The Complex

Another Rampage at Fort Hood Leaves Four Dead


An Iraq veteran who was being treated for depression and anxiety opened fire at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas, killing three military personnel and injuring 16 more before taking his own life in a tragic and jarring echo of the deadly rampage at the same base five years ago.

The shooter, identified in media reports as Specialist Ivan Lopez, used a semi-automatic pistol in an area of the sprawling base where medical and motor transport personnel work. When the shooting stopped, Lopez was confronted in a parking lot by a female military police officer, according to Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, the senior commander at the base.

As the officer attempted to "engage" the shooter, Milley said, Lopez pulled a pistol out from underneath his jacket and shot himself in the head. He had been transferred to Fort Hood from another Army installation, also in Texas, in February, Milley said.

Lopez, who had a wife and children living in the area, had not been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, the signature invisible wound of the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But he had "self-reported" a traumatic brain injury and was being treated for a number of mental illnesses, including depression and anxiety, Milley said. The soldier was a combat veteran, he said.

Fort Hood officials said they could not rule out that the shooting was an act of terrorism, but said there was not yet any indication that it was. Base officials had contacted the Army installation where Lopez had previously served to try learn more about the shooter and his background.

"Obviously we are digging deep into his background, any criminal history, psychiatric history, his experiences in combat, all the things you'd expect us to do are being done right now," Milley said at a press conference outside the base.

Wednesday's assault wasn't the first mass shooting at the base in recent years. In November 2009, Maj. Nidal Hasan shot and killed 13 people and wounded 32 others in what remains the worst mass murder at a military installation in American history. Last year, he was sentenced to death for the killings. He awaits execution at a facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

The new shooting reopened wounds within Fort Hood and across the military.

"Events in the past have taught us many things here at Fort Hood: we know the community is strong, we know the community is resilient, and we know the soldiers and the civilians and the families of this fort who have served so bravely in combat for the last 13 years in both Iraq and Afghanistan are strong and we will get through this," Milley said.

There were few other details available about the shooting as military, federal investigators and local law enforcement all converged on the base shortly after the shooting occurred, at around 4 PM local time.

On Wednesday, President Obama pledged to get to the bottom of what took place at Fort Hood. "We're heartbroken something like this might have happened again," Obama said. "Obviously this reopens the pain of what happened at Fort Hood five years ago."

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, traveling to Asia, called the shooting "a terrible tragedy" for the Fort Hood community, the Defense Department and the nation. "My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families," Hagel said. "And my sympathies go out to this strong and resilient community, which has experienced this kind of senseless violence all too recently."


Drew Anthony Smith/Getty

The Complex

Why U.S. Navy Submarines May Already Be Hunting for Missing Flight 370

This story has been updated.

The British Navy just sent a nuclear-powered submarine to the South Indian Ocean to help search for the Malaysian airliner that has been missing since March. The United States has not announced any similar decisions, but analysts caution that the U.S. Navy prides itself on keeping the movement of its submarines silent, and may already be in the hunt.

"The value of a submarine is in its stealth and its ability to stay hidden," said Eric Wertheim, an analyst with the United States Naval Institute in Annapolis, Md. "It could very well be doing it. But countries don't typically announce their submarines' locations."

 Like the British submarine, the U.S. sub fleet could assist in scanning the ocean for remains of the airliner. The depths to which they can go are classified, but is generally believed to be a few thousand feet underwater, Wertheim said. However, a sub's sonar could detect wreckage much deeper. Information gathered could be used as part of the larger search, with unmanned robots recovering the plane's remains once it is found. They have been used repeatedly to salvage both military and commercial aircraft.

Adm. Samuel Locklear, the top U.S. commander in the Pacific, declined on Friday in an interview with Foreign Policy to say whether he would recommend sending any additional U.S. equipment to help in the search. U.S. military involvement in the days after the plane first disappeared was appropriate, he said, citing the involvement of other nations and the uncertainty over what would help.

"I personally had dialogue with both the minister of defense and the chief of defense of Malaysia to make sure we were giving them the right support," Locklear told FP. "But, this has turned out to be the largest search-and-rescue and search-and-recovery effort probably in the history of mankind. It has been a hard thing, because the circumstances behind it were not clear from the beginning."

Thus far, the Pentagon has sent a P-3 and P-8 surveillance aircraft, a single unmanned Bluefin-21 submarine, and a "pinger locator" designed to find the data flight recorder and cockpit voice recorder on board planes. The USS Kidd and USS Pinckney, two destroyers, also have assisted, with helicopters searching from their flight decks. Navy officials declined to comment whether any U.S. submarines were involved in the hunt for the missing airliner, citing the force's need to be a "silent service."

"We have a credible presence throughout the entire Seventh Fleet region, which spans from the International Dateline to the India/Pakistan border, and north of Japan to south of Australia," Cmdr. William Marks told Foreign Policy. "One of our submarine fleet's greatest advantages is its ability to use the most advanced technology to operate virtually anywhere undetected."

The British submarine, the HMS Tireless, already has arrived in the southern Indian Ocean, British officials said Tuesday. Aviation experts and the Malaysian government say the airliner is doomed, and likely deep underwater in an ocean well known for its treacherous conditions. The 280-foot-long submarine is equipped with sonar that will allow it to scan for wreckage from the massive Boeing 777, which had 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board when it diverted from its planned flight path from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to Beijing, China. All on board are believed to be dead.

The Tireless is part of Britain's Trafalgar class of submarines, which were designed to hunt enemy submarines during the Cold War. They have been adapted for 21st-century use, including covert surveillance of enemy forces and reconnaissance of military installations and beaches that are on shore, British officials said. It carries about 18 officers and more than 100 crew members.

Lt. Rebecca Rebarich/ U.S. Navy