The Navy is placing armed sailors at recruiting stations nationwide. The move comes a year after shootings at a recruiting station and a reserve center in Chattanooga, Tennessee claimed the lives of four Marines and a sailor. The decision was made after a broad investigation of the security of Navy buildings outside major bases, such as reserve centers and recruiting stations, found that these centers, which are often open to the public, are are prime targets for anti-military violence. The Navy hopes an armed presence at all recruiting centers will discourage any possible violence against service members.
The guards will be trained uniformed sailors that are placed there strictly for security, not recruiting purposes. Immediately after the Chattanooga shootings, Fleet Forces head Adm. Phil Davidson, ordered armed guards to begin patrolling all 71 of the Navy’s reserve centers, called Navy Operational Support Centers. Military officials hope that armed guards at recruiting stations will be a more permanent solution.
Cmdr. Dave Aliberti, policy branch head for Fleet Forces Command’s anti-terrorism, stated that the plan is in the final stages of preparation before being implemented. He stated:
“We are in the final stages of preparations for implementation, It is going to be a system put in place to arm personnel that are there for deterrent value and to provide protection.”
The soldiers will not be authorized to respond to crime in the area of the stations, which falls under the jurisdiction of local police and is prohibited by law. Several lawmakers called for service members, specifically recruiters, to be allowed to carry their personal firearms to work so they could respond to an attack. Aliberti claims that the idea was looked at in detail but it is not being considered at this time. They cited concerns about armed military personnel causing confusion among local police as the reason for not allowing recruiters to carry.
In addition to the presence of more armed personnel at the recruiting stations sailors and officers will be given high-level anti-terrorism training. The training will be tailored to specific off-base facilities which according to Aliberti, did not exist before the shootings.
New notification systems that will be used to alert other military personnel of attacks and emergencies will also be implemented. Several stations have already implemented improvised warning systems which the military hopes to apply to several other bases and facilities.