Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Insider Threat.

The Insider Threat

The recent events at the U.S. Navy facility in Washington D.C. has created confusion, and controversy in regards to the safety and security at military facilities. This article is based on my experiences as a U.S. Air Force Security Policeman.  Security of military information, facilities, and personnel was an intricate part of my life throughout my military career. I lived it, trained it, and helped develop security processes, devices, and doctrine. 

Whenever a person shoots a large number of people in a single incident it attracts attention.  This is a natural part of the human response to these types of tragedies.  When the shooting occurs on a military installation it causes even more concern. As with all tragedies of this sort it also becomes a wasteland of political and social comments that plays on what the average American does not know.  I hope to give you some information that will aid you in making decisions.

All of the military services have police functions. This is not just to protect information, facilities, and personnel from outside threats, but also to protect from the inside threat.  I would love to say that every military member is a Boy/Girl Scout, the truth is they are not.

Military personnel have the same problems as their civilian counterparts.  Military members commit the same crimes as their civilian counterparts.  A military base has crime that ranges from petty theft to murder. The major difference is the rate on a military base is far lower than you find in the “outside” world. The reasons these rates are so low is based on the security processes that begin at the recruiter’s office.

Every member of the military undergoes a background check.  The extent of this check varies based on the job the military member will be doing.  To join the military requires a basic criminal background check. The same type that many civilians are required to pass for a job. This will get them a military ID card that will allow access to a military base.

To obtain a basic Secret Clearance requires a more extensive background check to include financial, school, and criminal records.  In addition, family and friends are called to provide a basic profile of the individual’s trustworthiness.

Background checks are only one part of the process.  Even when a person has a clearance, they will still need to complete an interview that includes their immediate supervisor, and up; this includes their unit commander.  For those of us that carried a weapon as part of our job in included an interview and certification by our commander.

Background checks, no matter how complete or detailed, interviews and evaluations are only predictive of present trustworthiness.  There are events in a person’s life that can change everything about them in a very short period. 
Although reporting on the Navy shooter has been constant, it is still too early to determine what in him changed.  The important issue at hand is the processes that allowed him access to a military installation. Because of the sensitive nature of access to military installations I will not be able to describe in detail how these procedures work, but I can provide some basic information. 

To gain access to most military installations is not hard if you are already authorized to do so.  For a person who is not authorized access it is slightly more difficult, but not impossible. Gaining access to a military installation is like getting into the parking lot of an amusement park.  You are there, but getting on a ride requires further steps.

Every military facility has access levels.  Depending on the facility you may need special identification, and pass though special procedures to gain access.  Regardless of all the background checks and human reliability procedures; the access procedures is where the system failed at the Navy facility. That brings us to another popular issue regarding the Navy shooter.

The carrying of weapons on a military facility is strictly controlled.  In contrast to what has been reported; carrying personal weapons concealed or otherwise have not been allowed on any military installation since well before President Clinton took office.  For those living in a barracks they must keep their personal weapons in the unit’s armory.  For those living in base housing they may keep their weapons in their home.  In either case they may transport these weapons on or off base. They are not allowed to carry these weapons to work or for non-shooting recreational use.  A military base is not a Gun Free Zone as defined by civilians.  In fact, many bases offer a wide variety of weapons and ammo for sale that exceeds what many comparable civilian stores do.  In addition many bases have skeet and rifle ranges for recreational use.

A military base is a treasure chest for our country.  The weapons and systems that exist there are extremely valuable in terms of money, and national security. The protection of these systems and personnel are the responsibility of the base security force. If everyone was carrying their own personal protection, the ability for outside agents to exploit this becomes enormous, and would reduce security, not enhance it. Military security forces are well trained in the use and tactics required to provide security. Certain military resources react poorly to bullets.  The Navy shooter is not a case of an outsider exploiting security, it is a matter of an insider exploiting security.

The Navy, and all of the services will review and report on their processes. Although it is an on-going process, situations like those at the Navy facility highlights the need to strengthen those procedures.  Allowing everyone on base to carry a weapon at work is not the answer.

What procedures can the military take?  They can take the same procedures that are taken in other high threat areas.  Due to Operational Security this is not the place to discuss those procedures; however, I have notified the appropriate authorities with my suggestions.

If you have any questions you may comment here, or email me at

No comments: