The Defense Department, in releasing its final report on force protection in the wake of the Fort Hood, Texas, shootings that left 12 soldiers and one civilian dead, called on commanders to be more aware of potential workplace violence, expanding emergency response capabilities on post and allowing commanders better access to service members’ personnel records.
"I expect department leaders to place great priority on implementing these recommendations," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in releasing the report Aug. 18.
"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.
In a memorandum accompanying the report, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said, "I expect department leaders to place great priority on implementing these recommendations."
Adding, "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."
Maj. Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, has been charged with 13 counts of murder and 32 counts of attempted murder in the shootings that took place in a processing center on post on Nov. 5.
In October, a military judge will determine whether the case should go to trial.
Rep. Ike Skelton, D- Mo., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, 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.
"We now know what steps need to be taken, and the wheels of examination, assessment, and change have been set in motion. I look forward to continuing oversight of the Department as we try to move forward from this terrible event."
Among the priorities listed in the 23-page report include:
Educating commanders about the symptoms of potential workplace violence and the tools available to them to address it;
Ensuring commander and supervisor access to appropriate information in personnel records throughout a service member’s career;
Improving law enforcement and force protection information sharing with partner agencies and among installations to ensure that all relevant personnel are aware of and able to analyze and respond to potential threats;
Expanding installations’ emergency response capabilities, to include 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 that 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 which will bring together the various entities across the department with force protection responsibilities; and
Ensuring that we provide top quality health care to our service-members and our healthcare providers though the hiring of additional health care providers – particularly in the mental health field – and ensuring that health care providers receive appropriate post-deployment respite and dwell time.
The final recommendations of the Fort Hood follow-on review can be found at http://www.defense.gov/news/d20100820FortHoodFollowon.pdf.