Political News

Raleigh's new Army chief 'absolutely concerned' about recruitment center safety

Posted July 31, 2015 1:13 p.m. EDT

— The new commander of the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion in Raleigh says he is "absolutely concerned" about the safety of officers at area recruitment centers in light of the recent shooting in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Lt. Col. Ted Hudson assumed command Friday from Lt. Col. Dan Greer. Hudson is responsible for the recruitment of all active duty and Army Reserve soldiers across North Carolina. That also means he will be spending a lot of time at recruitment centers.

He says security at those centers will always be a concern and top priority for him, especially given the recent deaths of four Marines and a sailor who were killed in Tennessee.

Authorities said Kuwait-born Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, 24, of Hixson, Tenn., unleashed a barrage of fire at the recruiting center, then drove several miles away to a Navy and Marine reserve center, where he shot and killed the Marines, and wounded the sailor, who later died. Abdulazeez was shot to death by police.

"Obviously, it is a concern to me given the time we live in, given recent history," Hudson said. "(I'm) absolutely concerned. We'll continue to look at it. Really, what you'll see out of us is you'll see us looking, looking short, looking long. So, it won't be a one-size-fits-all."

At the national level, the general tapped to be the next Army chief of staff said Tuesday that if legal issues could be resolved he thinks it would be appropriate, in some cases, to arm soldiers manning recruiting stations.

"I think under certain conditions on both military installations and ... recruiting stations ... we should seriously consider it," Gen. Mark Milley said. "In some cases, I think, it's appropriate."

Tucked in strip malls in rural and suburban communities and in high-traffic city spots like New York's Times Square, military recruiting and reserve stations are designed to be open and welcoming to the public. The troops inside aren't allowed to carry weapons.

The ban is largely due to legal issues, such as the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which prohibits the federal government from using the military for domestic law enforcement. U.S. forces don't routinely carry guns when they are not in combat or on military bases. And Pentagon officials are sensitive to any appearance of armed troops within the United States.

The U.S. military has outlined security upgrades for recruiting stations, reserve centers and other facilities.

Military officials said security at recruiting and reserve centers will be reviewed, but Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army's current chief of staff, has said it's too early to say whether the facilities should have security guards or other increased protection. He said there are concerns about accidental discharges and other security issues related to carrying loaded weapons.

Just outside Atlanta, a recruiter accidently shot himself in the leg with his personal .45-caliber pistol while discussing the Tennessee shootings with one of his recruits. Officials said he showed the sailor the unloaded gun, then reloaded it and inadvertently discharged it as he was putting it back in his holster.

Milley currently is head of U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg. Prior to taking the Forces Command job in August 2014, Milley was the commander at Fort Hood, Texas. He was in charge when a soldier being treated for mental illness gunned down three people and wounded 16 others before shooting himself.