Twenty-eight Fort Hood service members have died since January. That includes five homicides, eight suicides, and four deaths that are still being investigated. Rumors and hearsay have swirled. Many have looked at the upper echelons of leadership for answers, closure, and, more importantly, a solid plan to stop the tide of needless soldier deaths.
In this recently published video, Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston condemned the command climate at Fort Hood. He said he supports the actions directed by the Secretary of the Army and the Chief of Staff.
For the uninitiated, the Sergeant Major of the Army, or SMA, is the highest-ranking enlisted non-commissioned officer (NCO) in the United States Army and reports directly to the Chief of Staff of the Army. The Army launched a probe into the glut of soldier deaths this year. It recently handed down sweeping punishments across the command, including removing the commanding general from his post and pausing his advancement to another base. The investigation has also led to policy change recommendations.
But in the video, SMA Grinston says that “policy did not create the culture at Fort Hood… Policy means nothing without leaders who enforce it.”
He then pointed a virtual finger at the non-commissioned officer corps — the sergeants who are the lynchpins in unit fitness and readiness. SMA Grinston suggests that the NCO corps is in part to blame for the deaths of the soldiers.
“Throughout the course of this review,” the Sergeant Major said, “it was clear that leaders at multiple echelons failed to take actions that uphold our values.”