Secretary McCarthy Holds Fort Hood Leaders Accountable, Announces New Investigations
(Source: U.S. Army; issued Dec. 8, 2020)
WASHINGTON --- The Secretary of the Army today directed the relief or suspension of 14 Fort Hood commanders and other leaders down to the squad level based on the findings of an independent review of the command’s climate and culture.
The following leaders are relieved: Maj. Gen. Scott L. Efflandt, deputy commanding general (Support), III Corps; and Col. Ralph Overland and Command Sgt. Maj. Bradley Knapp, the 3rd Cavalry Regiment commander and command sergeant major.
The secretary also directed the suspension of Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Broadwater and Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas C. Kenny, 1st Cavalry Division commanding general and command sergeant major, pending the outcome of a new Army Regulation (AR) 15-6 investigation of 1st Cavalry Division’s command climate and Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program.
The Army is also opening a separate AR 15-6 investigation into the resourcing, policies and procedures of the 6th Military Police Group (Criminal Investigation Command).
As a matter of policy and to protect individual privacy, the Army will not release the names of the battalion level and below commanders and leaders who received administrative action.
Army leaders command and serve in critical positions because senior leaders and Soldiers have trust and confidence in their abilities and character. When a senior leader loses trust and confidence in a subordinate commander or leader, it is appropriate and necessary to relieve that person. Relief is an administrative mechanism to ensure that our Soldiers always have the best qualified and capable leaders and commanders.
In addition to these administrative actions involving Fort Hood leaders, Secretary McCarthy directed additional steps to address the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee’s findings and recommendations.
More information is available at: https://www.army.mil/article/241490.
Army Secretary Releases Results of Fort Hood Review
(Source: US Department of Defense; issued Dec. 8, 2020)
Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy and the five civilian members of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee today unveiled the results of a three-month examination of the command climate and culture at Fort Hood, Texas, and the surrounding military community.
The independent review, which was directed by McCarthy, arose from the questions and concerns voiced by family members of Army Spc. Vanessa Guillén, Congress and Hispanic advocacy groups during the investigation into the Guillén's disappearance and murder.
The committee examined the command climate and culture at Fort Hood and the surrounding military community to determine whether they reflect the Army's commitment to safety, respect, inclusiveness, diversity and freedom from sexual harassment.
Committee members Chris Swecker, Jonathan Harmon, Carrie Ricci, Queta Rodriguez and Jack White conducted a two-week, fact-finding mission to the post, meeting with unit leaders, soldiers, members of the Guillén family, local officials, law enforcement and community groups.
The 136-page Report of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee
offers findings and recommendations intended to benefit Fort Hood and the entire Army.
In response, McCarthy has taken significant measures to hold leaders accountable at Fort Hood, instituted a new policy on missing soldiers, and formed the People First Task Force to map out a plan to tackle issues identified in the report.
Secretary of the Army Announces Missing Soldier Policy, Forms People First Task Force to Implement Fort Hood Independent Review Committee (FHIRC) Recommendations
(Source: U.S. Army; issued Dec. 8, 2020)
WASHINGTON --- The Secretary of the Army today announced a new Army policy on missing Soldiers and formed the People First Task Force to address the recommendations of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee.
Along with the civilian members of the FHIRC, Secretary McCarthy also unveiled the results of a three-month examination of the command climate and culture at Fort Hood and the surrounding military community and its impact on the safety, welfare and readiness of Soldiers.
“The challenges at Fort Hood forced us to take a critical look at our systems, our policies, and ourselves. This is not just about metrics, but about possessing the ability to show compassion for our teammates and to look out for the best interest of our Soldiers. This report, without a doubt, will cause the Army to change our culture,” Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy said. “We thank the committee members for their outstanding efforts to provide us with an honest, fact-based assessment of the conditions at Fort Hood and a slate of recommended actions intended to benefit that installation and the entire Army.”
Sec. McCarthy also announced significant measures to hold leaders accountable at Fort Hood. More information on is available at: https://www.army.mil/article/241491.
New Army Policy
“In response to the findings of the independent review, I have signed a directive clarifying expectations and responsibilities of unit commanders and Army law enforcement authorities focused on the first 48 hours after a Soldier fails to report for duty,” Secretary McCarthy said. “When one of our teammates does not report for duty, we will change their duty status to ‘absent-unknown’ and take immediate action to find them.”
This directive’s creation of an additional duty status code – “absent-unknown” (AUN) – will provide commanders with time to make the appropriate determination of an absent Soldier’s status. Commanders will utilize AUN as a transitory duty status for up to 48 hours, prompting unit and law enforcement actions to assist in locating the Soldier. Previously, Soldiers who were absent for unknown reasons were listed as “absent without leave” (AWOL).
Under the new policy, which is intended to ensure the Army maximizes efforts to find missing Soldiers, commanders must determine by a preponderance of evidence that a Soldier’s absence is voluntary to classify their duty status as AWOL. If this burden cannot be met, commanders will classify absent personnel as “missing,” and the Army will simultaneously initiate a “duty status whereabouts unknown” (DUSTWUN) casualty case. Opening a DUSTWUN casualty case provides the Soldier’s family with a liaison officer while it attempts to locate the missing Soldier.
The directive includes additional guidance for commanders and law enforcement on steps to classify Soldiers as deserters.
Fort Hood Independent Review Committee
The FHIRC, which began work in August, examined the command climate and culture at Fort Hood and the surrounding military community to determine whether they reflect the Army’s commitment to safety, respect, inclusiveness, diversity, and freedom from sexual harassment. In its report, the FHIRC found a deficient climate at Fort Hood, including 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.
