WASHINGTON — The forced culling of majors from Army ranks is taking a bigger toll on black officers than those from any other ethnic group, according to Army personnel documents.
Almost 10 percent of black majors are being dismissed from the Army, records show, compared with 5.6 percent of the white majors. Eight percent of the Hispanic majors will be dismissed, while 5.8 percent of the Asian-Pacific Islanders are to be relieved.
In all, the Army is cutting 550 majors from its force through notifications likely to take one month. The move follows pink slips sent to about 1,000 captains as the Army seeks to shrink its force to 490,000 soldiers by the end of 2015. If automatic budget cuts return after 2015, the Army could be reduced to 420,000 soldiers by 2019. There about 513,000 soldiers on active duty.
"We don't want to do this," Gen. John Campbell, the Army's No. 2 officer, said.
Inevitably, Campbell said, some soldiers will receive their notices while serving in Afghanistan. The Army is working to mitigate the effect of their loss on their units and on the soldiers let go, he said. Officers serving in Afghanistan and deployed abroad elsewhere will be brought home within a month, regardless of the length of their deployment, so they can begin the transition to civilian life.
Soldiers losing their active-duty jobs are encouraged to join the Army Reserve or National Guard, Campbell said.
The Army combed the records of nearly 8,000 majors to find the 550 to force into early retirement. The board weighed bad performance evaluations or reports heavily in its decisions. The Army has about 17,000 majors.
Electronic warfare, civil affairs and psychological operations had the highest rates of dismissals among military specialties for black majors, according to the Army. Logistics has the highest number of African Americans being let go with 10.
Across the Army, regardless of race, the cuts hit combat veterans hard. Nearly nine out of 10 have at least two years combat experience.
Among others getting pink slips: 17 majors wounded in combat, including 14 white soldiers and three African Americans.