Column: On arming and protecting our troops

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Former Israeli Defense Forces "Sgt. Ryan" with friends while off duty in Jerusalem. Combat soldiers in the IDF are allowed to carry their weapons wherever they go. The faces were concealed by the photographer for security reasons. Submitted picture.

Former Israeli Defense Forces “Sgt. Ryan” with friends while off duty in Jerusalem. Combat soldiers in the IDF are allowed to carry their weapons wherever they go. The faces were concealed by the photographer for security reasons. Submitted picture.

 

By Lee Williams
lee.williams@heraldtribune.com

I can’t imagine the horror the four U.S. Marines and sailor faced in Chattanooga when they realized they were targeted by a crazed jihadist with no means to defend themselves.

It’s all that people in my world are talking about. The murders made us stop, reflect and almost overnight gave rise to a powerful group consensus: This must never be allowed to happen again — period. We have to better protect our troops.

Fortunately, it doesn’t take an act of Congress or an executive order to increase a unit’s defensive posture, whether they’re deployed overseas

 "Sgt. Ryan" served in the Israeli Defense Force's elite Golani Brigade. His unit allowed their soldiers to carry weapons on or off duty for protection. He carried an IMI X95-L "Micro Tavor" assault rifle with marksman modifications (longer barrel, stabilizers) and a Trijicon ACOG scope or a MSNL-61/M3 "Lior" night scope. Submitted picture.


“Sgt. Ryan” served in the Israeli Defense Force’s elite Golani Brigade. His unit allowed their soldiers to carry weapons on or off duty for protection. He carried an IMI X95-L “Micro Tavor” assault rifle with marksman modifications (longer barrel, stabilizers) and a Trijicon ACOG scope or a MSNL-61/M3 “Lior” night scope. Submitted picture.

or at a stateside recruiting command. It’s the responsibility of every commander to insure their troops are safe, from all threats.

I’ve long admired how the Israeli Defense Forces safeguard their personnel and, by extension, the entire country.

Israeli combat soldiers are always armed, and Israeli civilians have a different mindset about the weapons the see on buses, in shopping malls or on the street.

“Sgt. Ryan” served in combat with the elite Golani Brigade, one of the IDF’s most highly-decorated infantry units. His platoon specialized in CQB — close quarters battle. He now works for a public relations firm in New York. I agreed not to publish his last name because there are people in this country who would gladly see him harmed.

“I was allowed to go anywhere with a weapon, on or off duty,” he told me. “In Israel, it’s sort of a necessary reality that combat soldiers have weapons with them, especially if they’re in uniform, because they’re a target.”

Before leaving base for a weekend, his platoon would be lined up and their weapons checked. Their Tavor rifles were required to be empty, with a chamber flag in place. But the troopers carried a loaded 30-round magazine either on their person or affixed to the rifle with a mag carrier.

“I’d go to the bank wearing plain clothes to take care of some financial business with an assault rifle slung on my shoulder,” he said. “No one worried. No one thought I was there to rob the place. Everyone knew I was a soldier.”

The civilians he encountered were far from alarmed, quite the opposite.

“I was walking through a shopping mall when a man with a young child stopped me. He told his son that I was a ‘Golani guy,’ and that I was keeping them safe at the mall,” Ryan said. “Israelis know it’s good to have trained people walking around with weapons who can stop a threat. And many, many threats have been taken care of because armed soldiers were able to react quickly.”

Our armed forces need to develop a similar defensive posture, and soon.

— If we don’t run into each other at the range, you can reach me at (941) 284-8553, by email at lee.williams@heraldtribune.com or by regular mail, 1741 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You also can follow me on social media at facebook.com/TheGunWriter or Twitter.com/ht_gunwriter

 

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About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.

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