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Vanessa Guillén’s Entire Chain of Command Was Fired

Army Specialist Vanessa Guillén, 20, was reported missing from her post at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas back in April of 2020, and after a months-long search, her remains were finally recovered on June 30, after which it was revealed that 20-year-old U.S. Army Specialist Aaron Robinson had allegedly bludgeoned her to death on April 22, enlisting his girlfriend Cecily Aguilar to help him dispose of the body, who later told officials he confessed to killing Guillén. Robinson died by suicide after he was confronted by Killen police in connection with her murder. Six months later, after weeks and weeks of protests, media attention and investigations into the leadership at Fort Hood, in December, disciplinary action was taken against the military leaders responsible for Guillén at the time she was killed.

Initially, it was believed that only leaders at the brigade level of Guillén’s chain of command were fired during the December 8 disciplinary action hearing, but Army Sgt. Major Michael Grinston revealed to a group of two dozen junior enlisted soldiers that all of the 14 leaders involved, including those in her squad, platoon, company and battalion were fired as well. Fort Hood Independent Review Committee determined during the hearing that poor leadership was at the root of problems with command “climate and culture” at Fort Hood. Sgt. Grinston used the disciplinary actions taken against these soldiers to illustrate how the Army is going about the task of identifying leaders that have contributed to “corrosive behaviors,” according to a report on Military.com. Grinston urged soldiers to report misconduct, however many of the soldiers who took part in his presentation reported that they do not believe changes at Fort Hood would be long-lasting. “The whole U.S. is watching Fort Hood. They want to see you here,” one soldier asserted, according to Military.com

Prior to her death, Guillén, who worked as a small arms repairer on the base, had opened up to her family about experiencing sexual harassment but allegedly felt uncomfortable addressing the issue with her command. Additional leaders on Fort Hood who were not a part of Guillén’s command have also been suspended, until a subsequent investigation led by General John Murray, commander of Army Futures Command, is completed and a new sexual assault prevention program is implemented. The results of the internal investigation could also lead to additional disciplinary action, although it is unclear when that investigation is  expected to conclude.

Aguilar, 22, was arrested and charged with conspiracy to tamper with evidence and is being held without bail until her trial, which is currently scheduled for January 19. She has pleaded not guilty and is being held  in McLennan County Jail in Waco, Texas.