Gates orders changes after Fort Hood review

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has ordered senior officials to improve information-sharing and take other steps to prevent violence similar to the Nov. 5, 2009, mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas.

The Defense Department on Friday released the results of its final review of recommendations an independent panel made following the shooting. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, the psychiatrist charged with killing 13 people and maiming 43 others, remains in custody and is awaiting military court martial. He is charged with 13 counts of murder and 32 counts of attempted murder.

In an Aug. 18 memorandum, Gates ordered Defense leaders to make changes aimed at ensuring commanders and supervisors have access to appropriate information in personnel records; improving the way information is shared among installations and with other agencies, such as the FBI; responding more effectively to emergencies; and clarifying roles and responsibilities for providing security.

"These initiatives will significantly improve the department's ability to mitigate internal threats, ensure force protection, enable emergency response, and provide care for victims and their families," Gates wrote.

Last November, Gates ordered an independent panel, led by former Army Secretary Togo West and retired Navy Adm. Vern Clark, to review the personnel policies, programs and procedural weaknesses that jeopardized "the health and safety of our employees and their families" in the attack, according to the terms of reference guiding the review.

That review, released in January, made a number of recommendations for strengthening policies to identify and respond to radicalized service members.

The independent panel also recommended the Army take personnel action against an unnamed number of officers in Hasan's chain of command who failed to hold him to professional standards of conduct. Press reports following the shooting identified a number of red flags in Hasan's behavior that raised serious questions about his motives and competence, but were not included in his personnel records.

Due to the ongoing investigation and future prosecution of Hasan, as well as privacy concerns, Defense leaders have declined to address specific issues relating to his service.

Gates addressed the issue obliquely in his memo, however. The force protection measures ordered are not a substitute for leadership, he said. "Leading forces is both a duty and a privilege, and it carries with it the clear responsibility to ensure good order and discipline," he wrote.

"The department will continue to enable military leaders with the tools and discretion they need to take appropriate action to prevent and respond to potential problems, whatever their cause," Gates continued. "As the department takes steps to strengthen its approach to force protection, I ask leaders and commanders across the force to remain mindful of the unique requirements of the profession of arms -- that military service is grounded in an oath to support and defend our Constitution, but also may necessitate the sacrifice of some of the very rights we defend."

Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he was optimistic the changes Gates ordered would improve the safety of the force in measurable ways.

"Secretary Gates and the independent panel did an excellent job rapidly identifying and addressing our internal security shortfalls without interfering with the criminal investigation and prosecution of Major Hasan," Skelton said in a statement. "By tackling this process with a patient and deliberate attitude, we can successfully fix the shortfalls of our force protection without hindering the ability to bring the alleged perpetrator to justice."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.