Why so few black SF operators?

In the programs that I have seen about SEALs, Army Special Forces, Rangers, etc., there seem to be few, if any, black volunteers or operators. In the book Black Hawk Down, Mark Bowden describes Task Force Ranger as overwhelmingly white, with only two black Rangers. Why is this?

Thanks for your help,

I opened this to find out what in the world a Science Fiction operator would do.

A buddy of mine who is in an elite military force in the Marines told me that you have to have an IQ of at least 115 to get in. Given the distributions of IQ scores, one would expect a white/black breakdown that’s a lot whiter than the rest of the military.

Think Nichelle Nichols :wink:

I don’t really agree with this (I am neither disputing nor agreeing with the ‘IQ’ logic you have come up with). When I was in the Marines, there were very few blacks in the infantry side. This has nothing to do with IQ (the Marines use what is called a GT score to determine what we call IQ), as anyone can join the infantry. And to be in most special force units, one needs to be in infantry (at least for Army and Marine Corps) first.

From my experience (and I was a recruiter for three years), blacks would just rather not go into infantry (for whatever reason), although it did seem that a lot of hispanics did (for whatever reason).

So from personal experience, I don’t think it has anything to do with IQ (although you do need a certain amount of intelligence to qualify for a special forces units), I just think that it is a lack of motivation to be in that position.

WAG: Black guys who go into the military are more likely to think of it as a job. They are more likely to be in it for the training and education. White guys are more likely to join the military looking for fun and adventure and blowing stuff up and jumping out of burning airplanes while listening to thrash metal.

In other words, black guys have learned the first rule of the army, never volunteer. White guys aren’t as smart.


Is the percentage of blacks in infantry equal to the percentage in special force units?

Two Words:

Swim Test

Good point. Would be curious to see the stats.

I would say no, just from observation alone. I am sure there are statistics out there to be found with some searching. I know the breakdown by race is out there, as the Navy and Army actually recruit for jobs by race (imagine the Navy recruiter out there looking for an Asian computer specialist or a American Indian corpsman), although they definitely falsify their numbers (1% possible Native American gets them their quota just by checking a box).

I did see one black Marine in Recon, but there are not a lot of Recon guys. NOTE: the following numbers are for example only. Let’s say you have 174,000 active duty Marines and 30,000 of them are infantry. Of the 30,000 infantry, 1000 are black. So that is around 3 1/3% black percentage of infantryment. Now, you only have 500 special forces in the Marines, if 15 are black, that is 3% black special forces.

So while you may not see alot of black special forces, my WAG is the numbers are about equal to the percentage of black infantrymen.

The U.S. military is ALL volunteer, ace. :wink:

Yeah, everyone is a volunteer. But when the sergeant asks for volunteers to go behind enemy lines and wallow in the mud pointing lasers at bunkers, the black guys tend to keep their hands down.

I don’t know.

Perhaps, given that you were the first person in this thread to make the connection between IQ and race on the one hand, and race and special forces participation on the other, you might give us some figures so we can determine whether your first post was based in reality, or was just a guess.

I wasn’t aware that this forum’s title had been changed from General Questions to Wild-Ass Speculation.

You know, I think you hit the nail on the head. Seriously.

Even my black friends who are highly educated, have great jobs, make good livings… the majority of them can’t swim worth a shit, if at all. I’ve had some of them tell me it’s beacuse their parents couldn’t afford pools, but as I’ve always replied, I learned in a series of public, city-owned pools. This is just one of those cultural things that I’ve never understood, how a large percentage of an entire race of people in America don’t learn how to swim. And let’s point out the obvious here – besides recreation, this can often be a very important tool to mere survival in many circumstances. I think in Juadaism, it’s actually one of the comandments in the Bible – to make sure your children learn how to swim. One of the few religious commands that makes sense to me. :smiley:

Yeah, but to make it into Rangers and SF, you have to volunteer again, and again, and again…


Here is the “class photo” for the July 2006 Ranger School graduating class- I think I saw 4 black faces, 2 Hispanics and 1 Asian in a sea of whiteness.

I think there are six here, and 2 in the June class… you get the idea. Rangers seem to be mostly white guys.

Disclaimer- these are tabbed Rangers, which means those who have completed Ranger School. It is possible to serve in the Ranger Regiment without having completed Ranger School. But you’re a pussy… :wink:

Here is the link to about fifty years of Ranger School class photos, if you are interested. I can’t remember now which one my brother is in…

I am sure this would make a great thread, and I don’t want to hijack, or rehijack, or whatever. When I was in boot camp they threw you in the pool (literally) and if you could not swim, you had to take a class until you could pass the swim qualifications. Well, I failed (and I am white) and had to take the course they had. Needless to say it was me and about fifteen brothers from all over. I grew up in the city and never learned how to swim, and did not even hear of a public pool. I am sure there are various reasons, but here is the one I always assumed:

Perhaps there were not community pools when Mom and Dad grew up and since they did not know how to swim, they were afraid to bring you to the pool/beach/etc. I think economic reasons are a big factors in blacks not being able to swim, even if it is from the trickle-down effect.

WAG: between the swim test and the post below, if there is any discrepancy between the ratio of blacks in the military to the ratio of blacks in SF, I’d bet this has a lot to do with it.

My anecdotal evidence is that a lot of blacks become soldiers because they realize that the military is one of the best ways to get out of the cycle of poverty. Military service carries a lot of benefits (job preference for governement positions (as well as de facto job preference in a lot of other private sector positions and benefits to veteran entrepreneurs) and educational assistance being two notable ones). For those purposes, there is little additional benefit to being SF over being a private in the army unless you want to become a cop or something like that.

There are other outlets available to poor black males with Rambo complexes and they usually end up in jail not the special forces (I once read a paper that basically said that psycholgically speaking, there are a bunch of hard core gangsters that would have made good war heros).

IIRC, BHD also mentioned that most of the Rangers also came from middle class backgrounds and were better educated than the average enlistee. I believe that Sepcial Forces type outfits generally select for individuals who are better educated and (in the case of the US Army SF) have proficiency in foreign languages. It would seem that these factors and the general appeal of that kind of lifestyle tends to select for whites more than blacks.

I am neither black nor a special forces member, but I would also wager that SF type outfits will tend to be more color-blind than the rest of the big army, if only for the reason that all levles of leadership in such units will be better educated, open-minded, think-outside-the-box types, with a higher level of professionalism.

While watching Tiger at the PGA I came across the OP and while reading through the above posts thought I bet Earl Woods could swim like a mother@#$%^&. Does anyone have an actual cite that details how black people have problems with swimming moreso than whites, hispanics, etc.? I’ve heard this talk before, but I’ve never noticed it played out in real life, at the YMCA, out on the river, etc.