- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 12, 2005

CORONADO, Calif. (AP) — The Navy SEALs prefer to operate in the shadows, but the Pentagon’s need to increase the ranks of the elite terrorist-hunting commando force is prompting an unusually splashy recruiting effort.

Navy SEAL Mitchell Hall, who won a Bronze Star in 2001 in Afghanistan, hopes to use the upcoming Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii to spread the word about the need for more recruits.

The 31-year-old chief petty officer will be a spokesman for the SEALs, who are seeking a 15 percent increase in recruitment over the next several years.

The SEALs have a legendary reputation, but it is hard to find candidates with the necessary physical conditioning.

Just to get a chance to try out, SEAL recruits must swim 500 yards, then breeze through a series of push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups and run 1.5 miles — all within strict time limits. This year, 500 of the 823 SEAL recruits failed the test in the first days of boot camp.

“We can’t survive on that any longer,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Andy Tafelski, 51, who has a key role in the recruiting effort. “The pipeline has to become more efficient.”

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