Tag Archives: military

Navy pulls Lundberg from legislative session

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State Rep. Jon Lundberg, a captain in the Navy Reserve, will miss the remainder of the legislative session after being called up for duty at the Pentagon.

The Bristol Republican is vacating his House seat to run for the northeastern Tennessee state Senate seat being vacated by the retirement of Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey this fall.

It’s not the first time that Lundberg’s military duties have conflicted with his elected responsibilities. He missed the end of the 2007 session when he was called to duty in Australia.

Lundberg is a former television reporter and anchor who is the founder and president of media and marketing firm The Corporate Image Inc. in Bristol.

TN shooting deemed terrorist act; medals for victims

By Travis Loller, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — After determining a shooting at a Chattanooga reserve center this summer was inspired by foreign terrorists, the Navy will award the Purple Heart to the four Marines and one sailor who were killed and the one Marine who was injured there.

U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced the decision Wednesday in a news release. He said the finding that the shooting was terrorist-inspired came after an extensive investigation by the FBI and Naval Criminal Investigation Service.

“This determination allows the Department of the Navy to move forward immediately with the award of the Purple Heart to the families of the five heroes who were victims of this terrorist attack, as well as to the surviving hero, Sgt. Cheeley,” Mabus’ statement reads.

The FBI earlier labeled shooter Muhammad Abdulazeez, a naturalized U.S. citizen, a homegrown violent extremist but declined to say what might have motivated him. His family said he had problems with drugs and depression that prevented him from holding on to a job. He was also in debt, and considering bankruptcy at 24.

But investigators also found writings from Abdulazeez that reference Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born cleric who encouraged and inspired attacks on the homeland and was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011.

Earlier Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey told reporters the July 16 attack was “inspired and motivated by foreign terrorist propaganda.”
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Roe visits Afghanistan

News release from U.S. Rep. Phil Roe
WASHINGTON, D.C. –Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-TN) spent the Thanksgiving holiday visiting with soldiers in Afghanistan. Roe was part of a bipartisan delegation that included the following members: Reps. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Mark Takano (D-CA), Mike Coffman (R-CO), Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH) and Dr. Ralph Abraham (R-LA). While the Congressman was abroad, he was briefed on the status of the U.S. mission and met with President Ghani.

Roe released the following statement on the visit:

“It was an honor to spend Thanksgiving with our troops in Afghanistan, and to hear about the progress we’re making in the country. I am extremely grateful to our soldiers for their service and for welcoming us with so much pride and hospitality. These brave men and women put themselves in harm’s way every day, and I couldn’t be prouder of their caliber. I also appreciate President Ghani taking the time to meet with us and for hosting us at the presidential palace.”

Bill grants immunity to Guardsmen shooting at terrorists

News release via Senate Republican Caucus:
NASHVILLE — State Senator Richard Briggs (R-Knoxville) said today he is introducing legislation to provide immunity and personal liability protection for Tennessee National Guard members involved in protecting themselves or others in a terrorist attack.

Following the terrorist attack in Chattanooga resulting in the death of five military service members, Major General Max Haston, Tennessee Adjutant General, authorized the carrying of personal firearms on state military facilities by Tennessee National Guard members with valid handgun carry permits. State law, however, does not provide immunity or personal liability protection in the event of damage or injury sustained in defense of the service member or others during a terrorist attack.

“Our Tennessee National Guardsmen have become targets of terrorists as demonstrated by the tragic events in Chattanooga,” said Briggs, a retired Army Colonel with combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. “The intent of this bill is to provide the service member legal cover in defending him or herself and others during a terrorist attack. I believe my fellow Tennesseans and state legislators will agree this protection is necessary for our Guardsmen.”

Senator Briggs is developing the bill in consultation with Haston and other law enforcement officials. The bill will be filed for consideration during the 2016 General Assembly Session which is scheduled to reconvene in January.

“The attack in Chattanooga reminds us of the constant threat, on and off the battlefield, facing our brave men and women in uniform,” added Briggs. “This legislation will strengthen current security measures implemented by the Adjutant General to help protect them.”

Biden calls Chattanooga killer ‘perverted jihadist’

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday called the slaying of four Marines and a sailor at a Chattanooga reserve center the act of a “perverted jihadist.”

Biden’s comments came at a memorial to the five servicemen killed in a shooting rampage by Kuwait-born Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez.

