The Secretary of the Army has announced the five civilian experts who will lead the independent review of Fort Hood.
The review comes after members of Congress and the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, called for the Army to investigate the command climate of the post after the death of Spc. Vanessa Guillen, a 3rd Cavalry Regiment soldier.
“Thank you to the members of the panel who have agreed to take time from their lives to support our independent review,” Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy said in a news release Thursday. “The Army is committed to taking care of our soldiers, civilians, families, and soldiers for life, and this independent review will explore the current command climate and culture at Fort Hood.”
The panel members are former FBI inspector Chris Swecker, trial lawyer Jonathan Harmon, retired Army Lt. Col. Carrie Ricci, Marine Corps veteran Queta Rodriguez and Jack White, a lawyer and Army veteran.
“It’s an honor for me to support our men and women, our sons and daughters in uniform, to ensure they live and work in environments where they feel safe and respected. As a representative of the panel, I commit to providing a complete and thorough review of the command climate at Fort Hood and to follow the facts wherever they lead,” Swecker, the panel leader, said.
The purpose of the review is to determine whether the command climate and culture at Fort Hood, and the surrounding military community, reflects the Army’s values, including safety, respect, inclusiveness and a commitment to diversity, and workplaces and communities free from sexual harassment, according to the release. The panel will review historical data and conduct interviews with military members, civilians and members of the local community. The panel will be assisted by a brigadier general and a staff for administrative, logistical and media support.
The results, including the findings and recommendation of the review, will be submitted to James E. McPherson, under secretary of the Army, and Gen. Joseph M. Martin, the vice chief of staff of the Army, who will co-chair an implementation team to consider every recommendation and implement changes, as appropriate.
Swecker has a solo law practice, Swecker Law, in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is of counsel for the Miller & Martin Law Firm. As a consultant, Swecker has conducted similar independent reviews, including for the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the Vogel Nuclear Power Plant and the Winston Salem Police Department.
Swecker served 24 years with the FBI before retiring as assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. As an FBI inspector, he conducted inspection reviews of the leadership and all aspects of FBI Field Divisions, including Chicago, New Haven, New York, Milwaukee, Seattle, Boston and Honolulu. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State University, followed by a Juris Doctor from the Wake Forest University School of Law.
Harmon, chairman of McGuireWoods LLP, is a prominent trial lawyer who has represented Fortune 500 companies across the country.
Harmon formerly led McGuireWoods’ Business & Securities Litigation Department. His business litigation practice spans complex commercial, fraud, class-action, insurance fraud, complex business/civil tort, environmental, product liability, employment, construction, toxic tort, and federal or state protected whistleblower cases.
Harmon is a 1987 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, and he received a Juris Doctor from the University of Texas School of Law in 1995.
Carrie Ricci, an assistant general counsel for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has supervisory responsibility for a team of 30 attorneys and professional support staff that provide legal services to both the marketing and regulatory programs and the food safety mission areas of USDA.
Prior to joining USDA, Ricci served as an assistant general counsel with the Department of Defense Education Activity, providing legal support to 14 school districts worldwide that service 87,000 children from kindergarten through 12th grade. Before her role with the DOD, Ricci served nearly 22 years as an active-duty Army officer, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. Ricci is a graduate of Georgetown University and the University of Maryland School of Law.
Rodriguez, a regional director for FourBlock, was born and lives in Bexar County, Texas. Prior to joining FourBlock, a national nonprofit that helps veterans transition into civilian careers, Rodriguez served as a director of veterans services for Bexar County.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in government and politics from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2001. She served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1991 to 2012 as an intelligence analyst and manpower operations officer. Her career experience also includes working as an operations manager at the Lorenzana Law Firm.
White, a partner at Fluet Huber + Hoang, has broad expertise in government investigations, discrimination claims, constitutional matters, securities claims, white collar matters, bankruptcies, as well as a number of other civil matters. He has also advised state and local law enforcement, social services, and education chief executives on public school safety issues.
Before joining Fluet Huber + Hoang, White served as a law clerk at the United States Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit on behalf of the Honorable Samuel A. Alito Jr., who was then a judge on that court. White joined Justice Alito for a second clerkship at the U. S. Supreme Court during the 2008-2009 term.
White is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and served five years as an active-duty Army officer before transferring to the U.S. Army Reserve while attending Pepperdine University School of Law. White graduated magna cum laude and served as editor-in-chief of the Pepperdine Law Review.
Killeen Mayor Jose Segarra spoke about his interaction with Fort Hood leading up to the review.
“The Army did reach out to me a few weeks ago to say that they may be reaching out to community leaders for assistance,” Segarra said last weekend. “I will do what I can to help out Fort Hood if needed.”