Vigilance in a Time of Uncertainty
By Mad Medic
I wish we didn’t have to talk about this. I wish it hadn’t come to this, but the reality is the world we live in, the front lines are anywhere and everywhere. The events in Chattanooga Tennessee have made it clear that even the places we’re supposed to feel safe, are not going to be safe until we defeat the ideology of Jihadist Islam.
For those not familiar, on Thursday July 16th 2015, Kuwaiti born Mohamed Youssef Abdulazeez a 24 year old resident of Chattanooga shot up a recruiting station wounding one Marine, then drove 7 miles away to a Naval Reserve center and killed four Marines before he was killed. The Marines were Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Sullivan, from Springfield Massachusetts; Lance Corporal Skip “Squire” Wells, from Marietta Georgia; Sergeant Carson Holmquist from Grantsburg Wisconsin; and Sargent David Wyatt of Chattanooga Tennessee, and sadly two days later PO2 Randall Smith succumbed to wounds.
I wish that I could echo the Secretary of Defense, and say that this was “a senseless act of violence,” but I know better. This was, in the very least, a calculated thought out attack. The shooter targeted only Marines and Navy personnel, and attacked two targets that were widely dispersed. That he was alone is little comfort, and indeed, is even more worrying. We can defend against terrorist cells, and groups, but we really can’t defend against the individuals that are determined to hurt us.
So let’s talk frankly, and be honest with ourselves. This isn’t an isolated incident. Fort Hood was targeted at least twice that we know of. Recruiters have been targeted before and we know that ISIS (IS, ISIL, Daesh whatever) and other Jihadist groups want to target American landmarks and events We also know that al Qaeda and ISIS are trying to compete for the hearts and minds of Jihadis.
As if the string of attacks around the world weren’t evidence enough that we are in serious trouble this most recent attack should be a wake-up call to everyone. We need to acknowledge that, far from going away, the problem is getting worse. We need to accept that isolationism isn’t going to work, can’t work, in our interconnected world. We also need to acknowledge that the drone program isn’t a cure all. The threat is real, and as of right now, we’re all targets.
Jihadis don’t acknowledge the Geneva Conventions. They don’t care about attacking what the conventional military considers legitimate targets. They’re going to lash out at any and all targets of opportunity. Anyone who served any amount of time in Iraq of Afghanistan will tell you, infrastructure is the place they like to hit.
Jihadists love to hit places where people gather; markets, schools, places of worship, governmental service buildings and any other place where there will be a crowd. The attacks are always designed to shake the confidence of the civilian populace, instill as much terror as possible, and to heighten tension. When military targets are struck they’re not going after the high speed death machines, they’re going to target the people that don’t have much experience shooting back. They’ll attack supply routes, bases, and lines of communication.
We, as a community, need to be prepared. Not just the Active and Reserve components, but the Veteran community as well. Our country will need us to be calm, cool, and collected. They will need us to provide leadership when crisis arrives. America hasn’t had to face this kind of threat in well over a generation. We, who have been and done, need to act as shepherds, and guide the flock to safety.
I have no doubt that the debate about the troops being unarmed on bases will be reignited. People will doubtless call for service-members to be armed at all times. That is not an argument that I want to get into. What I will say is that constant vigilance is the watchword now. Keep your head on a swivel. Be aware that you are a target, like it or not.
I wish I could say what happened was isolated. I wish I could say things are getting better. I wish a lot of things. We need to prepare for what comes. Things might get worse. We might see the actions of the cowardly in Chattanooga repeated. Be ready. Be vigilant. Whether you realize it or not, your country still needs you now more than ever.