Victim of an Afghan "insider attack" returns home (courtesy huffpost.com)

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.

130 Responses to A Law Enforcement Perspective: Armed Carry on Military Bases

    • Bingo. Anyone above the O-8 level is playing a long game with a close eye on how the wind blows from where his boss is sitting. Our military is woefully lacking leaders; we have plenty of careerist politicians wearing stars, but few with either tactical know-how to win a battle or the strategic vision to win a war.

      • Strong statements. I have been at that base about 7 years. Good article. As a former enlisted guy, I wonder more about some Sr Enlisted soldiers who are somewhat the same as your “politically minded officer”.

  1. I wonder if a possible compromise to being “out of uniform” is to allow soldiers to purchase their own sidearm. Surely the ability to purchase an M9, M9A1, or M11 (or essentially the SIG P228) would suffice. Maybe the cost could be subsidized somewhat or they could be purchased at cost?

    I’m not a huge Beretta fan personally, but I’ll take the M9 over my bare fists any day of the week. If that were my only option, I would take it.

    EDIT – Don’t some USAF pilots carry the Glock 19 now as well?

    • I agree that sounds like a pretty good compromise; allow soldiers to purchase an “approved” Side arm like the M9, M9A1, M11, MK25 , M45 etc. I remember how open bases were pre 9/11, I could literally drive up to within stone throwing distance to a Navy Cruiser in San Diego and just about walk on board before even seeing anyone. Its a bit tighter now but as the OP points out most bases are open.

      • All you have to have to get on most bases is a driver’s license. The guard scans it, hands it back, and on you go… Vehicle registration has completely gone out the window; you don’t even need a sticker on the vehicle showing that it’s been registered. Firearms registration is still alive and well at Fort Rucker, AL, though.

        • Stickers were stupid. What does it matter what car I drive as long as I have a military id? Did base pass search my car? No. It was a giant waste of time and a big opsec issue putting a big ol’ easy to identify target on a soldiers car. You need a military id or a dod civilian id to get on board base. They scan it and check the photo.

        • “You need a military id or a dod civilian id to get on board base. They scan it and check the photo.”

          Nope. Not at Fort Rucker. If you have a state driver’s license that they can scan, you’re on. I agree that stickers were unnecessary. Problem is that as soon as the stickers went away, they basically opened the base to anyone who had a driver’s license, whether or not you have business or work on the base, no questions asked.

    • What he means by out of uniform is wearing a Serpa, OWB, or an IWB holster, it would be out of regs while wearing a uniform. To be in uniform we’d have to wear something like a drop leg holster or a guard belt with holster, and those are open carry and not very comfortable. It is actually an issue I hadn’t thought of. We aren’t even allowed to clip crap on our belts. Civvies it shouldn’t matter what holster you wear.

      • Seems like a non-issue. Whatever rig is approved for Military Police to wear while in uniform and on duty should be perfectly on-policy for any other soldier in uniform. Class A or Class B uniforms are a little more problematic, but an IWB with a Class B or a shoulder rig with the Class A, assuming it was tailored properly, shouldn’t pose any problems if they just take the time to re-write the regs.

        As for who – I think any soldier of the rank of E5 or and with a clean disciplinary record should have the duty to carry while in fatigues and should carry an issue sidearm. Patton carried an ivory-gripped, engraved, silver-plated Colt Single Action Army .45 an ivory-gripped S&W Model 27 .357 Magnum. Do our current generals think they are better than him because they won’t carry?

    • The military abhors change and the senior leadership doesn’t want to deal with this issue.Military folks are not free to do as they please. They have to be uniform. they have to do as they are told. They can’t quit.
      It is the nature of military service worldwide to carry only what is issued.
      I would be satisfied, for now, if the military would allow off duty soldiers to carry on post.

      • I would wonder how leaders would react if that weapon carrying soldier suddenly remembered a grudge he had. It would have made the shooting at Ft Hood that much easier as he would not have to wait for his shooting to occur.

  2. I have posted before that the easest and quickest way to improve armed security on military posts is to require the command element, i.e., officers and staff ncos, to carry while on duty. If you cannot trust your command element to be responsible enough to carry loaded weapons on post then you have bigger problems than a berserk soldier or terrorist. This was the rule before the Second World War and after talking ot my associate Pastor, a retired US Army Chaplain, I was informed that when he was a young captain in the post-Vietnam Army this rule was reinstated because of the personal problems that the Army was having in the early to mid-1970s.

    This is a solution that only works with the Army and Marine Corps since the other two services do not train the bulk of their personnel in small arms. Some solution will have to be found for the Air Force and the Navy.

    • That is another compromise to let anyone E5 or higher carry a firearm. This eliminates the “threat” of “fresh” recruits carrying a firearm recklessly.

      • Army/USMC E5 and above to be REQUIRED to carry sidearm while in uniform (to include Service Uniform). Without restriction (Federal/State/local) as to location within CONUS or on any US owned or controlled property outside of CONUS. Without restriction as to branch or MOS. To be underarms at all times.

        All services, within 30days to issue all sidearms (w/magazines and 50rd) now stored in company arms rooms to assigned Company personnel, in ranks of E5 and above, on a permanent hand receipt. Some companies will not have enough M9 on hand some will have more then they have E5+.

        Within 180days – on completion of Officer Basic Course or PLDC/”WLC” (or USMC equivalent) Army/USMC E5 and above will be issued a new in box standard branch sidearm w/magazines and appropriate belt holster for wear with Service uniform as an addition to their clothing bag. Annual range training will be required where DOD will provide 100rd of ammunition. Personnel will retain all when ETS.

