Diversity in the military is more than an altruistic objective; it is vital for growth. African Americans are underrepresented in the Navy explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) force in comparison with the Navy as a whole, and swimming is the largest barrier to closing the gap. A USA Swimming Foundation study found that nearly 70 percent of African American children have low or no swim ability. The Navy requires new recruits to complete a 50-yard swim successfully; however, this does not confer proficiency. As such, the Navy EOD force should make efforts to recruit African Americans that currently meet all entry requirements, except the ability to pass the swimming portion of the test, and later give them intensive swim training.
1. Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC). (2017). EOD/Diver Strategic Workforce Assessment [PowerPoint slides].