Sarbanes, Brown, Hoyer, Ruppersberger, Mfume, Raskin and Trone Request Investigation into Bias in Maryland National Guard

Today, Congressman John Sarbanes, Congressmen Anthony G. Brown, Steny H. Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, Kweisi Mfume, Jamie B. Raskin and David Trone (all D-MD) called on the National Guard Inspector General to investigate bias in the Maryland National Guard. 

According to Maryland Army National Guard Data from 2017 to 2021, Black Officer Candidate School candidates were almost twice as likely to be dismissed as white candidates. During the same time period, female candidates were dismissed 70% more often than their male counterparts.

“The reserve and active duty components must be able to operate as one armed force to meet our security objectives as a nation,” the Members wrote. “It is critical that the implementation of US Army and National Guard policies and procedures within the Maryland National Guard are in conformity to expected standards and with full respect for the rights of the individuals who so choose to answer the call to serve.

The Members continued, “As such, we request that you conduct an investigation into the general consistency of the implementation of US Army and National Guard policies and regulations within the [Maryland Army National Guard Officer Candidate School] program. In the course of such an investigation, we ask that you identify the root causes of any racial disparities in acceptance, dismissal, and graduation rates of officer candidates. We further request that you recommend corrective action based on any findings of your investigation to ensure consistent implementation of all policies and regulations in the [Maryland Army National Guard Officer Candidate School].”

In 2021, Members were made aware of various allegations covering a range of racial and gender bias in the Maryland Army National Guard Officer Candidate School, from individuals being forced to wear symbols of enslavement, to the subjective dismissal of candidates, to subtle yet persistent discrimination. The Maryland Army National Guard has substantiated a portion of these allegations. 

The full text of the letter is included below:

Dear Maj. Gen. Hummel:

We write to request an investigation into possible racial disparities and discrimination within the Maryland Army National Guard (MDARNG) Officer Candidate School (OCS). We are concerned that there may be a systemic issue within the MDNG OCS and that a thorough, independent examination is necessary to identify any root causes of inconsistencies in their implementation of United States Army and National Guard policies and regulations.

In 2021, we were made aware of various allegations covering a range of racial bias in the MDARNG OCS, from individuals being forced to wear symbols of enslavement, to the subjective dismissal of candidates, to subtle yet persistent discrimination. A MDARNG response to our request for information appears at least to substantiate a portion of these allegations. Additional data provided by the MDARNG further confirms racial and gender disparities in the graduation rates of candidates.

According to MDARNG Data from 2017 to 2021, Black OCS candidates were almost twice as likely to be dismissed than white candidates. During the same time period, female candidates were dismissed 70% more often than their male counterparts. Similar biases were not found in the dismissal rates of Asian, Hispanic, or other racial and ethnic groups. These statistics are even more concerning given that the demographics of the candidates entering MDARNG OCS largely conform to the demographics of the state, indicating that the disparities in Black and female dismissal rates are arising during the school itself.

The reserve and active duty components must be able to operate as one armed force to meet our security objectives as a nation. The candidates who are selected for and graduate from the MDARNG OCS may be called up for federal service at a moment's notice to serve alongside their active duty counterparts. Furthermore, the MDARNG accepts and trains candidates from the surrounding states and the impact of any inconsistency in implementation extends beyond Maryland’s borders. It is critical that the implementation of US Army and National Guard policies and procedures within the Maryland National Guard are in conformity to expected standards and with full respect for the rights of the individuals who so choose to answer the call to serve.

As such, we request that you conduct an investigation into the general consistency of the implementation of US Army and National Guard policies and regulations within the MDARNG OCS program. In the course of such an investigation, we ask that you identify the root causes of any racial disparities in acceptance, dismissal, and graduation rates of officer candidates. We further request that you recommend corrective action based on any findings of your investigation to ensure consistent implementation of all policies and regulations in the MDARNG OCS.

We greatly appreciate your attention to this matter. We look forward to receiving a timely response and continuing our strong partnership in strengthening both the security of our nation and our communities which the National Guard has served with dedication.