        • REQUIRING is crap. Most military weapons training is not amazing. You allow people to carry their firearms. I’d rather have the E-4 that goes to the range every weekend and voluntarily carries his GLOCK 19 than the finance E-5 who has no interest in firearms and about 8hrs of mediocre training a year on his beat to crap issued M9, be the one to try to stop an active shooter. Requiring someone uninterested and untrained could almost hurt more than help. There’s plenty of POTG in the military who would voluntarily carry if allowed.

    • I disagree. This smacks too much of “for me, but not for thee,” and of the European aristocratical attitude we tried to escape—that of betters deciding who, when, what, how, for their peons. Even those nasty little enlisted men were born absolutely equal to any other human, civilian or “lifer,” and with an equal, if not a superior, right to self-defense.

      And I say this as a veteran of the US Army, well aware of what kind of people end up in uniform–the same kind of people who walk around as civilians. If your soldiers can’t be trusted to walk around armed, what are they doing in uniform?

      Equality is a hard thing when you actually mean it and not just mouth it.

      • You can advocate for a general policy all you want but you will get there fast if you do it incrementally first. There is a tradition of the command element carrying duty sidearms that goes along way back. Nothing sells better in the military than tradition.

        • I think you have it just about right. A very useful way to go and – as you say – fits in well with tradition.

      • I agree with you in principal but if the compromise of arming NCO’s and officers gets more guns on base I’ll take it. As long as it is a compromise that gets us closer to the overall goal of normalizing firearms.

        As opposed to how “compromise” just had rights taken away in the past.

      • I’ve thought some more about it. If anyone should be disarmed in garrison, it should be the officers and senior NCOs. If they’ve trained their men right, they have all the arms they need at their disposal, and if not, maybe it should be them suffer the consequences of their failure, not their soldiers. Well, maybe not in all seriousness, but:

        I’m reminded of a certain WWI Lt. Truman—if I recall correctly—who charged up hills unarmed and in front of his men. When asked, he said that his men were from Missouri, if he didn’t go first they wouldn’t believe he meant it, AND he had dozens of rifles at his order, if he messed them up, one more wouldn’t matter. But then he turned out to be a politician.

        • Now this is the real Euripean attitude. Only the lower orders need to go about the dirty business of killing. That is why the Europeans carried 38’s and 9mm for the past 100+ years. The pistol was merely a sign of authority and not a combat weapon. That is what distinguised the M1911 from all other military sides arms in the first half of the 20th Century. It was a combat pistol not a mere symbol of authority. As late as the Korean War the US Army and Marine Corp were the only military forces where company grade officers carried the same weapons as the enlisted troops. Outside of special units no other Army armed its officers with rifles or carbines.

          FYI Harry Truman was an artillery officer and I doubt that he did very much charging up hills in combat.

        • Backwards. The pistol was an officer issued weapon. Namely to shoot the soldier who refused to charge out of the WWI trench into machine gun fire. In Iraq the citizens would freak the heck out if someone had a pistol cause it was an execution weapon.

        • WW1, MacArthur didn’t carry a sidearm. Just a swagger stick. MacArthur(who I personally believe was an asshole) said it was the duty of officers to direct the soldiers in their fighting, not to get involved in personal combat.

          To the bestof my memory I’ve never seen a photo of MacArthur with any type of personal weapon.

        • WWI: George S. Patton. Leading his tankers on foot with his 1911 in his hand. The US Army in WWI was organized like other armies. Officers didn’t carry rifles but they carry 1911s and used them in close combat.

      • Unless I’m mistaken, don’t our troops in Afghanistan carry their rifles and/or pistols almost all of the time? I don’t recall seeing a lot of force on force gunplay reports or individual homicides.

        I recall from my time in service that since you cannot choose with whom you serve it is all too frequent that you wind up close to some real assholes (and I’m sure plenty of others felt the same way about me). And yet it never occurred to me to shoot any of them, even when I had my M-16 and a full mag of issue ammunition.

        There was one incident, however, when I was assigned escort duty for a soldier that the German government had ordered expelled from country. He had been charged with rape, but given over to the U.S. Army for prosecution for some technical legal reason. Since he was from our unit (45th Medical Bn) the MPs drove the jeep but two NCOs were required to escort them to the airport and wait there until the plane had reached point of no return (!) before returning to out units. I think the Germans were pretty serious about getting rid of this guy. I had my issue M-16 and three rounds of live ammo, and I most definitely would have shot that SOB if he had given us a reason.

        • Unless I’m mistaken, don’t our troops in Afghanistan carry their rifles and/or pistols almost all of the time?

          No, you’re mistaken.

        • You are actually very correct. I write this sitting in BAF (Bagram Air Field) with my M9 digging into my hip and my 3 troops’ M4s sitting in the rack against the wall. The ONLY place weapons are not allowed is in the gyms. In all of Afghanistan, you either have your weapon on you or you are heading to or from the gym or shower. PERIOD. But, when I get home I will replace my M9 with my 1911 except when i go on base to work. Hope the disgruntled employee doesn’t come into my office because then i will have to employ the active shooter training of block the door and hide (seriously, THAT is the training the U.S. Army gave its Soldiers in response to active shooter).

      • People who carry on mil bases should be the ones that carry the rest of the time also. Choosing people based on rank makes no sense. It’s like saying an E-5 can fix your car better than an E-4. Rank has no basis in who is more responsible, better trained, and knows more about carrying a weapon. I know many people of lower rank who shoot competitively and carry in their normal lives, and many of higher rank who wouldn’t know how to disengage the safety. It’s almost following the stereotype of police officers being better trained with weapons than civilians.

        • I knew a guy who was a freaking load master in the air national guard and he had to qualify with a pistol.

