Friday, November 06, 2009

Safe at home...

The more I think about it, the more pissed off I get at the "this is our home" comment from the completely unsat and hopefully about-to-fall-on-his-sword General Cone.

Sure, General, your troops were "safe at home"... in a war with no fronts.

They were every bit as safe at home as the crews of the USS Cole or the battleship Arizona. Safe at home like the Marines in their barracks in Beirut.

An army at war does not have the luxury of "safe at home". Do you think the bomber crews of the Mighty Eighth landed in southern England after pasting the hell out of the Nazis and called out "Olly olly oxen free! We're safe at home now; we'll be putting on our slippers and lighting a pipe. No fair bombing us 'til tomorrow, Adolf!" or do you think they made sure that there were plenty of slit trenches, anti-aircraft guns, and armed guards on the base?

Do our people need to wear full battle rattle to go to the infirmary? No, but the idea that our highly trained all-volunteer army should walk around in condition white with empty holsters and bull's-eyes taped to their backs during a war and right in the middle of what is, to be honest, quite a tempting target is delusional at best and a grave insult to our troops at worst.

General Cone, a professional soldier should be mortified to have accidentally let slip that line about being unarmed at home. You are absolutely responsible for everything that happens in your command. Act like it.

43 comments:

Boat Guy said...

It's completely appropriate to be pissed. It's even appropriate to be pissed at LTG Cone, though I'd be willing to to bet that had he armed his folks on post - or even allowed volunteers to be armed, he'd probably be relieved for "loss of confidence". This problem is bigger than a three-star is authorized to solve; though I know some Flag and General Officers who are capable of doing so. If any good is to come from this (and I rather doubt it will) it will be from folks taking heed of the reaction of people like you Tam, asking those questions, perhaps even demanding that we have the right of self-defense on Federal property.
Still we are far from "mainstream" and I expect we'll hear and see more calls for further restrictions, bigger VDZ's etc more than the outrage that our serving soldiers are vulnerable.

Nathan said...

The more I read and think about this, the more I keep coming back to that famous line from Dr. Strangelove: "You can't fight in here, this is the War Room!"

Sounds to me like the Army equivalent is "You can't carry loaded weapons here, this is a military base!"

Sad.

Boat Guy said...

Oh, by "loss of confidence" I mean his seniors would have figured he'd gone over the deep end by doing something, like allowing his folks to carry on post.
Perhaps if more quotes like this on from the Wall Street Journal are reported

"On the base, "They don't allow soldiers to walk around with weapons all the time; I think they should perhaps change that policy," said Jack Ashmore, an Army veteran and former civilian communications specialist at Fort Hood, as he shared breakfast with his son, Tom Ashmore, at Killeen's Henderson's Family Restaurant. "They could have defended themselves. If you're in the military, you should be allowed to carry a weapon."

but I doubt it.
Still, it's a thought. Of course our ID cards read "Uniformed Services of the United States" now instead of "Armed Forces..." so perhaps we shoulda known ...

Mark said...

Why are soldiers going around without loaded weapons at all? I'm confused. In agreement, but generally befuddled. Admittedly, I'm about as sharp as a conker right now.

Lorimor said...

You're at your best when you're surly Tam. :)

As Boat Guy predicts, sadly all that will result from this latest insanity is yet more insanity, i.e., larger and more numerous VDZ's.

An unarmed man can only flee from evil, and evil is not overcome by fleeing from it." - Col Cooper

Lorimor said...

Another thought not my own but obviously one I've taken to heart:

"He who goes unarmed in paradise had better be sure that is where he is." - James Thurber

og said...

Ooh Fing Rah.

I understand you don't want recruits armed, but at the very least mp's and at best, all officers should have had sidearms. I understand they have regulations. The regulations are stupid.

Aaron said...

While I won't fault you for castigate the LTG for his comment, there's absolutely nothing he can have done to prevent this that wouldn't have gotten him relieved.

Allowing soldiers to carry when not on watch would not only have caused a "loss of confidence" but quite possibly criminal charges for conspiracy to violate federal firearm laws.

The problem resides in the Pentagon and the White House. That said, there's no way of knowing if he'd have taken measures if allowed.

Anonymous said...

I hate to cite TV shows, but I am reminded of an epsode of NCIS where Ziva David, recently arrived from Israel, is investigating in a Navy facility-she asks "are all these people in the Military?"-"Yes"-"Then where are thier sidearms?"
We are at war; the attack can come from ANY quarter (MAJOR Hasan USAMEDD, remember)-and our folks are at a defensive disadvantage?
WTF?
It took 3 minutes for armed cops to reach Maj. Hasan and engage him.
"When seconds count..help is only minutes away".

