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Marines Release Statistics on Mundy Comments

November 16, 1993

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Young black Marine officers lag slightly behind non-blacks in tests of some basic military skills, but are ahead in others, the Marine Corps said Monday.

The Corps released the statistics after Marine Commandant Gen. Carl Mundy’s controversial comments that black officers did worse than others on some entry-level tests. Mundy has since apologized - pledging to increase the number of minorities in the Corps - and said his remarks were misconstrued.

The four-star general was questioned for a ″60 Minutes″ segment that aired allegations by various minority Marines of racism and a lack of promotions for minority officers in the Marine Corps.

In rifle qualification tests on a 100-point scale, blacks scored 83.32, while the average for the class as a whole scored 87.43, according to the numbers for the 1992-93 school year released by the Marines.

Pistol qualification scores for blacks were 85.41, versus 88.95 for the whole.

The swimming qualification score for blacks was 85.82, versus 93.36 as a whole; land navigation scores were 81.41 versus 85.55 for the whole class.

However, on the double obstacle course exam, blacks ranked 87.86 versus 84.15 for the whole class. On the practical communications exam, blacks scored 91.86 versus 89.75 for the whole class.

Others were also very close - the physical fitness test was 93.27 for blacks versus 93.95 for the rest of the class. The drill , or marching, exam was 94.36 for blacks versus 94.85 for the entire class; the ″confidence″ course - an untimed obstacle course - was 97.73 for blacks and 97.75 for the class as a whole.

One chart released by the Marines showed an average of all military skills tests since 1983. On that, blacks ranked between about 85 to 87 points; whites between 89 and 91 points and Hispanics betwen 87 and 90 points; ″Others,″ a category that includes American Indians and Asian minorities ranked between 87 and 92 points.

Marine officials say they they gather such statistics in order to understand what makes the best officer for the Marine Corps, not to try to highlight differences among Marines. Statistics are also kept for the 14 different ways a Marine can be commissioned.

The statistics began to be gathered in a long-term effort to understand how to improve the status of women and minorities in the Corps, two officers said.

″We’ve really been doing this kind of introspection for some years now,″ said Lt. Col. Eugene Brindle, the head of the manpower analysis branch for the Corps.

Brindle said the Corps is doing taking a ″very sophisticated statistical look″ at all the variables to ascertain which officers do well.

Having completed census studies well into the next century, the Corps knows that America’s two largest minority groups - African-Americans and Hispanics - will account for more than 28 percent of the general population.

The Marines have set the goal to ″develop an officer corps that will reflect the growing role of the nation’s minorities″ by the year 2015, said Lt. Col. Robin Higgins.

″We’re not where we want to be - these numbers are indicators for us what what we can do to make a better officer,″ said Higgins, a Marine Corps public affairs officer.

For example, Higgins said, the information about swimming may lead recruiting officers to suggest new recruits learn to swim prior to coming into the service - instead of needing to take precious time to do so during their military schooling.

About 18 percent of the Corps’s 159,000 enlisted men and women are black; about 5.4 percent of its 18,000 officers are black.

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