U.S. Army announces actions to address Fort Hood safety, cultural challenges

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WASHINGTON – The Army has announced a slate of actions taken across the force to implement the recommendations of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee (FHIRC), which examined the command climate and culture at Fort Hood and the surrounding military community to determine whether they reflect the Army’s commitment to safety, respect, inclusiveness, diversity, and freedom from sexual assault and sexual harassment.

The Army is in the process of re-structuring the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) and redesigning the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) program to address shortcomings identified in the FHIRC report. Fort Hood’s CID detachment is fully manned with experienced agents, and the office also has access to state-of-the-art software and digital-forensic-examination tools.

In addition to taking actions to address each of the 70 recommendations set forth in the FHIRC report, the Army is working to achieve transformational cultural change by starting initiatives such as This is My Squad (TIMS), the Army’s first-ever noncommissioned officer strategy, and the Command Assessment Program, which will ensure only exemplary leaders are placed into critical positions of trust and responsibility.

In all, the Army has implemented five recommendations across the force, while Fort Hood, III Corps, and U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) have implemented an additional 16 recommendations. Responsive actions taken at Fort Hood and Army-wide include:

Army-wide

  • Updated CID policies to require full investigations of off-post Soldier drug overdoses, including determination of the source of the drugs and the extent and nature of the Soldier’s involvement with illegal drugs. The updated policy also requires a full investigation of all suspected soldier suicides occurring on or off the installation. (Recommendations No. 41 and 42)
  • In December 2020, the Army issued guidance regarding missing soldiers to clarify expectations and responsibilities of unit commanders and Army law-enforcement authorities when accounting for soldiers who are absent from their place of duty. (Recommendations No. 43, 46 and 47)

FORSCOM/III Corps/Fort Hood

  • The FORSCOM commanding general implemented a policy requiring commanders to select investigating officers from outside a subject’s brigade-sized element for formal sexual harassment complaints under Army Regulation 600-20, chapter 7. (Recommendation No. 13)
  • The Department of Emergency Services now provides a brief at each III Corps and Fort Hood company commander and first sergeant course regarding the purpose of military protective orders and how they benefit soldiers, commanders and units. (Recommendation No. 28)
  • III Corps now disseminates a monthly “Teal Hash” message to the force that includes the results of court-martial convictions for sexual offenses. (Recommendations No. 29 and 30)
  • III Corps commanders are required to update victims on Sexual Assault Review Board (SARB) results within 72-hours. (Recommendation No.31)
  • Fort Hood’s CID detachment has access to state-of-the-art software and digital-forensic-examination tools. (Recommendation No. 36)
  • Fort Hood has reinvigorated its Good Order and Discipline Boards and updated its list of off-limits establishments to protect the safety and health of military personnel and their families. (Recommendations No. 52 and 53)
  • In October, III Corps and Fort Hood initiated Operation People First, a year-long effort designed to create trustworthy and engaged leaders, and build cohesive teams; the initiative includes a leader certification program. (Recommendations No. 44 and 57)
  • The Fort Hood installation commander now leads and directs the monthly SARB process. (Recommendation No. 64)
  • The FORSCOM commanding general has authorized senior mission commanders to temporarily leverage crisis-response resources including public affairs, medical, legal, logistics and law-enforcement personnel as needed; Fort Hood has also expanded its outreach to key community groups. (Recommendations No. 66, 67, 68, 69, and 70)

People First Task Force

While the FHIRC report focused on the command climate and culture at Fort Hood, the findings impact the entire Army and more than 1.2 million soldiers. The People First Task Force is developing multiple plans to address FHIRC recommendations for combating sexual harassment, sexual assault, violent crime, and other harmful behaviors that exist in our ranks across the Army.

  • People First Task Force-led efforts to redesign the SHARP program are underway and members expect to present their recommendations to Army leadership soon for review and implementation.
  • In March, the People First Solarium brought 100 junior enlisted and officers from across the total Army to the U.S. Military Academy to examine Army culture and the behaviors that negatively impact cohesion and trust.
  • The People First Task Force is conducting pilot programs to measure unit cohesion and trust, as well as the effectiveness of programs meant to counter harmful behaviors such as sexual harassment, at select installations. The assessments include: soldier interviews and small unit visits; surveys measuring morale and trust in leadership; and analyses of formations’ operations with regard to trust and cohesion, leader-development programs, training awards, legal actions and soldier separation programs.

The Fort Hood Independent Review Committee unveiled the results of a three-month examination of the command climate and culture at Fort Hood and the surrounding military community on December 8, 2020. The independent review arose from the questions and concerns voiced by family members, Congress, and various Hispanic advocacy groups during the investigation into the disappearance and murder of SPC Vanessa Guillén.

The FORSCOM commanding general appointed two related investigations under the provisions of Army Regulation 15-6. These on-going, complex, in-depth investigations are reviewing a number of aspects of the 3rd Calvary Regiment and the 1st Calvary Division at Fort Hood. Once complete, the investigating officers will make findings and recommendations for the appointing authority’s consideration.

Additional resources – including the full, redacted FHIRC report, are available at: https://www.army.mil/forthoodreview

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