A top general tapped by Barack Obama for the position of Army chief of staff stated Tuesday morning during his nomination hearing that in some cases, arming personnel at recruiting stations is the correct course of action.
During the hearing, Army Gen. Mark Milley wasted no time discussing 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez’s attack on a recruiting center and Navy and Marine reserve center last Thursday, which left four Marines and one sailor dead.
“I want to publicly extend my condolences to the families of the four marines and one sailor who were killed,” four-star Army Gen. Milley said. adding:
It’s a horrible tragedy. Force protection is a key task for any commander. There are a variety of hardening things we can do — bulletproof glass, etc. Actively, we can increase patrols, work closely with law enforcement. As far as arming recruiters go, I think that’s complicated legally, and there’s issues involved throughout the country, but we’ll have to come to grips with that.
“If the legal part of it can be resolved,” McCain interrupted, “do you think they should under certain conditions be armed?”
“I think under certain conditions both on military bases and in outstations, recruiting stations that we should seriously consider it, and in some cases, I think it’s appropriate,” Milley stated.
Milley’s remarks come in direct contrast to statements issued by current chief of staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno just a few days ago. According to Odierno, arming troops on U.S. soil might backfire, causing more harm than help. Accidental discharges and further unexpected consequences might turn an otherwise well-intentioned policy into a nightmare.
Lawmakers have already started forwarding legislation to permit all military personnel on U.S. bases to carry arms.
“It is clear that our military personnel have become targets, not just abroad but on American soil as well,” said GOP Rep. Scott DesJarlais, according to Stars and Stripes. “Therefore, they must be given the tools to defend themselves.”
Much to the chagrin of the public, other force protection measures in the wake of the attack have included telling Marines not to wear their uniforms in public. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has also mandated that the services provide him with additional security recommendations by the end of the week.
Other former military leaders, however, have argued that because many personnel are not expert marksmen and have only passed through basic weapons training, arming base personnel is a terrible idea.
“You have a vast cadre of people in the military — doctors, lawyers, intelligence specialists, cryptologists, mechanics — whose jobs are important because they support combat troops, but it is not their job to point weapons at people and kill them,” retired Navy Capt. Charles Stimson told Stars and Stripes. “I know JAGs [military lawyers], nurses, typists, legal clerks in the military who have never fired a weapon in their lives.”
Also at the hearing, Milley stated that current Army strategy is optimistic, given limited resources and escalating threats around the world. The top threat, Milley stated in response to a question from Sen. Joe Manchin, is Russia. Milley, who has served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, also said that fielding joint terminal attack controllers and U.S. advisors directly with Iraqi troops “should be seriously considered.”
This report, by Jonah Bennett, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.