By LUIS MARTINEZ, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — The Army has named a four-star general to head an “in-depth investigation” into how the chain of command at Fort Hood, Texas, handled a large number of disappearances and deaths, including that of Spc. Vanessa Guillen.
The top general at Fort Hood is also being moved to another assignment on the post and will no longer receive the prestigious job of commanding an Army division.
Gen. John Murray, the commander of Army Futures Command, will head the new “in-depth investigation into the chain of command actions related to Spc. Vanessa Guillen,” according to an Army statement.
Guillen’s remains were found more than two months after she disappeared from the installation and was killed, allegedly by a fellow soldier. Guillen’s family has claimed that Fort Hood officials failed to properly inform the family about the investigation into her disappearance and did not seem to take seriously their allegations that the 20-year-old soldier was hesitant to report claims of sexual harassment by one of her superiors.
“This is a comprehensive look at all of the actions taken at every echelon of the command related to Vanessa Guillen,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday.
Murray’s investigation will bundle most of the ongoing inquiries underway at Fort Hood into one, but an independent review of the command climate and culture at Fort Hood will remain separate. The five civilians conducting that review arrived at Fort Hood on Monday and are slated to present their findings in late October.
“We need to get this thing, right, and make sure we do a thorough investigation of all the activities of the chain of command — from the top all the way down the bottom — and we think this is the best way to do it,” Gen. James McConville, the Army’s chief of staff, told reporters Tuesday.
During a visit to the sprawling post in early August, McCarthy said that Fort Hood had the highest rates for murder, sexual assault and sexual harassment among the Army’s installations. On Tuesday McCarthy reaffirmed that those numbers “are high, very high this year.”
“The numbers are bad and we need to make some adjustments because we’re very concerned,” said McCarthy.
He noted that an Army inspection team that visited the post in June found that 18 of 53 soldiers who were surveyed had experienced some form of sexual harassment.
“We needed to get a much more comprehensive look about the challenges that Fort Hood is experiencing,” said McCarthy. “We need to understand the root causes, so that we can make the appropriate changes, whether that’s a leadership issue, resources, conditions on the ground, our systems.”
On Tuesday, the Army also announced a shake up in the installation’s top leadership as Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, the deputy commanding general of III Corps, was reassigned to another position on Fort Hood so that his previously named successor could take over command sooner than expected.
Efflandt will no longer take over command of the 1st Armored Division and will instead remain at Fort Hood as III Corp’s deputy commanding general for support. His planned move to take over the 1st Armored Division had been temporarily delayed in early August so that he could remain at Fort Hood as the independent review of the post got underway.
Gen. James McConville, the Army’s chief of staff, told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday that the move should not be seen as ending Efflandt’s career.
“What we’ve done is we are not going to move Gen. Efflandt until the investigations are over,” said McConville, who added that any future decisions on Efflandt’s future will be made after the inquiries have concluded.
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