Fourteen officers and enlisted soldiers at Fort Hood were fired or suspended Tuesday, following an investigation by the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee that revealed a toxic culture of sexual harassment and other violence at the base, the Associated Press reported.
The committee conducted more than 2,500 interviews with soldiers and civilians, including 503 female soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division and 3rd Cavalry Regiment, and found that there was a “permissive environmental for sexual assault at the base,” according to an Army news release.
In addition, many women revealed that they feared retaliation and ostracism if they reported sexual harassment.
"Fort Hood leadership knew or should have known of the high risk of harm to female soldiers," the release notes.
The latest firings come after the military base has faced a stream of sexual assaults, homicides and suicides this year.
In 2020 alone, 28 soldiers at the base have died due to accidents, suicides, homicides and illnesses. One of the most widely publicized killings was that of Vanessa Guillén, a 20-year-old US Army specialist. She was murdered in April by another enlisted soldier, Aaron David Robinson, who killed himself in July before authorities could arrest him.
The independent review revealed a “deficient climate at Fort Hood, including ineffective implementation of the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) program that resulted in a pervasive lack of confidence, fear of retaliation, and significant underreporting of cases, particularly within the enlisted ranks,” the Army release reads.
In addition, Chris Swecker, the committee chair, urged for a “dramatic change in culture.”
“Soldiers assaulting and harassing other Soldiers is contrary to Army values and requires a dramatic change in culture,” Swecker is quoted as saying in the release. “We have recommended changes to the staffing, structure and implementation of the SHARP program at Fort Hood, and possibly beyond, to address deeply dysfunctional norms and regain soldiers’ trust.”