WASHINGTON: The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps will update their policies and procedures to better assess internal security threats, according to reports the services filed this week in response to last year’s shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas.
In reports filed Nov. 9, service leaders wrote of the need for better coordination and information sharing among the services, the Defense Department and outside law enforcement agencies, as well as mental health professionals, to prevent another possible attack.
Maj. Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, is charged in the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting at Fort Hood that left 13 dead and 31 wounded. A Defense Department report, “Protecting the Force: Lessons from Fort Hood,” issued to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates Jan. 15, found that force-protection measures focused solely on external threats are no longer sufficient and alerted the department to the need for monitoring threats from “self-radicalized” military personnel.
The department’s report recommended that each service conduct its own in-depth review of whether processes and policies are in place to detect such internal threats and respond to possible attacks.
In the Army’s review, officials said the service has implemented or is taking action on 66 of 79 recommendations made in the department’s review. Some of those changes include:
- Creating the Threat Awareness and Reporting Program to identify and report insider threats, emphasize awareness and reporting and improve information sharing;
- Developing the Internet-based iWatch and iSalute programs, patterned after civilian Neighborhood Watch programs, to elicit reports of suspicious activity, including possible terrorism;
- Providing security officers access to the National Crime Information Center;
- Establishing the Army Personnel Security Investigation Center of Excellence at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., to provide for better security screening; and
- Implementing training programs for better information sharing, improved incident responses and anti-terrorism awareness.
Lessons learned from the Fort Hood rampage already have made the Army better prepared, Army Secretary John M. McHugh said during a Nov. 5 remembrance ceremony at Fort Hood.
“In my judgment, there is no question today that we are a stronger Army,” McHugh said. “We have learned from the things that unfolded that day, and we are a safer Army.”
Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. agreed that the Army “has made good progress.” The service has improved efficiencies in threat awareness and reporting, coordination and shared intelligence, and improved training of base security and readiness forces, he said.
“When you’re in the security business, you’re never done,” Casey said.
In the Air Force report, officials wrote of the need for airmen to be “wingmen” in detecting internal threats, which they note “is not an exact science.”
“Unit leaders must collect isolated bits of information, like disparate points of light, to concentrate into a single beam focused on preventing violence affecting Air Force personnel and installations,” it says.
The Air Force team concluded that a “new force-protection culture” is needed to prepare its unit leaders adequately to find and act on internal threats.
Changes noted in the Air Force report include:
- Training all airmen to understand indicators of threats;
- Better information sharing with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies;
- Updating policies, procedures and practices to better assess internal risks; and
- Re-instituting post-deployment psychological reviews and ensuring that such interviews become routine practice.
In the Navy review, officials cited the importance of leadership – “the obligation to act and the discretion available to a commander” – and the need to consider the impact of proposed policies on civilian personnel.
The Navy’s follow-up actions include:
- Extensive reviews during exercises to identify and manage internal threats and better share information; and
- Updates to Shipboard Force Protection Condition measures.
The Marine Corps reported developing a violence prevention and response program, revising its law enforcement manual to include best civilian practices in targeted areas, and providing better information sharing.
The Marine Corps report also recommends fielding an emergency calling system at all of its installations that integrates military and civilian computer-aided dispatch, as well as other technical upgrades to better manage and share information.