HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. – Col. Russ Stewart with 3rd Military Police Group Criminal Investigation Division transfers authority to Col. Christine Whitmer with 701st Military Police Group Criminal Investigation Division, July 8.
While this day of transition would typically be a change of command, CID is currently undergoing a restructuring. Therefore, 701st MPG will be acting as an interim headquarters while the organization makes several internal changes. Most notably, 3rd MPG (CID) will be hiring a new civilian director and will have a higher ratio of civilian criminal investigators to increase investigative experience and stability.
According to Army Public Affairs, these changes are the result of the Fort Hood Independent Review Committee, which examined the command climate at Fort Hood after the disappearance and murder of Vanessa Guillén. The 136-page report of the FHIRC offered both findings and recommendations intended to benefit the Army and its commitment to safety, respect, inclusiveness, diversity and freedom from sexual harassment.
The Army received its first civilian CID director, Special Agent Gregory D. Ford, in September 2021 and has been making other incremental changes to the force's structure ever since. Ford previously stated the transformation “will require a shift in how CID views itself and how it is viewed by others. Historically, the organization was viewed as an Army command tasked with law enforcement duties. We must now clearly establish CID as an elite federal law enforcement agency that operates within and in support of the Department of the Army.”
During the 3rd MPG transfer of authority, Lt. Gen. Maria R. Gervais, deputy commanding general and chief of staff for U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, presided over the ceremony.
“You all are put into what I call the darkest and most disheartening situations,” Gervais said. “It is a job where your pursuit of justice, your pursuit of the truth, your pursuit of compassion has to be relentless. Because in this world, there is more good than evil and we must ensure that evil never perseveres over the good and that’s what you do and that’s what you represent to so many.”
701st MPG will be the last remaining military command structure within CID, which will take care of all the administrative and logistical support required by Soldiers who remain within the organization.
“I’m honored to be here today and to be a part of this ceremony to honor what the 3rd Group has done since 1965, and to honor those around us and those who aren’t here today,” said Whitmer.
Whitmer spoke about her commitment to the organization and the Soldiers and civilians within it. She also explained that there will be challenges ahead as things continue to change, but that she will lean on the experience and knowledge of her peers and those around her.
When asked if Soldiers will lose their jobs within CID as a result of these changes, Stewart stated that there was no plan to initiate a reduction in force. While Soldiers could see more competitive promotions, immediate changes will be from the addition of new personnel.
As for those Soldiers and families living and working on Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield, Stewart said “for the average person in the community, whether they’re a victim or subject, it will look relatively the same. Our agents, 99% of the time, wear civilian attire. So when they are dealing with the community, you won’t know if they are military or civilian. What the community can expect to see, is an increase in timeliness and thoroughness in investigations. Everyone wants justice yesterday, so this will help us work a little faster and be more thorough.”
Another expected benefit is improved relationships with local, state and federal agencies as a result of having an increase in civilian personnel, who are not required to move every few years. “Almost everything we work is by, with and through local, state and federal partners, so those relationships really matter and this will allow us to increase and maintain those longstanding relationships,” Stewart said.
Looking back on his nine years serving within CID at various levels, Stewart had very clear advice for the Soldiers and civilians remaining in the organization after he departs.
“As part of the profession, you have to continue to study and learn, because criminals will keep adapting to how they executive crime,” Stewart said. “You also have to work hard to build your relationships with the other law enforcement agencies because Soldiers commit crime everywhere. So we have to be able to work with anybody within the law enforcement realm globally.”
When questioned about whether or not the job will change along with the organizational structure, he said that crimes will continue to grow in complexity but the job will always be to seek truth and justice for the victims who can’t speak for themselves.
With much of the re-structuring still in a state fluctuation, 3rd MPG (CID) will remain until the Army makes a decision on force structure, which may trigger the deactivation of the group in the future.
To view the full Fort Hood Independent Review report and Army-wide force restructuring updates, visit army.mil/forthoodreview.