Thursday, July 28, 2011

U.S. Military Serviceman Arrested in Alleged Attack on Fort Hood

One AWOL soldier (and perhaps more later) has been arrested in Killeen, TX outside of Ft Hood. Details at this point are unclear if this was a legitimate plan or the rantings of a disgruntled soldier. Ft Hood was the site of an attack by Nidal Nissan who killed 13 and wounded 30 back in 2009. Ft Hood is home of First Arm West and the First Armored Cavalry Division amongst other brigades and regiments. Ft Hood is a large base and has a huge on base population of soldiers, civilians, and contractors.

Security on any given military facility starts outside the wire with passive detections systems alerting military police of approaching threats. At the gates, military police or contract security personnel check IDs. Depending on threat levels, vehicles may be physically searched before they are allowed on base.

Once past the security perimeter, things look much a city with roving military police patrols. Other than MPs, no one else on base is permitted to be armed. Someone like Nissan could have brought a weapon on legally to fire at the range. Once inside the perimeter, he could then start shooting people.

The latest incident at Ft Hood raises some questions for the military. The most obvious source of problems is the stress brought on by many years of deployments. Soldiers are taken away from their families and friends for a year at a time where they are exposed to danger and violence. Upon returning home, a difficult supervisor or bad appraisal could be all it takes to set in motion a violent attack.

The military tends to look out very well but looking back inside is still overlooked. Our surveillance systems are top notch and are designed to look at what's coming. We have very little capability to look back at what might already be here.

The last ten years have been grueling on all branches but the Army and Marines the most since they engage in close quarter combat. I don't think we truly understand what repeated deployments has done to our service members. I still maintain we know even less about the effects on female military members who have been in combat.

The other problem is what we just saw in Norway. Andres Breivik committed the greatest mass murder in the history of modern Norway. He posted several pictures of himself as a commando and decorated military officer. According to everything I've been able to research, Breivik was never in the military and actually had an exemption from military service. The pictures then show a "wanna-be" who fancied himself as a military here to legitimize his self-esteem.

Even in the US military, we have the wanna-be who never deployed or was never in combat (you vets know who I mean, the guy that claimed he went to the Q-course but can only score a 180 on his AFPT). These are the ones the military tends to forget about. The returning soldier from a combat area is screened and their battle-buddies (or wingman in the USAF) helps support and look out for them.

The wanna-be is left feeling jealous of the real combat veterans. They may invent some ridiculous fantasy about their record. For the most part, that's where it ends. Others however start to deteriorate more as teh gap widens between their fantasy world and reality.

The wanna-be exists outside the military as well. The guy who pretends to part of the local SWAT team or who has been secretly trained in the lost ninja arts. For the most part, we can safely ignore these people. However, every once in a while the wanna-be isn't satisfied with mere fantasy and we get the Andres Breivik reaction.

I'm sure neighbors and friends would describe Breivik as a nice guy. Translated, he didn't say much and kept his grass cut. We don't need to start getting paranoid of one another but in these times, if someone makes you feel uncomfortable you may want to pay a little more attention.

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