Maj. Gen. Stephen M. Neary, the commander of U.S. Marines in Europe and Africa, was relieved of command Monday amid an investigation into his alleged use of a racial slur in August.
Stars and Stripes reported that music was playing during a training session that had lyrics with the N-word, and Leary asked the junior Marines how they would feel if he used the word.
Black, White and Latino Marines were shocked by the use of the word, and some present during the incident brought it to the attention of Stars and Stripes after weeks passed with Leary still in command.
“Neary was relieved due to a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to serve in command,” the Marine Corps said in a brief statement.
This comes amid a larger racial reckoning in the United States following the May death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody.
The Marines and other branches of the military have been criticized in the past for lack of diversity, but that appears to be changing.
Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Michael A. Rocco, deputy commandant for manpower and reserve affairs, told the House Armed Services Committee last December that the proportion of Marines who are minorities has risen from 30% to 40% in the last decade.
“Diversity remains critical to the Marine Corps,” Rocco told lawmakers.
“Diversity must be included in meaningful ways in order to take advantage of a wide array of aptitudes and perspectives necessary to maintain our current and future warfighting excellence.”
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