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Civilian to Lead US Army CID  05/06 06:48

   The Army plans to put a civilian in charge of the command that conducts 
criminal investigations, a response to widespread criticism the unit is 
understaffed, overwhelmed and filled with inexperienced investigators, 
officials familiar with the decision told The Associated Press.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Army plans to put a civilian in charge of the command 
that conducts criminal investigations, a response to widespread criticism the 
unit is understaffed, overwhelmed and filled with inexperienced investigators, 
officials familiar with the decision told The Associated Press.

   The decision, expected to be announced Thursday, reflects recommendations 
made by an independent commission in the wake of violent crimes and murders at 
Fort Hood, Texas, including the death of Vanessa Guilln, whose remains were 
found about two months after she was killed.

   According to officials, the Army Criminal Investigation Command, or CID, 
will be separated from the Provost Marshall General's office, and instead of 
being run by a general officer it will be overseen by a yet-to-be-named 
civilian director. The move is designed to improve the capabilities of the 
command and address the findings of the Fort Hood commission.

   The CID will be responsible for criminal investigations, and the Provost 
Marshal office will continue with separate duties.

   The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the decision 
before it was made public, said immediate changes would be implemented at three 
Army installations considered high-risk to increase qualified staffing and help 
improve relationships with local law enforcement. It's unclear which 
installations will be affected.

   Longer-term changes would address how to improve the criminal investigations 
to better deter crime.

   The decision comes amid heightened attention within the Pentagon on ways to 
address sexual assaults and other discipline problems in the military. Defense 
Secretary Lloyd Austin's first directive after he took office in January 
ordered senior leaders to look into their sexual assault prevention programs, 
and he later created a panel to study the matter.

   The Fort Hood independent review panel, however, was created last year by 
former Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy.

   More than two dozen Fort Hood soldiers died in 2020, including in multiple 
homicides and suicides. Guilln's death and other cases prompted the independent 
review, which found that military leaders were not adequately dealing with high 
rates of sexual assault, harassment, drug use and other problems at the base. 
The review panel, which released its findings last December, also concluded 
that the Army CID was understaffed, badly organized and had too few experienced 
investigators.

   Members of the panel told Congress members in March that the CID 
investigators lacked the acumen to identify key leads and "connect the dots."

   Christopher Swecker, chairman of the review panel, said the agents were 
"victims of the system," which he said failed to train them and often had them 
doing administrative tasks. And he said the base leadership was focused on 
military readiness, and "completely and utterly neglected" the sexual assault 
prevention program. As a result, he said, lower-level unit commanders didn't 
encourage service members to report assaults, and in many cases were shaming 
victims or were actually the perpetrators themselves.

   Since then, Army leaders have taken disciplinary action against 21 officers 
and non-commissioned officers at Fort Hood in connection with Guilln's 
disappearance and death. Among those were senior base leaders as well as CID 
agents.

   During the March Congressional hearing, lawmakers grilled the CID commander, 
who told them that she is "seizing this moment" to correct the staffing and 
resource problems within her agency that led to sweeping failures in tracking 
and solving cases.

   "We can and we will do better," Maj. Gen. Donna Martin told the House Armed 
Services subcommittee on military personnel at the time. She said the Army was 
working to restructure and modernize the CID, and was considering adding more 
civilian investigators and creating special teams that could respond to major 
criminal cases when needed at any base. Martin is leaving the job, in a routine 
rotation.

   The change by the Army mirrors a similar shift by the Navy in 1992, in the 
aftermath of the Tailhook scandal, when Navy and Marine officers sexually 
assaulted dozens of women at a hotel in Las Vegas. As a result of sweeping 
condemnation of the Navy's investigation into the matter, leaders transformed 
the military-led Naval Investigative Service into the Naval Criminal 
Investigative Service and appointed a civilian director.

 
 
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