In recent military news, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter sent out a memo announcing his top commanders have the green light to arm troops at U.S. bases and recruiting stations. This announcement from the Defensed Secretary came two weeks after the tragic shooting in Chattanooga which claimed the lives of five service members. Do you think Carter’s announcement to allow more troops to carry weapons at bases, recruiting stations, Reserve centers and other softer military targets came two weeks too late?
Aftermath of Chattanooga Shooting
Immediately after news broke that gunman Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez fired shots from his car at an armed forces recruiting center and then drove six miles to a Navy reserve center where he fatally shot four Marines and a sailor before being killed by police, there was outrage from the public, other military members and politicians as to why our service members are left defenseless to attacks like these.
That outrage led to armed citizens standing guard at recruitment centers and also to military officials asking these citizens to stand down. The attacks also led to lawmakers from both parties promoting bills that would arm service members.
At the time, however, the Pentagon and senior military officials urged caution and restraint when it came to arming troops at recruitment stations, U.S. bases, Reserve centers and other softer military targets.
Arming Troops – Why Now?
As Defense Secretary Ash Carter stated in his memo, “The tragic shooting on July 16 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, illustrates the continuing threat to DOD personnel in the U.S. homeland posed by homegrown violent extremists.”
His memo went on to share that there is definitely a directive which states that those serving the military “shall be appropriately armed and have the inherent right to self-defense.” That directive is Defense Directive 5210.6 which was issued April 1, 2011 under then-Secretary Robert Gates.
Defense Directive 5210.6 “allows for the arming of qualified DOD personnel (not regularly engaged in law enforcement duties) based on the threat and the immediate need to protect DOD assets and lives.”
The Defense Secretary wrote in his memo “I am directing all components to consider any additional protection measures including changes to policy and procedures that protect our force against the evolving threat.” It is later noted in that memo that Carter expects “actions plans” from service chiefs and regional command heads by August 21.