For the second time in 5 years, we have a spree murder on the nation’s largest military installation; and once again, the notion of doing anything proactive to actually prevent the next inevitable mass murder is overshadowed by cowardice and politically correct group-think. This was clear enough in the press conference when the post Commander stated his personal opposition to allowing soldiers to carry firearms for self defense on post. Absolutely zero lessons have been learned since 2009 because every single field grade officer with any ability to affect the security situation on post is more interested in job security than the lives of the men under their charge.
I’m going to go ahead and call bullshit on everything the Army has supposedly done in what the media has often referred to as its “unprecedented increase in security” after the 2009 Nidal Hassan Jihad murders. I was stationed at Fort Hood when the murders took place and for 2 years of the aftermath when there was no tangible effort made to harden what is clearly one of the softest targets in the nation. For maybe six months after the 2009 attack, there was “heightened security” at the gate checkpoints which really only entailed checking ID cards more closely and doing more “random searches” of vehicles entering post. I’m sure that the numerous Corps level PowerPoint decks would love to indicate otherwise; but at the end of the day, that was it. The only other noticeable security measures actually came in the form of harassing law abiding gun owners within the ranks.
As a Commander, I was at one point expected to gather information about the type, number, and location of weapons owned by my soldiers who resided both on and off post. Weapons ownership was considered from that point a “risk factor” in determining a soldier’s overall wellbeing. Although the requirement was struck down after congress was notified, it still betrayed a lack of understanding by the leadership of what the real problem was. Registration requirements for weapons coming on and off post were also tightened considerably which made participation in any shooting sport on post more of a pain in the ass than it was worth. These new measures (in the same manner as any “gun-control” law) only served to catalog the activities of the guys who were never a threat to begin with and obviously didn’t prevent the next psychopath from entering post with a gun and murdering people.
We also received a ton of briefings about “risk factors” and how to spot guys who were “troubled” and might just decide to murder everyone in their platoon. All the while the barriers to getting rid of soldiers who carried these risk factors through the administrative and judicial separations process were confounded by a medical community eager to diagnose every single soldier who ever had a bad dream with PTSD. This was despite the fact that half of those being treated or evaluated for the disorder (apparently including our newest mass murderer) had never fired a shot in anger. Not a single soldier under my command that was diagnosed with PTSD had actually taken a human life or encountered death in any form or fashion and yet I was forced to jump through months of medical red tape prior to separating them. Any one of these dirt bags that clogged the system could have decided to come to work with a gun and start shooting and I would have been powerless to stop it despite the “risk factors” that were apparent. Not to mention, the clogging of the system kept legitimately suffering warriors from seeking treatment for fear of the stigma created by the aforementioned bags of dirt. This was and is the reality of the Army’s “security measures” since 2009 and we see how well they have panned out. (slow clap for the 15 minute MP response time the CG is so happy with)
With this all out on the table and the abject failure exposed, what could we do differently? Is concealed carry on post the answer? It’s certainly not an unthinkable option. I understand the concerns associated with allowing every single Joe in the formation to carry concealed just because they are licensed by the state. That isn’t the only way to make it happen. There can and should be a training program instituted that teaches soldiers how to deal with the spree killer scenario and gives them the means to do so. You could even discriminate based on rank and experience as to who is chosen for this important additional duty. The on post civilian and military law enforcement officers are currently the only individuals receiving this training and being equipped with the means to resist. This has to change. If every soldier has a weapon in theater that they are trusted with, there ought to at least be some qualified individuals in each unit who are entrusted with that responsibility at home.
Even without concealed carry, there are other things that can be done. You could start with putting an overt, armed security presence inside of every unit area at all times. You don’t even have to add any contract security staff in order to make this happen. Every single unit has staff duty personnel who are responsible for monitoring unit areas at all hours of the day and night. To simply take an M4 or an M9 and some ammunition from the arms room and issue it to staff duty personnel would be a gigantic deterrent to anyone who might think about shooting up the company area. Even if they can’t be at all places at all times, the idea that they might be could cause a would-be spree murderer to think twice. This too would obviously necessitate specific training and procedures, but that is what the Army does for a living the last time I checked.
I could literally go on for days with options like these that would give our servicemen and women the ability to respond effectively to a spree killer. In both shootings, the bad man with the gun was stopped only when he was confronted by another gun pointed at him. I don’t know why it is such a hard concept to comprehend that the quicker we can get the gun pointed at the bad man, the quicker his spree will end. If we can shorten that time span from 15 minutes to 30 seconds by creating the conditions where there is a higher likelihood for the immediate presence of a firearm, we can save lives. It is on the leadership at Division and Corps level to make something happen before they have to present more folded flags to the loved ones of men and women who fought overseas for a decade only to be left defenseless at home. I hear all kinds of talk about how weapons and their presence on post don’t create the conditions for a “transition” from combat and “reintegration” into “home life”. When you are a warrior, there is no such damn thing. This is the world we live in. If you can’t grasp that reality and prepare to confront the violence that can and will rear its ugly head even in the good ol’ US of A: you are delusional. Field grade officers and above need to sack up and confront this problem head on. If you wouldn’t hang your men out to dry in theater, you shouldn’t at home either. Make no mistake, leadership: this is on you.