Tag Archives: military

Fleischmann seeks Purple Heart for servicemen slain in Chattanooga

News release from U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann
WASHINGTON− On Monday evening, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann introduced House Resolution 383, expressing the sense of Congress that the Marines and Sailors killed or wounded in the recent attack at the Navy Operational Support Center and Marine Corps Reserve Center and the Armed Forces Career Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee deserve the appropriate award of the Purple Heart.

While serving their great nation, these brave men were killed on American soil by a violent extremist. Rep. Fleischmann’s resolution was signed by the entire Tennessee delegation and supported by a bipartisan group of 72 original cosponsors. After the resolution was introduced to Congress, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann released the following statement.

“Chattanooga and America lost five exceptional service members to a horrendous attack on our home soil. These men proudly served their country, and several made the ultimate sacrifice while braving fire in order to save others. With a broad bipartisan coalition, I introduced legislation expressing our belief that the Marines and Sailors lost or wounded in that attack are deserving of the Purple Heart and should be awarded appropriately. ”

The Purple Heart is a combat decoration awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces who are wounded in combat or posthumously to the next of kin to the military individual killed in combat.

No Haslam decision on Guardsmen bringing guns to work

While the state’s handgun-carry permitting process is being accelerated for Tennessee National Guardsmen, Gov. Bill Haslam’s office acknowledges the directive does not yet address whether Guard personnel can bring their firearms to work.

Further from the Times-Free Press:

“It’s an issue still being worked on at this point,” Haslam spokeswoman Laura Herzog said Thursday in an email.

Haslam on Wednesday announced he had moved the state’s seven storefront recruiting centers to more secure facilities in National Guard armories.

But because at least some are co-located with federal military installations or on federally owned property, there are legal issues involved. The U.S. military does not allow firearms except for designated personnel, administration officials have previously said.

The Tennessee Firearms Association said the governor’s plans say “nothing about arming the Tennessee military facilities to repel future terrorist attacks on those facilities. It does not indicate any plans to prepare the Tennessee military to respond to possible terrorist attacks at non-military civilian targets” and eliminate what the group calls “gun-free zones” vulnerable to “terrorist attacks.”

Note: Scott Walker, governor of Arizona and a Republican presidential candidate, has issued an executive order declaring National Guardsmen can take guns to work. Similar actions have been taken by some other governors, including those in Arizona and Texas.

…A day after the Chattanooga shooting, a Navy recruiter in Gainesville, Ga., accidentally shot himself in the leg at a recruiting center, WSB-TV in Atlanta reported.

The Tennessee Firearms Association press release is below:
Continue reading

Haslam takes first steps toward revising military security

News release from the governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, along with Adjutant General Max Haston and Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons, announced today temporary security measures and an accelerated handgun carry permit process for members of the military.

Following Haslam’s directive in the wake of the tragic shooting in Chattanooga last week, the Tennessee National Guard, starting on July 20, temporarily repositioned its soldiers in storefront recruiting locations to local National Guard armories, allowing the review of the storefront facilities and what additional security measures are necessary to improve security at these locations.

The Department of Safety and Homeland Security streamlined the handgun permit application process for members of the military, and the department is working with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which conducts criminal background checks on all handgun permit applicants, to help with the process.
Continue reading

Armed civilians guarding military recruiters

Several armed civilian volunteers stood guard with their own guns outside armed forces recruiting offices in Murfreesboro, according to the Daily News Journal.

“We are out here to protect these wonderful men and women in these offices who are not allowed to protect themselves,” Matt Woodard said as he clutched his M-4 civilian rifle, and referring to a ban on military personnel going armed on military installations, which include recruiting offices on Old Fort Parkway in Murfreesboro.

Murfreesboro police spokeswoman Amy Norville said “we have not, to my knowledge, been asked to approve or ban (the armed civilians’) presence.

“That is private property and as long as the shopkeepers or customers of that building do not have a problem with them they are OK to be there and we have not received any calls to dispatch regarding them,” Norville said in an email to The Daily News Journal. “As long as they are not threatening anyone they are within their rights to be there.”

Woodard joined hundreds of similar demonstrations across the United States after the mass shootings in Chattanooga on Thursday that left five servicemen dead.

…Several people stopped by the recruiting center to thank the volunteers, and Woodard said they have been in contact with Murfreesboro Police.

Woodard added that he hopes Haslam looks into changing security policies that would allow servicemen to arm themselves at recruiting centers.

“If there is an ounce of common sense in this nation, there should be change,” Woodard said.

TN congressmen unite on arming military recruiters

U.S. Reps. Scott DesJarlais and Steve Cohen on Monday co-introduced the “Enhancing Safety at Military Installations Act” with all other Tennessee representatives as co-sponsors, reports The Tennessean.

The South Pittsburg Republican and Memphis Democrat rarely see eye to eye legislatively, but they decided to work together on a change they believe is vital to keep military personnel safe.

“This commonsense, bipartisan legislation recognizes that we face a new era where terrorism and extremism exists both abroad and domestically. Therefore our men and women in uniform must have the ability to protect themselves regardless of where they are serving,” DesJarlais said in a media release.

