For many, the attack at the Pensacola Naval Air Station has already passed into the hazy company of terrorist attacks of the past. But for those of us paying attention, particularly those who have served, it is yet another reminder of a deadly problem of long standing. The Latest.com illustrates the issue:
The Naval Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) appears on TV as an effective team of special agents. Mark Harmon and his cast are treated as reverentially as Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.’s FBI agents in the 1960s and 70s.
However, Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani’s December 6th terror attack reveals that something is seriously wrong at NCIS Resident Agency Pensacola, whose website lists its mission as: ‘Preventing terrorism and related hostile acts against DON forces and installations.’
Sadly, this tragedy did not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the base. Pensacola NAS is the home of Naval Aviation, and a symbol of American military power. It hosts the National Aviation Museum, Barrancas National Cemetery and historic Fort Barrancas.
Nevertheless, it has been badly mismanaged. I experienced my own set of Pensacola SNAFUs last year, complained on the base commander’s website, and wrote about it on my blog.
The remainder of the article speaks largely to the author’s personal experience, but ends with a pertinent point:
For if the Navy can’t protect a Navy base, how can it protect America?
There is some truth in this question, but it requires a much larger context.
I served in the USAF during the Cold War. I was a security police officer–USAF terminology for military police–in the Strategic Air Command, the original SAC before it was decommissioned and years later, resurrected. In those days, there were two kinds of SPs: actual police officers and rivet counters. The actual cops did the Air Force version of daily policing, and also manned the gates, the public access points to the bases. The rivet counters guarded facilities, aircraft, and the missile fields. Actual cops carried Smith and Wesson “Combat Masterpiece” .38 special handguns, complete with two dump pouches containing round nosed lead ammunition. The rivet counters carried M-16s—iron sights only—and were only rarely allowed to chamber a round. Both groups drew their weapons and ammunition at the beginning of each shift, and returned them to the armory when the shift ended. Both wore badges, but neither were allowed to carry weapons unless they were actively doing their assigned duties.
To be sure, sensitive areas on base, such as weapons storage facilities, were secured, and if necessary, armed personnel could be mustered to respond to any actual attack, but apart from a small number of SPs armed with revolvers, that kind of response would take considerable time. This remains the situation on virtually all Continental US military installations. The only people armed are on-duty military police officers.
Consider this from Legal Insurrection:
Navy instructor pilots have demanded their bosses allow them to carry weapons on their bases.
The request comes after Saudi Arabian Air Force 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani shot and killed three sailors and wounded eight others. For 10 minutes, he shot up the API (aviation pre-flight indoctrination) building.
The instructors spoke to Fox News but did not provide their names because they do not have the authorization to speak to the media.
The instructor pilots said the incentive to arm was obvious. ‘We need to protect not just the pilots, but our aircraft that are worth millions.’
One pilot called base security at NAS Pensacola and other Navy bases ‘mall cops,’ because protection on the base has been outsourced to private security and many were ‘fat and out of shape.’
I have zero confidence the guy I show my ID card to at the gate could save me,’ one pilot added. Fox News spoke to three Navy instructor pilots Tuesday.
It’s an opinion shared by many across the military, including the U.S. Army; more than a dozen soldiers and an unborn child were gunned down at Fort Hood in 2009.
‘We trust 18-year-old privates in combat with grenades, anti-tank missiles, rifles and machine guns, but we let service members get slaughtered because we don’t trust anyone to be armed back here in the United States,’ a senior U.S. Army officer told Fox News.
‘Why are we cowering in our offices, it’s insane,’ the officer added.
The instructors find it ‘insulting’ that cops off base were the first responders:
‘Our message is simple: arm us,’ one pilot said. ‘We don’t want to count on cops or gate guards to save us in a crisis.’
The pilot is referring to the fact that it was local Sheriff’s Deputies that killed the terrorist, not hired security guards, and not military personnel. The public mistakenly believes our military personnel are armed and able to defend themselves. This is not true, even of our elite warriors, unless they’re in a combat zone, and even then, there are restrictions and rules of engagement. When attacked at a state side installation, our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are as disarmed as the teachers and students in any gun free zone.
