Inaction after Army Recruiters Targeted
On Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 18 and 19, 2004, Army Recruiting Station chiefs across the nation received the following urgent message:
From: Arnold, Melayne COL USAREC
Sent: Wednesday, August 18, 2004 1:20 PM
To: [Army Recruiting Station Chiefs]
CC: (BDE-DCO); (BDE-CDR); (BDE-CSM); Blakely, Freddie N COL USAAC
Chiefs — Immediate response upon receipt of this message.
All – we have received a credible FBI report on a plan to possibly attack military recruiting stations across CONUS. This is based on information from a credible source and indicated that the planning may have taken place over the last 30 days. The motivation for the attacks is based on anger about the war in Iraq, and the plan called for the attackers to enter the station and shoot anyone that was inside the station. These attacks were planned over the next two months.
Immediate action: Notify each recruiting station within your brigade today of this possible threat.
All stations within the command will increase their vigilance and will report – through normal channels – any suspicious activity in their area. Contact local law enforcement personnel and apprise them of the threat.
Report 100% compliance with this message to me by the end of today.
DefenseWatch received a copy of this communication on Thursday accompanied by the following additional information:
This morning our PAO sent a message telling us to maintain OPSEC against the media about our Force Protection Plan. Sir, there is NO - I REPEAT NO - Force protection plan in place. We had tried to coordinate with the local sheriff station, but they cannot do anything until they receive the threat message through their own channels. No protective vests or any weapons have been issued to us. We do not have anything out here to protect or defend ourselves with.
In plain English, Army Recruiters across the nation are facing a serious credible threat, and their only protection is clipboards and rubber band-powered paper clips.
What is going on here?
While a number of anti-war groups are gearing up for protests in New York during the upcoming Republican National Convention, it appears unlikely that they are targeting military installations for violent attack. We don’t know for sure from whom the threats emanate. I consider it likely that the current threat emanates from al Qaeda. It clearly fits their pattern, and is the kind of thing they do well: Kill innocent people.
So what is the Army doing about this threat? As you can tell from the above message, not very much. I went a bit further, speaking with several Chiefs of (recruiting) Station around the country. They all got the message, so there is no doubt that it is real. They also all have something else in common. Not one of them – not one – has received any kind of briefing, and encouragement, any help of any kind from the Army.
Get the picture: These guys and gals have been directly and specifically targeted for violent death within the next few days, and nobody has done anything about it, except to put out a cover-your-ass message. I guess this means that if a dozen or so recruiters and their charges are killed next week or the week after, the higher-ups can say truthfully: “We warned them – we really did.”
Give me a break!
If I were in charge of Army Recruiting, I would already have, at a minimum, issued orders for immediate delivery of bulletproof vests that could be worn under their dress uniforms to every man and woman actively manning any recruiting station anywhere in the U.S. If I couldn’t make this happen immediately, I would then issue orders for immediate issue of flack jackets, and would order all my recruiters to change uniforms, into battle fatigues, including head protection. Furthermore, I would issue side arms to each and every one of them.
Let me make this absolutely clear: There is no way my guys and gals would sit for even a minute without physical protection and the ability to shoot back!
No way – no how!
Secretary Rumsfeld, I have a lot of respect for you and what you have accomplished. I presume you will read this article shortly; so I put the question directly to you: What are you, Sir, going to do about this? Right now – not a week from now?
You will have noticed from the above message that at least one Recruiting Station got essentially no help from local law enforcement. I checked this out myself in the greater Los Angeles Area. Guess what? Same thing. Nobody knows anything.
I took it upon myself to send a redacted copy of the information we received to a regional police department following a conversation with their watch sergeant. They are going to post the information and make it available to each watch so their patrol cars will be on top of the situation.
But the big question is: Why hasn’t the Army, or the Department of Defense, or the Department of Homeland Security – somebody – notified every police department in the country of this threat? Why aren’t newspapers everywhere headlining the story?
It’s real, it’s verifiable, and the lives of real men and women are on the line right now. This is not the time for committees and pontification. We need a call to action from the highest levels, and we need it now.
Robert G. Williscroft is DefenseWatch Navy Editor