United States troops working in military recruitment offices should be armed under certain circumstances, said a prominent U.S. general on Tuesday. Gen. Mark Milley, who was appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, made the comments in the wake of the Chattanooga, Tennessee, shooting spree Thursday that saw five U.S. military personnel killed and two injured.
"I think under certain conditions on both military installations and ... recruiting stations ... we should seriously consider it," Milley said. "In some cases, I think, it's appropriate."
Milley was being questioned by the committee about the shooting as it decides if he should be the new Army chief of staff.
Investigators claim that Kuwaiti-born Mohammod Youssef Abdulazeez, 24, of Hixson, Tennessee, fired dozens of shots into a Navy and Marine recruitment center at a strip mall in Chattanooga immediately killing four and injuring three at the scene. U.S. Navy Petty Officer Randall Smith later died from his injuries.
Many U.S. military recruitment offices in the U.S. are located in prominent areas that the public can access easily, such as the office located in New York's Times Square.
Under current rules, military personnel are not allowed to carry weapons. The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 prohibits the federal government from using the military for domestic law enforcement, which would make arming troops inside the centers pointless as they would not be allowed to return fire. U.S. forces rarely carry guns in public, although National Guard troops can be seen around the country during times of heightened security.
One of the main concerns, say officials, is that weapons could be discharged by mistake inside the centers. A recruiter at an Atlanta branch shot himself in the foot with his personal .45-caliber pistol while discussing the Chattanooga shooting with a potential new recruit. Officials investigating the shooting say the sailor was placing it back in his holster when it was accidently discharged.
Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army's current chief of staff, has said it’s yet to be decided whether the facilities will hire security guards or add new security features.
Milley is no stranger to shootings at military facilities. He was in charge at Fort Bragg when a soldier being treated for a mental illness opened fire in the North Carolina base last August, killing three and injuring 16 others before killing himself.