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Report: Army Examines Claims Of Racial Slurs At Alaska Base

The Army is investigating allegations that members of a platoon at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, used racial slurs against one another during what they called "Racial Thursdays," the Army Times is reporting.

The soldiers belong to 2nd Platoon, C Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, a member of the unit, a staff sergeant, told Army Times on condition of anonymity. The battalion belongs to the 25th Infantry Division's 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, the newspaper reported.

The paper adds:

"The NCO, who is black, said no one has directed any racial slurs towards him because he made it clear he would not participate or put up with the practice.

"But he also said he felt compelled to bring the issue to the media because the unit 'has a bad habit of sweeping things under the rug.'"

A spokesman for the command tells the newspaper that U.S. Army Alaska last week began a commander's inquiry into the claim. If the claims are substantiated, a formal investigation could be launched, he says.

The unit where "Racial Thursdays" is alleged to have taken place is reportedly the same one in which an Asian-American private committed suicide after being mistreated by some fellow soldiers. The Army punished eight soldiers over that incident. But the Army spokesman told Army Times "there is absolutely no connection between this current investigation and" that case.

Another soldier who spoke to the paper said he didn't want to speak out against the practice of "Racial Thursdays."

"For the soldiers who are minorities, we don't want to be looked down upon or looked at as outcasts or traitors or Blue Falcons, so we didn't open our mouths," he said.

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Krishnadev Calamur is NPR's deputy Washington editor. In this role, he helps oversee planning of the Washington desk's news coverage. He also edits NPR's Supreme Court coverage. Previously, Calamur was an editor and staff writer at The Atlantic. This is his second stint at NPR, having previously worked on NPR's website from 2008-15. Calamur received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri.

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