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14 Fort Hood soldiers and officers fired, suspended after lurid allegations of murder, sexual assault, harassment


What the heck?

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Army has announced that it fired or suspended 14 officers and soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, after allegations of murder, sexual assault, and harassment.

According to a Tuesday report from the Associated Press, the firings and disciplinary actions come after an investigation into the bludgeoning death of Spc. Vanessa Guillen as well other disturbing reports.

Guillen was missing for about two months before her remains were discovered. The AP reported that the news comes in the "aftermath of a year that saw 25 soldiers assigned to Fort Hood die due to suicide, homicide, or accidents."

What are the details?

In remarks from the Pentagon, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said that an independent investigation concluded that the violence at Fort Hood is "directly related to leadership failures."

Those fired or suspended include Army Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt and Maj. Gen. Jeffery Broadwater.

Officials say the independent investigation found a "deficient climate at Fort Hood, including ineffective implementation of the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) program that resulted in a pervasive lack of confidence, fear of retaliation, and significant underreporting of cases, particularly within the enlisted ranks."

Fox News reported, "Of 93 credible accounts of sexual assault at the base, only 59 were reported. In total, there were 217 unreported accounts of sexual harassment discovered, and many women said they feared retaliation or ostracism and felt that reporting the instances would derail their careers."

A portion of the report added, "Fort Hood leadership knew or should have known of the high risk of harm to female soldiers."

The AP also reported that McCarthy handed down a new directive that would change how commanding officers deal with reports of missing soldiers, including "requiring them to list service members as absent-unknown for up to 48 hours and do everything they can to locate the service members to determine if their absence is voluntary or not before declaring anyone AWOL."

"When one of our teammates does not report for duty, we will change their duty status to 'absent-unknown' and take immediate action to find them," McCarthy added.

Investigators say that Spc. Aaron Robinson — who allegedly confessed to the murder — bludgeoned Guillen to death. Robinson killed himself in July as police attempted to take him into custody in connection with the 20-year-old female soldier's murder. Guillen's family has said that Robinson sexually harassed her before killing her.

In Tuesday remarks, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville added, "Prior to coming here, we spoke with Vanessa Guillen's mother and told her we would change the culture. ... It is our sacred duty to protect our soldiers so we can protect our nation."

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