“These perverse ideologues, warped theocrats, they may be able to inspire a single lone wolf to commit a savage act, but they can never, never threaten who we are,” Biden said. “When this perverted jihadist struck, everyone responded.”

The vice president’s strong words contrast with the official comments of investigators who have not yet been able to determine a motive behind the attack. The FBI has said it has not been able to determine whether the 24-year-old Abdulazeez was “radicalized” before the July 16 attacks and has been treating him as a homegrown violent extremist.

Speaking before Biden, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said officials may never know “what combination of disturbed mind, violent extremism and hateful ideology” was behind the shooting, but vowed that the United States would present a strong response.

“The few who threaten or incite harm to Americans — violent extremists or terrorists, wherever they are — will surely, very surely, no matter how long it takes, come to feel the long arm and the hard fist of justice,” Carter said.
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McCormick bill provides in-state tuition to children of soldiers killed in TN

News release from Gerald McCormick
(NASHVILLE) —House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick (R-Chattanooga) announced today that he has filed HB 1407, legislation that would provide in-state tuition to any postsecondary institution in the University of Tennessee and the Tennessee Board of Regents systems for children of military parents who die as a result of a targeted attack on Tennessee soil. The in-state tuition would be available to these children regardless of their domicile or place of residence during the child’s enrollment in the institution.

“Clearly, there is no greater sacrifice than to lay down one’s life in service to their country,” said House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick. “I think being able to do this for the children of our fallen heroes is an opportunity for Tennessee to show its appreciation for the service of these men and women and it may possibly ease a future burden on the family members.”

Gerald McCormick lives in Chattanooga and represents District 26, which is part of Hamilton County.

Note: It’s HB1407. No Senate sponsor yet, according to the legislative website.

Biden to attend service for Chattanooga shooting victims

Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Chattanooga this weekend to honor the five servicemen killed on July 16, according to the Times-Free Press.

Biden will join Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke at the Saturday memorial event at McKenzie Arena.

“I am honored to join Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus for a special military memorial to show our gratitude for the four Marines and sailor who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty on July 16, 2015,” Berke said in a statement through his office. “This is an incredible opportunity to stand together to support our military and show the world we are ‘Chattanooga Strong.'”

The event will honor the four Marines killed — Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, Lance Cpl. Squire K. “Skip” Wells, Sgt. Carson Holmquist and Staff Sgt. David Wyatt — and U.S. Navy Petty Officer Randall Smith.

The memorial starts at 2 p.m. Saturday at the arena, at 720 E. Fourth St. The service comes one day before the one-month anniversary of the shooting that killed the men.

TN National Guard seeks $18M in security upgrades

The Tennessee National Guard is installing limited security measures at its facilities across the state, but providing a high level of security upgrades, including high-grade fencing at facilities without it, would cost about $18.2 million, Adjutant Gen. Max Haston told a state legislative committee Monday.

Further from the Commercial Appeal:

Haston said that 31 TNG recruiters who work out of seven “storefront” recruiting centers across the state will not be moved back into those centers until special bullet-resistant glass and barriers designed to block vehicles from crashing through are installed. After five members of the U.S. military were shot and killed by a lone gunman at a Chattanooga reserve center last month, the Guard recruiters were pulled out of their storefront locations and into the nearest National Guard armory, where Haston said they remain.

The top military official in state government gave a House committee his first report on security measures taken at TNG facilities in the wake of the July 16 shootings, including his directive last week allowing Guard personnel with Tennessee handgun-carry permits to go armed in state-owned armories. He said special camera-phone devices are being installed or are on order for 21 armories, and officials are working toward adding reinforced glass at the seven storefront recruiting centers, which the state leases in privately owned shopping centers.

Haston said the $18.2 million estimate is for a higher level of security upgrades at all facilities not already “hardened” with crash-proof fencing, security monitors and other measures that exist at facilities such as the Air National Guard bases in Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville and at TNG headquarters in Nashville.

“I have absolutely no illusions that we are going to get a windfall and we will upgrade as funds become available,” Haston told the committee.

Note: See also WPLN WPLN.

Haston says the guard will add a clear Mylar coating to the windows to make them more bullet resistant. They’re also installing camera systems. Other than the cost, Haston says those were easy decisions.

But allowing recruiters to carry a mix of government and personally-owned weapons was a step he didn’t really want to take. Democrats at a legislative hearing asked what if a recruiter turns out to be unstable. Haston said that was considered.

