Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

The Call for Papers for the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion committee is currently closed. Thank you to everyone who has submitted… we will reach out if we have any additional questions.

We want to know what you think about Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) [see definitions below] as it pertains to the U.S. special operations community. This is a call for papers, essays, presentations, or proposals that tell us your perspective on the six questions below.

We are interested in hearing from all military services, military occupational specialities, and demographic groups. Respondents may be service members, civilians, operators, enabler or support personnel, and members of adjacent communities such as industry and academia.

We welcome academic and anecdotal submissions focused on issues and solution sets peculiar to the special operations community and experience. All submissions will be treated as confidential and private and will not be published without explicit approval from the author. We will use your input to inform our efforts to provide better support to the U.S. SOF community, and to provide better insight to U.S. Special Operations Command and its components. Please ensure your submissions do not contain any classified or restricted information.

1. Tell us in your own words what you think about the current state of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in the U.S. special operations community.

2. Do you feel EDI is important to the U.S. special operations community? Tell us why. If you don’t think it’s important, tell us why. If your opinion falls anywhere on the spectrum, break it down for us.

3. What would a more inclusive U.S. special operations community look like to you? Explain why.

4. What challenges stand in the way of improving EDI in the U.S. special operations community? What advantages should be the focus when improving EDI in the U.S. special operations community? What disadvantages should be mitigated?

5. What EDI barriers and challenges do you see in U.S. SOF recruitment and retention?

6. How would you define and measure short, medium, and long term success on this issue?


Equity: Equity is the absence of discrimination, noted by equal access to all for all opportunities available. This requires the removal of barriers or constraints to afford the same opportunities and advantages to all. While diversity and inclusion can be an outcome of policies, practices and procedures, equity is the proactive resourcing and follow through to directly address gaps and disparities. Equity requires cross-cultural competence, humility, and advocacy. It should be made clear that in the context of a discussion about mentorship and leader development, equity does not equate to everyone getting a promotion; it simply means everyone gets a fair chance to be promoted. 

Diversity: In its simplest form, diversity is the presence of difference. Diversity goes beyond just race and gender; it includes socio-economic status, education, experience, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, language, disability status, political perspective, job function (MOS, designator, etc.), cognition, and a whole host of other specific differences. A team or group can appear physically similar but still have diversity of thought based on these differences. Conversely, a group can appear different, but if they have similar backgrounds and experiences, they may develop groupthink. Therefore, while visible diversity is important in creating a culture of inclusion and innovation, diversity of characteristics, perspectives, world views, experiences, backgrounds, attributes, etc. is also important.  

Inclusion: Inclusion is the active pursuit of a welcoming, respectful, and belonging environment. If diversity is about representation, inclusion is about leveraging that representation. However, inclusion is not an automatic output of diversity. It is a consequence of the climate (day-to-day organizational artifacts, atmosphere, and undertones) and the culture (long-term policies, practices, and deeply held belief systems) that allow people to feel connected, valued, and welcomed.