by Stephen Bryen
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is a pretty good secretary of defense in an administration that is intent on weakening the Pentagon by reducing troops, truncating defense programs, and tying the hands of our front line forces. Carter has been trying to navigate through this wall of White House disdain and he has managed to do so fairly well under the circumstances.
Having said what is nice, Carter is not going to win any award for Profiles in Military Courage. Nor are his commanders, generals, Joint Chiefs or any of the others going to earn the plaudits of the American people. Why? Because all of them, individually and collectively, have refused to allow our armed forces on domestic duty to be armed. That is why Carter, who spoke on August 15th in a service honoring the five slain service members, did not do what he should have done and what his commanders should already have done, namely to order all soldiers on duty in the United States to be armed.
America should be rightly proud of her military servicemen and women. They have willingly and courageously put themselves in harms way to defend their country, even at time when the mission was far from ideal or even wise. American troops are well trained in how to use firearms, and carry them to war.
But the war has clearly come to America. This is known to the US intelligence services and to the FBI. Everyone knows that domestic military installations and individual service members are being targeted by terrorists, especially ISIS which has made clear its intent to kill as many as possible.
That is why it is unconscionable to allow our service members to walk around unarmed, and to serve in highly exposed places such as recruitment centers, which often are in strip malls and shopping centers.
I know a little about this because my son-in-law, prior to getting his medical training, served in recruiting centers in the Army. And my daughter, who recently retired as a Lt. Colonel with a combat badge and bronze star, felt more at risk on a US base in Texas than a FOB in Iraq.
According to the latest news report Carter has asked for a review of the situation and “urges military leaders to consider the option of adding armed personnel and to submit an “action plan” by August 21.”
Huh? While the 21st is not far off, arming our domestic troops is a no brainer entirely supported by intelligence information. Leaving our troops exposed even for another single day is irresponsible.
Secretary Carter should not wait for his commanders to report to him. They have already shown they have little interest in sticking their necks out politically and bucking the White House. But Carter is safe and Obama won’t fire him because he can’t without risking impeachment. It is time for Secretary Carter to buck up and do the right thing. Now.