Fort Hood leadership knew or should have known of the high risk of harm to female Soldiers, according to the report.
“Soldiers assaulting and harassing other Soldiers is contrary to Army values and requires a dramatic change in culture,” Chris Swecker, the committee chair, said. “The committee determined that, during the time period covered by our review, there was a permissive environment for sexual assault and sexual harassment at Fort Hood. We have recommended changes to the staffing, structure and implementation of the SHARP program at Fort Hood, and possibly beyond, to address deeply dysfunctional norms and regain Soldiers’ trust.”
The FHIRC also found that Fort Hood’s Criminal Investigation Command (CID) detachment was under-experienced and over-assigned, factors which adversely impacted investigations of sex crimes and Soldier deaths. In all, the FHIRC’s report sets forth nine findings and 70 recommendations relating to areas including SHARP; Fort Hood CID; missing Soldier protocols; and the installation’s crime prevention and public relations efforts. FHIRC members also concluded that Fort Hood and the Army as whole must do more to cultivate a culture of inclusivity and respect which values the contributions of all service members.
The FHIRC delivered its report to Army leadership on Nov. 6. The independent review arose from the questions and concerns voiced by family members, Congress, and various Hispanic advocacy groups during the investigation into the disappearance and murder of Spc. Vanessa Guillén.
In late August, FHIRC members Swecker, Jonathan Harmon, Carrie Ricci, Queta Rodriguez and Jack White conducted a two-week fact-finding mission to the base, meeting with unit leaders, Soldiers, members of the Guillén family, local officials, law enforcement and community groups.
While at Fort Hood, the five civilian committee members and their support staff completed more than 2,500 interviews with Soldiers and Army civilians, including 503 female Soldiers from 3rd Cavalry Regiment and 1st Cavalry Division, as well as Equal Opportunity and SHARP program representatives. They established a hotline and collected more than 31,000 responses to a mandatory, anonymous survey on command climate as it relates to sexual assault or sexual harassment. Their community meetings included representatives from League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), NAACP, Hispanic-American Chamber of Commerce, and Sociedad Cultural Hispanoamericana.
People First Task Force
“People are our greatest strength, our most valuable asset, and our most important weapon system,” Secretary McCarthy said. “While the independent review focused on the command climate and culture at Fort Hood, the findings contained in the committee’s report impact the entire Army and more than 1.2 million Soldiers. In response, we’ve created the People First Task Force to study the committee’s recommendations and map out a plan to tackle them.”
The People First Task Force will analyze the findings and recommendations in the FHIRC report, develop a plan of action to address issues identified by the committee, and reevaluate current policy and programs. The Task Force will be co-chaired by Lt. Gen. Gary M. Brito, the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-1; Ms. Diane M. Randon, the Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, G-2; and Sgt. Maj. Julie A.M. Guerra, the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-2 sergeant major. It will include representatives from across the Army, including the Provost Marshal General, The Inspector General, The Judge Advocate General, and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.
The Task Force will present its recommendations to Army leadership as quickly as possible for Army senior leaders’ review and implementation.
Additional resources, including the full, redacted FHIRC report, are available at: https://www.army.mil/forthoodreview.
Army Senior Leader Message to the Force
(Source: U.S. Army; issued Dec. 8, 2020)
The challenges at Fort Hood, Texas, have initiated a detailed investigation into the sexual harassment, sexual assault, violent crimes, and other corrosives that exist in our ranks. The findings of this investigation have been reviewed, and on 8 December, the Secretary of the Army directed the relief or suspension of several leaders at every echelon from squad through brigade, division, corps, and installation.
Leaders at every echelon play a role in driving culture. We are gravely disappointed when instances of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and discrimination occur. We are even more disturbed when these instances are not addressed swiftly with respect, trust, and discipline. We do not expect perfection, but we do expect leaders to take ownership with aggressive and consistent action to take care of their people. Whether we are in combat or at home station, we will never leave a fallen comrade, and we work hard to take care of each other.
Respect, trust, and discipline are the foundation of unit cohesion and readiness. Leaders have the responsibility to build and maintain that foundation. They must drive a culture of prevention before, intervention during, and compassion and human decency in the face of a catastrophic event.
Unfortunately, the issues at Fort Hood exist at other installations. You may have experienced or know someone who experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault. We will not tolerate these behaviors. We need you help to ensure we hold leaders accountable for their unit culture and their care for each Soldier. Our previous efforts are not working We need creative solutions to get after these leadership issues.
Our responsibility is to ensure you have the right leadership, policies, and resources so you can thrive in trained, disciplined, and fit, cohesive teams. To do that, we formed the People First Task Force to identify initiatives to address our most significant challenges, We already elevated People to the Army's number one priority, reduced requirements to allow leaders to take care of Soldiers, committed more funding towards quality of life, changed the missing Soldier policy, and deployed more military law enforcement to Fort Hood, Texas. We will continue to make the right changes for our People.
We know we must strive to earn the trust of our Soldiers and the American people every day. We also know that many leaders are eager to do the right thing. Compliance is a job, but commitment is a profession. We ask each of you to recommit yourself to your teammates, your mission, and our Army. We reaffirm our commitment to you.
Michael A. Grinston
Sergeant Major of the Army
James C. McConville
General, United States Army
Ryan D. McCarthy
Secretary of the Army