Pearl and Pensacola

 

 

Welcome back to the scuttlebutt, 

It’s going to be a difficult discussion, so let’s just get it over with.

At the end of the week last week, after press time for this blog, we had a pair of shooting events in quick succession at Naval bases.  This will be the after-action report on what we know to date, and the “hot wash” of those events.

If this is your first “after-action report” they usually (at least in the military) take the form of “Plusses, Deltas, and Actions” also known as “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”.  So, let’s get this done:

 

The Good: 

  • -Response time.  At Pearl Harbor, the whole event took 28 seconds.  That, in all probability, was because the sirens were already blaring by second 28, so the shooter decided to end himself.  Understand that that is a guess. 

 

We don’t know why the shooter swallowed his pistol, maybe he saw what he had done, had a moment of clarity, and realized that he had committed the unthinkable act of fratricide. (or Blue on Blue as it’s also known.)  

Maybe violence wasn’t real to him until he saw someone die in front of him, and that forced him back to a moment of lucidity.

 

Or maybe, like so many shooters before him, he heard the sirens, and folded like a cheap chair, I don’t know. 

Honestly, I don’t care.  I’m glad the bastard is dead.  I’ve heard all sorts of “oh, he needed mental help, we should have done more for him, bla, bla, bla… BULLSHIT.  A man who will kill his fellows, and make no mistake, the civilians he killed are part of the same team, deserves nothing but our contempt.  

“He was sick” yeah? No shit.  Someone who would kill people for no reason is not well. 

 

“He had mental health issues, and was suicidal!” Again, no shit he had mental health issues, but suicide and homicide are two different things.  He was a Gods Damned Submariner; we don’t DO things like that. I’m not saying that I’ve never had a shipmate crack, I’ve had two loose it underway, and one in port. 

The two that failed underway had complete breakdowns, one went comatose, and wound up in a full fetal position, rocking and non-responsive, the other one tried to dig his way out of the boat with a BFW (big fucking wrench) while we were in a place where that was a “Really Bad Thing”™.  The kid that lost it in port, slit his wrists. He needed our help, and to our shame, we didn’t give it to him. This mutt? No, he didn’t need our help, he needed to be put away.  

The second guy, in Pensacola, the response time was a little longer, but it’s a big base.  It was still a pretty good response time, (no, I can’t find the actual response time) but this we know, he died in a shootout with the cops, and if they weren’t there, more people would have been shot.

  • The Bubblehead grapevine.  Within four hours of the shooting in Pearl, I had information that would not be in the mainstream media until Sunday afternoon.  I knew that it was a guy who was the topside watch (Petty Officer Of the Deck), I knew that he had used both his rifle and his pistol, I knew that he had been to Mast the day before (more on that later), and I knew that he had “anger issues”. (and we’re back to NO SHIT…)
  • The communications system at Pearl.  They had the word out that there was an active shooter in under three minutes.  Had this guy not offed himself, that would have saved lives. That’s vital in this sort of thing.

 

That’s all I can find that’s good.  So, let’s go on.

 

The BAD:

  • The Chain of Command on the submarine in question fucked up by the numbers!  No, this isn’t “second guessing” or “armchair quarterbacking” … This is pure experience talking.  

Squadron SOP at least used to be: “if you’ve put someone up for Captain’s Mast, you take him off the Firearms Authorization List, until you’re certain he’s stable. (FAILURE to follow this caused two dead shipyard workers and a suicided sailor)

SOP also used to be “if we think you’re unstable or have anger issues, we’re taking you off the FAL until we’re sure you’re good.”  How do I know that? I was on the receiving end of this once:

Some of my shipmate’s wives wrote to the command that my wife at the time was in the sack with every Tom whose Dick was Harry, while my two-year-old daughter was asleep in the next room, and they feared I would “kill the bitch.”  I was not allowed to leave the boat for 24 hours after we pulled in, and I was taken off the FAL. (which was stupid, I had nearly as many firearms in my house as the arms locker had… If I had wanted to shoot her, I wouldn’t have needed an issue weapon.)  After 24 hours, I told the XO that if he did not let me leave the boat, he better charge me with something, or I was going to have JAG down here for false imprisonment toot sweet. He then tried to order me not to go to my house… (I lived off base) This involved further discussion on “what is a lawful order”, and finally, he saw the error of his ways. (Revenge is sweet, he later got relieved for cause, and told to retire). 

The fact that this guy had been ordered to anger management counseling should have been an automatic Firearm disqual until evaluated. 

  • The “Vetting process” for sending Foreign Officers to school in America.  The mutt in Pensacola was A Saudi Airforce Officer who Tweeted about his hate for America and all things American.  Further on this in the “Ugly” part.