        • So the Army regulation that says every – and i mean EVERY Soldier – will qualify with their weapon at a minimum of yearly, more often than not it is every six months, is fiction? I work in Army Acquisition now and even I am required to don my body armor and kevlar and go to the range to qualify with my M9 every 6 months. Why? to maintain proficency.

      • Navy shoots about 50 rounds a year to qualify 9mm and M-4. Last time my ship went to qual a few years ago I was the only person to actually pass with the M4. A rifle with 4 points of contact with a target 25 yards away. Think on that.

    • While I agree that services such as the Navy and AF do not train most personnel in small arms, I do not agree that’s the way it should be! If you are in the U.S. military, you should know your way around a gun. Seems kinda obvious. And so far as the article is concerned, it certainly would NOT require any sort of major change to uniform regs, in fact it could be done in a minute and disseminated to all levels in a week. In fact, during a 20-year career, I personally went from required to carry a loaded handgun on duty one day to prohibited the next day, not once but twice! No notice, just “the rules have been changed.” And that doesn’t even include the obvious one when I came back from Vietnam.

  3. CYA. Commanders would rather have dozens of fatalities in a shooting then assume the personal career risk of a death/injury from a ND after they permitted service members to carry on base. CYA. Cowards, many of them are.

  4. I suggested this in another thread, but I would make carrying and maintaining and training a pistol part of the inspections that happen and the overall “life of a soldier”. Whether it’s a select number of personnel who carry or all soldiers end up carrying, is another debate.

    However, armed soldiers on base is a must. But, to be effective and accepted, make it part of the routine. Have superiors do spot checks on the condition of the pistol, from the safe presentation of, and the safe loading and unloading of it. Monthly qualifications which include dynamic situations.

    Back in old times, troops carried swords and the superiors inspected them. Of course the punishment for an ill-maintained weapon was probably more severe than a few extra push-ups.

    The inspections and culture will import the gravity of the responsibility of being under arms at all times to those who carry, and ensure for an overall safer base environment. We can’t depend on the ignorance of the public anymore for soldier safety. By ignorance, I mean that the general public assumes soldiers are armed at all times on base.

    • Mentioned in another post, there simply are not enough sidearms to do what you propose.

      However, that doesn’t mean we should do nothing at all. Clearly the current policies are not working.

      I think there are plenty of solutions. Some of them may simply not be practical, but there is an answer SOMEWHERE. Disarming our soldiers on base seems maddening.

      This is especially frustrating in light of the shooting at the LAPD station that was over in seconds. Funny how when the good guys can shoot back the results are far less horrifying.

      • Part of bama’s billion bucks for gun safety would easily solve the sidearm shortage. But I dont think he is after actual solutions at all.

      • If the military has a legitimate force protection problem that can only be solved with more side arms there will be enough side arms. To argue that lack of pistols is the problem is patently absurd. We already outspend the next 12 highest spending nations on national defense combined. I don’t think we’ll have a real problem coming up with a few hundred thousand or even a few million pistols.

        • Crazy idea, but what if they did a plain clothes shore patrol carrying IWB on base? Just make it a watch, one at each big place: hospital, nex, food court, etc. While they are at it let people in civvies wear whatever they got. The while in uniform thing is a problem though, might need to go cargo pocket carry to stay in uniform regs.

        • I agree. If the problem is deemed paramount by the government, then the Feds can easily commission Beretta or whomever to crank out the requisite number of pistols, even if it is in phases. Getting 500,000 M9s produced would go a long way to enhancing the internal security of our military bases.

          The one worry though is that this could also trigger a real ammunition shortage. Those M9s need to be fed after all, and keeping our guys qualified uses up ammunition. In that situation I’d just switch away fro 9mm as my primary carry ammunition.

  5. It would seem to me that if a soldier cannot be trained to responsibly carry a sidearm the soldier should be removed from service. I know exactly what goes on with young men, many away from home for the first time and in the company of peers who share their lack of maturity and decision making skills and I have no illusions about just how irresponsible and even outright ridiculous their behavior can be.

    I also know that when it comes to the ‘important stuff’ the military has a way of conditioning them to evidence the correct behaviors and this would simply be one of those ‘important’ things. It’s probably not necessary or perhaps even advisable to arm every soldier on a base, however if squad leaders and above can be trusted with leading men, they can surely be trusted with a sidearm while doing so. To suggest otherwise would be a clear indication that the man had no business in leadership in the first place.

  6. The whole idea is that those in command have total power and control over the soldiers below them; those in command don’t feel that if those same soldiers are carrying a gun.

    It’s fear, plain and simple. The only time they can over come that fear is when those in command have a greater fear of an enemy soldier with a gun shooting at them, it’s just the lesser of evils to have our soldiers carrying a gun during actual combat..

    • I don’t think that is the case at all Thomas. If a military commanders sway over his troops disintegrated when they were armed virtually every battle should start with a mutiny and a day at the range should see those firing backed by what, armor with loaded weapons bearing on them. . . and who is behind the armor making sure they stay in line? That statement is absurd. The entire system is designed to ensure obedience and respect for authority as well as fealty to a common cause. It’s insulting to enlisted and officer alike to suggest that keeping the troops unarmed is a concern in maintaining the chain of command.

      • Insulting? Nah; just the truth.

        If it was not the case, then command would not use the same arguments against the carrying of weapons on base that gun grabbers use against carrying guns in public.

        It is irrational fear speaking on the part of gun grabbers, it is irrational fear speaking on the part of military command.

        There is no rational, logical or practical reason for a trained soldier to not carry a weapon on base, except out of fear of losing control.

        • Rational doesn’t figure into a disarmament debate, however I’m certain that command is more concerned with logistics, safety, liability and politics than fear of losing control of the men they lead.

