On Tuesday (Dec. 8), the Army announced that 14 Fort Hood officers and soldiers have been fired or suspended after months of widespread killings, sexual assaults and harassment at the Texas Army base. Speaking with reporters, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said there will be policy changes to address the “leadership failures” that he believes contributed to the deaths of several service members.
“I determined the failures at Fort Hood are directly related to leadership failures,” McCarthy said. “Leaders drive culture and are responsible for everything the unit does, or does not happen to do.”
“I am gravely disappointed that leaders failed to effectively create a climate that treated other soldiers with dignity and respect and failed to reinforce everyone’s obligation to respond to allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault,” he continued, adding, “without leadership, systems don’t matter.”
Over the past year, a reported 25 Fort Hood soldiers have died by suicide, homicide or accidents, including Spc. Vanessa Guillen, who was found bludgeoned to death after being declared missing for two months.
On Tuesday morning, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville told reporters that he had spoken with Guillen’s mother and told her, “We are holding leaders accountable and we will fix this.”
Those who have been removed from their job include Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, who was in charge of the base when Guillen was killed, and Maj. Gen. Jeffery Broadwater. Efflandt was scheduled to be promoted to a more prestigious role at Fort Bliss, but was blocked from doing so during the Army’s investigation.
According to McCarthy, the Army’s new policy will change how commanders handle missing soldiers. The new rules require commanders to list service members as absent-unknown for up to 48 hours and do everything they can to find them before declaring them absent without leave, or AWOL.
As reported by REVOLT, Guillen was killed at Fort Hood by Spc. Aaron Robinson, who her family claimed had been sexually harassing her. Robinson later committed suicide when police tried to take him into custody. In July, the body of Pvt. Mejhor Morta was also found near the base.