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Army announces changes in Fort Hood leadership, names commander to head Guillen probe

Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, III Corps deputy commanding general, was originally scheduled to move to Fort Bliss to take command of the 1st Armored Division. (File)
Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, III Corps deputy commanding general, was originally scheduled to move to Fort Bliss to take command of the 1st Armored Division. (File)
Published: Sep. 1, 2020 at 3:00 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2020 at 7:44 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (KWTX) - The Army Tuesday announced changes in Fort Hood leadership and named the senior commander who will lead an investigation into the handling of the disappearance and death of Spc. Vanessa Guillen.

Maj. Gen. John B. Richardson IV will become deputy commanding general for operations of III Corps and acting senior commander of Fort Hood effective Wednesday, replacing the post’s acting commander Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt, who was to have moved to El Paso to assume command of Fort Bliss.

“This previously-scheduled change in leadership will enable continuity of command as III Corps returns from its role leading the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve,” the Army said in a press release.

Richardson served from 2019 to 2020 as FORSCOM’s director of operations and in March 2020 was selected by the Department of the Army to serve as the next deputy commanding general of III Corps.

“Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt will continue to serve as the deputy commanding general for support and will remain at Fort Hood to assist with the reintegration of III Corps as they return from their mission supporting Operation Inherent Resolve,” the Army said.

Efflandt was slated to move to Fort Bliss to take over leadership of the 1st Armored Division, but the Army announced last month his transfer had been delayed because of the independent review.

Within a matter of days the Army will announce a new commander for the 1st Armored Division, which Efflandt was previously tapped to lead, the press release said.

“Essentially, he’s sliding over,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville told the Army Times.

The previously scheduled adjustment shouldn’t be interpreted as a punishment, he was quoted as saying.

Efflandt has been serving as the post’s acting commander while the commanding general of III Corps and Fort Hood, Lt. Genl Pat White, commands Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve, overseeing the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Gen. John Murray, commanding general of Army Futures Command, and one of the Army’s most senior commanders, will be named “to lead an in-depth investigation into the chain of command actions” related to Guillen, the Army said.

“There are currently several investigations underway at Fort Hood which are tasked with reviewing a wide range of topics and concerns. Gen. Murray will roll those efforts into a more complete and comprehensive investigation that will delve into all activities and levels of leadership,” the Army said.

Murray’s investigation is separate from an independent review by a civilian panel that’s now underway.

The five members of the civilian panel, Chris Swecker, Jonathan Harmon, Carrie Ricci, Queta Rodriguez and Jack White, who have a combined 75 years of experience as active-duty military and law-enforcement personnel, arrived Sunday to start their two-week review to determine whether the command climate and culture at Fort Hood, and the surrounding military community, reflects the Army’s values, including safety, respect, inclusiveness, and a commitment to diversity, and workplaces and communities free from sexual harassment.

The results, including the findings and recommendation of the review, will be submitted to James E. McPherson, Under Secretary of the Army, and Gen. Joseph M. Martin, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, who will co-chair an implementation team to consider every recommendation and implement changes, as appropriate.

The panel has a mid-September deadline to submit an interim report and an Oct. 30 deadline for its final report.

Guillen was last seen sometime between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on April 22 in the parking lot of her 3rd Cavalry Regiment Engineer Squadron Headquarters.

The eys to her car and her barracks room and her ID card and wallet were later found in the armory room where she had worked earlier in the day.

More than two months later, on June 30, contractors working on a fence along the Leon River discovered what appeared to be human remains.

Investigators searched the area “and identified scattered human remains that appeared to have been placed into a concrete-like substance and buried.”

The remains were later confirmed to be Guillen’s.

Cecily Anne Aguilar, 22, of Killeen, who’s accused of helping her boyfriend dismember and bury Guillen’s body was named in a three-count federal indictment Tuesday charging one count of conspiracy to tamper with evidence and two counts of tampering with evidence.

Each count carries a potential maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

She remains in custody after pleading not guilty to the charges.

Aguilar, the indictment alleges, conspired with her boyfriend, Spc. Aaron David Robinson, of Calumet City, Ill, “to corruptly alter, destroy, mutilate and conceal evidence, including the victim’s body in order to prevent Robinson from being charged with and prosecuted for any crime” and that Aguilar tampered with evidence in this case, including the victim’s body, to impair its integrity and availability for use in an official proceeding,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a press release.

A chilling federal affidavit released on July 2 says Robinson beat Guillen, with a hammer and that her body was later dismembered and burned.

Robinson shot himself in the head early in the morning on July 1 in the 4700 block of East Rancier Avenue as Killeen officers approached him.

He died at the scene.

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