        • Right, Ardent; it’s probably why our political leaders don’t want an armed citizen near them (unless it’s their armed protection detail) it’s probably more for

          “logistics, safety, liability and politics than fear of losing control of the men they lead” (Citizens they represent).

        • I was re-reading what you said Ardent; how does rational not figure into a gun debate?

          How is it rational to be more concerned with logistics, politics, safety, liability than with the lives of the men that command is supposed to have as one of their main concerns?

          It seems completely irrational when the solution is such an easy one; allow the men and women that have sworn their lives to protect their country to have the ability to protect those lives from being slaughtered because they were made defenseless by their commanding officer.

          When I read what I just wrote; I realize it is not just irrational, it is insane to make defenseless a soldier; trained in weapons of war; to be unable to protect their lives from some predator intent on committing mass slaughter.

        • Yo, Thomas! How many years did YOU serve in the military getting to be so completely wrong? I was in for 20, and I can guarantee this was not the case in the USAF, and I can’t even imagine the Army or Marines being afraid of their fellow soldiers. Shoot, lots of them can truthfully say they’re not afraid of ENEMY soldiers, armed with friggin’ machine guns! Your suggestion makes no sense at all.

    • Wrong. I have never heard a single fellow officer express any sentiment to that effect, and I for one can tell you that I do not fear any of my sailors in the slightest. The reason why Commanders do not support carry on base is because of Command Responsibility. It boils down to CYA. Commanders would rather have dozens of fatalities in a shooting then assume the personal career risk of a death/injury from a ND after they permitted service members to carry on base. The military is filled with bad decisions that were made because the CO was protecting his a**. For example, I have come in to work on many a weekend after a sailor at the command got a DUI for “Alcohol Awareness” training for no other reason than so the CO can throw up his hands and say “I did Something” if the number of DUI’s gets too high and he gets questions from his superiors. The reason they use gun grabber arguments is not because of fear but because they can’t say the real reason for opposing carry on base.

      • This is exactly right, commanders aren’t so much afraid that soldiers would start murdering each other, they’re afraid they will just screw around and get in trouble.

        Why did one of your men have an ND in the barracks?
        Why did one of your men go off post for lunch and try to impress a waitress by waiving his gun around?
        Why did one of your men leave his gun in the toilet?

        That’s all I can think of right now, anyone care to add to the list?

  7. I would like to say, loudly but politely, that if you can’t trust your basic soldier to carry a firearm safely on post, then the military left over from the stoneage command structure is failing. It is called responsibility and leadership and is tried most effectively on the battlefields – but can be used safely at home base, too.

  8. i have never served in the military, but to layperson like me, ignorant of the particulars of that life, it seems that the easiest and best solution is not issuing firearms to all service-persons, or even select personnel, but to simply allow normal concealed carry as it is in the civilian world. if private/airman/seaman So-and-so wants to carry a concealed firearm for protection, then carry on! if he doesnt want to, thats fine as well. i dont quite get how that causes the problems mentioned in the last paragraph of the article. maybe there are certain jobs or duties which preclude the safe and effective carry of firearms?

    • I feel the same rules of the state a base is in makes perfect sense, but would also submit that requiring and training officers and NCOs to open carry when in uniform, both off base and on, in EVERY state, would allow us to receive some measure of local value from our expensive military. It would take about a week for civilians to accept that as every bit as normal as their local police carrying exposed arms.

      • It is more likely that Alex Jones and the usual suspects would be screaming that the dictatorship is at hand.

  9. There are usually many more civilians on a military post than military. How about anyone with a state issued concealed carry permit can carry concealed? Right now, post regulations usually make a big point that STATE CONCEALED CARRY PERMIT IS NOT VALID ON FORT WHATEVER. They need to change that, and let anyone who has a permit carry to and from work, and AT work. My beef is that I have to disarm at home before I leave for work.

  10. If uniformed Russian troops attacked Ft.Hood would those stationed there still have to wait for local PD to show up and handle it?

  11. Maybe I’m simple, but it frankly boggles my mind that a military base is a gun-free zone. It reminds me of the line from Dr. Strangelove: “You can’t fight in here! This is the war room!” But then, I’ve never served (wish I had) so correct me if I’m off-base (heh) here.

    Guns are tools. Soldiers are trained to use those tools in combat. Shouldn’t the policy be more in the direction of REQUIRING soldiers to carry weapons at all times, so that they are intimately familiar with the tools of their trade? I’d expect a carpenter to carry his tools with him everywhere; why would a professional soldier be different?

    Yes, accidents and AD’s are a problem, but at the very least, people can be trained to avoid or minimize those. Murderous rampages cannot be trained away or minimized that way. I’d rather hear of a hundred accidental discharges by soldiers than one more Fort Hood.

    • The vast majority of our military are not in combat units. The military, a mirror of society, has almost every conceivable ‘job’ within it. Thus having everyone carry rifles includes doctors, mechanics, cooks, water purification specialists, mortuary service workers, drivers, pilots and many other support roles. Many of these receive virtually no arms training and further don’t need any. Also, dragging a rifle around everywhere you go is as aggravating and limiting for a soldier as it is for a civilian. It leads to them being left leaning here and there, lost, etc. Further it would be teaching the vast majority of our ‘soldiers’ nothing useful to their role. It makes sense on the surface but it’s a naïve view of the military.

      • Marine Corps has been training every Marine as a Rifleman for a super long time…. Don’t say it can’t be done or that it’s not feasible. Your 04xx box kicker can employ a rifle to the minimum standard, maybe not as proficient as an 0311, but I’ll take minimum standard of a 04xx over an Airman that hasn’t seen a rifle/pistol since Basic.

