Editorial: Army responds to past neglect at Fort Hood

Central Texas was rocked in November 2009 by a gruesome shooting spree at the Fort Hood army post in Killeen.

Now, more than a year later, nothing can comfort the families more than knowing a loved one’s death was not taken lightly by the United States Army.

On Thursday, the Army announced it would be punishing nine soldiers stationed at Fort Hood because of leadership failures in relation to Army doctor Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who is accused of killing 13 and wounding 29 in the Nov. 5, 2009 attack.

“The severity of each action varies depending on case-specific facts and circumstances,” reads an Army press release addressing the disciplinary action. “In certain cases, it may take several weeks to ensure that each officer is accorded appropriate due process and to take final action.”

It is often said that the media has attention faults — that is, major media outlets flock to the hot button issues each week but once the spotlight has shifted the media ceases to follow the story. Luckily, that is not the case with the Fort Hood massacre.

This tragedy has affected people over the nation, not just central Texans, and it is promising to see that the Army is still investigating the incident.

Blame should certainly not be wholly thrust upon the backs of these nine officers, but the Army’s recent announcement points to several flaws in the leadership above Hasan.

Accountability and responsibility must be top priorities for America’s armed forces, and the move to punish these nine leaders is proof that that Army is committed to that charge.

The Army has not released any of the names related to the incident, citing the protection of the due process rights of the officers.

The Army will be reviewing information surrounding the event and will decide whether the release of any of that information would be appropriate.

According to ABC News, a report from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee details that there were warning signs in the Fort Hood case.

Titled “Ticking Time Bomb: Fort Hood Massacre Could Have Been Prevented,” the Senate report points to Hasan’s “radicalization” and that many colleagues raised concerns about Hasan.

Hasan was given exemplary evaluations and promotions, despite the present warning signs.

Army Secretary John McHugh, the man who has begun “adverse administrative actions” against the nine officers, has called for the review of the Army’s evaluation procedures.

He wants to improve the way evaluations work in the Army to ensure “more accurate and useful evaluations.”

McHugh’s call for a revamp is long overdue. The Fort Hood case was a tragic way for the Army to learn of its dismal ability to keep commanding officers accountable.

It should not have taken the death of 13 people to find that lackluster or frightening performances were being wrongfully evaluated as acceptable, and in Hasan’s case, positive.

The more we glean from this disaster, the more we will — hopefully — be able to change for the better. Thirteen people lost their lives because of poor oversight.

Let’s take this opportunity to honor them by protecting future Army officers.