CHICAGO (WLS) -- Pentagon officials announced that the Army fired or suspended 14 senior officials at the army base in Fort Hood, Texas for failures of leadership related to the Vanessa Guillen case.
Guillen, who was stationed on the base, was murdered in April by a fellow soldier, Calumet City native Aaron David Robertson. The highest-ranking soldier fired in this Army scandal is also an Illinois native.
Major General Scott Efflandt went from being an Eagle Scout in Rock Island, Illinois to a two-star general in the U.S. Army. But Tuesday night, Major General Efflandt's "leadership failures," as the Pentagon puts it, have left his colleagues stunned and saddened as he is the highest ranking of 14 Army leaders relieved of duty or suspended for allowing a base culture of violence and disrespect that resulted in a rash of deaths.
"When we go back and visit family, it's in the Chicago area and it's not far from Wheaton, Illinois," Maj. Gen. Efflandt said during a 2016 ceremony at Fort Riley in Kansas, talking up his Midwest roots and his three decades of commissioned service that started as an infantry platoon leader with the Illinois National Guard. He graduated from Southern Illinois University, but it was his time most recently at Fort Hood, Texas that marked his career and marred it forever.
"I am gravely disappointed that leaders failed to effectively create a climate that treated all soldiers with dignity and respect," U.S. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said.
Efflandt was atop the Pentagon's purge Tuesday at Fort Hood after an investigation into the death of 20-year-old Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen. She vanished in April. Her body was found two months later. Her alleged murder is one in a series of sexual assaults, sexual harassment and suicides examined.
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"What was made abundantly clear is that we've got to fix our culture particularly regarding sexual harassment and sexual assault. Everyone in the army is responsible for the culture but commanders are responsible for the climate," said U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Pat White, Commander of Fort Hood.
Guillen's family claims she was sexually harassed at Fort Hood but didn't report it to her superiors because she feared retaliation.
"The tragic death of Vanessa Guillen and a rash of other challenges at Fort Hood forced us to take a critical look at our systems, our policies and ourselves," Secretary McCarthy said.
"We are holding leaders accountable and we will fix this," said Gen. James C. McConville, U.S. Army Chief of Staff.
For Efflandt, tonight's professional discipline comes less than two years after his own personal tragedy, the death of his 51-year old wife Ann, a native of suburban Harvey.
The I-Team reached Major General Efflandt late Tuesday, and he declined to discuss Tuesday's events and said he had no personal comments to offer, referring us to The Three Armored Corps at Fort Hood. In a statement, they say significant changes began last summer to prioritize a people-first approach to leadership to promote a positive culture.
But what can't be changed is the number 25: that's how many soldiers assigned to Fort Hood died the past year due to suicide, homicide or accidents.
Highest-ranking soldier disciplined in Fort Hood shakeup after Vanessa Guillen case is Illinois native
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