Last week we learned that a tragedy had occurred. Four Marines and a Sailor were killed as they sat in their offices by what seems to be a lone Islamic extremist. As my friends (who are also combat veterans) and I discussed the matter, our conversation seemed to revolve around three points.
First of all, this is a tragedy for which I can not possibly find the right words. Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen die at the hands of terrorists almost every day in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, this attack was different. It wasn’t in some far-away land that few Americans have seen. It was right in our backyard, Chattanooga, Tennessee.
When you strap on your advanced combat helmet, don your body armor and wield your M4 carbine in a combat zone you know the prospect of losing your life is very real. You come to accept that a bullet, a mortar round or an improvised explosive device can take your life at any given time. I think that most servicemen and women as well as their families come to terms with this realization.
However, it’s not something a serviceman would expect as he sits behind his desk at a recruiting station or on a military compound. What bothers me most is the cowardice with which these servicemen were ripped from our world. They were unarmed and unable to die at the hands of a terrorists the way most of us would prefer. They were stripped of their ability to return fire on an enemy.
That brings me to my next point. Why were these servicemen unarmed? It doesn’t make much since service members are trusted with their individually assigned weapons 24-hours a day while in a combat zone and not while in garrison. I remember very well looking at a sign that warned of an increased threat level while my M4 was locked in an armory.
If a terrorist was to walk into a chow hall at Fort Bragg he or she would find a shooting gallery filled with unarmed servicemen and women. It seems to me that if an individual can be trusted to make a decision, following the appropriate rules of engagement, on whether or not to take the life of an individual in a combat zone he or she is more than capable of doing it here at home.
In short, those highly trained and well-decorated service members who lost their lives last week ought to have been armed. There is no doubt in my mind that the course of events would have been different last week if that had been the case. Terrorists are a threat here as well, and we ought to give members of the armed forces the tools they need to defend themselves and combat extremists like Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez.
My third and final point is that we have an administration that has set us up for failure in combating terrorism. President Barak Obama made a statement after last week’s shooting. Obama relayed his “deepest sympathies to the American people” and called the shooting “heartbreaking.”
In a long and heartfelt statement made that very day Obama had relayed his “warmest wishes to Muslims in the United States and around the world” as they celebrated Ramadan. Last time I witnessed a Ramadan celebration Islamic extremists celebrated by dropping mortars on us (right when I was trying to eat breakfast, which was thankfully the only tragedy of that day).
Abdulazeez took the president’s urging to celebrate the holiday and did so by slaughtering four servicemen. Obama seems more concerned about how Muslims around the world are doing on their holy holiday than about taking the fight to Islamic extremists.
I’m sure the five terrorists Obama released back into the fight last summer are enjoying their Ramadan. Additionally, I’m certain that Obama’s move to cut our armed forces by 40,000 will help deter future attacks.
My short disclaimer on this matter is that there are a lot of good people who are Muslim in the world. Certainly not every Muslim is a terrorist, but facts are facts. We aren’t being attacked by Jewish extremists or Buddhist extremists. Our issue is with Islamic extremists.
If President Obama wants to go sing Kumbaya with terrorists I’d be happy to purchase his ticket to Kabul International Airport. However, in the meantime we need a leader who will take a hard line on terror and take the fight to the enemy.
Andy Winemiller is a staff writer at the Mount Airy News. Andy can be reached at (336) 415-4698 or firstname.lastname@example.org.