The U.S Navy is going to randomly test members of the special operations forces for performance-enhancing drugs and steroids starting in November.
Rear Adm. Keith Davids, Commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, made this announcement on Friday, stating it a necessary step to ensure the health and military readiness of the forces.
The Navy will commence the random testing. Then, the Army Special Operations Command will also begin with the same; however, no date for the same has been decided yet.
The Army and the Naval Forces are the most well-trained and are called on the most dangerous missions. The physical and mental strain that cadets go through during the selection process and training and while on such missions prompt some of them to use performance-enhancing drugs.
Although the numbers are small, it is a recurring problem within the armed forces that has not been solved since it is costly and needs contracting with some labs that do such tests. The military has done these tests with an individual when needed; however, special permission is needed from the Pentagon to implement routine and random testing to check this issue.
Per the Navy Command, the plan is to randomly select 4 units every month, and 15% of each unit will be tested, which is around 200 sailors a month. Those testing positive will be removed or face disciplinary action.
This development came after the death of a Navy Seal candidate in 2022. Kyle Mullen was 24 when he died of acute pneumonia hours after completing the SEALs Hell Week test. The report mentioned that he died on the line of duty, and though tests found no use of performance-enhancing drugs in his body, a Naval Education and Training Command report mentioned that he was checked for some steroids as the needed urine and blood samples were not available at the time and later several vials of syringes and drugs were found from his car.
Also, the NETC’s investigation into SEAL training found the use of such drugs to be a major issue among those wanting to become elite commandos and suggested far more strict testing.
Such cases have occurred in the past, so the policy change was requested, which has been approved by the Pentagon. The random testing order will affect 9000 active duty military personnel and reservists on active duty orders in the command while civilians are not included.
This step is vital for maintaining the long-term health of every member of the Naval Special Warfare Community, said Davids.
The U.S Navy has given $225,000 for funding the testing contract. However, the entire program is expected to cost around $4.5 million annually for the next 2 years.
Davids has told the force that drugs are illegal and any number above 0 is unacceptable, whether during training or downrange when sailors are deployed. He has encouraged them to talk to their teammates and commanders and understand the risks of using such drugs. However, the personnel can get prescription medication for treating their medical conditions.
The sailors will give 2 urine samples to send to the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory and the Navy Drug Screening Laboratory Great Lakes. If a sailor tests positive, they will be informed and undergo a preliminary inquiry. If no legal reason for the use of drugs is found, they will face removal or disciplinary action. A SEAL or SWCC candidate will be removed from the training.
References: hindustantimes, apnews, nytimes
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