Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy and Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville requested that an independent review of Fort Hood, Texas, led by five civilian experts provide an interim program report by mid-September and a final report by Oct. 30, Army officials said Monday.
When reached for comment, service officials did not immediately have a timeline available for when the report will be made public.
The five civilians were sworn in during a virtual ceremony last week, according to an Army press release. Their assessment will include a review of historical data and statistics; interviews with a wide range of Fort Hood personnel; an evaluation of policies and procedures regarding sexual assault prevention and sexual harassment; and the post’s responses to reports of missing soldiers.
Additionally, the review will evaluate the command climate at various units and its impact on the safety, welfare and readiness of soldiers assigned there. The military community surrounding the central Texas installation will also be assessed as part of the review.
The review team is made up of three men and two women. It includes Chris Swecker, former assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division; Jonathan Harmon, a civilian trial attorney who represented Fortune 500 companies; Carrie Ricci, an assistant general counsel for the Department of Agriculture; Queta Rodriguez, a regional director for the national nonprofit FourBlock; and Jack White, a partner at the law firm Fluet Huber Hoang in McLean, Virginia.
“We’re getting an outside look to help us to get to those root causes and understand them,” said Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy.
“We’re getting an outside look to help us to get to those root causes and understand them,” McCarthy said of the review team Aug. 6. “The point of emphasis being that we’re going to put every resource and all of the energy we can from this institution behind fixing these problems.”
The review was sparked by the disappearance and death of 20-year-old Spc. Vanessa Guillen, whom prosecutors say was murdered by a fellow soldier in an armory on post. However, there have been a total of five deaths among soldiers assigned to Fort Hood this year that have been publicly linked to foul play.
During a two-day visit to the post in early August, McCarthy said the independent group of investigators was being sent “to understand the root causes associated with the rise of felonies, violent acts [and] to better understand why this is happening at this installation.”
“The numbers are high here,” McCarthy added. “They are the highest, in most cases, for sexual assault and harassment and murders for our entire formation — the U.S. Army.”
In addition to the five civilian members, the review team will also have support staff from the Headquarters of the Department of the Army, including personnel from the Office of the General Counsel and the Office of the Inspector General, service officials said.