Fort Hood commander loses position following string of deadly incidents


Army leadership on Tuesday removed the commander of Fort Hood from his role and barred him from a planned position at another Texas base following multiple high-profile deaths under his tenure.

Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, who had been set to take over as commander for the 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, will instead remain at Fort Hood to serve as deputy commanding general for support.

“The Army will announce the name of a new commander for the 1st Armored Division, which Efflandt had previously been designated to lead. That announcement is expected in the coming days,” according to a service statement.

The announcement comes after three Fort Hood soldiers went missing in the last year before later being found dead.

Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23, was found hanging in a tree last week in Temple, Texas, about 28 miles from the base. His family attorney has said he was “humiliated” after reporting sexual abuse, and his death is under investigation.

Pfc. Vanessa Guillen, 20, went missing in April before her body was discovered in July. Army officials suspect another soldier, Aaron David Robinson, was involved in her disappearance before he took his own life. 

And Pfc. Gregory Morales, 24, went missing exactly one year before Fernandes. His remains were discovered in June in Killeen, Texas, and his death remains under investigation.

In addition, three members of the military, including soldiers stationed at Fort Hood, were among a group of men arrested in August in a prostitution sting in central Texas.

In Efflandt's place, U.S. Army Forces Command head Gen. Michael Garrett directed Maj. Gen. John Richardson IV to assume command at Fort Hood on Wednesday.

Garrett also intends to appoint Gen. John Murray, commanding general of U.S. Futures Command, “to lead an in-depth investigation into the chain of command actions related to Spc. Vanessa Guillen,” according to the statement.

The new investigation adds to the several other open inquiries at Fort Hood, including one directed by Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy in July to independently review the command climate at the installation.

Murray “will roll those efforts into a more complete and comprehensive investigation” that take a larger look at base activities and leadership.

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