CENTCOM apologizes for training manual with phrase ‘Negro blood’
By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 1, 2018
U.S. Central Command issued an apology Thursday after it was discovered that offensive language including the phrase “Negro blood” had found its way into a welcome guide for military personnel deployed to Saudi Arabia.
“We regret that inappropriate material was posted to our website without a more fulsome review and apologize to anyone who took offense,” CENTCOM spokesman Capt. Bill Urban said in a statement. “We removed the document as soon as we were notified of the content, and it was returned to the originating office for revision.”
The 69-page “Welcome Booklet,” which includes information ranging from base services to religious and cultural life in Saudi Arabia, delved into the country’s history with arcane language now regarded as offensive.
“The population of the (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) is mainly composed of descendants of indigenous tribes that have inhabited the peninsula since prehistoric times with some later mixture of Negro blood from slaves imported from Africa,” said the manual dated June 2018.
The language was recently highlighted by comedian Hasan Minhaj during a segment of his new Netflix show Patriot Act.
“If you are sent on a training mission in Saudi Arabia, this is the official military document you get ... Oh America, even in boring, technical manuals you somehow manage to be racist,” Minhaj said in a show posted on Netflix on Sunday.
Urban said CENTCOM is conducting a survey of other training material to ensure it doesn’t contain offensive language.
“We have conducted an internal review of our posting processes, and are conducting a survey of previously posted material to ensure there are no further instances of inappropriate material on our website,” he said.
It wasn’t immediately clear how the offensive language made it into the training manual, but the wording and tone is reminiscent of several decades ago. CENTCOM did not say whether material in the manual was pulled from old source material without sufficient vetting.
Meanwhile, the manual also includes extensive information for troops on missions in Saudi Arabia. Assignments in the kingdom include a wide range of restrictions not experienced in many other locales, such as numerous prohibitions on receiving shipments through military mail.
The kingdom’s rules ban receiving by mail magazines with nude or semi-nude people, pornography, pork products, bibles, crucifixes or other religious material.
“History has proved certain items relating to Christmas such as cards, trees, decorations, angels, etc. are subject to confiscation,” the welcome book cautions.