Officials pushing for protection of servicemen

Oklahoma officials want servicemen and women to be protected in light of the murder of five members of the military by a Muslim terrorist in Chattanooga, Tennessee this month.

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, sent a letter to Chairman John McCain, R-Arizona, and Ranking Member Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, of the Senate Armed Services Committee requesting a hearing to cover the efforts the Department of Defense (DOD) is taking regarding the protection of its service members and their families on U.S. military installations and satellite locations.

In the letter, Inhofe said, “The attacks on the Combined Armed Forces Recruiting Center and the Naval Operational Support Center and Marine Reserve Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee on July 16th, 2015, resulting in the deaths of four marines, one sailor and injuries to others, have again raised great concerns with me about the security of our service members in and out of uniform, civilian employees, and their dependents. As such, I respectfully request that you, as chairman and ranking member, schedule a hearing as soon as possible on the efforts the Department of Defense (DOD) is reviewing and/or taking regarding force protection of its service members and their families.”

On July 16, Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez, a 24-year-old male and naturalized U.S. citizen, opened fire at a recruiting station and a Navy reserve center. Abdulazeez killed four Marines, one Sailor and injured two others. The shooting is being investigated as an “act of terrorism.”

“During a time when our nation is at war, I believe it is in the best interest of our military members to assess their protection while on duty, even on the homefront,” Inhofe stated in the letter. “…The recent incident in Chattanooga, Tennessee, highlights ongoing concerns regarding the safety of our personnel on our DOD federal military installations.”

Inhofe is requesting the hearing address force protection programs and future actions on all federal military installations to include satellite locations such as recruiting depots and enlistment processing stations.

Governor Mary Fallin authorized Oklahoma’s adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Robbie L. Asher, to arm full-time personnel at installations like the military facilities that were attacked in Chattanooga.

“Four unarmed Marines were killed in what appears to be a domestic terrorist attack,” said Fallin. “It is painful enough when we lose members of our armed forces when they are sent in harm’s way, but it is unfathomable that they should be vulnerable for attack in our own communities. For that reason, I want to make sure that our National Guardsmen are authorized to arm themselves at our military facilities.”

Fallin issued an executive order allowing Asher to arm certain full-time personnel in military installations in Oklahoma with weaponry as he deems necessary “to adequately provide for security of the facilities and their occupants.” Such installations shall include, but not be limited to, military recruiting offices.  “This attack is a horrible tragedy for our country and especially those in the state of Tennessee,” she said.

The Oklahoma National Guard is vigorously staffing guidelines and implementation measures for immediately arming certain military personnel at National Guard facilities across the state.  Additionally, force protection and security measures for every facility under the control of the National Guard are being re-evaluated and enhanced, if necessary.

The OKNG is taking these actions in accordance with Fallin’s Executive Order issued to the Adjutant General for Oklahoma, Maj. Gen. Asher, authorizing the use of weapons to protect personnel and property.

“Our soldiers and airmen greatly appreciated Governor Fallin’s immediate response to better ensure their safety in the wake of the tragedy in Chattanooga,” said Asher.  “She was the first governor in the country to step up and authorize the Guard to arm personnel in an effort to protect our servicemen and women from those that wish to do them harm.”

The National Guard is in a unique position to undertake additional security measures as directed by each state’s governor, who are the commander in chief of the National Guard in each state.

Army and Air National Guard regulations allow for the arming of certain military personnel and the Oklahoma National Guard is currently determining which soldiers and airmen will begin routinely carrying firearms. The Oklahoma National Guard operates eight storefront recruiting centers like the one in Chattanooga, Tenn.