Last year, Gerard Vanderleun, J.B. White and I discussed how betrayal has become celebrated or, at the very least, expected. Great and small treacheries, when publicized, are pretty much given the ho-hum treatment by the Old Media and, indeed, by the public at large.
Did that change with the terror attack perpetrated last week by Major Nidal Malik Hasan? In spite of the calls by some average citizens for the United States Army officer to be charged with treason for shooting down other United States Army officers, NCOs, soldiers and others, I’m not so sure.
One of the discussions that has stemmed from the attack is the surprise that US military members don’t walked around armed all the time. (Aside: I had long known about this misconception and had used it to my advantage by bumper-sticker advertising my veteran status. For a lone female Southern California driver, it’s a survival necessity.) Close on the heels of that surprise follows outrage at this policy. This outrage speaks to a gap in perception about the military, how its members think of a military base located in the USA and how we think of each other.
Simply put, a stateside military base is considered a home and those allowed to enter that home are considered family. On a military base there are no drive-by shootings, no burglaries, no carjackings, no muggings, etc. In that area of strictly-regulated entry, everyone is considered your brother, your sister or at least your friend even if you’ve never met them.
And that strict regulation is backed up by a personnel assigned and trained to protect that area of land: a military police force and/or a DOD-contracted force Police Force*--armed of course. And that area is patrolled by these forces, along with being surrounded by fencing topped with barbed wire.
So when I hear civilians and even some military members express outrage that no one other than law enforcement was armed when the Fort Hood Soldier of Allah attacked, I submit that they are reacting from anger rather than thinking through the implications of the necessity of having every military member go armed on a domestic military base.
It would be like having to wear a sidearm in your house to defend yourself against your parents, your spouse, your siblings and your children. If you can’t trust your family, you can trust no one. And, outside of the fourteen murdered, that is the mostly galling aspect of Major Nidal Malik Hasan’s jihad against those wearing the same uniform as he.
Those angry at the fact that no one was armed other than the fort’s law enforcement personnel either don’t know or forget that there exists various types of adhesive that make the United States Military the most fearsome force in the world. Many of the angry have learned to take treachery for granted. But we—military members and veterans—do not.
If we have to arm soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines against the potential betrayal of other soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines then I would say that one of our enemies’ goals has been reached: a weakening of the bonds which exist between brothers and sisters wearing the uniform. It still may be necessary to do it, but something essential will have been tainted if not lost.
The concepts of loyalty, trust and an oath-keeping brotherhood have been severely damaged by Major Hasan and those above him in his chain of command.
Can we get that back? Only time, circumstances and action will tell.
Godspeed to the Fort Hood Martyrs whose lives are being remembered today.
*My brother-in-law, a DOD police officer, corrects. Sergeants Kimberly Munley and Mark Todd are DOD police officers.