Major General Scott Efflandt, who had begun his post in charge of the Texas base earlier this year, was set to take over the 1st Armored Division in the coming weeks.
Changes are happening at Fort Hood, the base where ten service members have died since March, including the murdered Spc. Vanessa Guillén. On Tuesday, Army officials announced that the current commander of Fort Hood, Major General Scott Efflandt, is being removed from his post. Efflandt, who had taken over command at Fort Hood in February, before the deadly incidents, was supposed to take over the 1st Armored Division soon. Division commander is a crucial step in an Army general’s career, and losing a division can be a damaging incident in a résumé.
To replace Efflandt, Gen. Michael Garrett will appoint Gen. John Murray, commanding general of US Futures Command. His orders include leading “an in-depth investigation into the chain of command actions related to Spc. Vanessa Guillén,” per an Army statement.
Murray, a four-star general, will have powers to investigate how leadership at Fort Hood handled Guillén’s reports of sexual harassment and her disappearance and death. Guillén’s body was found about two months after she went missing in April, and is believed to have been killed by a fellow soldier who later killed himelf.
General Murray, head of the Army’s Futures Command, is expected to arrive at Fort Hood in two to three weeks. Because he is senior to all the generals in the chain of command at Fort Hood, he will have the authority to recommend disciplinary action against any of them.
“There are currently several investigations underway at Fort Hood which are tasked with reviewing a wide range of topics and concerns,” the Army said in a press release. “Gen. Murray will roll those efforts into a more complete and comprehensive investigation that will delve into all activities and levels of leadership.”
In early August, U.S. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy held a press conference and said they would be investigating the recent increase in deaths, murder, and assault at Fort Hood. He was asked whether that investigation would lead to leadership changes at the base, to which he replied it all depended on what the “root causes” of the incidents were.
On Aug. 3, a committee made up of five civilian members arrived in Killeen, Texas, for an independent and separate Fort Hood “two-week fact-finding mission.” Their report is still pending.
“The Fort Hood Independent Review Committee will examine the command climate and culture at Fort Hood and the surrounding military community to determine whether they reflect the Army’s commitment to safety, respect, inclusiveness, diversity, and freedom from sexual harassment.”
While there have been numerous deaths at Fort Hood, 10 of them have occurred under questionable circumstances. Below is a list of the most notorious deaths at the Texas base since March:
- March 1: Spc. Shelby Jones, 20, was shot and killed at a strip club near Fort Hood.
- March 5: Spc. Christopher Sawyer, 29, was found unresponsive in his on-post residence.
- March 14: Spc. Freddy Delacruz Jr., 23, was among three victims found dead of gunshot wounds at an off-base apartment complex.
- April 22: Spc. Vanessa Guillén, 20, was reported missing after working in one of the regiment’s arms room. Her remains were found weeks later. A fellow soldier who was a suspect in her killing shot himself when confronted by local police.
- May 18: Pfc. Brandon Rosecrans, 27, was found dead from a gunshot wound near his burning Jeep, about 13 miles from the base.
- June 19: Pvt. Gregory Morales, 24. His skeletal remains were found off base, and foul play is suspected.
- July 17: Pvt. Mejhor Morta, 27. His body was found unresponsive by a group of fishermen in the vicinity of Stillhouse Lake. Drowning is suspected, but the investigation is ongoing.
- Aug. 2: Spc. Francisco Gilberto Hernandez-Vargas, 24. His body was recovered after a boating incident on Stillhouse Hollow Lake, which is 15 miles from Fort Hood.
- Aug. 13: Sgt. Bradley Moore, 36, died during a training exercise.
- Aug. 25: Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23, was found hanging from a tree. His death is still being investigated.