How to formally arm our troops

The terrorist organization known as ISIS has made it clear that a part of its jihadist war plan against America is carrying out so-called "lone wolf" attacks aimed primarily against members of our military and possibly their families.  The attacks in Chattanooga by an apparent Islamic lone wolf are the latest result of that terror tactic.  We can only guess as to what the future holds for American warriors and their families.  We should not wait to find out.

Our first step should be to end this foolishness of sending our military personnel out into harm’s way unarmed.  ISIS cells and individuals operating in this country are well aware that military recruiters are sitting ducks in their glass-paned, storefront offices, as was made evident in Chattanooga.  They also know something that most Americans do not: the incredible reality that our reserve and National Guard personnel serving in their armories and operations centers spread throughout this country also are unarmed when conducting their routine duties and training.  There may be weapons present, but they are secured and signed out to personnel only when they are conducting combat preparation training within the boundaries of official military installations, or when they have been ordered into policing duties following community disasters, when armed looting prevention may be required.

One of the first objections to allowing these military personnel to go armed, even from those serving, is that many, especially the newer troops, who are usually the youngest members as well, do not have the training in personal security defense to allow them to carry firearms safely.  As some combat warriors have pointed out, even those who have served in combat zones are not necessarily trained in personal security in a working environment surrounded by unarmed civilians.

Accepting that as true, why not train those who are potential targets of terrorist attacks in effective armed responses to such attacks?  Completion of the initial training should be noted in their permanent records.  Annual requalification training such as is now done for all arms training in the active forces should be a requirement to maintain their status as Personal Arms Qualified, or PAQ.  This training should be uniform across all services – active duty, reserves, and National Guard – for those personnel whose duties place them at risk of terrorist acts.  Importantly, PAQ should not be limited to off-base personnel.  Every active unit should have most of its members qualified, with PAQ duty being rotated so that several troops are armed and on heightened alert at any given time.  PAQ should permit service members to carry their weapons off post so that they are armed 24/7, affording protection to their families.  States should be urged to accept PAQ as equal to their own permitting requirements for the carrying of weapons.

Just as with the training, PAQ should be formalized across all services, with a universal qualification badge to be awarded and prominently worn by all service members on all service uniforms when their duties require them to go armed.  Basic Personal Arms Qualification should probably involve sidearms only in its initial phase, with advanced training and qualifications in shoulder-fired automatic weapons to follow for key personnel so designated by their commanders.  Such qualification could be shown by imposing crossed rifles on the PAQ badge or by other means.  There should be a minimum of one person so qualified and so armed on duty at every off-post military work site when troops are present.

When lone wolf or group attackers begin to be met with a full-on barrage of automatic return fire augmented by semi-automatic pistol fire from behind better fortified workplaces, their effectiveness and their lifespans will be greatly diminished. 

The terrorist organization known as ISIS has made it clear that a part of its jihadist war plan against America is carrying out so-called "lone wolf" attacks aimed primarily against members of our military and possibly their families.  The attacks in Chattanooga by an apparent Islamic lone wolf are the latest result of that terror tactic.  We can only guess as to what the future holds for American warriors and their families.  We should not wait to find out.

Our first step should be to end this foolishness of sending our military personnel out into harm’s way unarmed.  ISIS cells and individuals operating in this country are well aware that military recruiters are sitting ducks in their glass-paned, storefront offices, as was made evident in Chattanooga.  They also know something that most Americans do not: the incredible reality that our reserve and National Guard personnel serving in their armories and operations centers spread throughout this country also are unarmed when conducting their routine duties and training.  There may be weapons present, but they are secured and signed out to personnel only when they are conducting combat preparation training within the boundaries of official military installations, or when they have been ordered into policing duties following community disasters, when armed looting prevention may be required.

One of the first objections to allowing these military personnel to go armed, even from those serving, is that many, especially the newer troops, who are usually the youngest members as well, do not have the training in personal security defense to allow them to carry firearms safely.  As some combat warriors have pointed out, even those who have served in combat zones are not necessarily trained in personal security in a working environment surrounded by unarmed civilians.

Accepting that as true, why not train those who are potential targets of terrorist attacks in effective armed responses to such attacks?  Completion of the initial training should be noted in their permanent records.  Annual requalification training such as is now done for all arms training in the active forces should be a requirement to maintain their status as Personal Arms Qualified, or PAQ.  This training should be uniform across all services – active duty, reserves, and National Guard – for those personnel whose duties place them at risk of terrorist acts.  Importantly, PAQ should not be limited to off-base personnel.  Every active unit should have most of its members qualified, with PAQ duty being rotated so that several troops are armed and on heightened alert at any given time.  PAQ should permit service members to carry their weapons off post so that they are armed 24/7, affording protection to their families.  States should be urged to accept PAQ as equal to their own permitting requirements for the carrying of weapons.

Just as with the training, PAQ should be formalized across all services, with a universal qualification badge to be awarded and prominently worn by all service members on all service uniforms when their duties require them to go armed.  Basic Personal Arms Qualification should probably involve sidearms only in its initial phase, with advanced training and qualifications in shoulder-fired automatic weapons to follow for key personnel so designated by their commanders.  Such qualification could be shown by imposing crossed rifles on the PAQ badge or by other means.  There should be a minimum of one person so qualified and so armed on duty at every off-post military work site when troops are present.

When lone wolf or group attackers begin to be met with a full-on barrage of automatic return fire augmented by semi-automatic pistol fire from behind better fortified workplaces, their effectiveness and their lifespans will be greatly diminished.