By Sgt. Patrick Hayes
I am deeply disturbed by the attitude of Fort Hood and III Corps Commanding General, LTG Mark Milley. His statements to the press that a “few minutes” response time for military Law Enforcement is “just fine” shows his lack of concern for his troops and their families. More than that, General Milley’s ignorant of the historical failures of the policies that turned military bases into “gun free zones” . . .
I was a soldier from 1983-1993. We were not allowed to carry personal firearms on base, either on or off duty. Soldiers living in the barracks had to secure their firearms in the arms room. Married soldiers living on base could keep their private firearms in their quarters, but they couldn’t carry them.
Shootings on military bases are nothing new. I was stationed in Wildflecken, Germany in the late 80’s. A soldier there pocketed some 5.56mm rounds from the range. He went to the on-post bank where his wife worked and fired a round at her. The bullet struck her in the arm, basically removing it. She died on the scene. In another incident a couple years later at Ft.Polk, Lousiana a soldier drove a loaded M1A1 tank into Garrison and fired a round at his company HQ. Army CID talked him down.
I’m sure there are plenty of other incidents involving armed attacks on unarmed soldiers, both on and off base; tragedies that have not been publicly reported. Not to mention the dangers of terrorist attacks on our fighting men (such as the first Fort Hood spree killing) and all the “insider attacks” by Afghan nationals on unarmed American soldiers. [ED: an unknown percentage of the 142 Coalition forces murdered and 163 wounded in “green on blue” attacks since 2008 were unarmed.]
Military Law Enforcement can carry a firearm on a Military base. Off duty soldiers are barred even if they have a permit that allows them to carry off post. That makes no sense. Most military bases are open. Anybody can get on post. Nobody really checks them. If those who would do harm can get a gun on post, why are off duty soldiers not allowed to?
As I have stated in previous articles, an armed good guy on scene is far more effective at stopping an active shooter than a cop en route. This applies wherever people face an armed assailant, but especially on a military base. No matter how familiar local police are with a military base’s layout, soldiers living there are better acquainted with the local geography. They’re also more adept at separating good guys from bad guys.
Of course, on-duty carry presents a whole new set of problems. Soldiers carrying their own firearms in their own holsters is an impractical concept and puts them out of uniform. The military runs on uniformity and regulation. I just don’t see that happening. What could happen is some sort of “Unit Security” officers: designated soldiers carrying military sidearms in military holsters. This would require a massive rewrite of decades-old Army Regulations.
The sooner the better. Our soldiers are sitting ducks. Let’s see if those who make policy care.