WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army announced on Tuesday there will be a change in leadership at Fort Hood, the Army post in Killeen, Texas that has been at the center of several controversies surrounding the disappearance and subsequent deaths of soldiers.
The commanding general of the U.S. Army Forces Command, Gen. Michael X. Garrett, in a previously scheduled change in leadership is directing that Maj. Gen. John B. Richardson IV formally assume duties as deputy commanding general for operations of III Corps and acting senior commander of Fort Hood as of Sept. 2.
Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, who was the commander at Fort Hood when the recent incidents happened, will “will continue to serve as the deputy commanding general for support and will remain at Fort Hood to assist with the reintegration of III Corps as they return from their mission supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.”
Efflandt, however, was set to take over as new commander for the 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, but now the Army says the name of the new commander will be announced in the coming days.
Along with the change in leadership, the Army has named a senior commander to lead an investigation in handling the disappearance and death of Private First Class Vanessa Guillen. That investigation is now separate from an independent review by a civilian panel that’s now underway.
The five-member panel arrived on Sunday to start their two-week review on the command climate and culture at Fort Hood. One thing they’ll be looking at is making sure the base is free from sexual harassment.
Sargent Elder Fernandes, of Brockton, was also recently found dead off base last week. He was the ninth person stationed at the base to be found dead this year. Fernandes’ body was found about 30 miles from Fort Hood, about a week after he was reported missing, but local police say they didn’t suspect foul play was involved.
Army officials say Fernandes reported he had been a victim of sexual assault back in May, but an investigation determined his claims were unsubstantiated. The attorney for Fernandes’ family said he was transferred to a new unit after reporting the assault, but had been bullied and harassed over it before he was found dead.
Earlier in the summer, Guillen had reportedly told her family she experienced harassment on base before she was found dead after being reported missing since April.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.
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