An Army investigation found no evidence that a platoon of soldiers was given a free pass to use racial slurs against each other during what they called “Racial Thursdays,” contradicting allegations made by a staff sergeant that the platoon leader encouraged such a practice.
The AR 15-6 investigation, which was launched March 19, completed May 1 and released in redacted form Friday, found that such an event “was not a sanctioned, formal event held by or within” 2nd Platoon, Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, the report states.
The investigator — whose name, like all others in the 23-page report, is redacted — interviewed all 48 soldiers in the platoon and another 84 soldiers within the battalion, the report states. While “limited use of racial jokes within the unit amongst junior enlisted Soldiers” were discovered, only one allegation of a racially insensitive remark was substantiated.
The investigation also concluded that “there are no systemic issues of racial or other forms of discrimination” within the unit, and that while one sergeant recalled participating in “Racial Thursdays” when he joined the unit in 2009, the practice stopped that same year.
In March, Army Times first broke the news about the alleged “Racial Thursdays” within the unit, which belongs to the 25th Infantry Division’s 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Fort Wainwright, Alaska.
The story gained widespread media attention, putting a spotlight on race relations in the Army.
The staff sergeant who spoke with Army Times, a member of 2nd Platoon, said “Racial Thursdays” was a tradition still in place with the unit, that he’d filed an equal opportunity complaint against his platoon leader, and that racial tensions had nearly led to a fight on at least one occasion involving a Latino soldier.
The investigator found that no member of the platoon’s chain of command endorsed the practice, that the complainant was the only noncommissioned officer in the chain of command that had heard the term “Racial Thursdays,” and that the allegations surrounding the near-fight may have stemmed from an incident when one soldier teased another who was sensitive about his weight, finding a picture on Facebook of him as a child, eating cake.
In response to text messages seeking his view on the report, the staff sergeant who made the initial allegations, who asked to remain anonymous, refused further comment.
Col. Donn Hill, the brigade commander, ordered the 15-6 investigation.
After the investigation was completed and approved by Hill, it was sent to U.S. Army Pacific, which is the higher headquarters for U.S. Army Alaska.
USARPAC appointed Brig. Gen. Eric Sanchez, commander of the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, to review the report. Sanchez later signed off on it as well, U.S. Army Alaska spokesman Lt. Col. Alan Brown said.
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SOURCE: Army Times – Michelle Tan and Kevin Lilley