“That is a grave concern of mine,” he said about the prospect of a uniformed attack. “However, we have weighed the costs, and we feel that the balance of justice is more to the other than it is having somebody that is mentally deranged.”

The Guard still has some details to work out, such as whether recruiters will be able to carry a gun in their federally-issued vehicle.

TN National Guard changes rules on carrying government guns, personal pistols

News release from Tennessee National Guard
NASHVILLE – Maj. Gen. Max Haston, Tennessee’s Adjutant General, today announced that the Military Department has taken steps to increase the security of its personnel and facilities to include allowing Tennessee Army & Air National Guard members with valid Tennessee State Handgun Carry Permits to carry handguns at State Armories and facilities.

Haston’s decision follows Governor Bill Haslam’s directive, issued earlier this month in the aftermath of the deadly shootings in Chattanooga, to review current Guard personnel who are authorized to be armed in the performance of their duties, and identify and arm Guardsmen where necessary to protect themselves, citizens and Guard facilities.

“We have been very deliberate in making the decision to arm our Tennessee National Guard,” said Haston. “This is not a step that we take lightly, but it is apparent that military personnel have been targeted and the protection of our Soldiers and Airmen is of utmost importance. Physical security and risk assessment is something that we continually do as part of our day to day obligations.”

Haston also announced that selected Guard personnel working on Federal facilities would be allowed to carry federally issued handguns.

“Federal law prohibits carrying a personally owned weapon on a Federal facility,” said Haston. “Therefore, selected personnel working on Federal property will draw and carry a federally issued firearm for protection.”

Governor Haslam also directed Maj. Gen. Haston to review security policies and procedures at National Guard armories, storefront recruiting facilities and other installations to ensure the safety of Guardsmen, citizens and property.

“Operational security prohibits me from detailing other measures taken to increase the protection of our personnel and facilities, but as I said before, the protection of our Soldiers, Airmen and their families is of the utmost importance and we are doing everything possible to insure their safety.” Haston said.

Under the direction of Governor Haslam, Maj. Gen. Haston immediately moved Army National Guard recruiters from storefront locations to nearby armories after a lone gunman attacked two Chattanooga military facilities, killing four Marines and one Sailor on July 16, 2015. The temporary move allows for Guard personnel to evaluate what measures can be taken to enhance the security of these locations.

“The Military Department will continually evaluate security measures at both its state and federal facilities based on threat information obtained from numerous agencies to insure that our Soldiers, Airmen, civilian employees and their families are safe and secure.” said Haston.

Veteran senators prod Haslam on military gun permits

(UPDATE/NOTE: The governor was asked about this at a news conference today. His comment is below.)
News release sent via Senate Republican Caucus
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (August 3, 2015) – Following the targeted attacks on military installations in Chattanooga on July 16 that resulted in the deaths of four US Marines and a US Navy sailor, the Tennessee Senate Veterans Caucus formerly requested that Governor Bill Haslam issue an executive order that would recognize active military service members’ identification cards as Tennessee Carry Permits while they serve in their active service roles for the Tennessee National Guard.

The Governor initially developed an expedited process in response to the attack. As weeks have passed, Tennessee Senators and Veterans Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City), Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), and Mark Green (R-Clarksville) are concerned that our military men and women are left vulnerable as this process fails to match the immediacy of the threat.

“The swift call for Tennessee’s Adjutant General to boost the security of our state’s National Guard facilities, even with weapons, at his discretion is applauded,” observed TN Senator and US Army Combat Veteran Mark Green. “Additional action must be taken to allow our military men and women an opportunity to defend themselves. The evidence of organizations such as ISIS specifically naming soldiers and their families as targets warrants immediate action, not a shortened process.”

To date, Governor Haslam has, in addition to the July 19 directive ordering Adjutant General Major General Max Haston to “review current Guard personnel who are authorized to be armed in the performance of their duties, and identify and arm additional Guardsmen where necessary to protect themselves, citizens, and Guard facilities,” temporarily relocated all seven of Tennessee’s National Guard recruiting centers to local armories.

Governors in seven states have acted in their roles of the states’ Commander-in-Chief to order their Guardsmen be armed while on active duty, eliminating gun-free zones that currently exist in Tennessee’s facilities. Florida, Indiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas and Wisconsin have enacted through executive order the policy change for their National Guard military installations.
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