        • All Air Force personnel qualify with the M-16/M-4 every 2 or 4 years, and many qualify with the M-9 as well. So I’d say that a lowly Air Force box kicker is as well qualified to carry as his counterpart in the Army.

          Perhaps a better solution would be to allow those who attend an enhanced training class similar to an intermediate civilian self defense course to carry on base.

          The notion that junior enlisted and non-combat troops shouldn’t be allowed to carry because of potential violence reminds me of the anti’s assertion that concealed carry would result in carnage on the streets. Didn’t happen. The same troops carried on base in the sandbox, and there weren’t any problems there. Why do we trust them over there and not here?

        • As a former Marine Corps officer, this is exactly right. And to correct some erroneous information above, the fact that Marine Corps officers carry only sidearms (at least during my mid 60s/early 70s service) has nothing to do with somebody’s European aristocrat fantasy. Marine Corps doctrine is that officers (company grade in particular) are to direct the movement and fire of their Marines, not to direct fire onto the enemy themselves. Thus, they are armed only to the extent that their service firearm is used primarily for their personal defense. ( In my own case, I didn’t feel the M1911 represented sufficient personal defense, so I carried an Ithaca M37 riot as well. Don’t tell anybody).

        • Troutbum5 – you need to re-check the AFI on the qualification standards. Unless it changed back within the last three years since I oversaw my unit’s CTM program, if you are NOT Arming Category I (Security Forces, PJ, etc.) the requirement for regular qualification went out the widow several years ago. Now, Category II and III shooters ONLY qualify within the 90 day window prior to a deployment where current qualification is part of the reporting requirements. Talk about a total farce! Given that verbiage, it’s actually possible for someone to do an entire CAREER without ever going through a qualification.

  12. Billy was concerned about a coup, as is the current denizen of the commanding officers office.

    As long we have them, all our soldiers will be target practice for the wackos while in the CONUS.

  13. I don’t know any military bases that are “open,” and not just “anybody” can get in base. Visitors need a sponsor and background checks are done. There’s hundreds of metrics that are run to determine whether an individual should be barred based on whatever is found in their background. Now, if they’re being snuck on by a member, then that’s a different problem altogether.

    Aside from that, I’m not so sure I’m behind allowing military personnel to carry concealed in base, on duty. Not without a ton of new regs and procedures. I think that it could work, but would need the involvement of shirts and commanders to “designate,” via appointment letter who within their units were allowed to carry concealed. Aside from that, I think that training needs to be frequent and thorough. I have a couple of folks in my ok shop that hadn’t fired in years, and never qualified on a pistol, but the state of Florida deemed their military “training,” as sufficient enough to not have to take a certified CCW course and issued them their permits.

    So, perhaps the military could issue some sort of CCW that would be accepted throughout the country as long as that individual is on active duty and not the other way around.

    Appointment… Training…

    /rambling

    • Chances are excellent that those military types you disparage so easily have enough sense to insure they are adequately trained without having the state supervise their training. And you seem to have a level of confidence in military small arms training that may not be justified. I was once moved to a job which required a sidearm, and had to requalify after 10 years, no training just a requal test. The class was me and 24 Air Police enlisted types. I was one of only 6 who qualified expert, and 5 did not qualify. Turned out I was the second highest score in that unit’s history, when I got back to the office I discovered the highest score (one point above mine) was my coworker, no Air Police had ever scored that high. One of the kids suggested that was because the handgun was a secondary weapon for them, and I kept my mouth shut, since I had qualified expert with the M-16 before he started school, and would bet I could still outshoot him.

      • Well, without trying to shove in your face what I do in the military, my experience with the vast amount of people I train in the Air Force, is that they don’t get enough small arms training. In fact, the majority of personnel in the Air Force only fire as part of pre-deployment training, and even then it’s usually an M4 qual only. The majority of the Air Force does not qualify on M9.

        I’ve taken a local CCW course, and the training is significantly different than Air Force CATM training. So, unless the Air Force revamps their training, I don’t think anyone on an Air Force base should be carrying concealed if they’re getting their CCW based on training the Air Force has provided, and I don’t think that states should be issuing CCWs based solely on the fact that Joe Schmo is in the military and may have fired an M16 a few years ago.

  14. So the only real reason the author can come up with to not allow soldiers to carry weapons is uniformity? What a crock of shit. All utility uniforms are easy to conceal a pistol with.

    He should have done a lot more study into the Green on Blue attacks in Afghanistan rather than just a cursory mention. Soldiers were carrying weapons, but were not allowed to have them loaded. Attacks occurred with increasing regularity until 2012 when everyone was ordered to carry loaded weapons at all times. Attacks fell off sharply and almost non-existent today. Problem solved, problem staying solved.

    • I don’t wear a utility uniform for work most days. Also, an unloaded weapon is the same as no weapon.

      • An unloaded weapon is WORSE than no weapon, in that a bad guy will target you first if he thinks you are armed.

    • You and many TTAG readers are hung up on conealed carry. This the military we are talking about. There is no need or even purpose to conceal your weapon. You don’t have to be wearing a utility uniform to carry. It has been traditional done in Class As.

  15. Military bases as GFZs also highlights a significant military weakness. Think about it. It wouldn’t be insanely difficult for a group (maybe 50 or 100 of them?) of special forces from an enemy country to take a massive base. Have them smuggle in their weapons and equipment (“smuggle in” meaning into the country and into the city where their target base is), then don them and make a beeline for the armory. Control that, then work outward from there, slaughtering solders and eventually having complete control over a massive military installation. From there, they could have a foothold for an invasion, gain access to out defense network, or simply blow the place up in a massive “fuck you” to America and to her troops.

    And that’s purely from a military strategy standpoint, not even counting the things like mass shootings.

