Marine General Removed After Subordinates Say He Used Racial Slur


WASHINGTON — A two-star general recently assigned to command Marine forces in Europe and Africa has been relieved of duty amid an investigation into whether he used a racial slur during a training exercise last summer.

Gen. David H. Berger, the commandant of the Marine Corps, removed Maj. Gen. Stephen M. Neary on Monday “due to a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to serve in command,” the service said in a statement released Tuesday.

The newspaper Stars and Stripes reported this month that General Neary’s subordinates had contacted reporters to say that he used a racial slur during a training event in August at his headquarters near Stuttgart, Germany, while rap music was playing in the background.

A spokesman for the Marines, Capt. Joseph Butterfield, confirmed that the action against General Neary was part of the ongoing investigation; he said he was not aware of how long senior Marine officers knew of the complaint.

“Preliminary findings in the investigation led to the decision to relieve him,” he said.

General Neary assumed his duties on July 8.

The Marine Corps is much smaller than the Army, Navy and Air Force, with fewer general officers, making his removal all the more striking.

The military, like every institution in America, has struggled with race issues within its ranks, with the debate brought to the fore in recent months.

The Marine Corps in particular has lagged other branches in integrating and promoting women and minorities. It has not had anyone other than a white man in its most senior leadership posts, and since the Marines first admitted Black troops in 1942, only 25 African-Americans have obtained the rank of general.

General Berger, aware of the service’s reputation, has sought to quell perceptions that the Corps is failing to keep up with a changing nation.

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