Fort Hood Commander ousted following the deaths of Vanessa Guillén and 25 others
It’s a performative attempt at justice, as the commander will remain at Fort Hood as a deputy commander.
Army leadership announced it has removed the commander of Fort Hood, the military base known for multiple incidents of sexual assault and the deaths of multiple soldiers within a mere couple of years.
On Tuesday, Sept. 1, Army leadership removed Fort Hood Commander, Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt from his role and barred him from moving on to a planned position at another Texas Base following multiple troubling cases of sexual assault and the deaths of soldiers under his command.
But it doesn’t mean Efflandt will be removed from Fort Hood entirely. He will instead remain at the base with a demoted position, serving as deputy commanding general for support, reported The Hill.
A statement released by Army leadership says the announcement of a new commander will be released in the coming days.
At least Twenty-six Fort Hood soldiers died this year alone, but still, the commander under which these lives were lost will remain present at the base.
Local news outlets in Texas report eight solders died of “some kind of accident,” six have died by suicide, five were killed in homicides, who died of illnesses, and five remain pending, or have yet to be solved.
Advocates and first-hand accounts have alleged there is an unsafe environment present at the base.
It’s why soldiers like Vanessa Guillen feared reporting sexual assault, and the reason behind Elder Fernandes’ harrassment after reporting his own sexual assault, only to be found dead a week later.
The most high-profile case that led to this incredibly minor “shakeup” at Fort Hood was the case of Vanessa Guillen, a 20-year-old specialist that vanished in April.
The Army’s abysmal response to her disappearance speaks for itself. Two months into her disappearance, the nation still didn’t know her name, and the late visibility of her case led to dire consequences.
The main suspect tied to Guillen’s murder committed suicide before he could be arrested, depriving her family of the fullest extent of justice.
Pfc. Gregory Morales was 24 when he went missing. His remains were discovered in June during the search for Guillen in Killeen Texas, and his death remains under investigation.
Exactly one year after Morales went missing, Elder Fernandes, 23, went missing as well.
His family attorney says he was subject to embarrassment and humiliation after reporting sexual abuse by a superior officer. He was found a week later, and his death is under investigation.
The Army says it is conducting its own internal investigations into the case of Vanessa Guillen, but all signs point to a cover-up. Until the process for investigation and prosecution is taken out of the hands of the Army, the cultural changes needed to adequatley address sexual assault, and unsafe conditions will not be dealt with.
The Texas Senate Hispanic Caucus is calling for a congressional investigation into Fort Hood, noting that “more than one third of women” at the base say they’ve been sexually harassed.
An independent panel has been appointed to conduct its own investigation, but it’s important to note this “independent” panel was appointed by the Army, and they have a combined 75 years of experience in the military or law enforcement.
Vanessa Guillen’s tragedy rattled the nation, but it's one of the dozens of similar circumstances, and one of just a handful mentioned above.
Commander Efflandt is not being replaced. He faces just a minor demotion, reinforcing the toxic environment that has festered under his command.