WASHINGTON, April 4, 2014 – Investigators must be allowed to do their work to help everyone understand the events that led to yesterday’s shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said today.
During a news conference following the final day of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations defense forum in Honolulu, Hagel said he has been in contact with Army and senior Defense Department leaders as the investigation unfolds.
The department is in the process of implementing recommendations made in reviews that followed the Washington Navy Yard shootings last year, the defense secretary said.
“As the Fort Hood investigation unfolds, we will continue to take a close look to identify any new lessons learned, and implement those, as well,” he said. “In the meantime, we will all stay focused on the victims and their families and the Fort Hood community, who, yet again, are experiencing a terrible tragedy and much grief.”
There’s nothing the department takes more seriously than the safety of the people who work for it, Hagel said. While there are everyday risks in the jobs that the men and women of DOD do for the nation, he added, “there is no mistaking the fact that the prioritization among our service leaders, our commanders [and] our leaders is the safety of those men and women.”
The department has implemented numerous changes based on reviews following the 2009 Fort Hood shootings by then-Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. “We will continue to make the adjustments and implement those recommendations,” Hagel said.
Despite those changes, the defense secretary acknowledged, something went wrong at Fort Hood.
“Obviously, we have a gap,” he said. “Any time we lose an individual, something has gone wrong. But I also noted, and I think it’s important here that we all keep in mind, let the investigators do their work. We don’t know what all the facts are. We know a lot of things 24 hours later, but we don’t know everything.”
Hagel said he’s confident that investigators will be able to determine what motivated Spc. Ivan Lopez to kill three fellow soldiers and wound 16 others.
“And we will do everything possible to implement the kinds of reforms and fill those gaps and assure the security of the men and women who work for our armed forces, and assure their families,” the defense secretary said.