Act of Valor: The Why and How

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While Act of Valor is based on fictional events, the film highlights the professionalism, tactical proficiency and technical skills of the Naval Special Warfare community — a force with a strategic, worldwide impact whose special breed of warriors stand ready to fight our Nation’s most critical missions.”– Rear Adm. Sean A. Pybus, Commander, Naval Special Warfare Command

Act of Valor (AOV), a Navy-supported film featuring U.S. Navy SEALs and other Navy and Naval Special Warfare (NSW) personnel, was released nationwide on Feb. 24. The film involves SEALs who embark on a mission to find a kidnapped Central Intelligence Agency agent and stop terrorists plotting an attack on U.S. soil. Though not based on actual SEAL missions, the film is an authentic representation of the character of the SEAL community, the kinds of missions it conducts and how SEALs operate as part of the larger Navy and U.S. armed forces.

Inside the Film

  • AOV features active duty SEALs, who were acting within their official capacity and were not paid to be in the movie. Special Operations Command and the Navy considered the sensitivity of revealing the identity of active duty SEALs and determined that since the SEALs in AOV were not deployed in an operational status, revealing their identities was determined to not be a concern.
  • All evolutions you see in the movie involving ranges, vessels, aircraft and submarines were part of regularly scheduled training and were at no cost to the Navy or American taxpayers. The Navy will not financially profit from AOV.
  • AOV did not follow the normal DoD approval process for major motion pictures. Typically, a production company will present the Navy with a movie proposal and script, and it’s determined if the proposal accurately reflects the Navy and if the filming requirements are supportable. With the Navy’s modifications/approval, the script is then presented to DoD Public Affairs, where it is given final approval (or not) for DoD support. In this case, because the project began as a SEAL recruiting initiative, the Navy did not follow the normal approval process, and the script was not reviewed by DoD. NSW was involved from the very beginning and during all stages of the film’s development, and the film was thoroughly reviewed from an operational and rules-of-engagement perspective.

Recruiting and Diversity: Operational Imperatives

  • AOV is the end result of a recruiting initiative launched by the NSW community in response to the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review that directed a significant increase in special operations forces. AOV is an approach to recruiting that addresses the SEALs’ critical manning issue and aims to inspire the next generation of Navy recruits to consider service in the NSW community.

Honor, Courage and Commitment

  • AOV highlights the extraordinary skills and abilities of the NSW operator, honors their sacrifices, along with those of their families, and those brave warriors who have made the ultimate sacrifice. They will not be forgotten, and their honor, courage and commitment on and off the battlefield inspires us.

The Naval Special Warfare Force:

  • Active Duty Sailors: 7,050
  • SEALs: 2,500 (1,900 enlisted; 600 officers)
  • SWCCs: 700
  • Support Personnel: 3,850
  • Civilian Personnel: 1,150
  • Reserve Personnel: 650
  • Total NSW Force: 8,850 (1.8% of Total Navy Force)

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Chris Sajnog