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Army gives general fired over Vanessa Guillen death new command, then takes it back

Then-Brig. Gen. Scott L. Efflandt, Dec. 7, 2018. (U.S. Army photo/Released)
February 25, 2021

This week, the U.S. Army announced and then walked back a plan to name a former Fort Hood general, who was relieved of command after an investigation of Spc. Vanessa Guillen’s death, as the deputy commander of U.S. Army North.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Army first announced Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt would be moved to the deputy commander role. According to Task & Purpose, a Department of Defense press release initially listed Efflandt for the deputy commander role, but his role was later revised to “special assistant to the commanding general of U.S. Army North.”

Army spokeswoman Cynthia O. Smith told Army Times the “original announcement was wrong.”

Smith said, “This is a temporary reassignment pending final outcome of the AR 15-6 investigation.” The investigation, led by Gen. John Murray, is looking into the actions of the chain of command at Fort Hood following the disappearance and death of Spc. Vanessa Guillen and the sexual harassment she allegedly faced prior to her disappearance.

Efflandt was one of 14 leaders relieved of command at Fort Hood last fall, following an independent review panel of the base command climate. Then-Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said the panel found a “command climate at Fort Hood that was permissive of sexual harassment and sexual assault.”

Among the 503 female soldiers interviewed by the review panel, McCarthy said there was an overarching fear of retaliation, stigma, ostracism, career consequences, and lack of confidentiality for not reporting the results.

Queta Rodriguez, a retired Marine officer and FHIRC panel member, said interviews with the 503 women revealed 93 credible accounts of sexual assaults, of which only 59 were reported, and another 217 unreported accounts of sexual harassment.

After Efflandt was initially announced for the Army North deputy commander role, Vanessa Guillen’s family criticized the assignment in a Facebook post, calling it “a disrespect for Vanessa Guillen, the Guillen Family, the public, survivors, and countless others who died due to an injustice in the armed forces.”

The problems at Fort Hood predate Efflandt’s leadership at the base and Guillen’s disappearance and death.

“Fort Hood was identified as a high-risk installation for sexual assault as far back as 2014,” the Fort Hood review panel’s final report stated.

Efflandt was assigned reassigned from a role as a provost of the Army University at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to the deputy commander position at Fort Hood in December of 2018.

According to Army Times, Efflandt was due to assume command of the 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, Texas, but that assignment was delayed and ultimately derailed by Guillen’s death.

Efflandt was left in charge at Fort Bliss while the base commander, Lt. Gen. Pat White, had been deployed to Iraq through the fall of 2019 and much of 2020.