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Marine commander in Europe and Africa under investigation for racial slur, relieved of duty

One official said Neary did not direct the word at anyone, but rather said it when talking about rap music, questioning the use of the term in the music.

WASHINGTON — The commanding general of the Marine Corps Forces in Europe and Africa was relieved of command on Monday while he is under investigation for allegedly using a racial slur.

The force's commandant, Gen. David H. Berger, relieved Maj. Gen. Stephen M. Neary as commander in Europe and Africa “due to a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to serve in command," according to a statement from the Marine Corps.

U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Stephen M. Neary, the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade commanding general, answers questions during an interview at Morehead City, N.C., on Sept. 28, 2018.Cpl. Jered Stone / U.S. Marine Corps

The loss of trust and confidence was because of Neary’s alleged use of a racial slur that denigrates Black people several weeks ago, according to two U.S. military officials.

A group of Marines was listening to loud rap music during outdoor training over the summer, said the officials, when Neary made a comment about the music and used the N-word in front of the group. One U.S. military official said he did not direct the word at anyone, but rather used it when talking about the music and questioning the use of the term in the music.

The investigation was first reported by Stars and Stripes.

Neary assumed his duties as commander on July 8. Col. James T. Iulo will serve as the acting commander until a replacement is found.

Neary did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for the Marine Corps in Europe and Africa referred NBC News to the Marine Corps statement.