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As the military wrestles with racial inequities in the ranks, the general in charge of Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) acknowledged Tuesday that the senior officer corps is not as diverse as it should be.
Speaking at an Association of the United States Army virtual event, Gen. Paul Funk II agreed that the general officer ranks do not represent the demographics of the country when compared to the enlisted force.
“First of all, we’ve got to recognize the diverse talent that we have, and put them in the proper positions, so that they can succeed,” Funk said.
Out of the 13 active Army four-star generals, one is Black: Gen. Michael Garrett, commander of Army Forces Command. Of the 296 general officers in the active Army, 43 are Black, 21 are female and six are Hispanic as of April 30, Army spokesman Lt. Col. Emanuel Ortiz told Military.com.
A Texas woman accused of helping mutilate and dispose of the body of a Fort Hood soldier who vanished this spring was charged Thursday, authorities said.
Cecily Aguilar, 22, of Killeen, faces one count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence in the April 22 disappearance of Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen, federal prosecutors in Texas’ western district said in a statement.
Partial remains were found in Bell County earlier this week but have not been formally identified as Guillen, prosecutors said.
A Fort Hood soldier who authorities identified earlier Thursday as another suspect in Guillen’s disappearance, E-4 Specialist Aaron David Robinson, allegedly told Aguilar that he killed a female soldier after hitting her in the head with a hammer, according to officials.
Robinson, 20, also allegedly enlisted Aguilar — who recognized Guillen — to help him get rid of her body at a remote site in Bell County, near Fort Hood. Damon Phelps of the CID, the Army’s primary criminal investigative organization, told reporters that Aguilar is the estranged wife of a former Fort Hood soldier.
Earlier Thursday, Phelps said that Robinson died by suicide early Wednesday after fleeing Fort Hood the night before.
A soldier suspected in the disappearance of Fort Hood Pfc. Vanessa Guillen killed himself after police confronted him in Killeen, Texas, authorities said Wednesday.Texas Rangers arrested another civilian suspect in connection with Guillen’s disappearance, according to US Army Criminal Investigation Command, which calls itself CID.The suspect, who has not been identified, is the estranged wife of a former soldier from Fort Hood. She is in Bell County Jail awaiting civilian authorities to press charges, CID said.”We have made significant progress in this tragic situation and are doing everything possible to get to the truth and bring answers to the family of Pfc. Vanessa Guillen,” CID spokesman Chris Grey said.
Guillen, 20, was last seen in the parking lot of her barracks at the Texas Army base April 22, CID said.
Fort Hood officials told Guillen’s family they suspect foul play, US Rep. Sylvia Garcia said at a news conference last week.
Early Wednesday, US Marshals, Killeen police and the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force located the unidentified soldier suspected in Guillen’s disappearance, CID said. He had left his Fort Hood post. The authorities confronted him walking along a commercial and residential thoroughfare on the northeast side of the city, a few miles from base.
“As officers attempted to make contact with the suspect, the suspect displayed a weapon and discharged it toward himself. The suspect succumbed from a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” the Killeen Police Department said in a news release.
This came just hours after investigators discovered Tuesday the partial remains of a body near the Leon River in rural Bell County, where Killeen is located.
Authorities on Sunday confirmed that the skeletal remains found in a field in Killeen, Texas on Friday is the body of missing Fort Hood soldier Gregory Morales. They are investigating his death as a homicide.
The remains were identified with the help of U.S. Army investigators and the Army’s Dental Corps. Autopsy results are still pending to determine the cause and manner of death, officials said.
Foul play is suspected, and Army investigators, who are working with Killeen police, are offering a reward of up to $25,000 to anyone with credible information about Morales’ death.
“The First Team is saddened by the news of the passing of PV2 Gregory Morales. His life was taken too soon, and we appreciate his service to our nation,” Maj. Gen. Jeffery Broadwater, commander of the 1st Cavalry Division, said in a statement from Fort Hood.
The family of missing Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillén said Wednesday that her remains were likely found in a shallow grave near the Army installation in Texas, possibly bringing a months-long search for her to a tragic end.
Guillén, 20, was last seen on the morning of April 22 in the parking lot outside her regiment headquarters on the sprawling base outside Killeen.
Her disappearance, punctuated by allegations that she had been sexually harassed by a superior, sparked sadness and rage within her family and the Latino community, who said the Army’s investigative efforts after her disappearance moved too slowly.
“We lost a beautiful young soldier,” family attorney Natalie Khawam said at a news conference with Guillén’s family outside the Navy Memorial in Washington.
Killeen police encountered a suspect tied to Guillén’s disappearance early Wednesday. The fellow soldier “reportedly displayed a weapon and took his own life,” Army investigators said.
Troops and their families based in most states across the country have been given the OK to resume regular travel, except for those in Florida and California, which continue to see troubling rises in coronavirus cases.
Ten more states have met the criteria to lift the travel restrictions the Pentagon set in place in March, defense officials announced on Monday. That allows more service members and their families to resume not only recreational travel, but also permanent change-of-station moves.
Troops based in Guam, Puerto Rico and South Korea are also allowed to travel, with approval from their local commanders.
Locations must meet a series of criteria to see earlier travel bans lifted. Those criteria include no shelter-in-place orders; a two-week downward trend in COVID-19 symptoms; and a 14-day decline in new cases.
