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Navy SEALs change official ethos to be gender neutral, remove ‘brotherhood’ and more

Members assigned to Naval Special Warfare Group 2 conduct dive operations during Exercise TRIDENT (TD) 20-2. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Russell Rhodes Jr.)
September 28, 2020

The U.S. Navy SEALs and the Navy Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC) recently changed their ethos and creed statements to reflect a gender-neutral presentation of the elite Navy outfits, doing away with gendered terms like “brotherhood.”

One change to the SEAL ethos was to alter a sentence in the first paragraph of the ethos to say, “Common citizens with uncommon desire to succeed” instead of the original, “A common man with uncommon desire to succeed.”

Naval Special Warfare spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Stroup confirmed the changes to the ethos and creed statements in an emailed statement to American Military News.

“Naval Special Warfare continues to deliberately develop a culture of tactical and ethical excellence that reflects the nation we represent, and that draws upon the talents of the all-volunteer force who meet the standards of qualification as a SEAL or SWCC,” Stroup said.

Stroup said the changes to the ethos and creed statements were made to comply with changes in law opening the potential for women to join the elite military units.

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“The previous versions of the SEAL Ethos and SWCC Creed were written prior to the law allowing women to serve as operators in Naval Special Warfare. The changes do not in any way reflect lowering standards of entry, rather they ensure that all those who meet the requirements to train to become a SEAL or SWCC are represented in the ethos or creed they live out. This improves the posture of the NSW force by ensuring we draw from the greatest pool of talent available.

Stroup confirmed, “To date, no women completed the SEAL or SWCC qualification training pipelines.”

The current version of the SEAL ethos, shared on the Naval Special Warfare Command’s official website, reflects the gender-neutral changes. An archived version of the same link shows an older version ethos statement without the new gender-neutral phrasing.

Another alteration to the first paragraph changes the phrase “I am that man” to “I am that warrior.”

In the fourth paragraph, the sentence, “The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men” is changed to “The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from others” in the new version of the SEAL ethos.

In the final paragraph of the ethos statement, the prior sentence states, “Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold.” The sentence is now changed with the reference to “Brave men” changed to “Brave SEALs.”

The memo also calls for the SWCC creed to change the term “Brotherhood” in the first paragraph to “group of maritime warriors.” Additionally, the memo states the sentence “I challenge my brothers to perform, as I expect them to challenge me” is to be changed to “I challenge them to perform, as I expect them to challenge me.”

The new version of the SWCC creed has also been published on the Naval Special Warfare Command website. An older version of the SWCC creed, visible on the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) official website, shows the creed statement without the gender-neutral revisions.

The changes come despite the fact that there have been no women to successfully complete SEAL or SWCC training and enter the elite units.

Retired SEAL Eddie Gallagher drew attention to changed ethos statements in a Friday Instagram post. Gallagher shared a screenshot of an image showing an apparent August 3rd memo in which Rear Adm. Collin P. Green, the commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command, shown in the document as “C.P. Green,” signed off on the changes. Green said the changes were made “to better reflect our ranks now and into the future.”

Gallagher, who was cleared last year of charges alleging he murdered an ISIS fighter in Syria, criticized the changes in his Friday Instagram post. Gallagher, who has since retired from the Navy, also criticized Green’s apparent role in the decision.

“What a joke,” Gallagher wrote. “Note the names that signed off at the bottom. Adm. Colin Green (part of the hierarchy that tried to use the system to put me away)~ let’s remove all male pronouns & BROTHERHOOD from the SEAL ethos.”

“To be honest I thought the ethos was always BS,” Gallagher added. “Now I know it is. A creed or ethos is supposed to be written in stone, obviously ours is not and will sway to whatever political agenda is being put out.”