The military does not change people. Instead, it seeks to improve upon positive characteristics and reduce negative ones. Training is designed to incorporate individual desire for competitiveness, with an organizational goal of achieving group success. It takes individuals and makes them an active member of an organization designed to consistently perform in a positive manner.
Why is it then that we continue to hear of instances of workplace violence within the military? I state it as workplace violence not to get involved in the debate of violence versus terror attacks, but to identify that in many cases it happens at the workplace of the individual in question. In other words, why would someone choose to walk into a place they serve at, and attack people before killing themselves.
Over the last few years, there have been many examples which are both disturbing and sad to note. On April 9, 2016, a student at the Special Operations training squadron shot and killed his commanding officer before killing himself. A 2008 incident occurred when a service member shot and killed a lieutenant after an argument when the officer and NCO stopped by his room to check on him. The service member later took his own life. In 1995, a service member shot and killed one officer, wounding 20 others, when he opened fire on a PT formation at Fort Bragg. In 1994, an airman entered the military hospital, shot and killed four, while wounding 23 before he was killed. In 1993, a Fort Knox civilian shot and killed three and wounded two before attempting to kill himself.
The reality is that these instances are just some of the many examples where a service member or civilian on an installation made a decision to attack those around them at their place of work. The actions are as cowardly as they are heinous, even more so when the violence comes in the form of an ambush or attack against one’s own peers and senior leaders. So, what can we do to keep these incidents from happening in the future?
Service members at all levels have the ability to report and act on their concerns towards their peers and civilian counter-parts. We as a military have trained very hard to help service members identify situations that ‘feel wrong’ in combat and to make decisions. The same is true for garrison. When a service member identifies that a fellow peer, senior, or subordinate is acting erratically, violently, or needs help, it is important to act.
There are many simple fixes that can be performed to help limit violence from occurring. Leadership can work with on-post police forces to have personally owned weapons on post stored in the company arms room. Escorts can be provided to service members that may require additional supervision. The chaplain, behavior health, or other ACS-based agencies may provide additional opportunities for a service member to work through their problems before they reach the boiling point.
Most importantly, it is incumbent on service members of all levels to in fact care about each other. Only by caring for their fellow service member can we identify when people show changes, know what normal looks like, and make the appropriate decisions to best support them. This is by no means a complete solution to the problem. At the minimum though, it may help to reduce the risk and stop the problems before they escalate.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.