Navy Yard shooting: US to review security at all military installations

Secretary Hagel spent much of the day following the Navy Yard shooting collecting input to help define the parameters of the review, which could be announced Wednesday, a senior Pentagon official said.

J. Scott Applewhite/ AP Photo
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, right, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, second from right, present a wreath at the Navy Memorial in Washington to remember the victims of Monday's deadly shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is planning to order a review of physical security and access to all US military installations worldwide, a senior Pentagon official said Tuesday, one day after a Navy reservist with a troubled history killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard.

Secretary Hagel spent much of the day on Tuesday collecting input from senior officials to define the parameters of the review, which could be formally announced as soon as Wednesday, according to the official.

Word of the impending review follows news that a previously unreleased Department of Defense Inspector General (DOD IG) report detailed “critical flaws” in base security at Navy installations, including the practice of contracting out base guard duty to nongovernmental personnel.

The DOD IG report, dated for release on Sept. 16, the date of the Navy Yard attack, cites instances in which “52 convicted felons received routine, unauthorized installation access, placing military personnel, dependents, civilians, and installations at an increased security risk.” 

This was the result of efforts on the part of Navy officials “to reduce access control costs,” according to the inspector general report.

The report leveled another critique as well ­– that the commander, Navy Installations Command was “non-responsive” regarding the recommendations of the Pentagon inspector general.

These revelations about the DOD IG investigation in turn prompted calls for change.

In the wake of the Navy Yard attacks, “I am highly concerned that the access control systems at our nation’s military installations have serious security flaws,” wrote Rep. Mike Turner (R) of Ohio in a letter to the acting inspector general requesting further information regarding the DOD IG investigation.

“Potentially numerous felons may have been able to gain unrestricted access to several military installations across the country due to the insufficient background checks, increasing the risk to our military personnel and civilian employees,” Representative Turner wrote.

The accused shooter, Aaron Alexis, a Navy Reservist who had a history of run-ins with the law, did have valid government identification that authorized him to have access to the Washington Navy Yard.

He was an appealing candidate for his job because he had a secret security clearance and received an honorable discharge from the military. A “general” discharge, by contrast, tends to be a red flag that a service member behaved in a way that forced him to leave the military. 

But does the inspector general’s report mean that Navy bases are more at risk than, say, Army or Air Force installations across the country? Pentagon officials say they are not singling out the Navy, and point to Hagel’s decision to review security at all US military bases.

Other lawmakers point to the budget choices that all of the services are making in the face of mandatory financial cutbacks.

“While the timing of the delivery of this report was coincidental, I believe it to be relevant to physical security on military installations and to the committee’s hearing tomorrow on the impact of defense cuts,” said Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R) of Calif., in a statement released Tuesday afternoon. 

While he worried aloud that the inspector general’s report in its current form “could expose vulnerabilities at military installations and it would be improper to release it publicly,” Representative McKeon added, “I believe that it is in the public’s best interest for the IG to publicly release a redacted version of their report.” 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Navy Yard shooting: US to review security at all military installations
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today