    • A “massive base,” and I’m pretty sure Ft. Hood is the massivest, would not have one central armory, at least not for the weaponry itself, which is located in company arms rooms throughout the base. (Or at least, it was like that 15 years ago.) On the other hand, they may store all of the ammunition in one location. I’m not sure.

  16. I’m not a soldier, but my (limited) understanding from talking to soldiers who have been deployed overseas is that pistols are rarely used in war zones. Lots of people have them, but situations where someone has to use their Beretta instead of their M4 are pretty rare. Given that, is there any reason not to let soldiers carry any 9mm pistol they want? So long as it will feed the 9mm ball the US Army supplies, does it really matter whether the pistol a soldier carriers is a Beretta or Glock or Smith or SIG? And if it doesn’t matter, why not let them carry on US bases, too?

    • Logistics.

      It may be a rare event, but wait till an op goes south and suddenly you get media reports that soldiers died because ‘There was incompatibility between personally owned weapons systems due to a policy that allows soldiers to buy and use their own guns in theaters of war.’

  17. If uniformity is an objection, have Soldiers carry their firearms concealed. The ACU top is long enough to completely cover most outside-the-waistband holsters. Many troops carry Leatherman tools on their belts and I’ve never heard anyone complain about them in re uniformity.

    The current regulations and policies are illogical and expose our service members to lethal risk. Under them, a teenage E-1 MP can carry loaded firearms anywhere on post, but an E-8 11B with a CIB cannot. It’s even more idiotic overseas where troops are forced to clear their weapons before entering certain buildings. If we trust people with loaded weapons outside those facilities, why can’t they be trusted inside them? Our Islamic enemies aren’t the brightest bulbs, but they have discovered that it is easier to attack our personnel when their weapons are unloaded.

  18. I am curious, are you a SGT, a former SGT or a SGT, USA, Ret.? You sign your name as if you are a soldier but you state that you used to be….

  19. As a currently serving Airman I can honestly say I’d be willing to go out and buy an “approved” sidearm if it were authorized as part of the uniform. I’m not a fan of the M9 and would be much more comfortable with my Kimber 1911 with red, white, and blue “Come and Take It” grips for actual protection or my Taurus Raging Judge Magnum for laughs, but the truth of the matter is every Soldier, Sailor, Airman, and Marine raises their right hand and swears to defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Maybe I have an overly simplistic view, but I feel like anyone who is willing to carry out an attack on a military base is just that. I’d be a lot more comfortable if I were at least afforded the means to defend myself.

  20. So the guy on orders as “the unit good guy [protector]” might as well have the additional duty of the first one to get shot.

    We’ll never, ever get to see concealed carry on post, ever. The decision makers get blotter reports of Soldiers doing stupid shit and it casts the rest in a negative light. Further, if there is but one incident of a negligent discharge with a privately owned weapon, the chain of command will get hammered with, “how could you let this happen, CPT? Why do you let your Soldiers carry guns?”

  21. “Most military bases are open”

    Not since 9/11, MOST if not all are considered “closed posts” now…

  22. As a former grunt stationed at Ft. Hood in the late 90s, here’s my solution:

    Allow all E6 and higher with a clean record and qualification to carry openly or concealed. This may be rescinded for good reasons (Article 15, etc).

    All SDOs, SDNCOs, and FODs will be issued an M9 and ammunition as part of their duties. They are expected to be qualified with the weapon.

    Allow all civilians with a state-recognized CHL and the requisite base classwork to carry on post. Again, this may be rescinded for valid reasons.

    That is all.

    • Solid plan for the Army, but in my experience the average Air Force E-6 doesn’t know squat about weapons… it almost seems like it would have to be a voluntary program to be workable for us. Something to the effect of “Personnel assigned may carry approved personal handguns on duty, provided they have completed all requisite training” and I’m sure there would need to be amendments to uniform regulations to specify what colors/patters/styles of holsters were authorized for use and where with what uninform combinations.

      • They should just carry M-9s. The belts and holsters are already in the inventory. There is no need for concealment.

        • in the interest of saving money it would be cheaper to have us carry our own weapons and ammo, most Air Force personnel aren’t qualified on the M-9 and the cost of providing the training retroactively would be enormous.

        • No military organization allows, should they, non standard weapons. Aside from the logistics if you go down and someone else picks up your weapon he has to know how to use it. What happens when someone who is unfamiliar with a Springfield XD series tries to rack the slide?

        • granted, but you would literally be astounded by the variances you see in individual weapons set ups and holsters you see in deployed locations, I would wager that all the M-4s ad M-16s I saw in Afghanistan that no two were exactly the same, you would run in to exactly the same issue in a location where you were have a legitimate chance of finding yourself in contact with an enemy force.

  23. “Oh hey thanks for shooting those bad guys in the face overseas who sought to do all of us harm. But you’re too irresponsible to be trusted with a firearm, Staff Sergeant.”

    Gotta love yet another failure of leadership at the flag officer level that is wildly out of touch with their troops.

  24. I’m stationed out of an air force base in the gun free utopia of England. A few years ago we had a domestic violence case in on base housing that another patrol responded to, only to find the husband had taken off. The patrol went after him and somewhere along the line, they got a tip from investigations that he had a firearm. So they found him, pulled him over, and searched his vehicle, and sure enough, there was a .38 revolver in a nintendo ds case.

    So just to recap, we have a gun inside a gun free zone, inside a gun free country. How’s that legislation working out again?

  25. A few points from the comments.
    IF the military wanted to, buying enough pistols would not be a problem. All they need to do is budget it.
    There is no need to conceal anything if they were to do that. Just standard military pistol rigs.

