- - Tuesday, September 29, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Potential targets at bases and recruiting centers deserve protection

The current Department of Defense practice of not arming guards at military facilities such as recruitment centers must be changed to safeguard our military personnel against terrorists. This policy made it easy for Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez to exploit the lack of perimeter security at the Chattanooga, Tenn. recruiting center to easily shoot his military victims from his car last July, killing four Marines and a Navy sailor. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Timothy White was able to use his personal weapon to engage the attacker at the second facility.

This was not the first time that a military recruiting center had been attacked by a jihadi terrorist, with soldiers standing in front of the recruiting center in Little Rock, Ark. also attacked by a drive-by shooting in June 2009 by Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad (born as Carlos Bledsoe), an al Qaeda-inspired terrorist.

Why do our military leaders insist on leaving their service members disarmed at such military facilities when they are under an active terrorist threat? In his confirmation hearing, Gen. Mark A. Milley, President Obama’s nominee for chief of staff of the Army, said he was open to arming soldiers but noted that the issue is “complicated,” stating that “I think that under certain conditions, both on military bases and in outstations — recruiting stations, reserve centers — we should seriously consider it, and in some cases I think it’s appropriate.”

The question that comes to mind: In what case would it be appropriate to disarm our nation’s troops in the face of the current active terrorist threat in America? How about when the officer who makes the decision to disarm these service personnel provides effective armed security and protection measures at such facilities and accepts civil responsibility for providing “due care” for the disarmed service members? It would be very expensive to provide effective armed security at every recruiting office and every reserve and military outpost. There will be — actually, there already has been — a call to enact inane policies, such as having recruiters work in civilian clothes with the window blinds closed. Commanders (and civilian secretaries in the Defense Department) should try this thought experiment: If a service member’s families could sue military commanders for failing to protect their loved ones in cases where they disarmed them, would the military leaders have a good legal case to absolve them of blame?

Senior military leaders need to man up to the impact on morale and the consequences of the “gun-free” policy on bases and recruiting stations. I urge them to trust their troops and officers to protect themselves. I would encourage them to clarify the “shoot, no-shoot” guidance in the form of rules of engagement that follow the doctrine of traditional self-defense. I would urge Congress to pass a “Castle Doctrine” law that would protect servicemen who engage an attacker from civil or criminal charges against them.

In civilian settings such as the typical recruiting office in a strip mall, any lease that requires “gun-free” zones should be canceled. States that restrict open-carry should make exception for military on duty. It is not complicated, unless you want it to be. Leaders cut through “complicated” politically-correct policy; managers, with their lawyers whispering gloom and doom in their ear, use it as an excuse for inaction.

Congress should change the law and require commanders who decide to disarm their service members to document the security measures that will otherwise protect those who are disarmed and receive approval from the secretary of defense. In other words, service members have the same natural right of self-defense as citizens, and taking that right away should be a big deal, subject to congressional oversight.

Will our civilian and uniformed military leaders take the required measures to protect their troops, or will they listen to the counsel of lawyers and the politically correct chattering class who would rather have our servicemen and women hide behind shuttered windows and wear civilian clothes off-base to supposedly protect themselves?

Our military personnel — even in America — are avowed targets of the jihadis that the Obama administration refuses to identify by name. With the geometric spread of radical jihadi ideology and active recruits in every part of America, we can be sure that they will attack our uniformed personnel again and again.

Jeff Fuller is a retired Army Special Forces lieutenant colonel who resides in Fairfax, Va.


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