USA — Pentagon Releases Final Fort Hood Shooting Review

WASHINGTON, Aug. 20, 2010 — Pen­ta­gon offi­cials today released the Defense Department’s final review of rec­om­men­da­tions issued by an inde­pen­dent pan­el in the wake of the Nov. 5, 2009, shoot­ing spree on Fort Hood, Texas.

Among the department’s top pri­or­i­ties, as out­lined in the review, are boost­ing on-base emer­gency response capa­bil­i­ties, improv­ing law enforce­ment and force pro­tec­tion infor­ma­tion shar­ing with part­ner agen­cies, and inte­grat­ing force pro­tec­tion pol­i­cy, a Defense Depart­ment news release said.

In a mem­o­ran­dum signed Aug. 18, Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates said he care­ful­ly con­sid­ered the panel’s rec­om­men­da­tions — detailed in the report titled, “Pro­tect­ing the Force:

Lessons Learned from Fort Hood” — and is direct­ing the depart­ment to take “appro­pri­ate action” to address the ini­tia­tives detailed in the fol­low-on review.

“I expect depart­ment lead­ers to place great pri­or­i­ty on imple­ment­ing these rec­om­men­da­tions,” Gates said. All actions are aimed at con­tribut­ing to the safe­ty and health of mil­i­tary forces, the release said.

Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, an Army psy­chi­a­trist, alleged­ly opened fire at a Fort Hood facil­i­ty where sol­diers were pro­cess­ing for over­seas deploy­ments. He has been charged with 13 counts of mur­der and 32 counts of attempt­ed mur­der.

“The trag­ic shoot­ing of U.S. mil­i­tary per­son­nel at Fort Hood … under­scored the need for the [Defense Depart­ment] to thor­ough­ly review its approach to force pro­tec­tion and to broad­en its force pro­tec­tion poli­cies, pro­grams and pro­ce­dures to go beyond their tra­di­tion­al focus on hos­tile exter­nal threats,” Gates said.

Ear­li­er this year, an inves­tiga­tive pan­el detailed 79 rec­om­men­da­tions in its report cen­tered on improv­ing force pro­tec­tion and tight­en­ing gaps in per­son­nel poli­cies, emer­gency response mass casu­al­ty pre­pared­ness and sup­port to Defense Depart­ment health care providers. In April, Gates direct­ed the Defense Depart­ment to imme­di­ate­ly imple­ment 26 of the 79 rec­om­men­da­tions while a review of the remain­ing 53 rec­om­men­da­tions con­tin­ued.

The final review’s ini­tia­tives “will sig­nif­i­cant­ly improve the department’s abil­i­ty to mit­i­gate inter­nal threats, ensure force pro­tec­tion, enable emer­gency response and pro­vide care for vic­tims and fam­i­lies,” Gates said.

The review puts forth “con­crete actions” for the major­i­ty of the rec­om­men­da­tions, Gates said. In some cas­es, how­ev­er, fur­ther study will be required before the depart­ment can take addi­tion­al steps.

In par­tic­u­lar, he said, the depart­ment will strength­en its poli­cies, pro­grams and pro­ce­dures in the fol­low­ing areas:

— Edu­cat­ing com­man­ders about the symp­toms of poten­tial work­place vio­lence and the tools avail­able to them to address it;

— Ensur­ing com­man­ders and super­vi­sors have access to appro­pri­ate infor­ma­tion in per­son­nel records through­out a servicemember’s career;

— Improv­ing law enforce­ment and force pro­tec­tion infor­ma­tion shar­ing with part­ner agen­cies and among instal­la­tions to ensure all rel­e­vant per­son­nel are aware of and able to ana­lyze and respond to poten­tial threats;

— Expand­ing instal­la­tions’ emer­gency response capa­bil­i­ties, includ­ing enabling enhanced 911 to noti­fy dis­patch­ers of a caller’s loca­tion, mass noti­fi­ca­tion and warn­ing sys­tems to guide instal­la­tion per­son­nel and emer­gency respon­ders to an emer­gency, and a com­mon oper­at­ing pic­ture to ensure emer­gency respon­ders have access to real-time infor­ma­tion in a cri­sis;

— Inte­grat­ing force pro­tec­tion pol­i­cy through the cre­ation of a con­sul­ta­tive and pol­i­cy-mak­ing body that will bring togeth­er the var­i­ous enti­ties across the depart­ment with force pro­tec­tion respon­si­bil­i­ties; and

— Ensur­ing the depart­ment pro­vides top-qual­i­ty health care to ser­vice­mem­bers and health care providers by hir­ing addi­tion­al health care providers, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the men­tal health field, and ensur­ing health care providers receive appro­pri­ate post-deploy­ment respite and time at home between deploy­ments.

Gates also has direct­ed the assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for home­land defense and America’s secu­ri­ty affairs to con­tin­ue to lead the fol­low-on review and to pro­vide reg­u­lar progress reports to him.

The sec­re­tary also empha­sized the impor­tance of lead­er­ship and the need for inter­ven­tion when nec­es­sary to ensure good order and dis­ci­pline.

“Force pro­tec­tion, although crit­i­cal, is not a sub­sti­tute for lead­er­ship,” he said. “Lead­ers at every lev­el in our mil­i­tary play a crit­i­cal role.”

Gates pledged to pro­vide lead­ers with the nec­es­sary tools to deal with poten­tial issues among their ranks.

“As the depart­ment takes steps to strength­en its approach to force pro­tec­tion,” he said, “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.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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