US Army to Replace Criminal Investigations Chief In Wake of Guillen’s Death
The service’s Criminal Investigation Command has faced criticism for its lax casework on soldier deaths, assaults and suicides.
The U.S. Army has decided to replace the head of its criminal investigations division less than a year after naming her to the position, as the service continues to face the aftermath of the murder of Spc. Vanessa Guillen.
Maj. Gen. Donna Martin became provost marshal general of the Army and commanding general of Army Criminal Investigation Command last July, just 10 days after Guillen’s body was found outside Fort Hood, Texas.
Martin will be replaced by Brig. Gen. Duane Miller, who is currently deputy provost marshal general and deputy commanding general of CID, Miller confirmed to Defense One in a phone interview.
It’s the second time in as many years that the Army has replaced its top law enforcement officer. Since 1971, CID has been led by only 15 commanding generals, most of whom served three years or longer.
Martin replaced Maj. Gen. Kevin Vereen, who also served only a year in the post.
In a response after the story posted, Army spokeswoman Col. Cathy Wilkinson said Martin's departure was part of a normal rotation of officers and that Miller's assignment had been announced in February. She said a follow-on assignment for Martin had not been identified.
“They are trying to fix everything. I hope they will be successful,” said attorney Natalie Khawam, who represented Guillen’s family. “I hope our efforts have helped reshape the Army, and reshape leadership” to prevent deaths like Guillen’s from occurring again, Khawam said.
Guillen’s murder brought national attention to longstanding criticisms of how the Army responds to sexual harassment and assault claims in its ranks. Guillen’s family has said she was being sexually harassed before her death but was afraid to report the harassment to her chain of command.
The Army directed an independent investigation into her murder, which it released last December. The report found that systemic leadership failures led to a permissive environment, resulting in higher rates of sexual assaults, harassment, suicides, and murder at Fort Hood than were reported throughout the service.
The report also found that the CID command at Fort Hood had for years let deaths go without complete investigations, due to lack of experienced agents or resources. That had led to a “checklist driven” approach to just complete a file rather than solve a case, the report found.
Martin faced criticism during a March 2020 congressional hearing on how not only Guillen’s case was handled, but also how CID handled the case of Sgt. Elder Fernandes, who was missing for more than a week last year before he was also found deceased, hanging from a tree last August about 30 miles from Fort Hood.