…”We know our military facilities and recruitment centers are targets, and the five victims of last week’s attack in Chattanooga are sad evidence that more must be done to keep them safe,” Cohen said in the release.

Several Republican presidential candidates are among the many politicians, officials and citizens calling for changing the law. The Pentagon is in the process of reviewing ways to improve safety at its facilities across the country, but The Wall Street Journal and others have cited military sources who argue budget constraints could make measures such as armed guards at every recruiting facility a longshot.

Note: Press release below.
Continue reading

Haslam orders review of policy on guns in military offices

Gov. Bill Haslam told state officials Sunday to review security policies at National Guard armories and the possibility of making it easier for military personnel to get handgun carry permits.

Haslam’s “directive” comes after at least six other governors have moved to have National Guardsmen carry weapons routinely and Republican presidential candidates — along with 4th Congressional District Congressman Scott DesJarlais, who has drafted a bill — calling for a change of federal law to allow military personnel to carry guns at recruiting stations. Those moves are all in reaction to the murder of four Marines and a Navy petty officer in Chattanooga on Thursday.

The governor first outlined his plans in a Sunday appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program, where he also indicated support for a change in the federal law now prohibiting guns guns at military recruiting stations.

There follows the emailed statement on Haslam’s “directive” from his communications office and a transcript of his comments on “Meet the Press”:
Continue reading

TN shootings inspire calls for guns in recruiting stations

(Note: The shootings in Chattanooga this week have prompted several politicians to call for authorizing guns at military recruiting stations. Here’s an AP story on presidential candidates doing so. Below that are similar Tennessee-based comments.)

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Donald Trump called Friday for an end to a ban on service members carrying guns in military recruiting offices.

The ban became an issue after a man killed four Marines and wounded a sailor and another Marine on Thursday at a pair of military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
“It seems to me that if you have military bases or recruiting offices, these are symbols of American might, they’re targets,” Bush said after a town hall-style event in Carson City, Nevada.

“This is how you garner attention. You go to places where there’s vulnerability, and it’s a very powerful symbolic attack on our country,” said Bush, a former governor of Florida.

Walker, Wisconsin’s governor, echoed Bush’s position while campaigning in Iowa.
Continue reading

AP on Chattanooga shooting (Haslam, Obama comment)

By Lucas L. Johnson and Kathleen Foody, Associated Press
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — A gunman unleashed a barrage of fire at a recruiting center and another U.S. military site a few miles apart in Chattanooga on Thursday, killing at least four Marines and sending service members scrambling for cover as bullets smashed through the windows. The attacker was also killed.

Federal authorities said they were investigating the possibility it was an act of terrorism, and the FBI took charge of the case.

Authorities identified the gunman as Kuwait-born Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, 24, of Hixson, Tennessee, though the spelling of his first name was in dispute, with federal officials and records giving at least four variations.

A U.S. official said there was no indication Abdulazeez was on the radar of federal law enforcement before the shootings. The official was not authorized to discuss the case and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The shootings took place minutes apart, with the gunman stopping his car and spraying dozens of bullets first at a recruiting center for all branches of the military, then apparently driving to a Navy-Marine training center 7 miles away, authorities and witnesses said. The attacks were over within a half-hour.

In addition to the Marines killed, three people were reported wounded, including a sailor who was seriously hurt.

“Lives have been lost from some faithful people who have been serving our country, and I think I join all Tennesseans in being both sickened and saddened by this,” Gov. Bill Haslam said.

Authorities would not say how the gunman died. FBI agent Ed Reinhold said Abdulazeez had “numerous weapons” but would not give details.

“We are looking at every possible avenue, whether it was terrorism, whether it’s domestic, international, or whether it was a simple criminal act,” Reinhold said.

Within hours of the bloodshed, law officers with guns drawn swarmed what was believed to be Abdulazeez’s house, and two females were led away in handcuffs.

A dozen law enforcement vehicles, including a bomb-squad truck and an open-sided Army green truck carrying armed men, rolled into the Hixson neighborhood, and police closed off streets and turned away people trying to reach their homes.

Abdulazeez graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2012 with a bachelor’s in electrical engineering and was a student intern a few years ago at the Tennessee Valley Authority, the federally owned utility that operates power plants and dams across the South.

The U.S. National Counterterrorism Center is reporting no apparent nexus to terrorism has been uncovered in the investigation, but intelligence officials are monitoring the investigation closely. The Islamic State group has been encouraging extremists to carry out attacks in the U.S., and several such homegrown acts or plots have unfolded in recent months.

The names of the dead were not immediately released. In addition to the wounded sailor, a Marine was hit in the leg but not seriously hurt, and a police officer was shot in the ankle, authorities said.

In Washington, President Barack Obama pledged a prompt and thorough investigation and said the White House had been in touch with the Pentagon to make sure military installations are being vigilant.

“It is a heartbreaking circumstance for these individuals who served our country with great valor to be killed in this fashion,” he said.

Vice President Joe Biden likewise said: “Their families have already given a lot to the country, and now this.”

