WASHINGTON — Black troops are far more likely than their white comrades to face court martial or other forms of military punishment, according to a study to be released Wednesday.
Black service members were as much as two times more likely than white troops to face discipline in an average year, according to an analysis by Protect Our Defenders, an advocacy organization for victims of sexual assault and military justice. The group combed through Pentagon data from 2006 to 2015 for its report.
USA TODAY received an advance copy of the study.
“Over the past decade, racial disparities have persisted in the military justice system without indications of improvement,” the report states. “These disparities are particularly striking for black service members, who face military justice or disciplinary action at much higher rates than white service members in every service branch. In fact, the size of the disparity between white and black service members’ military justices involvement has remained consistent over the years, and, in the case of the Air Force and Marine Corps has increased.”
A spokesman for the Pentagon said officials will review the report. “It is longstanding Department of Defense policy that service members must be afforded the opportunity to serve in an environment free from unlawful racial discrimination,” said Johnny Michael, a Pentagon spokesman. “The department will review any new information concerning implementation of and compliance with this policy.”
The military services provided differing sets of data in response to the request from Protect Our Defenders, making comparisons among the services difficult. For example, the Air Force provided proceedings from court martial and non-judicial punishment from 2006 to 2015, while the Marine Corps supplied guilty findings for court martial and non-judicial punishment for the same period.