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Fort Hood commander's transfer delayed due to investigations

A team of independent investigators will determine whether leadership failures contributed to Vanessa Guillen's murder, and other deaths.

FORT HOOD, Texas — Army leaders are delaying the planned transfer of the Fort Hood commander, as a team of independent investigators heads to the base to determine whether leadership failures contributed to the murder of a soldier earlier this year, and several other deaths. Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, commander of Fort Hood, Texas, was slated to go to Fort Bliss, which is near El Paso, and take over leadership of the 1st Armored Division. He will now stay at Fort Hood, as Army leaders consider whether there were systemic problems at the base, and who should be held accountable.    

Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen was last seen on April 22 on Fort Hood. Her remains were found on June 30 near the Leon River. A federal criminal complaint filed reported that Specialist Aaron Robinson repeatedly hit Guillen with a hammer, killing her, at Fort Hood on April 22. She was then mutilated and burned in an attempt to dispose of the body with Cecily Aguilar's help, according to the affidavit. Aguilar, Robinson's girlfriend, described the series of events to investigators during an interview on June 30. 

The case has gained international attention and led to a meeting between President Trump and the Guillen family. 

This week Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy spoke from Fort Hood  after a day of meetings with civilians and soldiers across all ranks. 

"The murder of SPC Guillen has become a catalyst highlighting sexual harassment and sexual assault within the military," McCarthy said. "The loss of Vanessa has been felt in our formations, particularly here and across the nation."

McCarthy said he was launching Project Inclusion to address issues like lack of diversity, discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault and suicide.

McCarthy named five civilians on July 30 to be part of an independent review of the command climate and culture on post and in the surrounding military community around Fort Hood. The stated purpose of the panel is to make sure Fort Hood reflects the Army's values of safety, respect and workplaces free from sexual harassment.

"Ultimately the results, findings, recommendations will fuel an implementation team chaired by the Undersecretary of the Army and the Vice Chief of Staff for the Army," McCarthy said.

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