 

 

The Ugly:

  • I suspect that the CO, (Commanding Officer) probably the XO (Executive Officer, given as XO because there’s also an EO or Electrical Officer) , maybe the COB (Chief Of the Boat), the Weps (who owns the FAL) and possibly the section leader are going to get fired over this.  The CO deserves it, the XO probably deserves it, the COB is supposed to know his crew and so deserves it… The Weps??? Well maybe, but the guy wasn’t from any of his divisions, so… The Section leader? “Hey if the top three say he’s good to go, I need him to stand the watch…” I don’t know, I would at least want to question him, before I gave him a pass.
  • Let’s talk about this “Vetting” thing for a second.  Both our government, and theirs are supposed to make sure the people they send here for training are “Sans Reproach”.  You would think that after 9/11 our government at least would take that shit seriously. This fucker is flying around in a fighter trainer.  If he had decided to ram that thing into a passenger jet, instead of using a pistol, we would have had a lot more dead… We were lucky.

Now it’s worth noting that while it’s being looked at as an “act of terrorism”, Thursday (the day before he goes postal) is the day that they wash people out of the program… No one has talked about this, I don’t know if he was in the shits academically, but if he was, that would explain much.  I’ve seen Saudi Military when they were told “you failed” or “You aren’t allowed to do that” or other variations on this theme. You want to talk about some spoiled brats? Oh My Gods… You need to bear in mind that the Saudi military is made up of members of “the royalty” Of course half the nation are members of the royalty, and the general attitude of the Saudi people is “we don’t do manual work, we hire menials for that.” (where menial can be also translated as slave).

  • They scooped up the rest of his unit, and are questioning them. We know at least one of the guys he was buddies with “just happened to be” outside the schoolhouse videoing the whole thing, allegedly because he “just happened to be there”, as did the two other buddies from the unit that were waiting in a car nearby…  Pardon me if I don’t exactly trust what anyone from Saudi is saying right now.
  • He purchased the pistol that he used legally.  There are a couple reasons you can purchase a gun in the US if you’re a foreign national, among those, If you are an Official Representative of a foreign government… which is I suspect what he used.  That needs to be reconsidered… Just because you’re an officer in someone else’s Military doesn’t mean we should let you have a gun in our country. You are NOT a citizen, and we should not treat you like one.  I understand this is being looked at, and looked at hard.
  • We train a lot of “allied” forces troops.  That’s a part of being the senior partner in a lot of military alliances.  As we are going to be the majority of the forces in any conflict, it’s incumbent on us to teach the guys we’re going to be fighting alongside how we are going to fight… That said, we need to reconsider just who we consider allies.  We train Saudi because we sell them our stuff… I’m not sure that making General Electric a few more billion in military sales is worth it. The Saudi’s are allies of convenience, and if we think anything else, we’re stupid. Given a better deal they would turn on us in a heartbeat.  We stay friends because they hate Iran more than they hate us.
  • I’ve seen a lot of people on social media lately quoting this article about how the military is now going to be able to allow their troops to be armed on base… HA!  First off, that Order came down in 2016! 

In the three years since, guess how many bases have decided to let their troops carry?  If you guessed ZERO, you’re right. Why? Because the reg said that “Base commanders MAY authorize individuals to carry on base, for 90 days at a time…” and it was also made clear to the base commanders that if anyone that they authorized to carry shot someone, the commander better be putting in his or her retirement papers, because they were toast.  

Sadly, in this day and age, you don’t get to be a base commander if you’re not political.  Political officers don’t risk their career and future stars on anything they don’t have to. 

The likelihood that you will have a shooting on base that a troop could have stopped by being in the right place at the right time is small… There just aren’t that many shootings on bases.  

The risk of your career, if Private Snuffy decides that if he’s going to get kicked out of the military anyway, he’s going to take that rat bastard sergeant with him is too great…  so no one is going to take the chance if they don’t have to. It’s sad, but there it is.

 

I generally end this discussion with some form of “Keep your head on a swivel” comment, things like last week are why.  Stay safe out there, people.

I remain,   

Yours in service

William Lehman

1 Comment

  1. It’s worth noting that since I wrote this, there’s been another “man with a gun on base” call, this time in Corpus Christi which is where you go for follow on school if you’re a pilot. This guy didn’t get to shoot anyone, they apprehended his ass before he could. It looks at this time as if he was not a student, but rather a civilian employee of the depot level repair facility for the army that is on the base… He had apparently threatened some fellow employees.
    When you wonder why they don’t let people carry on base, this is why. No he didn’t shoot anyone, before being apprehended, but if he had been authorized to carry, the captain’s career would be gone. Until we get the senior (I mean 3+ star types) to value the right of self defense more than their careers, this will not change.

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