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Army reveals results of independent review of Fort Hood following Vanessa Guillen’s death

The Army has relieved or suspended at least 14 Fort Hood leaders from their positions following the results of the independent review into the culture and command of Fort Hood in the wake of Vanessa Guillen’s death. 

Spc. Guillen, 20, disappeared from the Killeen, Texas base in April after telling her family she was being sexually harassed at the base and her dismembered and buried remains were found on June 30 near the Leon River.  

In July a panel of five civilians was formed to investigate the base’s command culture and those results were shared publicly Tuesday.

‘The investigation after Vanessa Guillen’s murder found Fort Hood has a command climate that was permissive of sexual harassment and sexual assault,’ Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said in a press conference Tuesday afternoon, announcing the highly anticipated review results. 

In the firings Army Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, who was left in charge of the base earlier this year when Guillen was killed, was relieved from his post. 

The base commander, Army Lt. Gen. Pat White, will not face any administrative action because he was deployed to Iraq as the commander there for much of the year. 

The Army will relieve or suspend at least 14 Fort Hood commanders and leaders from their positions following the results of the independent review of Fort Hood. ‘The investigation after Vanessa Guillen’s murder found Fort Hood has a command climate that was permissive of sexual harassment and sexual assault,’ Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said in a press conference Tuesday afternoon, announcing the highly anticipated review results

Spc. Guillen, 20, disappeared from the Killeen, Texas base in April and her dismembered and buried remains were found on June 30 near the Leon River

Spc. Guillen, 20, disappeared from the Killeen, Texas base in April and her dismembered and buried remains were found on June 30 near the Leon River 

The firings and suspensions include Army Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt

The base commander, Army Lt. Gen. Pat White, will not face any administrative action because he was deployed to Iraq as the commander there for much of the year

The firings and suspensions include Army Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt (left), who was left in charge of the base earlier this year when Guillen was killed and Maj. Gen. Jeffery Broadwater, commander of the 1st Cavalry Divisions.  The base commander, Army Lt. Gen. Pat White (right), will not face any administrative action because he was deployed to Iraq as the commander there for much of the year

The leadership of Guillen’s unit, Col. Ralph Overland and Command Sgt. Maj. Bradley Knapp of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment were also relieved. 

14 Fort Hood officials suspended and relieved 

Relieved: Maj. Gen. Scott L. Efflandt, deputy commanding general III Corps who was in charge of the base at the time of Guillen’s death

Relieved: Col. Ralph Overland, the 3rd Cavalry Regiment commander, who was in charge of Guillen’s unit

Relieved: Command Sgt. Maj. Bradley Knapp, the 3rd Cavalry Regiment command sergeant major, who was in charge of Guillen’s unit

Suspended: Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Broadwater, 1st Cavalry Division commanding general, 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.

Suspended:  Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas C. Kenny, 1st Cavalry Division 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 

Maj. Gen. Jeffery Broadwater, commander of the 1st Cavalry Divisions, was also suspended.  

McCarthy said the panel published nine main findings and 70 recommendations that the Army is accepting to correct the command culture at the base.  

The panel said they made an effort to talk to women in every division at the base, especially those in Guillen’s unit. 

The panel conducted 647 individual interviews on the base. 

‘Of the 503 women we interviewed [in the investigation], we discovered 93 credible accounts of sexual assault. Of those only 59 were reported,’ Queta Rodriguez, a member of the independent review panel, said Tuesday.

‘And we also found 217 unreported accounts of sexual harassment. Of those only half were reported. What we discovered was over the course of those interviews, the lack of confidence in the system effected the reports of those incidents,’ she added.

The independent review found that the Army’s Sexual Harassment and Assualt Response and Prevention Program (SHARP) failed to achieve its mandate in curbing sexual assault and harassment on bases due to structural failures.

It also found that the command climate failed to practice the program’s core values below the brigade level, which led to less trust in the program.

The administrative actions are expected to trigger investigations that could lead to a wide range of punishments. Those punishments could go from a simple letter of reprimand to a military discharge.  

Army leaders had already delayed Efflandt’s planned transfer to Fort Bliss, where he was supposed to take over leadership of the 1st Armored Division, due to the investigations into the base.

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy ordered for the review in mid-July to find the ‘root causes’ of sexual harassment and violence on the base and whether the command culture and climate reflects the Army’s values. 

In 2020 31 soldiers assigned to Fort Hood have died. Some of them were accidents, five were homicides and 10 were suicides. 

In 2020 31 soldiers assigned to Fort Hood have died. Some of them were accidents, five were homicides and 10 were suicides

 In 2020 31 soldiers assigned to Fort Hood have died. Some of them were accidents, five were homicides and 10 were suicides

The panel of five civilians who led the review combed through Fort Hood’s records, conducted visits to the massive installation and met with officers and enlisted personnel. 

The five members of the independent review committee are Chris Swecker, Jonathan Harmon, Carrie Ricci, Queta Rodriguez and Jack White, who together have a combined 75 years of experience as active-duty military and law-enforcement personnel.   

