On Tuesday (December 8), the US Army announced 14 senior officers “have been relieved or suspended from their positions” following a probe into multiple deaths that took place this year at Fort Hood.
The problems at Fort Hood are “directly related to leadership failures,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told CNN. “I directed the relief and or suspension of commanders and other leaders from the corps to the squad level.”
This move is one of the largest disciplinary actions taken by the Army, and marks how the military is responding to the issues of harassment, sexual assault, and overall violence soldiers experience on base.
The remains of 20-year-old Vanessa Guillen were discovered near Fort Hood in late June this year after she was reported missing in April, triggering the Army to order the independent investigation.
Her murder “shocked our conscious and brought attention to deeper problems,” McCarthy said.
Authorities determined that she had been bludgeoned at the armory where she worked at Fort Hood. Her body was moved by the man who killed her who took his life before he could be taken into custody by police.
“The initial investigation into Vanessa’s death, coupled with high numbers of crimes and deaths at Fort Hood, has revealed a series of missteps and multiple failures and within our leadership,” McCarthy said.
The Fort Hood Independent Review Committee was tasked with investigating the culture at the base to better gage the soldiers’ experiences. What they found was "a deficient climate" that contributed to the mishandling of violence on base.
According to the report, Fort Hood leadership knew about violence female soldiers endured. That it was an “ineffective implementation of the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) program that resulted in a pervasive lack of confidence, fear of retaliation, and significant underreporting of cases, particularly within the enlisted ranks,” as reported by the Department of Defense.
The Army says its investigation isn’t over, and more action could be taken against the officers.
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