    As far as soldiers carrying their personal weapons..The military will never go for it. Different guns, revolvers, auto’s, 9mm, .40,.45,.38….blued, chrome, Kydex holsters, retention holsters, leather holsters. How do you write a regulation for that? Nothing happens without a regulation.
    In modern police service there are really only a few “Types” of handguns. 1911’s, Glocks, Sigs and S&W. basicly all high capacity automatics. Could you make a list of approved firearms and holsters? Possibly, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    Some folks are saying military posts are closed post 9/11. Some may be but all are not. My son is a soldier and I have been to Ft Benning several times. I had to sign in but my vehicle and person were not searched. I had my sidearm in my vehicle.

    Another point. Soldiers do not have access to military firearms in garrison. The military is super cautious about giving their folks loaded weapons outside a combat zone. The military does not trust their own people to that level.

    • Most of the troops I know carry some sort of folding knife. Thus far, no one in the Pentagon has mandated that everyone has to carry the exact same type of knife or that it has to be made by a specific manufacturer. The same should be true of privately-owned concealed-carry weapons. Who cares if they are of different makes and calibers? They are concealed, so there is no uniformity problem. Also, the firerarms would generally be used to terminate a short-range threat from one or two bad guys, not re-fight the Battle of the Bulge.

      However, I do understand that logic does not always reign in the corridors of the Five-Sided Puzzle Palace. The mandarins who inhabit that exalted domain enjoy inflicting mandatory training – much of it of dubious value – on the troops, but allowing them to exercise a right enshrined in the document they are sworn to protect and defend gives them the shivers.

      • If you’re the typical lower enlisted military member who lives in the barracks you have the added horror of having to store your personal firearms and ammo in the base armory. I’ve personally seen weapons come back out after a year of “storage” with obvious evidence of handling and firing. I’ll be damned if I’m gonna entrust those people with one of my hunting rifles, much less a weapon I might need to call on to protect my life, family or property

        • Under the current regulations and policies, you are correct. The point is that the current regulations and policies are wrong. If a 19 year-old civilian living in an apartment can sleep with a pistol in his or her night stand drawer, why can’t a PFC living in a barracks do the same thing?

        • that’s a good point, an 18 year old can be trusted to pack a machine gun through the mountains of Afghanistan or to launch a nuclear missile from a submarine in defense of his country, but not to carry a sidearm for his own protection while in garrison

  26. Pat,

    I am retired USAF/ANG Security Forces and honorably separated civilian cop (11 years full time, 6 more reserve) and HR218 eligible. Part of this issue can simply be handled by allowing those of us who are HR218 eligible carry on base, as we are permitted under the 2013 amendments to LEOSA. The 2013 changes allow for concealed carry off-duty by those charged with apprehension authority under the UCMJ, which extends to ALL Marine and Army MPs, Navy and Coast Guard MAs, and USAF Security Forces, as well as all civilian military police officers. However, the law allows local commanders to dictate whether or not to allow this on a base-by-base basis (at least by my understanding).

    Like you, I am a firm believer one armed person on the scene is worth millions of officers “en route”. Local commanders’ discretion on this issue should be stricken from the law. Afterall, with an HR218 credential, those authorized by the federal government to carry can even carry in CA and Chicago. Why should they be less able to do so on a military base?

    And not to cast disparaging remarks, but most posts are no longer open to the public. In fact, most have quit using the old vehicle decals (DD forms 2220) and require 100% ID check at the gates. It’s a Post 9-11 thing.

    • Before I get lit up as a “good for me but not for thee” positioner, let me state this should be only the FIRST step. I fully agree with the comments above about arming certain positions or ranks within each unit unless there is a reason to not. Even under the implementing guidelines of HR218 there are age restrictions for off-duty carry. Obviously on-duty carry by 18-20 year-old MPs/MAs/Security Forces is moot. Bottom line is if you are old enough to buy a handgun, AND have sworn the oath, then why should there be any law on the books (or regulation) which restricts your ability to protect yourself and others? Especially if you’ve ever been down-range. If you screw it up after that, it’s on you. Something about that whole “shall not be infringed” thing that gets me.

      And regardless what people might have to say about the military not having the Constitutional protections afforded the rest of the country, save that argument for another day.

  27. What about service members being allowed to concealed carry? I’ve got a crossbreed holster that would be practically impossible for someone to notice a weapon unless I did something obvious enough…

  28. Everyone here seems to be talking about handguns.. now, here’s something..

    ..what about the rifles used by the military? The M-16/M-4 series. Are our troops not supposed to be trained with them? Trusted to employ them in combat?

    “But.. cooks!”

    Rear echelon/secondary personnel shouldn’t have full-on rifles to begin with. That was one of the purposes of the M-1 Carbine, over the M-1 Garand. It was a personal defense weapon that was lighter and easier to carry while a soldier that was not infantry went about their work, but still gave them the ability to fight back properly if they were attacked. It’s an issue, yes, but perhaps one that could be solved by the Mk 18 CQBR, or some other weapon already in the supply chain. Either way, the point is, why don’t we actually allow the soldiers to carry the primary weapon that they are supposed to employ? After they’re out of Basic and AIT and all that, aren’t they of a competency level required to use them in the first place?

    “But.. Docs!”

    Legit point here – medical personnel can’t expect to get spared, though, once the shooting starts. If the military has a certain policy about keeping medical personnel disarmed, that’s a different and more sticky issue.

    “But.. security!”

    Securing arms.. ah, yes, that’s a sticky issue, isn’t it? I have no idea how living quarters are set up, but it seems to make sense to me that each (on-base) Barracks building ought to have a weapons locker in it, if we’re going to do things this way. Treat the soldiers like adults – weapons in the locker with one live magazine each nearby/separate (not locked) box in the shelving unit, and a few spares, when they’re in the barracks themselves. Not because we expect another attack, but because we should be prepared to repel one. Then one locker at each building/work space for the soldier to place his/her rifle while going about other duties.

