MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. — Marine officials have ruled out arming recruiters following this summer's deadly shooting rampage in Tennessee that killed five service members, but other security measures to better protect troops are in the works, the head of Marine Corps Recruiting Command told Marine Corps Times.
When a lone gunman opened fire on a Chattanooga Armed Forces recruiting office and a Navy Reserve center on July 16, some politicians were quick to call for military recruiters to be armed. But none of the military services are interested in arming recruiters, said Lt. Gen. Mark Brilakis, MCRC's commanding general, during a Tuesday interview here.
"The arming piece is one of those things on the recruiting side that myself and [Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford] still have great concerns over," he said. "All the services … said they don't want to arm their folks."
The Marine Corps has worked hard to build strong relationships with members of the communities in which they recruit, Brilakis said. That isn't something leaders want to jeopardize.
"Whichever way you stand on the Second Amendment, recruiters showing up armed is not going to make either educators or parents comfortable."
Instead, the service will implement security measures that will allow Marines to take cover or evacuate in the event of an attack, he said. Changes being considered include more security cameras, remote-locking doors, and better ballistic protection, such as movable shields or desk partitions that could protect troops from bullets.
Marines will also continue conducting security training, Brilakis said, which proved vital to those involved in the attack on the Chattanooga facility. Anything that puts space between Marines and an attacker allows them to execute their immediate action drills.
Brilakis held the quick reaction of Marines at the Chattanooga recruiting station as an example of the sort of training Marines already have that could be augmented to keep bad situations from turning worse.
"Marines in Chattanooga got out of that recruiting station in less than a minute," he said. "And they did so because, one, they were trained, and two, they sat down and talked about it before. Every one of those Marines had been trained or had a conversation once they got to the recruiting substation about what happens in the event of 'X' — and when 'X' happened, they all executed perfectly."
Brilakis said Marine leaders realize the attack on the Chattanooga recruiting office could have been far worse. The shooter remained in his vehicle when firing at the recruiting office and didn't try to enter the facility.
While bullet-proof glass at military recruiting offices was being considered in the wake of the attack, Brilakis said it has already been ruled out because of the immense costs associated with installation.
Most recruiting offices are leased in locations like strip malls. Any modifications the Marine Corps makes to the facilities have to be removed when those leases end, he said.
"We looked, and to put ballistic glass in in every one of the recruiting sites that we have — over a thousand — would be almost in excess of $100 million," he said. "So we've taken many lessons learned and we are pursuing a number of different opportunities to improve ... security."