On Dec. 8, the U.S. Army released a report based on a three-month independent review of the culture and command climate at the Fort Hood base in Texas. The report found systemic problems and a “toxic culture” at the sprawling base, which has seen a string of homicides, suicides and sexual assaults in the past few years. The Army announced that 14 officials, including two generals, have been suspended or dismissed following the release of the report.
A five-member civilian panel was established in July to conduct a review of how the climate at Fort Hood affects the safety and readiness of personnel. Their investigation came in response to mounting public pressure to address violence and allegations of sexual assault at the base following the murder of Spc. Vanessa Guillén, who disappeared and was later found dead after revealing to friends that she was sexually assaulted by a fellow soldier. Her killing by another soldier at the base prompted public outcry and drew attention to violence at Fort Hood.
The scathing report describes a “permissive environment for sexual assault and harassment” where soldiers feared retaliation for reporting such incidents. The panel interviewed more than 500 female soldiers and found 93 credible accounts of sexual assault—just 59 of which were reported. It also found 135 credible instances of sexual harassment; only 72 were reported. The women interviewed spoke of a culture that “exhibits a total disregard and disrespect for female Soldiers,” the report says.
The panel also found that many other serious crimes committed on and off the base were neither identified nor addressed, and that no commanding general or senior commander “chose to intervene proactively and mitigate known risks of high crime, sexual assault and sexual harassment.”
Based on the findings detailed in the report, the panel issued 70 recommendations, ranging from a new policy on taking action to finding missing soldiers to restructuring a program that deals with preventing and addressing sexual harassment and assault. The Army has accepted all of the recommendations.
You can read the report here and below: