what their outer appearance is. If you didn’t think that then you wouldn’t care about their outer appearance.

    • some_guy says:

      This man is 100% correct.