Pentagon asks civilians to not guard military recruiting centers
Allen Bowles, left, and Clint Janney stand guard outside a military recruiting center in Columbus, Ohio, July 21, 2015. (AP/Andrew Welsh-Huggins)
In the wake of the killings of five U.S. servicemen during a shooting rampage at two military facilities in Tennessee, armed civilians have been coming out to stand guard at military recruiting sites. Now the Pentagon is saying "Thanks, but no thanks."
As a matter of general military policy, service members at military recruiting offices are not armed.
In a statement, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said the Defense Department is considering changes to improve safety at its facilities, including recruiting centers.
"While we greatly appreciate the outpouring of support for our recruiters from the American public, we ask that individuals not stand guard at recruiting offices as it could adversely impact our mission, and potentially create unintended security risks," Cook said in a statement. "We continue to partner with and rely on first responders for the safety of the communities where our service members live and work."
The Columbus Dispatch reported that one civilian guard accidentally fired an AR-15 rifle outside a recruiting office in Lancaster, Ohio, Thursday.
Some lawmakers and security experts have called on the Pentagon to arm service members at recruiting stations. Other military experts point out that many military recruiters are not combat-trained and have little experience with firearms, though others are combat veterans.
Authorities say that on July 16 Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, 24, shot and killed four Marines and a Navy sailor: Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, Sgt. Carson Holmquist, Lance Cpl. Squire "Skip" Well, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith.
Police responding to the attack shot and killed Abdulazeez in a firefight. The Kuwaiti-born U.S. citizen grew up in Tennessee.
The FBI and local authorities are investigating.