The U.S. Army, which has come under criticism by the family of missing Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen, is speaking out, addressing questions about the investigation into her disappearance more than two months ago.
The Army’s move comes days after investigators said they suspect foul play related to her disappearance and opened up a separate inquiry looking into allegations that she was sexually harassed by a supervisor.
“Where’s my sister? They know where she is and I want them to speak up and I want answers and I want them now,” Lupe Guillen, Vanessa’s sister, told NBC affiliate KCEN in Temple, Texas, during a protest Friday. “My eyes are dried out because I can’t even cry anymore.”
The Army included with its list of answered frequently asked questions about the case a message, saying: “We are very concerned for the welfare of PFC Vanessa Guillen and we fully understand the frustration felt by the family, friends and fellow Soldiers of Vanessa. We are doing everything in our power to get her back and will not stop until we do.”
The number of active coronavirus cases among Veterans Affairs patients has doubled since the start of June, due mostly to rising numbers of infected individuals at hospitals in Texas, Florida, California and other virus hot spots across the country.
On Thursday morning, VA officials reported 2,815 active cases of the fast-spreading virus across 132 medical facilities. That’s up more than 60 percent in the last week alone and twice the department’s reported active case total of 1,390 at the start of June.
The number of active cases had dropped steadily through May since peaking around 3,000 in the early part of the month. Now, nearly all of those reductions are gone.
Fifteen VA medical centers have added 20 or more new coronavirus patients in the last 10 days, according to department statistics. The VA hospital in San Antonio has the most active cases with nearly 200, more than 150 of them coming in the last two weeks.
Public health officials have warned of significant coronavirus spikes in states in the south and west in recent days, with several posting their highest infection numbers since the start of the pandemic fourth months ago.
The Army announced several measures on Thursday to reduce the possibility of racial bias within its promotions and military justice systems, but banning Confederate flags and renaming posts bearing the names of Confederate military commanders will have to wait — possibly for a Pentagon-wide order.
“We are advisers,” said Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville during a press conference. “And we pass that military advice to our civilian leaders, and they are working through that and trying to come up with a long-term and enduring policy.”
“We certainly have some ideas on the best ways to do this, whether its the symbology of certain things or taking a look at what the names of certain posts should be,” McConville added.
In early June, Army leaders and Defense Secretary Mark Esper said they were open to a discussion on renaming Army posts that bear the names of Confederate commanders. But President Donald Trump tweeted on June 10 that his administration “will not even consider” the move.
That apparently doesn’t mean the idea is dead. Congress could ultimately push the issue forward, even as the Army waits for a Defense Department-wide policy.
The U.S. Army will remove photographs from their process of selecting and promoting officers, as part of an initiative to combat racial biases.
The Army announced the launch of Project Inclusion on Thursday, a “holistic effort” aimed at promoting diversity and tackling racial disparities in the service. As part of the initiative, official photographs will no longer be part of officer selection boards beginning in August, while other personnel decisions will be reviewed under similar “evidence-based standards.”
“The Army must continue to put People First by fostering a culture of trust that accepts the experiences and backgrounds of every Soldier and civilian,” Gen. James C. McConville, Army Chief of Staff, said in a press release. “Our diverse workforce is a competitive advantage and the Army must continue to offer fair treatment, access and opportunity across the force.”
Microelectronics are in nearly everything, including the complex weapons systems the Defense Department buys, such as the F-35 joint strike fighter, the Pentagon’s director of defense research and engineering for modernization said.
“It is so ubiquitous and because it is … so fundamental to everything we do,” Mark J. Lewis said via video conference today as part of a forum sponsored by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.
Because of the importance of microelectronics, he said, the department is shifting the way it goes about buying microelectronics and ensuring they are secure to use.
“We want the Department of Defense to have access to state-of-the-art capabilities, which we do not have today,” he said. That’s because the department is not buying on the commercial curve, he explained.
In the mid-1990s, DOD adopted a “trusted foundry” model for procuring microelectronics, Lewis said.
“The idea [was] that in order to deliver parts that we could trust, we would enable foundries that would manufacture our microelectronics where we had control over every step of the process — or so we thought,” he said. “That model, we think, has failed.”
The department isn’t a large purchaser of microelectronics, Lewis said, so companies that adhered to the department’s “trusted foundry” model were unable to make a business case for following it.
“As a result, they haven’t been investing,” he said. “The chips that we buy, the microelectronic components that we buy from those trusted foundries, are in some cases two generations behind what’s available on commercial state-of-the-art.”
Family planning, lack of dependent care, sexism and sexual assault were among the top reasons more women leave the military than their male counterparts, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.
While the percentage of females serving in the military increased slightly between 2004 and 2018, during the same period, female enlisted and officers were 28 percent more likely to leave the service than men, according to a May Government Accountability Office report about female active-duty personnel.
The Department of Defense has recognized for years that increasing the gender diversity of its force relies first on bringing more female recruits into the service. The GAO report states that efforts to retain women need to be treated as equally critical to maintaining a diverse force.
“DoD has identified that female recruitment and retention is important to diversity in the military, but the services do not have plans that include goals, performance measures, or timeframes to guide and monitor current or future efforts to recruit and retain female active-duty service members,” the report states.