Tom Freeman 2015-08-10 06:08:09
Hearts broke across America when we learned of the attacks on Marines and Naval personnel in Tennessee. All of us who have worn the uniform of the armed forces are a band of brothers and sisters.Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and our fellow service members who lost a fellow Marine or a sailor that fateful day. The attack on the Armed Forces Recruiting Center and the Naval Reserve Center call into question the security of military reserve centers and recruiting centers located in storefront offices. At least six governors, in their role of commander-in-chief of their National Guard soldiers and airmen, have ordered their recruiters to carry firearms.Florida, Indiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Texas were the first states to arm National Guard recruiters.Other states are reviewing their options. Army Chief of Staff Gen.Ray Odierno said “When it comes to recruiting stations, we are looking at it now.” No question that our recruiting centers should have safety and security features added.The questions are what type, how much they’ll cost, and is arming recruiters the best way to protect them? National Guard recruiting offices have historically been Located in armories or on bases as have reserve recruiting efforts. In most cases, not until after the 9-11 terror attacks did National Guard recruiters enjoy co-located storefront offices with their active duty counterparts. After 9-11 our national defense leaders concluded that the National Guard and reserves forces would shoulder about half the load of defending our nation and funding sources changed to reflect new national defense priorities. Prior to 9-11 National Guard and reserve recruiters spent most of their time recruiting what were known as “prior service” applicants — men and women that had served in active duty branches and were honorably discharged. The “non-prior service” applicants comprised small percentages of those enlistments. Today, guard and reserve recruiters compete for the high school graduates along with the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. Arming National Guard soldiers is not new. Former Gov. Gray Davis stationed 1,000 California National Guard troops at airports and bridges following the 9-11 attacks. One thing Davis did not authorize was for National Guard troops to have ammunition for their M-16s and 9 mm pistols. So what good can a soldier or airman with an unloaded weapon do standing guard duty? Not much. Shortly after the Senate and Assembly received complaints about sending the troops out to protect the public without ammunition Davis finally authorized the ammunition. Today’s National Guard and reserve recruiters are trained to carry and operate firearms just as their law enforcement members are trained.Some train more frequently than local peace officers because of their former assignments. Improving security at recruiting centers should include an array of Options. Arming recruiters is one option, as are enhancements to physical security of the offices. As we all realize, terrorist attacks and threats have irrevocably changed our security and safety needs. Tom Freeman chairs the National Defense Commission in Riverside [BOOST, from Page 1] County. He is an Air Force veteran and former National Guard recruiter. He retired from the Military Department of the State of California in 2007. Tom was elected to three terms as a National Guard Association Board member. Email him at: email@example.com.
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