People first: New task force seeks Army-wide changes

By Devon Suits, Army News ServiceDecember 21, 2020

Infantry squad situational training exercise
Capt. Joseph Wishart, a company commander assigned to 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, provides feedback following the completion of an infantry squad situational training exercise at Fort Carson, Co., June 3, 2020. (Photo Credit: Capt. Daniel Parker) VIEW ORIGINAL

WASHINGTON -- Leaders of the new People First Task Force said Wednesday they are committed to restoring an Army-wide culture of dignity and respect as they work to aggressively address the results of an independent report.

Army senior leaders recently established the PFTF to respond to the list of findings and recommendations within the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee report released Dec. 8.

Lt. Gen. Gary M. Brito, deputy chief of staff, G-1; Diane M. Randon, assistant deputy chief of staff, G-2; and Sgt. Maj. Julie A.M. Guerra, deputy chief of staff, G-2 sergeant major, will serve as the tri-chairs.

The task force has “three tri-chairs who have committed their lives to this institution,” Randon said. As a member of the senior executive service, Randon has 35 combined years of federal service and a record of leadership expertise pertaining to Army personnel, installations and quality of life issues.

“We are all team members and leaders,” Randon added. “We are going to actively and aggressively address these findings and recommendations … that will change the trajectory of the Army’s culture.”

Plan of action

The PFTF will develop a plan of action to address the report’s findings as they reassess current policy and programs. Recommendations will then be submitted to Army senior leaders for review and implementation as quickly as possible.

A list of recommendations could come as early as this spring, said Brito, who serves as the lead officer responsible for the development, management, and execution of manpower and personnel plans, programs, and policies.

The independent review committee focused on the command climate and culture at Fort Hood. Findings in the report identified flaws in the implementation, reporting and adjudication of the Army’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program.

The report also identified a series of problems with the Fort Hood Criminal Investigation Command field office activities tied to chronic understaffing and a lack of experience.

“There has been a lot of reaction and discussion about this report,” Randon said. “It will take each one of us to reflect role-model behaviors, the Army values, and actions that show that we care for our teammates. Whether we are civilian or military, we are part of the team and we all have to be a part of the solution.”

The PFTF plans to look into other issues, such as suicide and racism, as they aim to build responsive programs that increase prevention, and ensure trust and accountability, Brito said.

“We have already taken the liberty to talk to some of our other sister services,” he said. “Although the focus is on [Fort Hood], I would argue that [the report] challenges” the entire military.

“We own this as an Army,” Brito added.

Soldier, civilian feedback

To develop an action plan, tri-chairs will receive support from a range of subject-matter experts, to include the Army provost marshal general, inspector general, judge advocate general, assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs, and external to Army advisors.

The task force will also look to incorporate feedback from younger Army personnel to provide a different perspective and shape the future force, Randon said.

Army senior leaders expect the PFTF to develop “big [and] bold ways we can move forward,” Randon added.

“When we talk about dignity and respect, we are talking about what happens inside of those formations,” Guerra said.

For the past 26 years, Guerra has developed a wealth of experience training, mentoring and leading Soldiers in units around the world.

Leaders need to remember that there is an element of empathy, compassion and care that comes with being a leader and it is a pivotal aspect of the Army’s culture, she said.

“We have to care -- we have to actually care,” Guerra said. “We have to take the time to know our Soldiers” on both a professional and personal level.

Each task force leader acknowledged the long road ahead, but all of them said they are inspired to make a difference.

“The most important thing that we do as leaders every single day is set the culture, climate and tone of our organizations, so America’s sons and daughters come inside of our formations … and know that they are safe,” Guerra said.

Related links:

Fort Hood Independent Review website

Secretary of the Army announces missing Soldier policy, forms People First Task Force to implement Fort Hood Independent Review Committee (FHIRC) recommendations

Army News Service

ARNEWS archive