The Army has launched a new investigation into the Criminal Investigation Command (CID) detachment at Fort Hood, Texas, after an independent review found that the inexperienced, overworked agents failed to control the post's culture of violent crime and drug use.
The fact-finding investigation will look at resourcing, policies and procedures of the 6th Military Police Group CID at Fort Hood. Its launch follows an independent review committee's stunning findings regarding the negative command climate and culture at Hood, and months of Army soul-searching in the wake of the disappearance and murder of 20-year-old 3rd Cavalry Regiment Spc. Vanessa Guillen.
The committee found crime data in the cities and counties surrounding Fort Hood was comparable to areas of similar size, but "serious crime problems on Fort Hood have gone unaddressed," Chris Swecker, chairman of the review committee and retired assistant director for the FBI, told defense reporters Tuesday at a Pentagon briefing.
"The Fort Hood CID detachment had various inefficiencies that adversely impacted the accomplishments of its mission," Swecker said.
One problem that plagued CID at Hood was that the Army is essentially using the post as a "training ground for CID agents," fresh out of entry-level instruction at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, Swecker said.
"They were rotating through; they were coming out of Fort Leonard Wood, going straight to Fort Hood -- uncredentialed apprentice agents. And then, within two years, they were rotating out very quickly," he said.
The detachment suffered from "fairly chronic understaffing, in the time period that we looked at, and inexperience," he said.
Swecker added that excessive workloads led to heavy attrition rates, noting agents also lacked investigative equipment for cellphone tracking and extracting information for phones and mobile devices.
"The investigative tools that most law enforcement agencies have, they didn't necessarily have at their fingertips," Swecker said. "They needed more and better equipment."
The committee's report recommended that Army CID ensure that "Fort Hood and other CID offices that cover Corps and Divisional Posts maintain a sufficient number of experienced (more than 5 years) and highly experienced (more than 8 years) Special Agents to accomplish its mission."
During its fact-finding mission in August, the committee found "no proactive effort to suppress crime," Swecker said.
"On the base, there were some hot crime areas that were relatively high -- violent crime, sexual assaults, sex crimes, drugs," he said, adding that "positive drug tests were the highest in the Army."
The committee placed part of the blame for the rampancy of criminal activity on Fort Hood's leadership.
"Leaders across a series of commands failed to use best practices in the areas of public safety to develop and execute crime suppression strategies," Swecker said. "The committee found that the serious crime problem on the installation at Fort Hood requires proactive command action."
The Army announced Tuesday it has relieved or suspended 14 Fort Hood leaders, including the firing of Maj. Gen. Scott L. Efflandt, deputy commanding general for Support at III Corps; and Col. Ralph Overland and Command Sgt. Maj. Bradley Knapp, the 3rd Cavalry Regiment commander and command sergeant major, as a result of the committee's findings.
In all, the committee presented nine findings and 70 recommendations to address issues such as major flaws in the Army's Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Prevention (SHARP) program at the base, as well as a command climate at Fort Hood that that was permissive of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy has created a "people first" task force that will formulate a plan for all 70 recommendations, which the Army will begin implementing by next March.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.