Responding to the spate in recent years of attacks and deaths of soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, the Army is restructuring its criminal-investigation process. The changes are based upon 70 recommendations offered by an independent review committee that examined the incidents at Hood.
Changes that affect the entire Army include requirements that:
* The U.S Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) will conduct full investigations of soldier drug overdoses that occur off post.
* Unit commanders and law-enforcement authorities will assume the responsibility to account for soldiers who are absent from their place of duty.
Changes that specifically affect FORSCOM (Army Forces Command), III Corps and Fort Hood include:
* The commanding general of FORSCOM has implemented a policy that requires commanders to select investigating officers who have no connection to a possible crime’s brigade-sized element, when probing possible sexual-harassment or assault incidents.
* III Corps and Fort Hood company commanders will receive briefings from emergency-services staff about the purpose of protective orders.
* III Corps will publish sexual assault-related court martial convictions monthly.
* Fort Hood’s CID will update victims within 72 hours with the results of Sexual Assault Review Board findings. The post’s CID also is getting access to state-of-the-art digital software to use when conducting forensic examinations.
* The post also is “reinvigorating” its good order and discipline boards, and updating the list of off-limits establishments outside the gate.
* Operation People First, an initiative to encourage “trustworthy and engaged leaders,” stood up for the first time for III Corps and Fort Hood in October. The commander at Hood now oversees the monthly sexual assault and review board process as well.
* Senior FORSCOM mission commanders can “temporarily leverage” public-affairs, medical, legal and law enforcement assets when needed.
Also based on the investigators’ recommendations, the Army has established a People First Task Force aimed at fostering “cohesion and trust” among the ranks.
An average of 129 felony crimes per year – to include murder, sexual assault and harassment – were reportedly committed on the Texas post between 2014 and 2019. Of the 38 people who died at Hood in 2019, 17 were suicides.
The troubles at Hood came to a head when Spec. Vanessa Guillen was found dead after being reported missing last year. A fellow soldier who was suspected of involvement in Guillen’s death killed himself as police tried to arrest him.
Investigations into incidents at the post led to the firing of 14 senior leaders there.