Making Sense of Insane Military Base Security

Once again, a U.S. military base has suffered a security breach.  Whether it's at Fort Hood or at the Washington Navy Yard, or elsewhere, family members and the soldiers themselves should never have to endure the fear of not being safe on a U.S. military post.  Yet President Obama eulogized the twelve victims by calling for more gun control.  American Thinker interviewed those with knowledge of security on statewide installations and found that they do not agree with their commander-in-chief.  Instead, they blame rules and regulations and ineffective security for the mass killings.

At the memorial service, President Obama said, "Our tears are not enough.  Our words and our prayers are not enough.  If we really want to honor these 12 men and women, if we really want to be a country where we can go to work and go to school and walk our streets free from senseless violence without so many lives being stolen by a bullet from a gun, then we're going to have to change[.] ... These mass shootings occur against a backdrop of daily tragedies as an epidemic of gun violence tears apart communities across America."

An Army Ranger disagrees and suggested just the opposite to American Thinker.  He blames the rules and regulations and considers the security on statewide military bases a joke.  What he proposes is to allow any trained soldier to carry a loaded pistol instead of forbidding it.

"What if someone near Hasan [at Ford Hood] or this guy at the Navy Yard had a gun?  They could have taken them down instead of waiting for the police, and then not as many people would have died.  Any sheepdog could defend against the wolf.  The rules and regulations are ridiculous since I am allowed to train with a loaded gun, and while in Afghanistan I am required to carry a loaded weapon on base.  Yet I am not allowed to do it stateside.  Why?  Because someone doesn't trust a soldier in the U.S. to know what to do with a gun?  It is a political issue, not a common-sense issue." 

Most of those interviewed contended that anyone with an ID card can get on a U.S. military base easily, and that the commander-in-chief should concentrate on making stateside bases more secure instead of the political issue of gun control.  A security forces commander interviewed recounted the general security rules, although he emphasized that there is currently no uniformity of standards.  He noted that typically, there are "two fully trained and equipped controllers with equipment that will alert law enforcement.  In addition, many bases also have surveillance cameras at their entry control points that are monitored."  However, once on base, anyone with an access card is not subjected to having his bags searched and is able to just walk right through the building.  This is exactly what happened at the Navy Yard.

Retired Colonel Ken Allard says that there are random checks, but not once in his entire career has he ever gone through any card checks.  "Every time I go to the Middle East, there are more security precautions there than there are here.  We are very unprotected here in the U.S. because we live in a fool's paradise, thinking it will not happen here.  Yet everything in recent years shows the direct opposite."

A former Military Police soldier agrees and points out that any ID CAC (common access card), if checked, will show only post driving privileges, active warrants on post, or a ban from a post.  It does not link to a national database.  "I can also tell you that we have 'Red Drills,' where we stage guys to come on post with a weapon in view through the gate and there is a 90% fail rate by the gate guards/MPs."  Probably because of political correctness, this MP also said that most posts have guards carrying their weapons without a round in the chambers of their guns.  "These are deadly seconds that can cost one's life, because they would have to rack a round in their weapon and fire to react."

Spencer Coursen, a former Ranger who now works in security, warns that the initial reports of the perpetrator using a stolen ID is very possible since there is no military ID scanning mechanism at the gate.  What he wishes is that the emphasis be placed on new background check procedures.  "What I would do is prevent that person from getting on the base in the first place.  He should have been disqualified from being a contractor.  If the newspaper was able to find the information on this guy, someone doing due diligence on his background should have found it as well."

Ann Clem is the liaison between military families and officials for the Fort Campbell base.  She told American Thinker that the chief of access control and the Provost Marshal of that base will be implementing a new "rapid gate" technology, which will enable a nationwide check of scanned cards that will alert a criminal background of the person, including outstanding warrants.  She is somewhat frustrated since "there is only so much that can be done.  People are paranoid yet do not want their privacy invaded, but I feel it is at the expense of our security."

Everyone interviewed felt that it is very easy to sneak guns onto the bases and agrees with Clem that there are civil liberties issues.  The former MP told American Thinker that a vehicle would never be searched completely because of the rules and regulations.  A backpack, any bag, a suitcase, for example, cannot be searched without the driver's consent, allowing for an arsenal to be brought onto the base.  Those who have dealt with security suggest that the concentration should be not on gun control, but on combining the post vehicle systems and the CAC scanners.

It is not fair to the soldiers or their families that they now have to worry not only when deployed overseas, but stateside as well.  Instead of trying to use this recent tragedy for his political agenda, President Obama, the commander-in-chief, should think of what procedures are needed to secure U.S. military bases.  As the former Ranger noted, "where there is a will, there is a way, because of our culture and the acceptance of violence.  My family and I can be more protected with guns in the soldiers' hands than with gun control."

The author writes for American Thinker.  She has done book reviews and author interviews and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.

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