Pentagon beefs up info sharing after Fort Hood review

Defense secretary mandates that commanders, supervisors get increased access to personnel and medical records on potentially violent staff

In the wake of the review of fatal shootings at Fort Hood, Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered the military to adopt tighter security measures and improve methods that unit commanders use to share medical information about potentially violent individuals under their command.

Gates’ Aug. 18 memorandum came in response to a series of recommendations made by a DOD review panel that looked at security lapses surrounding actions of the alleged Fort Hood shooter, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, accused of killing 13 and wounding another 43 at the Army base on Nov. 5. Hasan survived and has been charged in the attack. DOD released the panel’s final recommendations on Aug. 20.

To protect against another attack, Gates ordered that commanders and supervisors have access to appropriate information in personnel records. He also ordered that installations share that information with one other and with outside law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI. Gates also said DOD needs to do a better job at responding to emergencies—and that it must clarify its roles and responsibilities for providing security at its domestic installations.

Gates ordered DOD to examine ways to update clearance procedures, including better background checks on those entering DOD employment. Background checks for security clearances at the Secret level were unsatisfactory, the panel noted in its findings.

“The tragic shooting of U.S. military personnel at Fort Hood underscored the need for the DOD to thoroughly review its approach to force protection,” Gates said. “These initiatives will significantly improve the department’s ability to mitigate internal threats, ensure force protection, enable emergency response and provide care for victims and families.”

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