    “But.. NCO’s!”

    Should have sidearms above a certain rank. While I do think handguns should be viewed with more potential utility, soldiers have enough to carry around in a war zone that makes taking a sidearm at ALL times, impractical. BUT, while on a ‘secure’ base, NCO’s ought be equipped with them, be responsible for them, and be qualified to use them. Same with officers.
    Actually, when it comes to Officers, I WOULD like to take a page from history and make it possible for the Officer to purchase their own side arm – M9’s, M11’s, and what ever, but cut according to branch of service. Thus, if you have a Force Recon officer who’s troops use the M45 or an Air Force Officer who mainly sees M11’s around, he/she should have the option of buying their own, and being able to add minor customizations to it (grips, light, and so on – nothing that “interferes” with the weapon like, no Competition Scopes or custom finishes or whatever), making that pistol their personal responsibility, while maintaining magazine compatibility with the rest of their immediate peers and subordinate NCO’s.

    “But.. reality!”

    Sucks. This is merely a fantasy – making the individual soldier more responsible for weapons. Just because a soldier’s job is toilet cleaning is no excuse (in my mind) for them to be totally incompetent with the standard issue rifle of the nation’s military. Nor is it excusable that soldiers aren’t held to a much higher standard with firearms – not only in safety and marksmanship, but general use and deployment. The desk clerks are bad shots? Why aren’t they out on the range, then? Minimum standards should exist for more things than how the uniform fits the body wearing it, it should apply to the weapons as well. After all, it’s a military, not a milk farm.

    • There’s a reason few people carry a long around throughout their day-to-day life. It gets in the way of getting things done. That’s why the handgun, weak and inaccurate as it is, is so popular.

      Also, you’re suggesting that Private Joe Snuffy have access to the arms room (that’s the gun locker to which you refer). In fact, keeping Private Joe Snuffy, (who has a bigger car payment than he can afford) from having access to racks and racks of valuable firearms is one of the chief reasons that the military keeps its weaponry in said arms rooms.

  29. Without repeating a lot of what’s already been said about the insane vulnerability of military instalations, one thought that came to my mind after Fort Hood 2: By comparison, this could never happen in pretty much any US police station–the shooter wouldn’t last seconds, much less several minutes. And lo and behold, see last night’s LAPD station shooting. The one officer that got shot (seven times at close range?) is alive thanks to basic IIA body armor, and he and the next closest officer instantly returned fire and ended the situation because they had their sidearms even for desk duty. Granted, part of this is situational awareness: they’ve come to expect the possibility that someone will try to start shooting up the place (apparently it’s been tried at that very station at least once before).

    • Well said. Last night’s swift end to what could have been a total rampage is a tremendous example of why MORE guns mean safer communities, not the reverse, sick and twisted liberal logic (or lack thereof). A well armed society is a polite society.

  30. There is an obvious cognitive disconnect in this situation, as there is in the NZ military, thanks to political interference. We have no air force, so our Army would be mincemeat in any real military engagement.

    There are two elements to any military decision. They are tactics, i.e. the way things are done, and strategy, i.e. what should be done.

    Strategy should be that armed personnel are at hand in sufficient quantity and quality to discourage and quell immediately any armed threat to base personnel.

    Tactics should be determined by each individual base commander, who should test and train personnel at all levels for proficiency in the use of self defense weapons. Those who pass muster should be authorised to carry weapons on base to prevent any possible outbreaks of armed violence on base.

    It’s no more complicated than that.

  31. @Cliff H
    When in Germany?? We had same situation in Aschaffenburge. 85 or 86. Raped the niece(I think) of a member of Baader Mienof who just so happened to live in A’burge. Was one of his guards till out of country. Carried M16 locked and loaded and 1911 locked and loaded Everywhere he/we went!!

  32. What’s funny is that I cant carry on my base, but I can take one of my shotguns (with none of my own shells) and go to our trap range. Or I can go to the commissary and buy guns and ammo…

    “no firearms allowed”

  33. Is that a C5-A Galaxy? I’ve never seen the rear of one close-hand. I have had one fly over, and they make everything buzz in the neighborhood. Seeing one is a VERY physical event.

  34. In the late nineties, when I saw service, we wore all kinds of non-issue gear on our belts: Multi-tools, cell phones, etc. No one cared, because it was hidden by the blouse/smock, or whatever it was called. An IWB holster should be no different.

    Of course, that may not work as well for those who strip down to the t-shirt for their job duties.

  35. What ever happened to the Guardian Angel program? I know in the Marine Corps on Camp Pendleton when I was there from 1998 through 2004 (off and on between deployments) 1st Marines had not only the local guard force with a react platoon, but also each unit had an armed “guardian angel” any time there was a formation or gathering of Marines. This program should just be made full time, so that there are always armed duty personnel around. Also arm all duty NCO’s and OOD’s. If we are not going to allow everyone to carry we at the very least need to drastically increase the amount of people who are carrying at any one time.

    Personally I think it would work for each squad/section/office to designate a Marine/Soldier or two who is/are the guardian angel(s) for the day, before reporting in the morning they draw a sidearm from the armory and carry it throughout the day and return it at the end of their watch.

  36. “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.”

    Of course we could always return to the practice of issuing firearms you know like we do when we deploy. Or when we go to the range. Or in Basic-freaking-training. It’s not as if the Army and other branches of the US Military don’t have an inventory of side-arms for issue and the appropriate accessories for them. We even have regulations governing their wear. No reason we can’t go back to this practice especially since the military as a whole is no longer as large as the army by itself was during the author’s service.

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