Atom Smasher said...

Civvy with a Devil's Advocate question here:

Wouldn't the first "I was cleaning it and it went off, right into Sgt. Smith's pancreas" incident start people howling if there were people armed on base?

Now personally, I agree that since there are a shite-ton of Mohammeds out there ready and willing to cap a Yankee, all bases should at least be as prepped as they would be if deployed. But maybe that's unreasonable of me, I don't know.

Divemedic said...

This begs an even larger question: If the US Army cannot safeguard their own personnel, then how do the anti-gunners expect me to rely on the government to safeguard ME?

Therefore, it must follow that I am the one chiefly responsible for my own safety. Gun free zones do not work.

scottw said...

Most bases have such restrictions on firearms it is ridiculous. Being in the ANG I at times had to travel 5+ hours to my drill location unarmed due to the fact that upon entering the base I would be in direct violation of multiple Fed laws. Sad but True. With most of the security being contracted out I never felt confident to what any response would be to a terror incident.

TJP said...

"Wouldn't the first 'I was cleaning it and it went off, right into Sgt. Smith's pancreas' incident start people howling if there were people armed on base?"

Either mankind revisits civilization's testimony on negligence, or Darwin will.

borisdabastid said...

I wish, as a member of the armed services, I could add anything real to this. Unfortunately, I am also sputtering mad over the shooting, and the regulations in place that prevent people from defending themselves on military installations.

Its even worse here in US Army Europe, as we not only have the "no CCW" reg on post, but we are also hampered in even owning firearms by a series of horrible laws put in place by Germany, and covered under the Status Of Forces Agreement.

I'm not sure when the government decided that those serving the country were worthy of less trust than your average felon, but this needs to change. Unfortunately, I think the antis are going to seize this horrible incident and use it to further fuel the "scare tactic" fire.

Don Meaker said...

A good book on the prewar German Army is "The Revolt of Gunner Asch" by Hans Helmut Kirst. The Gunner Asch series was made into a German language movie "08/15".

Soldier with inititive solves social problem, with a good time had by all.

HHK wrote "The Night of the Generals" which was made into a movie with Peter O'Toole.

DirtCrashr said...

I'm beginning to see the advantages of a Citizen Militia over a standing Army. In a Militia one is required to report to duty with their weapon(s) ready, while in the Army one is required to report to duty disarmed and enfeebled.

IZinterrogator said...

og,
Your assertion that the officers should have sidearms is just a complete insult to NCOs like me. I've never met a gunny officer in my 13 years in, but I know a heck of a lot of NCOs who have CCWs. The officers who put the policies in place to disarm us on post are the problem, not the solution.

Anonymous said...

Tam, you are so right on this. Unfortunately, our military seems to have been infested with too many leftist douchebags. On that note, from Kevin's blog;
"Lenin proposed five conditions for successful “Revolution”, namely :

1) The weakening or destruction of the existing State and its institutions

2) The destruction of the existing society so that it can be replaced by the type of society required by the "new" post revolutionary society

3) An inability of the existing institutions to govern or bring about change .

4) The armed forces must be demoralised and rendered ineffective (including the Police).

5) The "proletariat" must be in a mood for change."

-- Lyle

Larry said...

Rational analysis:

If less restrictve rules were in place, it is quite likely there would be some sort of statistical bump in accidental and otherwise unjustified discharges of firearms, including those with criminal intent.

On the other hand, everybody being armed would be a mitigating factor in the criminal intent cases.

The military, even in Iraq, is so suspicious of firearms, it's laughable. The multiple "clearings" of firearms; at EVERY checkpoint, at multiple points within secured camps, every time you enter the DFAC. It is effing ridiculous. It's a casual and unnecessary process that leads to carelessness.

The recent change to national park carry should be in place on military bases as well. Mirror state law. It would be a big step forward. Not as big and positive a step as actively promoting a warrior culture amongst our military bureacracy, but a good step in the right direction from where we are.

Anonymous said...

I thought the same thing when I heard the comment. Amazing view on his and his men's security.

Anonymous said...

Probably a political general doing his pc best.

Firehand said...

According to son, even if he lives off base and it never comes near the place, to own a firearm he has to register it on base, etc.

