For an exclusive report it just published, Fox News talked to Navy personnel and their families — all of whom, in the report, are calling for the arming of on-base personnel in the wake of the Pensacola terrorist outrage this past Friday that left three unarmed sailors dead and eight other people injured.
After the shooting at Pensacola Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, by a Saudi military pilot, U.S. naval aviators had a single main thing to say: “Our message is simple: Arm us,” one said. “We don’t want to count on cops or gate guards to save us in a crisis.”
The gunman was identified as Saudi Arabian Air Force 2nd Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani. A deputy from the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office shot and killed the man after he opened fire.
The logic of having unarmed military personnel on an active-duty military post eludes this analyst and Army veteran.
My experience in U.S. Army Intelligence during the 1980s was that carrying a sidearm, or seeing fellow military members doing so, was common on bases both in the United States and overseas.
One of the aviators whom Fox News interviewed said that after naval officers had showed concern over the policy and asked to be armed, higher ranking Navy officers had denied their request.
And then — Pensacola happened.
During the shooting, the first responders to arrive were civilian police officers, not Navy military police and not the “mall cops” of civilian security personnel.
On a naval base no doubt full to the rafters with weapons of all sorts, the victims had to wait for off-post law enforcement to come to their aid. For those three sailors who died, it simply was not soon enough.
One Navy aviator instructor told Fox News, “It’s so stupid that on a military base, the shooter was allowed to roam free for so long. In a gun fight, that’s an eternity.”
The officer was quoted anonymously because likely he feared retaliation from Naval command authorities for speaking negatively of current Navy policy.
Another naval officer added, “I have zero confidence the guy I show my ID card to at the [entrance] gate could save me.”
Adam Watson, the brother of Pensacola victim and hero Ensign Joshua Watson (shown at the top of this article, above left), said to Fox News of his brother, “He was well qualified to have a firearm and defend himself. If we are going to ask these young men and women to stand watch for our country, they need the opportunity to defend themselves.”
“This isn’t the first time this happened,” he added, “and if we don’t change something, then it won’t be the last. My brother was an excellent marksman. If my brother had not had that right stripped from him, this would be a different conversation.”
The Naval Academy family is devastated to learn one of the three victims in the Naval Air Station Pensacola shooting was one of our own, Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, Class of 2019. https://t.co/R2Nm6jm2JE pic.twitter.com/yufNgD0r59
— U.S. Naval Academy (@NavalAcademy) December 8, 2019
As Adam Watson mentioned, this is not the first terrorist incident on a U.S. military post.
In 2009, Islamist U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan shot and killed more than a dozen soldiers and an unborn child in an attack at Ft. Hood, Texas — a vicious criminal act that the Obama administration termed “workplace violence.”
An unnamed senior Army officer also told Fox News, “We trust 18-year-old privates in combat with grenades, anti-tank missiles, rifles and machine guns, but we let service members get slaughtered because we don’t trust anyone to be armed back here in the United States. Why are we cowering in our offices? It’s insane.”
Sadly, 10 years after Ft. Hood — and following more unnecessary military fatalities — the policy remains in place.