The top commanding general at Fort Hood army base in Texas has taken the unusual step of posting a message on Facebook asking seven anonymous noncommissioned officers (NCOs) to give him details of misconduct allegations they described in a news article.
The allegations were published late last week by The Intercept. The article describes the views of five sergeants and two staff sergeants responsible for overseeing some of the 38,000 soldiers at Fort Hood, characterizing the environment as having “become so dangerous that they fear for the safety of their soldiers,” according to the article.
“I would be scared to send my kid to Fort Hood,” one NCO told The Intercept.
Lt. General Pat White, Third Corps commanding general, said in a Facebook post Saturday that he read the article with “great concern.”
“Seven anonymous NCOs describe events and attitudes that I’d like to know more about in order to fix it,” White said in the social media post. “The allegations in the article are serious and I firmly believe in the chain of command; since these NCOs feel their immediate leaders have failed them, I ask that these sergeants—and anyone else—use their personal courage” to call him or the senior enlisted official on base directly.
White listed the Fort Hood hotline number as part of the effort to encourage personnel to directly report problems. Since the post over the weekend, a handful of calls have been received but none of the them are confirmed to be from any of the original seven, according to a defense official with knowledge of the calls.
The anonymous NCOs also alleged to The Intercept that there have been drugs on base, as well as cases of sexual harassment or assault.
There are number of ongoing reviews into Fort Hood’s problems. An outside independent panel may finish its report as soon as this week. An internal Army review — which could lead to some top personnel being disciplined — may be done by the end of the year, according to one defense official.
The concern over soldier deaths and assaults at Fort Hood increased significantly earlier this year when the remains were found this summer of Specialist Vanessa Guillen, who went missing in April. Her family has spearheaded action to get the Army to bring families into missing soldier cases right away in case they can offer valuable information.
Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy has been pressing for answers at Fort Hood for months. When he visited in the summer, he noted the base has one of the highest of murders, sexual assault and incidents of harassment in the Amy among the largest installations.
Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, the base commander, has already been reassigned to another job. White just recently returned to command at Fort Hood after serving as the head of the US-led military coalition in Iraq.