The shootings began at the recruiting center on Old Lee Highway, where a shot rang out around 10:30 or 10:45 a.m., followed a few seconds later by more fire, said Sgt. 1st Class Robert Dodge, leader of Army recruiting at the center.

He and his comrades dropped to the ground and barricaded themselves in a safe place. Dodge estimated there were 30 to 50 shots fired. Doors and glass were damaged at the neighboring Air Force, Navy and Marine offices, he said.

Law enforcement officials told recruiters that the gunman stopped his car in front of the recruiting station, shot at the building and drove off, said Brian Lepley, a spokesman with the U.S. Army Recruiting Command in Fort Knox, Kentucky.

The recruiting center sits in a short strip mall, between a cellphone business and an Italian restaurant, with no apparent special security.

The gunman opened fire next at the Navy Operational Support Center and Marine Corps Reserve Center Chattanooga. All the dead were killed there.

The Navy-Marine center, situated in an industrial area of the city, is a fenced-off installation. Its two entrances have unmanned gates and concrete barriers that require approaching cars to slow down to drive around them.

Marilyn Hutcheson, who works at Binswanger Glass across the street, said she heard a barrage of gunfire around 11 a.m.

“I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many,” she said. “It was rapid-fire, like pow-pow-pow-pow-pow, so quickly. The next thing I knew, there were police cars coming from every direction.”

She ran inside, and she and other employees and a customer waited it out with the doors locked. The gunfire continued with occasional bursts for what she estimated was 20 minutes. Bomb squads, SWAT teams and other local, state and federal authorities rushed to the scene.

“If it was a grievance or terroristic related, we just don’t know,” she said.

Kelsey bill would ban military vehicles, aircraft and weapons for TN law enforcement

State Sen. Brian Kelsey proposes to ban Tennessee law enforcement agencies from owning or using surplus military vehicles, aircraft and weapons, reports the Johnson City Press. Some law enforcement officers are not happy with the idea.

“Traditionally, America has had a clear separation between the military and the police to ensure we remain in a free democracy,” Kelsey said. “I think we can support both our police officers and our citizens by ensuring that our police officers are not viewed as the enemy. This bill is an important step in that direction.”

The bill (SB39) reads, “No law enforcement agency shall own or use a military vehicle, military aircraft, or military weaponry for any law enforcement purposes.” While it would prohibit law enforcement agencies from owning and using any and all vehicles, aircraft and crew-served weaponry — a weapon that requires more than one person to operate — it would exempt certain weapons — such as “magazine-fed, gas-operated, air-cooled rifles designed for semiautomatic or automatic fire,” which would include M16 and AR-15 rifles — from proscription.

(Note: Law enforcement agencies would be given until Jan. 1, 2016, to get rid of covered equipment they already own. Tennessee agencies have received more than $321 million in surplus military equipment since 1993 — previous post HERE.)

Although Kelsey said he did not speak to law enforcement personnel before introducing the legislation, he added he hoped the bill would be used as a way to begin that conversation.

“I will be speaking with law enforcement agencies throughout Tennessee about this bill,” Kelsey said. “Drafting and filing this bill is the beginning of that conversation. I’m certainly open to any suggestions they have on the issue.”

Local law enforcement officials expressed some misgivings regarding that issue, however. Although he said he hadn’t read the bill, Carter County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy James Parrish — whose previous position was as a lieutenant colonel in the Army — said he thought it may have been drafted for political or conversational purposes instead of legislative ones.

“What he’s trying to do is provoke comment,” Parrish said. “I’m sure the gentleman means well. But we would be hesitant to comment on something designed to provoke controversy. If it gains traction, we’ll talk about it at that time.”

Other local law enforcement officials had concerns over the potential loss of equipment that could be wrought from the bill. Johnson City Police Chief Mark Sirois — whose department has participated in a federal program aimed at supplying military equipment to local law enforcement agencies for more than 20 years — said the loss of military vehicles could affect the safety of his officers, and the public, in certain situations.

Note: President Obama last week set up a panel to review federal laws and policy for providing military surplus items to local law enforcement. The Washington Post story on that move is HERE.)

Haslam news release on his trip to Afghanistan

News release from the governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam traveled to Germany and Afghanistan over the weekend, where he met with military leaders and troops. Haslam took the trip as a newly appointed member of the nation’s Council of Governors. The organization’s purpose is to strengthen links between the states and federal defense officials.

“Visiting our troops and being able to thank them for their service in person is always an honor, especially when they are half way around the world,” Haslam said. “These men and women serve under very difficult conditions, and their ongoing commitment and determination to defending our freedom is humbling.”

Other governors on the trip were Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.); Gov. Jay Nixon, (R-Mo.); and Gov. Brian Sandoval, (R-Nev.) The trip was Haslam’s second such visit as governor. He traveled to Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan and Germany in August 2011.

The four governors traveled Friday from Andrews Air Force Base to Ramstein Germany. On Saturday they toured the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center before traveling to Kabul, Afghanistan, and the International Security Assistance Force headquarters. On Sunday the governors visited the Regional Command East headquarters at Bagram Airfield before returning to headquarters of the ISAF. On Monday, they traveled from Kabul back to Germany then to Andrews Air Force Base.
Continue reading