The commander of Fort Hood has been removed from his post following the deaths of at least 15 soldiers connected to the troubled army base.
Major General Scott Efflandt has been removed from his position as commander of the base and will also no longer take on the role of commander of a division at Fort Bliss, the US Army announced in a statement Tuesday.
The army will announce the name of a new commander for the 1st Armored Division in the coming days.
The decision comes following a string of tragedies and deaths, including Vanessa Guillen, that have plagued the Texas Army base. Fifteen soldiers connected to Fort Hood have died this year alone, with foul play suspected in five of the deaths.
The commanding general of US Army Forces Command, Gen. Michael Garrett, has directed Maj. Gen. John Richardson IV to formally assume the role of acting commander at Fort Hood from Wednesday, the statement read.
Efflandt will stay on at Fort Hood for the time being, serving as deputy commanding general for support until the new commander is assigned to the role.
The army also announced that Garrett will appoint Gen. John Murray, commanding general of US Futures Command, to ‘lead an in-depth investigation into the chain of command actions related to Spc. Vanessa Guillen.’
There are several open investigations at Fort Hood already but this investigation will be a ‘more complete and comprehensive investigation that will delve into all activities and levels of leadership’ at the addled base.
The investigation will also be separate from the Independent Review of Fort Hood, which began back in August.
Fort Hood has come under increasing scrutiny after at least 15 soldiers have died or disappeared from the base.
U.S. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said in a visit to Fort Hood earlier this month that the Central Texas base had some of the highest numbers of sexual assault, harassment and murder.
He ordered an independent probe of Fort Hood in July, after authorities said Guillen was slain.
The body of missing Fort Hood soldier Sgt. Elder Fernandes was found 30 miles from the Texas base where he was stationed, police said last month.
Fernandes, 23, was reported missing on August 19. Killeen police said he had not been seen since August 17 when his staff sergeant dropped him off at home. His body was found a week later on August 29.
Fort Hood public affairs officer Lt. Col. Chris Brautigam later confirmed Fernandes had reported sexual abuse before his disappearance and was transferred to another unit, ‘to ensure he received the proper care and ensure there were no opportunities for reprisals.’
Khawam, a lawyer representing the family of Vanessa Guillen, another Fort Hood soldier who went missing and was found dead, and now the Fernandes family, told ABC News that Elder got ‘very, very depressed’ after being sexually harassed while working in a supply room in April.
‘I am saddened that another soldier who served the country has been destroyed by sexual assault and sexual harassment and this toxic culture in the military that exists,’ Khawam added.
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Rachel Sharp and Lauren Fruen