The U.S Army dismissed or suspended 14 senior officers Tuesday and ordered policy changes following a sweeping independent investigation into sexual harassment and violence at the base, including the murder of a female soldier earlier this year.
At a Pentagon news conference, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said an independent civilian review board found widespread problems at the Army’s second-largest installation, including failures to investigate crimes and lack of confidence in sex crimes prevention that led to a permissive environment for sexual assault and harassment.
McCarthy told reporters the issues at Fort Hood, including a spate of killings and disappearances and a higher level of crime than at any other Army installation, are “directly related to leadership failures.” McCarthy said leaders drive culture and he was gravely disappointed these leaders “failed to effectively create a climate that treated all soldiers with dignity and respect.”
Fort Hood has faced intense scrutiny after several recent incidents, including the death of Spc. Vanessa Guillén, who was killed by another soldier in April. Her remains were found in a shallow grave in June after her disappearance.
Those relieved of duty included the commander of Fort Hood at the time of Guillén’s death, Maj. Gen. Scott L. Efflandt. The Army also relieved the leadership of Guillén’s unit, Col. Ralph Overland and Command Sgt. Maj. Bradley Knapp of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment.
The Army Chief of Staff, Gen. James C. McConville, said he called the Guillén family ahead of the news conference to pledge to transform the service. McConville said he told Guillen’s mother the U.S. Army was responsible for her daughter’s death and vowed to fix the problems that led to it.