An active shooter at the Navy Yard in Washington DC left 13 government employees and contractors dead today. The shooter was a former Navy reservist who had been treated for PTSD and was on prescription medications. He gained access to the facility by using a stolen ID card.
On November 5, 2009, Army Major Nidal Hasan opened fire at a medical clinic on Fort Hood, Texas leaving 13 dead and 32 wounded. Hasan was a radical muslim serving within the ranks of the Army and carried out his murders in the furtherance of the Al Qaeda inspired jihad against the interventionist actions of the US and its allies. Hasan passed through the perimeter of Fort Hood using his own ID card.
These two incidents occurred within the United States and within the perimeter of military installations with controlled access. While the security procedures and response forces may differ in these two incidents, just as the motivations for these attacks differ, one policy remains consistent throughout the US military that leaves personnel vulnerable to random violence. It is the deliberate policy of disarming America’s armed professionals.
The progressively increasing restriction on individual rights to self-defense that began during the Carter administration led to full curtailment under the Clinton administration. This resulted in the contemporary situation in which every military member is prohibited by legislation and regulation from possessing the means of defending themselves, their loved ones and comrades. Every uniformed service member increases their vulnerability the instant they don a uniform. As an agent of the government, the uniform is a lighting rod for the animosity of those who disagree with the actions of State.
These vulnerabilities are especially acute when members are transiting to and from military facilities. Consider the 2011 event at the Frankfurt Airport in Germany where two US Air Force members were murdered while waiting, unarmed, on a bus at the departure terminal. We can also look at the event earlier this year where a member of the British Army was butchered by Muslim extremists while walking home from a base outside London. The bureaucratic policies in both cases left these individuals vulnerable attack, not only by forcing their disarmament, but also by making their activities predictable, visible obviously defenseless.
Bureaucracies, of which all five US military services certainly are, prefer form over function. The obeisance of rules holds greater value than results and individuals are readily sacrificed for the sake of policy adherence. This occurs not only by denying them access to the tools of defense, but also through policies and uniform regulations that deplete their situational awareness or encumber their hands, thus reducing their ability to respond to threats. Still, these policies are but a symptom of the philosophical shift that has brought about a reversed polarity in the structure of national defense.
The charter document that created, defined and constrained the federal government to limited and enumerated functions also provided the framework for the security of a free people. Armed individuals create the foundation of a secure nation-state with the government providing training, equipment and other sustainment provisions. No matter how “professional” military bureaucracies claim to be, the power of armed individuals remains the bedrock of American national defense.
The bureaucratic policies that prevents the ability of people, particularly armed professionals, to defend themselves can only serve to degrade national security. Results from these policies, replete with quantifiable casualties, should come as no surprise. However, each individual that assumes the risk of donning a uniform should ask if serving under the restraint of such policies advance the very principles they swore an oath to defend.