By Julissa Catalan
According to recently released Army personnel records, Black majors will be dismissed at nearly double the rate of white majors in an upcoming Army layoff.
While only 5.6 percent of the Army’s white majors are being downsized, nearly double the percentage of Black officers (10 percent) are being forced to leave the service. Records also indicate that 8 percent of all Latino majors will be dismissed, while 5.8 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander majors will also be relieved of their duties.
There are currently about 513,000 soldiers on active duty. The Army needs to get down to 510,000 by this October and 490,000 by October 2015. If automatic budget cuts return, the Army could be forced to lose another 70,000 active-duty soldiers by 2019.
These 550 cuts come on the heels of a layoff of 1,200 captains earlier this year.
“We don’t want to do this,” said General John Campbell, the Army’s No. 2 officer.
Campbell added that officers serving in Afghanistan—or anywhere abroad—will be brought home within the next month, regardless of their deployment schedule. This way the dismissed soldiers can immediately begin transitioning to civilian life.
Campbell said these soldiers are encouraged to join the National Guard and Army Reserve.
The Army has a total of 17,000 majors. The records of those who joined the service between 1999 and 2003—about 8,000—were reviewed to select candidates for downsizing. The Selective Early Retirement Board heavily weighed bad performance evaluations or reports in making its decisions.
According to Army records, the three military specialties with the highest dismissal rates for Black majors are electronic warfare, civil affairs and psychological operations. In terms of pure numbers, logistics loses the most Black majors (10).
Close to 90 percent of the dismissed officers had at least two years of combat experience. Seventeen wounded soldiers were also given pink slips—14 white and three Black.
Earlier this year, female Black soldiers also felt singled out by the Army when its new grooming regulations were called racially biased. Thousands of soldiers petitioned President Obama to override the hair policies.