A Proposed Solution to Fort Hood
I will not pontificate on the myriad motivational aspects of this issue, that has already been done elsewhere, and in great quantities.
What I will say is that our troops are at their most vulnerable when on a base in the states. There are many rules, laws, and guidelines in place while on a base, and they are all derived from experience. Seen a stupid Military rule? It’s there because someone at one time did exactly what is says not to do. In the best of times, a Member of the Armed Services is treated no better than a well-behaved kindergartener, ask any Veteran. Ownership of firearms and their presence on base are no exception.
Allow me to brief you on the current (as of two years ago) situation regarding personal firearms on base.
1. In order to just purchase a firearm, even off the base in the Camp LeJuene area, you needed your Commands’ express written permission. This included your immediate Commander as well as your Battalion Commander’s signature.
2. The weapon must then be entered into your unit’s armory, where it could be accessed at any time by the armorers. If they decide that they like your new Wilson Combat Custom, they could take it out for a spin. There is nothing you could do, and you would likely never know. Several private firearms developed mysterious “wear-and-tear” issues in my unit…
3. Any weapon on base that was not declared and in transit to or from the armory was highly illegal. CCDW (or equivalent) did not make exception to this factor, and served no on-base purpose except to flag your vehicle at the gate for “Random Inspection”.
4. To remove your weapon from the armory, someone had to be there, and this only happened when there was some reason for your unit to have their armorer actually in the armory (scheduled weapon’s maintenance, range qualification in progress, etc.). This meant that if you wanted your weapon for a private day at the range, you had to schedule it for a day that they would be unlikely to want to help you. Just to open the armory doors alone takes paper-work, and they don’t like having to do it just so you could get your firearm for a few hours.
Are you beginning to see why no one was armed on Fort Hood?
While the suggestion of allowing this nation’s military to be armed even when they are not in a hostile environment is certainly one that makes sense, I believe that another step could be taken that perhaps would make even more sense, and be easy to implement as well.
While in the military, you stand something that is called “Duty”. Everyone does Duty. In the Marines, this meant that once a month (more or less) you put on your uniform, the Duty Belt, carry the Duty Log Book, and stay awake for 24 hours while watching everyone else go about the daily business of training, preparing, and gearing up.
The Duty is an extension of the Command. An order from them is (supposed to be) an order from the Gods of Brass that rule all in the Military. They are prime candidates for armed presence and active deterrent.
If situations like this can’t be stopped from the top, perhaps a more localized solution should be investigated. Arm the Duties and give them supplemental training for the defense of their fellow Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Airmen.
They are all in the military, not the Peace Corps, and they should all have the general concept down that they may in fact have to some day take a life to defend whatever it is that they are assigned to protect. It shouldn’t matter what MOS (Military Occupational Specialty or “job”) they have in the Military, they are all “Riflemen First” at least according to Marine Doctrine. This should be a rather easy and logical step towards the increased protection of our Armed Forces while they are in the States, on base, and at their most vulnerable.
Incidentally, it wouldn’t hurt to allow some trust for individual members that have a recognized CCDW to carry their personal firearms. After all, the weapons I have now are in much better shape and a vast improvement in reliability from anything the Government ever issued me! I also hear tell of a time when a Trooper could take his own weapon (within reason) to combat as a back-up, but that may be an unfounded rumor, and is a topic for a different thread…
The Military may never ease up on the Troops and their possession of private firearms, but they should seriously consider allowing the Duty Officers and Enlisted to carry issued firearms to help with the defense of their brethren. Outsourced security, inconsistent procedural policies, and unobserved fences and boundaries are epidemic in the Modern Military. They deserve the right to defend themselves, and they have an absolutely unassailable host of reasons for considering themselves to be targeted for hostile actions.
The Supreme Irony of Fort Hood is that this happened on an Army Base, by an Army Officer, and it was ultimately resolved by a “Townie” SWAT Police Officer whose unit was called in to “help the Soldiers”.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot indeed…