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Army plans to change its policies for how missing soldiers are reported

Vanessa Guillen and Gregory Morales
Posted at 1:14 PM, Oct 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-16 14:14:10-04

The Army is now changing its policies for how missing soldiers are reported, six months after the disappearance and death of Spc. Vanessa Guillen.

In a new action plan originally obtained by Task & Purpose, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, Chief of Staff Gen. James McCVonille, and Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston say that new guidance will be released in “the coming weeks.”

“In the coming weeks, [the Department of the Army] will publish guidance on absent soldiers to clarify that when one of our teammates fails to report for duty, we will consider them missing and take immediate action to find them,” the action plan says.

The new action plan comes after the disappearance of several Fort Hood soldiers including Spc. Vanessa Guillen, Pvt. Gregory Morales who was declared AWOL before he was to be honorably discharged and Sgt. Elder Fernandes who disappeared from Fort Hood and was later found hanging from a tree.

The policy change announcement is part of a shift in the Army to primarily focus on its people by directing that division and brigade leadership will start "routinely" checking up on soldiers' barracks, pay, awards, and physical, mental and spiritual health.

“These changes are aimed at achieving trust throughout the chain of command,” the action plan says. “We trust commanders and leaders at every level to prioritize and focus your units and soldiers.”