Spc. Ricky Elder shot and killed his battalion commander, Lt. Col. Roy Tisdale, before turning the gun on himself during a unit formation at Fort Bragg in 2012.
In the years leading up to the tragedy, Elder was involved in several unreported incidents including assault, DUI, felony aggravated battery, and assault and failure to appear.
“There were probably people in that formation who knew about his troubles, but hadn’t reported it,” said Andrew Albright, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, Security and Intelligence Division chief.
Albright and John Hodge, DPTMS Security and Intelligence Division supervisory security specialist, said when the Department of Defense began experiencing a hike in internal threats such as with the information leaks by Edward Snowden and Chelsea “Bradley” Manning; Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter; Aaron Alexis, the Navy Yard shooter and Elder, the Department of the Army began efforts to mitigate these types of acts.
How can these acts be
According to Albright, it’s about getting people the help they need before it’s too late. But, in order to get them that help, any activity they are involved in that violates a person’s position of public trust or national security must be reported.
Hodge said that reporting what is known as derogatory information is mandatory and not discretionary.
All Army commanders, directors of organizations, supervisors and security managers must report any information that calls into question a person’s trustworthiness, judgment or reliability.
People not in supervisory roles are also obligated to report any derogatory information about their peers to a supervisor or they could face administrative action.
“Even if people aren’t experts, they have a general knowledge of what’s right and wrong,” Albright said. “If you see something, say something.”
Factors that fall under derogatory information include but are not limited to activities involving fraudulent identity information, inappropriate use of credentials, criminal or dishonest conduct, alcohol abuse and treasonous acts or activities.
What happens if a person
Just because a person is reported, or self-reports, does not mean they will be subject to separation from the military.
Albright said if someone, for example, gets a DUI, there is likely a bigger cause behind it, such as problems at home or financial issues. By reporting the DUI, commanders can come up with a plan to get the person help, whether it’s through the substance abuse program or another Army program like Financial Readiness.
“It’s about looking at the whole person — real people who can have real problems. It’s not about ‘we got ya’ as much as ‘OK, that’s outside the scope of what we consider appropriate for personal conduct,’” Albright said.
It’s always better to report, Hodge and Albright agreed.
“Get ahead of it. When you self-report, you get the opportunity to tell your side of the story and say ‘here’s what I’m doing to get right’,” Albright said. “If you don’t report and the DoD finds out about it, it’s automatically viewed as ‘why were you trying to hide it?’”
Additionally, the DoD will find out about things people may try to hide through the Army’s revamped Army Continuous Evaluation program.
Security clearances are reviewed every five or 10 years, depending on the type, explained Hodge. The enhanced ACE program allows for checks on a person on a continuous basis to ensure they are still eligible to hold their security clearance.
The evaluations include a federal and state criminal history record check, finance and credit score check, and social media check.
“If your friends are talking about your DUI (on social media) it’s credible and can be used,” said Albright.
What is the reporting process?
The reporting process begins either with the individual in question self-reporting an incident, such as a DUI, or with a coworker who has knowledge of the incident reporting the individual to a supervisor or commander.
The supervisor will inform their security manager, who will then dialogue with servicing security office from their respective command, be it the installation, Joint Special Operations Command or U.S. Army Special Operations Command, etc. They will then dialogue with the DoD Consolidated Adjudicative Facility.
Hodges said when an incident gets to the CAF they look at the incident and person holistically before determining what action to take.
“There is a lot invested in the security clearance of the Soldier, the civilians and the contractors. They don’t want to just cut them loose. They want to do what’s best for the Army, the DoD and U.S. and try and rehabilitate that person and security clearance instead of letting it go by the wayside,” Hodge said.
Anyone who has questions or needs more information about reporting derogatory information should talk to their security manager or contact Albright at 396-2885.