I think it was Jeff Cooper a while before he died who wrote of the "Keep the peasan- er, cannon fod- uh, troops away from arms except when necessary" attitude all too common. Said had a report from a friend of a Marine lieutenant on his first trip to Iraq arriving at the base and after getting through the gates his first question was "Where's the armory so my men can secure their weapons?" Cooper's friend, a rather more experienced officer, had some questions along the lines of "Don't you trust your troops with their weapons? If not, WHY?" Guy'd been so brainwashed in "Secure the weapons so your troops won't do something stupid" attitide that he didn't consider that, in a war zone, that might not be such a good idea.

And now, as Tam points out, we're ALL in the hot zone, but God forbid they allow troops, even those with one or more combat deployments, to have arms and ammo as an everyday thing.

I'll throw something else in: son's unit was in New Mexico on a training mission. In an area where there are constant problems with illegals and smugglers, nobody except the MPs had arms and ammo except on the firing range.

rickn8or said...

scottw--
Same situation here; I can't drive onboard the local base to go to the commissary/exchange because I refuse to drive the 30 minutes each way unarmed. Once upon a time, I was trusted with/around $40-million airplanes, crypto keylists and things that make Big Kablooey, and now I can't be trusted with a .38 locked up in my truck??

Not sure sidearms would have helped in this case; by tradition, visitors, patients and staff at military medical facilities are unarmed. Just like at church.

FTNuke said...

Firehand-

I'm fairly certain my base has one of those stupid "even if you live off base you need to register your weapons" rules too, but since that is impossible to enforce I have no problem not complying with it. Of course, all weapons here in Hawaii are registered with the county anyway, but that level of ridiculous administrative harassment is still far less than what I'm sure the military's would be.

Anonymous said...

Quoth Tam: "The more I think about it, the more pissed off I get at the 'this is our home' comment from the completely unsat and hopefully about-to-fall-on-his-sword General Cone."

For some reason, that line is giving me Serenity flashbacks:

The Operative: "...In olden times, someone who has failed as completely as you would have been asked to fall upon his sword."

Bureaucrat: "Well, fortunately I don't have a sword."

The Operative: "How fortunate that I've brought my own." *SCHWWIIINNNG*

Seriously, you'd think that after the better part of a decade fighting the War on Terror - and forty years of watching Islamic, Marxist and sundry other types of extremists in action - you'd think the Pentagon brass would at least have a clue that terrorism is a war with no front lines. The enemy can literally be anywhere.

When I deployed to Germany in the late eighties, there were, for example, still remnants of the old Baader-Meinhof gang running around. They'd just tried to bomb the Robinson Barracks (Stuttgart) PX shortly before I arrived.

And the post was still wide open.

Sounds like somebody ought to loan General Object Lesson a sword, if they have to. If only to wake up every other post commander in the US Armed Forces.

--Wes S.

Atom Smasher said...

One of the big reasons I got my CCW was so that, should someone decide to go derka-derka near me, I'd be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

weambulance said...

Argh my comment got eaten! Let's try again.

Any soldier who has a state CHL should be allowed to carry on post. Rank has no bearing on the matter. I don't know if I was the most skilled shooter in my platoon, but I was the most serious about training back in garrison, and I was definitely the biggest gun nut. I tried to get the other guys in my platoon to come shooting and teach them what the NCOs didn't know in our down time. I never made it above Specialist before I got out.

Soldiers are not going to be fragging their NCOs stateside. None of our NCOs got fragged overseas and we had piles of ammo everywhere. If an NCO treats his soldiers like shit stateside because he's NOT worried about getting fragged anymore, he needs to lose his rank Right Fucking Now.

There is no safe zone in this world. Nowhere am I willing to put the responsibility for my safety in the hands of anyone but me. Overseas, I carried at least a loaded mag for my M4 with me everywhere. It's a lot easier to get on a CONUS post than a FOB in Iraq.

I'm shocked this sort of thing didn't happen sooner. I never wanted to talk about the vulnerability other than face to face because I didn't want to give anyone ideas, but now it's out there.

Major whoeverthefuck might have been pulling the trigger, but the reason this happened is an utter lack of give-a-fuck on the part of senior Army leadership. End of story.

Dave said...

Aside from frontier posts in Indian country, members of the US army have NEVER gone about their daily business armed. It's not some recent, leftist, GFW-ism - it's a habit deeply rooted in history.

And declaring stateside bases to be in "Indian country," no matter what the reality is, is a hugely political decision. Can't have the sheeple getting scared.

Also, if you've never been inside an SRP site (where yesterday's shooting took place), it's a lot like the DMV - crowded, with lots of people standing in line for their turn at various stations. Even if ever soldier in there had a loaded M9, you're looking at a Rule 4 NIGHTMARE - the only person who doesn't have that problem is the attacker. Your number of dead and wounded could easily double from friendly fire. (I don't even want to think about M16/M4s in that situation).

