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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Who are the Navy SEALs?

The US Navy SEALs have been in the news recently as one of the US military's most proficient commando forces . They have rough equivalents in other national military forces - the SAS and SBS in the UK and Australia, KSK in Germany, Commando Hubert in France, etc. The presentation will begin with a brief introduction to the roles and missions of the SEALS and where they fit into the constellation of US military capabilities. This introduction will serve as a prelude to discussing the evolving culture and ethos of the SEALS and a look at the challenges they face as they adapt to a environments that demand new capabilities. The recent publicity and attention that have come from their successes (some public, such as the killing of Osama bin Laden, many still classified) in the recent wars has put a new and unfamiliar spotlight on the SEAL as they seek to respond not only to increasing demands from our nation's leaders, but also to attention from the press, and public adulation and expectations. In the face of these challenges, the SEAL leadership wants to hold on to the core capabilities and values that have enabled SEALS to succeed in a variety of different contexts, but also remain flexible enough to adapt to more nuanced missions that are envisioned for the next 20 years of the 21st century. The 'culture wars' within the Seal community will be discussed and some of the initiatives that are being considered to help not only train, but educate and develop the Seal of the future to best meet anticipated challenges. Discussion will include references to how these tensions fit into broader questions of how warrior cultures adapt to changing demands by the civilizations and cultures they serve.