• "I'm the biggest fan of the millennials you'll ever meet," McRaven said during a virtual broadcast of the Aspen Ideas Festival.
  • McRaven, who is 64 years old and served 37 of them in the Navy, said his belief "surprises a lot of people" due to a faulty narrative that the younger generation, particularly millennials, are "little snowflakes."
  • "I'm always quick to point out then you've never seen them in a firefight in Afghanistan," he said.
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Retired Adm. William McRaven, a former US Navy SEAL commander and head of US Special Operations Command, emphasized that he remained optimistic in leaving the country's future to the younger generation even with the challenges of fighting coronavirus and systemic racism.

"I've said it before, but I'm the biggest fan of the millennials you'll ever meet," McRaven said during a virtual broadcast of the Aspen Ideas Festival, referring to the generation born from 1981 to 1996.

McRaven, who is 64 years old and served 37 of them in the Navy, said his belief "surprises a lot of people" due to a faulty belief that the younger generation, particularly millennials, are "entitled" and "little snowflakes."

"Well, I'm always quick to point out then you've never seen them in a firefight in Afghanistan, or you've never seen them try to make a better life for themselves going to one of our great schools in the state of Texas," McRaven, who was formerly the chancellor of the University of Texas' school system, said.

Over 775,000 US service members have been deployed to Afghanistan at least once during the nearly 19-year conflict a number that represents more troops than those who served in the American Revolution of 1775 and the Spanish-American War in 1898, combined.

According to one study published by the Naval Postgraduate School in 2012, the average age of US troops who were injured or killed in Afghanistan or Iraq was 25 years.

"This is a remarkable generation," McRaven said. "They're not a lot like my generation in many ways, they are better. They care so much about their friends, they care about the issues, they question things in a way that I'm not sure we baby boomers questioned. They will take a stand on issues."

"And so whenever ... I get a little bit concerned about the direction of the country, I just have to reflect back ... and know that we're going to be okay," McRaven added.

McRaven admitted that despite some disagreements with some members of this select group, he was "proud of what they're doing ... and I think it will make for a better country in the future."

"I've seen the young men and women that are coming up, that are going to take the place of us old guys out there and there is some remarkable Americans," he added.

McRaven's tenure in the US Navy spanned numerous leadership positions within the special operations community, including overseeing the successful military raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in 2011.

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