Also, having soldiers carry their issue weapons at all times is fairly impractical for other reasons. They wouldn't be allowed to take them home, which means every company is going to spend 2-3 hours every day issuing and turning in weapons. The HQ company of a mechanized unit has over 300 soldiers - they'd spend all day just with issue and turn-in. Oh, and if you've never done it, walking around everywhere with a long gun gets pretty damn annoying. So is cleaning yogurt out of your Pic rails because the rules force you to eat with your M4 in your lap.

Will said...

I don't have a problem with him falling on his sword. And the next base commander with the same problem. I figure after two or more, the rest might grow a pair and tell "higher authority" to fuck off or change the rules.

dave said...

This is stupid. If soldiers can be trusted to have firearms on the battlefield where they may have to make split-second decisions regarding life or death, then they can be trusted to have them on base.

Maybe it's just me, but it appears that the worries about what would happen with armed personnel on base falls into the "too lazy to give them basic firearms safety training, so let's just tell them they can't have them" category. Or maybe it's just political bullshit. Either way, good people are dead because of it. They weren't the first, and they won't be the last.

Roberta X said...

What Dave said. Also, there's an issue of mindset here: was there any attempt to rush this murderous feckwit, or did everyone not already a casualty go for cover/concealment and wait for Miss Cop Lady to show up with her G-U-N and put him down?

Screw that. You never know how you'll react if something like this happens -- I'll probably be looking around like an idiot, trying to figure out what the funny noise is -- but I sure hope I manage to move toward the threat with something weapon-like in my hand. You can't stop them if you don't try.

Borepatch said...

The problem is that the Officer Corps is filled with Officers, and the LTG so ably - if inadvertently - shows.

It's no filled - and in generall has never been filled - with leaders and warriors.

Every time we get into a war, the first few battles are disasters. It takes a while to find the leaders and warriors and get then in charge. It took 18 months in WWII (European Theater, at least). It took Lincoln 3 years to find Grant.

The problem is that nobody's looking right now. Petraeus was the only example from the WoT, and he was 3 years ago. Forget the current Administration; the last administration didn't care to make this a priority.

This is a bit of a rant, but Leaders lead. If they can't lead, they find somewhere that they can. Sadly, we find leaders despite - not because of - the Pentagon.

Will said...

I suspect that part of the problem the .mil has with armed soldiers is they know that they are not well practiced with arms. They do not budget for ammo for practice purposes. They would rather spend it on multi-million/billion dollar weapon systems, which get them jobs after retirement. I'm told the annual practice ammo allotment for a soldier is 80 rounds. And, if scheduled for deployment,that they normally wait until they arrive in the sandbox before doing it, because it doesn't then come out of training budget, but war funds.
I've taken classes at Frontsight that had soldiers in class, because they were concerned about the lack of training before shipping out. We gun people deride the cops about their lack of ongoing training. Well, our .mil trigger pullers are in worse shape. BTW, the exception to this is the Seal Teams and other elite groups. They tend to have nearly unlimited training funds.

Ed Foster said...

Used to bust several thousand caps a year in the Green Machine, but I'm not current on how it's done now.

I'll have to ask a SEAL buddy who is also a former Marine. He's just back from the sandbox a few months. More on it later.

Richard Letaw said...

I agree fully with IZinterrogator who disagreed with the idea that officers should be armed. Perhaps field-grade and general officers who've been in combat, but surely not Lt. Fuzz. I was an infntry sergeant more than 60 years ago and I believe if the sergeants were armed 24/7 that would be a force that means something. They're mature; rarely will one have more than a couple of drinks if he's not on a multiple-day pass; he can analyze situations and quickly develop a plan of action.

I could go on but you wouldn't believe my rant. I do say that if the infantry is "The Queen of the Battle" our sergeants are the Kings.

Bless them all.

Richard Letaw
Vienna, Virginia

Anonymous said...

How can the IDF carry their weapons with ammo all over Israel-restaurants- the beach-shopping malls-the old city-bus stations?
Are they better trained than US combat troops? I don't think so. Israel recognizes the every day, every place threat and combats the threat with armed troops. The US is so dammed pc we are on the verge of national suicide. Accidental shootings-AD's are a result of lack of discipline. Fred

M said...

