According to recent reports concerning last week’s tragedy in Chattanooga, two servicemembers — the commanding officer of the Navy Operations Support Center (NOSC) and one of the slain Marines — carried weapons when Mohammad Abdulazeez gunned down their unarmed colleagues. These same reports have pointed out that should this detail prove true, LCDR Timothy White and his fallen brother violated Department of Defense policy by carrying their personal weapons onto the military installation. They were confronted with a sick choice: remain in accordance with current regulations, or use the force necessary to defend themselves and their shipmates. It would be an absolute abdication of leadership to prohibit military personnel from possessing the tools and authority to guard against a similar future attack. To that effect, Congress should empower troops stationed at vulnerable facilities like NOSCs or recruiting offices with the ability to carry firearms for personal and unit defense.
The United States is still at war with ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other transnational terrorist organizations. Just like there are Americans in a targeting cell somewhere at this moment working to take down terrorist training and recruiting sites in Syria, violent radicals are no doubt chomping on the bit to carry out attacks on similar targets inside the U.S. An incident in 2009 similar to last week’s resulted in the death of one soldier and the wounding of another. Operations like these are equally deadly whether conducted by a self radicalized, troubled “loan wolf” or a steely eyed, well-trained operative. After all, their preferred targets — recruiting offices and reserve centers — are lightly, if at all, defended.
The Skipper has a guest post that takes a look at some of the challenges of arming recruiters and reserve centers.
As an infantryman, weapons were part and parcel of the job. Even so, you’d be surprised at how little time was actually spent using them. Now consider the life of an Army recruiter. I was what they called a “detailed” recruiter, selected to spend a three year tour at a recruiting station, and then return to my normal career field.
All recruiters in the Army start out this way. Many, finding they enjoy the job, convert their career field to recruiting, and follow a career progression including jobs such as station commander, recruiting company First Sergeant, and ultimately, Recruiting Battalion Command Sergeant Major for some.
People in that career field simply never see the “real” Army again. They don’t deploy to war, they don’t train on weapons, they simply do office work and spend time interacting with the public. It’s the least martial job in the Army. That’s not a knock, just how it is. They do an important job. But what they don’t do is train to fight.
Could they reasonably be trained to qualify with a weapon? Sure. But let us not pretend that everyone in the Army, let alone the other services, spends every day learning to be a crack pistolero.