Soft targets

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CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem thinks that those of us calling for arming military recruiters are foolish.

Let’s set aside the anti-2nd Amendment (and disproven) idea that more guns don’t make us safer.

Kayyem appears to be suggesting that the solution is to put military police at recruiting centers. While this is certainly a solution, it begs several questions:

  1. How many recruiting centers are there around the country? (Thousands? Tens of thousands?)
  2. Do we have enough military police to properly defend every one of these recruiting centers given the Obama administration’s continuing downsizing of the military?
  3. What effect would such a move have on the military’s primary purpose of warfighting? Would training be negatively affected?

Why go through this exercise when you’ve already got people at each and every recruiting office who already have some of the best training and (for those who have fought in the war on terror over the past decade-plus) experience with firearms and force protection?

Have we really come to the point that certain members of the civilian elite have such disdain for the primary guarantor of their freedoms that they’d rather a few Marines die than they be armed—for their own protection—on American soil?

Yes, in an op-ed piece at CNN, Kayyem elaborates.

It defies an understanding of the military in the U.S. and the traditions of recruitment centers and other military-related sites to say simply that we need to arm our soldiers here in the United States. Military recruitment centers are “gun-free” because they are intended to be welcoming for those considering a career in the armed forces.

If you’re interested in a career in the military and you see a soldier wearing a sidearm and you don’t feel welcomed, may I suggest you apply to take a class from Kayyam at Harvard where she will make sure you only see happy things and think happy thoughts.

The military has always struck a balance, based on the fact we have civilian control over our forces and between force and integrating the military into our civic institutions. The military is part of our community and to treat them as armed combatants at all times is a fundamental shift in the military’s efforts to integrate and work with communities.

Well, I guess that Kayyem has dropped the whole Posse Comitatus Act strawman she was peddling yesterday if the military is supposed to “integrate and work with communities.”

But to say that the response to this tragedy is to arm our military on domestic soil is simplistic and ahistorical. It is not even clear the Pentagon would favor this. Instead, we need to focus on the balance between force protection and the fear of looking like an occupying force.

Sometimes simple solutions are the best ones. I still haven’t heard a convincing argument why having recruiters armed isn’t a valid solution, but assigning military police to every recruiting office is. As for ahistorical, I’m sure the fact that we’ve haven’t had armed military at recruiting stations in the past will console the loved ones of the four Marines who were murdered yesterday.

And would Marines carrying a sidearm at a recruiting facility really look like an occupying force? (And the military police wouldn’t?) Only if you’re a precious little snowflake in Prof. Kayyem’s classes.

In one sense, Kayyem is correct. There will always be soft targets. A military recruiting station staffed by soldiers, airmen, sailors or Marines should never be one of them.

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