Column: Arming the troops is only a partial solution to stopping mass murders on military bases

The fact that civilian law enforcement officers, in this case Escambia County Sheriff’s deputies, had to enter onto a U.S. military base and kill 2LT Mohammed Alshamrani of the Royal Saudi Air Force as he was gunning down his classmates should serve as prima facie evidence that the military is not protecting our troops.

Making matters worst, Alshamrani hosted a dinner party just days earlier where he and three others watched videos of other mass murders, a U.S. official told the Associated Press.

Once again the system broke down and our troops paid with their lives.

In Nov. 2009, after Army Maj. Nidal Hasan murdered 13 people and injured 30 more on Fort Hood, there were calls to end the senseless gun-free zones on American military bases by arming the troops.

I strongly support this idea but, by itself, it is only a partial solution. We need to send home foreign military members from countries with a history of violent extremism, and monitor those who remain and anyone else who poses a threat to our troops.

In the aftermath of Alshamrani’s killing spree, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called for a review of how our military trains foreign troops.

“I think there’s a frustration with this,” DeSantis said. “You have foreign military personnel coming to our base. They should not be doing that if they hate our country.”

Asked how he knew Alshamrani hated America, DeSantis said, “Have you read any of the reports? I mean come on, he had a major social media trail. This guy was somebody that had a deep-seeded hatred of the United States. That was pretty clear from that.”

Once again, actionable intelligence about a specific threat was missed.

The Department of Defense said it plans to “review” its vetting procedures for foreign military before they are allowed to train in the continental United States (CONUS), but this seems like just another recipe that will brew up another mass murder.

In my humble opinion, any foreign military member who comes from a country whose citizens have committed a terrorist attack against the United States, be it within CONUS or overseas, needs to leave, now,  and never come back.

The risks are simply too great.

There are thousands of foreign military in this country who went through the DoD’s alleged vetting process, being trained by all of our armed services. Most have access to military weapons.

Instead of reviewing its procedures, the DoD needs to do a quick, down-and-dirty risk assessment of their countries of origin. Quite frankly, if they’re not from low-risk countries, show them the door and revoke any future invitations.

After all. being trained here is a privilege. It’s certainly not a right or entitlement.


That Alshamrani’s mass-murder video party went unnoticed by government officials is not surprising.

Days after the Fort Hood shooting, the public learned that a Joint Terrorism Task Force knew about a series of emails between Hasan and the Yemen-based Imam Anwar al-Awlaki, who was considered a threat by the NSA.

And Hasan’s own colleagues admitted they noticed his radicalization had been increasing year after year.

Why wasn’t he in custody?

It seems our security services stop short of monitoring or questioning military or foreign military members for fear that it might cause offense. That needs to end.

How many more U.S. troops need to die before federal agents get over this hangup?

If any service member is communicating with our nation’s enemies, watching mass-murder videos or waving an I’m a terrorist red flag in any other way, they need to be interrogated at the very least. In a perfect world, they’d be explaining their actions while handcuffed to a desk at a black site overseas.

If they have a reasonable explanation for their actions, so be it. An apology is always better than a eulogy.

I doubt it would be too taxing for NSA to monitor the foreign military who are still here. After all, Alshamrani didn’t use any high-tech encryption techniques or even one-time pads to espouse his hatred for America.

He used his social media.

Arming the troops

Officers and senior NCOs in many foreign armies have been carrying handguns for hundreds of years. In other armies a holstered pistol is akin to a badge of rank and status.

I wrote a column four years ago, in which I advocated for arming our troops — Israeli style — after four U.S. Marines and a sailor in Chattanooga with no means to defend themselves were targeted and murdered by a crazed jihadist.

As I wrote then, and the same is true now, it doesn’t take an act of Congress or an executive order to increase a unit’s defensive posture, whether they’re deployed overseas or at a stateside recruiting command.

It’s the responsibility of every commander to insure their troops are safe, from all threats.

For that column, I interviewed “Sgt. Ryan,” who served in combat with the IDF’s elite Golani Brigade, one of their most highly-decorated infantry units. His platoon specialized in CQB.

Sgt. Ryan spoke about how his troops carry their rifles wherever they go, on duty and off duty.

“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 then. “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.”


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.

In my humble opinion, it’s high time to emulate this common-sense model.

Arm the troops now — today — or get used to hearing Amazing Grace on the bagpipes and Taps on the bugle.


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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