Major General Scott Efflandt has been removed from his post following the deaths of at least 15 soldiers connected to the troubled army base
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.
The commander of Fort Hood has been from his post following the suspicious deaths of several soldiers including Vanessa Guillen at the army base. Fort Hood pictured above
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.
Vanessa Guillen, 20, vanished from the base after telling her family she was being sexually harassed. Her body was discovered in July
Last week, the body of Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23, (left) was discovered after he went missing back on August 17. Fort Hood soldier, Pfc. Gregory Morales, right was reported missing from the base a year ago on August 20, 2019. The 24-year-old’s remains were found on June 21 in a field in Killeen
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.
Fernandes’ disappearance comes a year after the disappearance of Pfc. Gregory Morales, 24, a Fort Hood soldier who was reported missing on August 20, 2019.
His remains were found June 21 in a field in Killeen, near Fort Hood. Killeen police and Army officials are still investigating his death and foul play is suspected.
Vanessa Guillén´s body was found a week later in July after her disappearance in April.
Fellow soldier Spc. Aaron Robinson, 20, killed and dismembered Guillén and had the remains disposed of in nearby woods, federal and state investigators said.
Robinson killed himself July 1, the day Guillén’s remains were found, officials said.
Cecily Aguilar, 22, of Killeen, has been accused of disposing of Guillén’s remains for Robinson and has been charged with three federal conspiracy counts related to the soldier’s death.
She has pleaded not guilty.
Guillén´s family has said she was sexually harassed by the soldier suspected of killing her, but the Army has said there is no evidence to support that. There is an ongoing investigation.
Other soldiers to have died this year include: Pvt. Mejhor Morta; Spc. Francisco Gilberto Hernandezvargas; Pfc. Brandon Scott Rosecrans; Spc. Freddy Delacruz Jr; Spc. Christopher Wayne Sawyer; and Spc. Shelby Tyler Jones.
The two most recent deaths linked to the base include Sgt. Bradley Moore, 36, who died at the base during a training exercise last week. He was with the Texas Army National Guard.
Spc. Cole Jakob Aton, 22, was also killed last week while assisting at the scene of a car accident near the base. He had been standing on the road trying to direct traffic around the crash when he was hit by a car.
Aton had previously shared petitions and posts on social media demanding answers into the deaths and disappearances at the Fort Hood base.
Last week, the body of Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23, was discovered after he went missing back on August 17.
Fernandes was not reported missing for two days.
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
One of the entrances to Fort Hood is seen. 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
It then emerged he had claimed he was being sexually abused by a male superior prior to his disappearance.
This came after the April disappearance of 20-year-old soldier Vanessa Guillen, who vanished after telling her family she was being sexually harassed.
Her dismembered body was discovered in July.
Fellow soldier Spc. Aaron Robinson, 20, killed and dismembered Guillen and had the remains disposed of in nearby woods, federal and state investigators said.
Guillen’s family said she told them before she vanished that she was being sexually harassed by Robinson.