WASHINGTON - Five civilian members of a committee that will conduct an independent review of Fort Hood were sworn in Wednesday during a virtual ceremony. The Fort Hood Independent Review Committee will examine the command climate and culture at Fort Hood and the surrounding military community to determine whether they reflect the Army’s commitment to safety, respect, inclusiveness, diversity, and freedom from sexual harassment.
"The Army is honored to have such highly qualified panel members help us explore the current environment in order to improve conditions for our Soldiers, families and civilians," said Under Secretary of the Army James E. McPherson. "We thank them for their time and commitment to provide an accurate assessment of their findings."
The FHIRC members have a combined 75 years of experience as active-duty military and law-enforcement personnel, and have broad expertise with the law and government investigations, having worked on discrimination claims, civil matters, veterans' issues, whistleblower cases and law-enforcement investigations, among others.
The FHIRC members include Mr. Chris Swecker, a lawyer who has conducted similar independent reviews for the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the Vogel Nuclear Power Plant, and the Winston Salem Police Department; Mr. Jonathan Harmon, a trial lawyer whose business litigation practice spans complex commercial, fraud, class-action, and employment issues, among others; Ms. Carrie Ricci, an associate general counsel for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and prior assistant general counsel for the Department of Defense Education Activity; Ms. Queta Rodriguez, regional director of a non-profit organization for veterans; and Mr. Jack White, a lawyer with expertise in government investigations, discrimination claims, constitutional matters, securities claims, white collar matters, bankruptcies and other civil matters.
In addition, the FHIRC members will be assisted by a support staff from the Headquarters of the Department of the Army, including personnel from the Office of the General Counsel, the Office of the Judge Advocate General, the Office of the Inspector General and other offices.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy and Gen. James McConville, Chief of Staff of the Army, have requested the FHIRC to provide an interim program report by mid-September and a final report by Oct. 30, 2020. Their assessment will include a review of historical data and statistics; interviews with a wide range of Fort Hood personnel; an evaluation of policies, regulations and procedures regarding sexual assault prevention, sexual harassment, equal opportunity and responses to reports of missing Soldiers; an evaluation of leaders' training, education, abilities and effectiveness; and the command climate at various units and its impact on the safety, welfare and readiness of their Soldiers.