11:15 GMT27 February 2021
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    A new report from a military law watchdog group has found that the US Air Force (USAF) has been engaging in a multi-year effort to cover up its abysmal record of racial disparities in the military justice system, rather than address the issue at hand.

    Watchdog group Protect Our Defenders (POD) revealed Wednesday that despite the USAF’s creation of a racial disparity working group “in an apparent effort to mitigate its dismal record,” the service failed to take action and implement any recommendations provided by the group.

    “The Air Force has concealed records and discredited its own statistics, with leadership later doubting that disparities were as severe as their own data reveals, contrary to conclusions reached by [Government Accountability Office’s (GAO)] and POD’s investigations,” the POD report noted.

    Back in 2017, the watchdog group published data on racial inequalities within all US services when it came to the military justice system. POD’s analysis of Air Force data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act found that the service had the most extreme disparities.

    In fact, black airmen were found, on average, to be 71% more likely to face nonjudicial punishment or court-martial than white airmen.

    “Four years after the Air Force admitted the need to examine racial disparities, no
    recommendations have been formally made nor have any changes been implemented,” POD argued in the May 27 release.

    The watchdog group noted that despite the creation of a “racial disparity team” following a GAO investigation and congressional order, the effort “appeared to be an attempt to deflect from the Air Force’s abysmal record.”

    “When pressed for more information, the Air Force claimed that the touted expert team was an informal working group. The group met for 90 days, kept few official records, and made superficial recommendations which were never formally briefed to leadership, or acted upon,” POD revealed.

    To remedy such cover-ups from occurring in the future, the group recommends Congress hold annual hearings on the topic of racial disparities within the military justice system.

    “Congressional oversight is key to ensuring the military is taking this issue seriously and improving fairness of the justice process,” POD contended.



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