Chris Swecker is the former assistant director of FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division and Jonathan Harmon is a civilian trial attorney who represented Fortune 500 companies and a combat veteran who served in the Gulf War

Chris Swecker, former assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division;

Jonathan Harmon, a civilian trial attorney who represented Fortune 500 companies. He is a combat veteran who served in the Gulf War

The five civilian experts who conducted the independent review of the embattled Fort Hood include Chris Swecker, the former assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division (left) and Jonathan Harmon (right), a civilian trial attorney who represented Fortune 500 companies and combat veteran who served in the Gulf War

Queta Rodriguez, a regional director for the national nonprofit FourBlock. She's a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps

Carrie Ricci, an assistant general counsel for the Department of Agriculture

Other panelists include Queta Rodriguez, a regional director for the national nonprofit FourBlock (left) and Carrie Ricci, an assistant general counsel for the Department of Agriculture (right)

Jack White, a partner at the law firm Fluet Huber Hoang in McLean, Virginia is also on the panel. He is a West Point graduate and served five years on active duty. He continued his service in the U.S. Army Reserve while attending Pepperdine University School of Law

Jack White, a partner at the law firm Fluet Huber Hoang in McLean, Virginia is also on the panel. He is a West Point graduate and served five years on active duty. He continued his service in the U.S. Army Reserve while attending Pepperdine University School of Law

Carrie Ricci is 21-year Army veteran and assistant general counsel for the Department of Agriculture, Queta Rodriguez is 20-year Marines veteran and regional director for the non-profit FourBlock, and Jack White a partner at the law firm Fluet Huber Hoang in McLean, Virginia who is a West Point graduate and served five years on active duty.

There are now several investigations into Fort Hood, which has a population over 60,000 including nearly 37,000 service members. 

Guillen’s disappearance caught national attention. 

Officials said fellow soldier Aaron Robinson, 20, was the main suspect in her killing. He shot and killed himself as police honed in on him on July 1.

In the search for Guillen authorities ended up finding the body of missing soldier Gregory Wedel-Morales, who disappeared last year, nearby. Her body was found days later. 

Guillen above

Officials said fellow soldier Aaron Robinson, 20, was the main suspect in her killing. He shot and killed himself as police honed in on him on July 1.

Spc. Guillen, 20, (left) disappeared from the Killeen, Texas base in April and her dismembered and buried remains were found on June 30 near the Leon River. Officials said fellow soldier Aaron Robinson, 20, (right) was the main suspect in her killing. He shot and killed himself as police honed in on him on July 1

Timeline of Fort Hood disappearances/deaths

February 1, 2020: PVT Eric Christopher Hogan and PFC Anthony Nevelle Peak Jr. die in a car crash 

March 1, 2020: SPC Shelby Tyler Jones is shot dead at a convenience store in Killeen 

March 5, 2020: Spc. Christopher Wayne Sawyer found dead at his home. Foul play is not suspected.  

March 14, 2020: SPC Freddy Beningo Delacruz Jr. is killed in a triple murder

March 23, 2020: Fort Hood soldier Spc. Jovino Jamel Roy, 22, was charged with murder after allegedly shooting former Fort Hood soldier Michael Steven Wardrobe, 22 

April 22, 2020: Vanessa Guillen goes missing and is last seen in the parking lot of the base. She disappeared after telling her family she was being sexually harassed by a sergeant on the base.

May 18, 2020: Body of Army Pfc. Brandon S. Rosecrans, 27, was discovered with gunshot wounds and his Jeep was found three miles away engulfed in flames.

June 19, 2020: Search teams discover the corpse of missing soldier Pvt. Gregory Wedel-Morales following a tip to Army base investigators. Remains were found in a field in Killeen, just over 10 miles from Stillhouse Hollow Lake, five miles from Fort Hood.

July 1, 2020: First parts of Giullen’s remains found about 20 miles east of Fort Hood.

Spc. Aaron Robinson, 20, kills himself. Officials say he killed and dismembered Guillén and had the remains disposed of. 

July 2, 2020: Army Specialist Miguel Yazzie, 33, died on July 2; Yazzie, of Window Rock, Arizona, was hospitalized for a medical condition the day before he died. 

July 17, 2020:  Pvt. Mejhor Morta, 26, of Pensacola, Florida was found dead July 17 in the vicinity of Stillhouse Hollow Lake, around 15 miles from the Fort Hood base.

August 2, 2020:  The body of Spc. Francisco Gilberto Hernandezvargas, 24, is recovered from Stillhouse Hollow Lake following boating incident not far from where Morta was found.

August 12, 2020: Spc. Cole Jakob Aton, 22, of Kentucky died after he was hit by a car as he was assisting a minor accident scene 

August 13, 2020: National Guard soldier, Sgt Bradley Moore dies during a training exercise at the base 

August 19, 2020: Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23, is reported missing after he was last seen on August 17.

August 25, 2020: The body of Fernandes is believed to have been found about 30 miles from Fort Hood

August 28, 2020: Pvt. Corlton L. Chee, 25, collapsed during fitness training at Fort Hood on August 28. He died two days later. 

November 3, 2020:  Spc. Cory Grafton, 20, was arrested after a witness account and advanced DNA testing allegedly linked him to the murder of Chelsea Cheatham, 32, who was found dead in a Days Inn hotel, six minutes away from the Texas base, in June 2019


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