To the guy who said something about letting soldiers carry issue weapons would result in ABSOLUTELY REQUIRING that three hours be spent every day doing issue and turn in, why is that? I've never heard of a police department that uses department owned guns not let their people take them home. There are departments where they get to take home the patrol car complete with trunk gun and a heck of a lot of the ones that don't do that don't do it because the car is assigned to a different cop on another shift.

og said...

" IZinterrogator said...
og,
Your assertion that the officers should have sidearms is just a complete insult to NCOs like me
"

Then you had better go back and reread my post, mister, and tell me where I said a damned thing insulting. You need to remember that to most of the general public there is no distinction between "officers" and noncoms. I was talking about YOU.

You are the ones who should be armed, in the best possible scenario. I don't care if you're combat hardened or not, if you have a rank above sarge you oughta be packing.

Earl said...

Tam, please send your message to the General, he is the one in stupidity and ignorance can be cured.

weambulance said...

Sorry, Og, I disagree pretty strenuously, for the reasons I detailed above. Rank has NOTHING to do with weapons familiarity and proficiency in today's military. I spent 4 years in the infantry, for the record, before my medical discharge.

Here's a good example: When my platoon got to Iraq, I was a lowly PFC. We got our humvees and M2HBs, and NOBODY knew how to use them but another PFC and me. So two PFCs were the M2HB experts who then trained everybody who would listen how to use them. If we ever got Mark 19s it would have been the same story. Many NCOs simply can't be bothered to learn how to strip the M4 lower, let alone the care and feeding of more complex weapons. My platoon sergeant used to pay me $30-40 every couple weeks to do a detail strip and clean of his M4!

You know how you make rank these days? Stay in long enough, kiss enough ass, or do well in PT. Being married helps. I know a guy who made staff sergeant in five years simply because he was older (mid 30s) and married and the platoon sergeant decided he needed the rank to help support his kids. Whoo fucking hoo, brilliant promotion strategy in the middle of a war! He was my BC when I was a Bradley gunner, and I was essentially ineffective because he wouldn't communicate with me. Ever try using a Bradley optical sight in a city on even low mag? It's like aiming through a paper towel roll. I'm not firing my 25mm if I don't even know where my dismounts are, sorry.

As far as weapons training goes, a general statement can't really be made. It depends on the unit and the post. I was stationed at Fort Bliss, which is primarily an air defense artillery post, so the infantry units got shafted on training dollars. I personally had a slot to sniper school 3 times and got nixed every time because of lack of funds, for example, and ammo on an ADA base isn't exactly the most common commodity around. Places like Fort Bragg are different; my buddies in 82nd trained a LOT more than my unit ever did.

Larry said...

@Richard Letaw: No offense but you're so woefully out of date you don't even realize that troops don't get "passes" any more except in the war zone, and really I'm being charitable in giving you that much. In the war zone, you stay in you FOB except when on a mission. You get leave, and in some cases where the tour is short enough to not get a mont leave, but long enough to need a break, you get a four-day pass to go to Qatar or something like that. In garrison at home, you're either on duty or off duty. Bases don't even enforce an "extended limits" rule in most cases any more, where you can't leave 300 miles from base over a weekend.

The average enlisted guy these days is not the enlisted guy from 60 years ago. It varies wildly. I had guys enlisted with me who had masters and doctorates. A huge percentage of multiple-term enlistees have bachelor's degrees. Today's force is much more self-directed and self-motivated.

That's not to say we don't have plenty of dumb asses still enlisting and making the same young man-s mistakes all the time. But far elss than the equivalent civvies. The fact is you don't get responsible behaviour from young people by denying them the chance, you get it by demanding it and putting them into the situation.

@Anonynous: Yes, the Israeli troops are better trained when it comes to using their personal weapons that American troops are. It sucks but it's true. We're losing the edge that we used to have from our gun culture and tradition of self-reliance, slowly and surely. American soldiers are superb at using weapons systems and following practices that support the modern fighting force logistically. But the super-empowerment of the idivudal through technology cuts against us as much as it helps us. Any motivated individual can learn to use technology.

George said...

Larry ... thanks for your comments on the Israelis. I hve seen lots of pics with their soldiers in obviously civilian environments ... but with their weapons.

If you think it's bad in the US, imagine what it's like up here in the Great White North. They don't call us the Canadian Forces for nothing. Like you, we took the 'Armed' out years ago.

Regards.

staghounds said...

Once again, the result ill be thousands of metal detectors at military hospitals.

Major Loser has, all by himself, inflicted a significant defeat on the Great Satan, millions of dollars in security theatre equipment and hundreds of thousands of hour of security theater wasted time.

Another win for our enemies, courtesy of our own lack of seriousness.