14 Fort Hood soldiers fired, suspended over widespread pattern of violence at base

The Army on Tuesday said it has fired or suspended 14 officers and enlisted soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, and ordered policy changes to address chronic failures of leadership that contributed to a widespread pattern of violence, including murder, sexual assault and harassment.

In a sweeping condemnation of Fort Hood’s command hierarchy, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy fired three top commanders and suspended two others pending a further investigation. He also ordered a separate probe into staffing and procedures at the base’s Criminal Investigation Command unit, which is responsible for investigating crimes on Fort Hood.

The actions come after a year that saw at least 25 soldiers assigned to Fort Hood die due to suicide, homicide or accidents, including the bludgeoning death of Spc. Vanessa Guillen. Guillen was missing for about two months before her remains were found.

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, McCarthy said based on an independent panel’s review, he concluded that the issues at Fort Hood, including major flaws in the response to sexual assault and harassment, “are directly related to leadership failures.” He said he was gravely disappointed in the commanders there, adding, “without leadership, systems don’t matter.”

Gen. James McConville, the chief of staff of the Army, told reporters that he spoke to Guillen’s mother on Tuesday morning and told her, “We are holding leaders accountable, and we will fix this.”

Source: Associated Press – LOLITA C. BALDOR

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