Army Secretary Directs Fort Hood Accountability Review
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 22, 2010 The Army will conduct a review to determine if leaders were negligent in their supervision of accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, Defense Department officials announced yesterday.
Army Secretary John McHugh has directed Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander of U.S. Army Europe, “to conduct an accountability review to identify whether any personnel were responsible for failures or deficiencies in applying Army programs, policies, and procedures to the alleged assailant,” according to a Defense Department news release.
McHugh also has tasked Ham to provide personal observations he may have developed as a senior Army leader and as a member of the independent panel that investigated the shooting that he believes may be of help to the Army in charting a way ahead.
The independent panel -- co-chaired by former Army Secretary Togo D. West Jr. and retired Navy Adm. Vernon E. Clark, a former chief of naval operations -- provided its report to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Jan. 15.
Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, is charged with killing 13 people, 12 military and one civilian, and wounding 43 others during a Nov. 5 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas. The alleged assailant was shot and disabled by a Fort Hood civilian police officer, who also was wounded in an exchange of gunfire.
Still hospitalized and under detention, Hasan has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 specifications of attempted premeditated murder under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The UCMJ is the U.S. military’s legal system for servicemembers.
Hasan, a Muslim, allegedly became radicalized and complained to colleagues about his role as a U.S. military officer when he was posted at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here before being assigned to Fort Hood in July 2009.
This week, West and Clark discussed the findings of their report with legislators on Capitol Hill. Gates directed the panel to review military personnel policies, procedures for force protection, and emergency response measures, West said during Jan. 20 testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, as well as policies that apply to those who provide medical care to servicemembers.
The panel also was tasked to “take a look at how the Army applied its policies and procedures to the alleged perpetrator,” West told House legislators.
The military, West told committee members, needs “to pay attention” to potential dangers as the war against global extremism continues.
“The fact is that we need to understand the forces that cause an individual to radicalize, commit violent acts and thereby to make us vulnerable from within,” West said.
It also is imperative, West said, that military leaders produce honest appraisals of their subordinates.
“Evaluations make a difference,” West told House committee members. “And we can’t do the job of leading or protecting against threats if honest evaluations are not done by those who have the duty, the information and the authority to do so.”
The Army is an organization based “on disciplined and established standards,” McHugh said in his statement.
“Leaders at every level are responsible for ensuring that our policies and regulations are followed and that appropriate action is taken if they are not,” McHugh added.
The Fort Hood incident, he said, is an opportunity for the Army “to reinforce the basics of leader involvement with soldiers.”