‘Totally Unacceptable’: Army Secretary Condemns Command Climate, Says Fort Hood Report ‘Will Change The Army’


Wednesday, December 9th 2020, 8:08 am
By: CBS News


Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy spoke to CBS News during an exclusive interview ahead of the release of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee report. When asked about the prevalence of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military, Secretary McCarthy said "the trend is going the wrong way" and promised to "take some pretty dramatic steps in order to reverse this trend." 

1. McCarthy is firing or suspending 14 Fort Hood commanders and other leaders.

The Army announced a series of terminations and suspensions, from top leaders down to the squad level. This included Major General Scott L. Efflandt, who was relieved of Command at Fort Hood in September following an outcry over the death of Specialist Vanessa Guillen. McCarthy said this would be one of the largest disciplinary measures taken by the Army at the same time.

2. A large number of soldiers who experience sexual harassment or assault fear retaliation for reporting.

The Fort Hood Independent Review Committee's report highlighted soldiers' concerns about the consequences of reporting sexual harassment or assault at Fort Hood and Army-wide. McCarthy said there were "high numbers of individuals that were concerned about reporting" due to "fear of retaliation from someone in an echelon above them." 

"It's totally unacceptable," said McCarthy. "It's incredibly disappointing. It's some of the things that we saw in the independent review's findings."

3. The Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention Program at Fort Hood has been ineffective due to the command climate.

McCarthy acknowledged that, in many cases, commanders were responsible for setting a tone that was not consistent with the Army's "core values" regarding sexual assault and harassment policy. He said "accountability" will be necessary to show those types of behaviors are "unacceptable."

4. The report contains nine findings and 70 recommendations to help combat sexual harassment and assault in the military.

The report contains nine findings and 70 recommendations, many aimed at combatting sexual harassment and assault and in the military.

Nearly half of the 70 recommendations proposed by the review committee are related to sexual assault and harassment. McCarthy said he called for the review, in part, because of what happened to Vanessa Guillen. He said, "I wanted a fresh pair of eyes to help us understand the problem and fix it."

5. The Army hopes the 136-page report will lead to "enduring change."

Actions recommended in the report, which surveyed 31,612 soldiers and conducted interviews with 647 soldiers, will lead to "one of the most comprehensive steps in accountability in the Army history to get after this," McCarthy said. "It will change the Army." 

McCarthy said that work has just begun to address the issue and that the report "is one step among many in this journey."

© 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.