The US Military has fired or suspended 14 officers and enlisted troopers at its Fort Hood, Texas, base and ordered coverage adjustments to deal with continual failures of management that contributed to a widespread sample of violence, together with homicide, sexual assault and harassment.
In a sweeping condemnation of Fort Hood’s command hierarchy, Military Secretary Ryan McCarthy fired three high commanders and suspended two others pending an extra investigation.
He additionally ordered a separate investigation into staffing and procedures on the base’s Legal Investigation Command unit, which is chargeable for investigating crimes on Fort Hood.
The actions come after a 12 months that noticed not less than 25 troopers assigned to Fort Hood die because of suicide, murder or accidents, together with the bludgeoning dying of Vanessa Guillen. The younger soldier was lacking for about two months earlier than her stays had been discovered.
On Wednesday a subcommittee of the Home of Representatives armed providers committee is holding a listening to with testimony from the panel of investigators that examined the deaths at Fort Hood and the tradition that prevailed throughout a spate of crimes and suicides there, as a part of a congressional investigation.
Talking to reporters on the Pentagon, McCarthy mentioned based mostly on an unbiased panel’s evaluate, he concluded that the problems at Fort Hood, together with main flaws within the response to sexual assault and harassment, “are straight associated to management failures”.
He mentioned he was gravely upset within the commanders there, including, “with out management, programs don’t matter”.
Gen James McConville, the chief of employees of the Military, advised reporters that he spoke to Guillen’s mom on Tuesday morning and advised her, “We’re holding leaders accountable, and we are going to repair this.”
Gloria Guillen, Vanessa’s mom, mentioned throughout an emotional press convention in Houston that she spoke with McCarthy and advised him the executive actions had been a step in the proper course, however she wished to see those that had failed her daughter serve jail time.
“Nothing goes to remove the ache I really feel as her mom all day and all evening,” Guillen mentioned in Spanish by tears.
Natalie Khawam, the Guillens’ legal professional, mentioned Legal Investigation Command (CID) officers had been amongst these fired or suspended Tuesday. The panel discovered that Fort Hood was used as a coaching floor for brand new CID officers, and there was a number of turnover and lots of the officers had been inexperienced and over-assigned.
McCarthy additionally ordered a brand new Military coverage that adjustments how commanders take care of lacking troopers. The panel discovered there have been no detailed procedures for what commanders of small items ought to do if a soldier is lacking, however not essentially AWOL, or absent with out depart.
The brand new coverage requires leaders to record service members as absent-unknown for as much as 48 hours and to do all the pieces they will to find the soldier to find out if the absence is voluntary earlier than declaring anybody absent with out depart (AWOL).
The firings embody Military Maj Gen Scott Efflandt, who was left answerable for the bottom earlier this 12 months when Guillen was killed, in addition to Col Ralph Overland, the third cavalry regiment commander and his CSgt Main Bradley Knapp.
Amongst these suspended had been Maj Gen Jeffery Broadwater, the primary cavalry division commander, and his CSgt Main Thomas C Kenny.
The executive actions are anticipated to set off investigations that might result in a variety of punishments.
Military leaders and members of the unbiased panel acknowledged that the dying of Guillen, 20, earlier this 12 months was a catalyst for a deeper look into what have been longstanding crime and different issues on the base.
In response to investigators, Guillen was bludgeoned to dying at Fort Hood by Specialist Aaron Robinson, who killed himself on 1 July as police had been making an attempt to take him into custody.
Her household has mentioned Robinson sexually harassed her and was too afraid of intimidation to report the abuse, although the Military has mentioned there isn’t a proof supporting that declare.
Additionally in July, the physique of Pte Mejhor Morta was discovered close to a reservoir by Fort Hood. And in June, officers found the stays of one other lacking soldier, Gregory Morales, about 10 miles from that lake.
The five-member panel spent three weeks at Fort Hood .
They mentioned feminine troopers advised them they had been afraid of retaliation for complaints, together with fears they might be moved to different jobs, their confidentiality could be compromised and their careers could be derailed.
Additionally they complained about lengthy delays in investigations, and plenty of mentioned they didn’t report incidents of sexual assault or harassment because of insecurity in this system.
Panel member Carrie Ricci, a retired member of the Military’s Choose Advocate Basic’s Corp who served for 3 years at Fort Hood, had a message to the feminine troopers there. “I would like them to know we consider you,” she mentioned.