I’ve often written of the reality of these situations. When someone pulls a gun and starts shooting, unless armed people are present, everyone’s life is dependent on how quickly the police can arrive, find, and engage the shooter. In other words, a great many people are going to die while whatever number of police officers available can rush to the scene. In such situations, seconds matter very much, but the police are always minutes, even hours, away. As the Pensacola attack illustrated, the same is true on military installations.
Allowing qualified military personnel to carry weapons is the obvious, rational, solution. President Trump has indicated he is interested in solving this problem; he’s even receptive to this idea. “But we can’t give guns to every 18 year-old recruit! That’s crazy talk!”
As usual, that’s reflexive anti-liberty, gun grabber rhetoric. They’d rather see people die than concede their ideas might be wrong. No one is suggesting every recruit be constantly armed. The minimum age threshold might best be 21, just as it is for handgun purchase and concealed carry status in the states. It’s certainly reasonable to think 18 year olds not sufficiently mature for this duty–trained military police being a probable exception–but allowing the arming of NCOs (non-commissioned officers) and officers would neatly solve the problem. They’re present everywhere in the military, in every shop, every post, and they’ve spent sufficient time in service and in training to presumably make them reliable. Exceptions could also be made for exceptional personnel below NCO rank.
Every branch of the military has at least basic facilities for firearm training and qualification, though some upgrades would be necessary here and there. Military handgun training—outside special forces—is reserved only for those that have a need of such arms in their Military Occupational Specialty (MOS), and that training is usually quite basic.
One of the most significant problems involved is the large number of high-ranking officers appointed by Barack Obama (see this article by my favorite Bookworm). Politically reliable desk jockeys replacing them are political warriors that displaced real war fighters, and as one might expect, they are vociferously opposed to changing the status quo. President Trump can, if he chooses, overrule them, but it would be a process demanding constant attention to ensure his orders weren’t ignored or slow walked (see this article by Bookworm).
Issues of uniformity would also have to be resolved. Could personnel be allowed to carry personal weapons, our would all have to be issued? And what of holsters, ammunition, or other accessories? Geneva Convention ammunition restrictions would theoretically not apply as such ammunition would not be used in warfare, but certainly, some would use this to try to muddy the waters. Hollow point ammunition would only make sense as military ball ammo tends to over penetrate, but effective function vs uniformity is often a military issue.
Merely allowing much more comprehensive carry would be an enormous benefit, and would provide not only real deterrence, but would save lives in a time when terrorists love to attack our military. The other details can be worked out, but providing that deterrence and defensive capability must always be the decisive factor.
We know the Left does not see the lives of students and teachers as sufficiently valuable, or politically useful, to support the arming of teachers. We may soon see precisely how much–little–love they have for our military. If Mr. Trump and his advisors are smart, this could be a very useful campaign issue. It would surely illustrate the enormous differences between the Left and Normal Americans, while exposing D/S/C loathing for our military.
Gropin’ Joe Biden certainly doesn’t support arming our military, as Bre Payton at The Federalist reports:
During a question and answer session on NBC’s “Today” show, former vice president and rumored presidential 2020 contender Joe Biden said the hero who stopped the Texas church shooter earlier this month should not have been allowed to carry an AR-15.
“With the tragedy that just happened in Texas, how do you justify the Democratic view on gun control when the shooter was stopped by a man who was legally licensed to carry a gun?” a young woman in the audience asked Biden.
‘Well first of all, the kind of gun being carried he shouldn’t be carrying,” Biden said. “I wrote the last serious gun control law . . and it outlawed assault weapons and outlawed weapons with magazines that held a whole lotta bullets so you could kill a lot of people a whole lot more quickly.’
Granted, Mr. Biden was not addressing this particular issue, but it’s no stretch to realize he is very much the doctrinaire gun grabber. He’s certainly never shown any support for the Second Amendment.
If we truly care about the lives of our service members, we owe them nothing less than the same ability to protect their lives they enjoy in war zones., the same ability citizens enjoy outside military installations. Our Islamist terrorist enemy sees the entire world as a war zone. Perhaps it’s time we did the same? If our military can’t protect our military installations…