Following the recent fatal shooting of four Marines and a sailor in Tennessee, Defense Secretary Ash Carter is ordering the military services to consider new policies that would enhance security for troops at home, including potentially arming more personnel.
In a memo released Thursday, Carter urged top military officials to "develop action plans to improve the security and force protection of DoD personnel."
His memo noted that current Defense Department policy authorizes the arming of additional "qualified DoD personnel (not regularly engaged in law enforcement activities) based on the threat and the immediate need to protect DoD assets and lives."
Carter also urged military officials to "consider any additional protection measures including changes to policy and procedures that protect our force against the evolving threat," according to the memo.
Another key aspect of the "action plans" should be identifying ways to "improve off-installation site security, including practical physical security upgrades and procedural improvements."
Carter's memo also calls for a new assessment of "mass warning notification systems and regional alert systems" to identify any problems or gaps.
DoD has about 7,000 sites nationwide where personnel work outside military installations. That includes college campuses, shopping malls and civilian office parks. Some are in states with restrictive gun laws.
A Pentagon spokesman said Carter is not rushing to increase the number of armed personnel, particularly outside installations.
"We recognize that there are situations where this is not going to be the best option, to have people walking around armed. And certainly that is something that the services will be very aware of when they are looking at this," said Navy Capt. Jeff Davis.
"Looking at arming personnel doesn't mean that is what the services will decide," Davis said Thursday after releasing Carter's memo.
Many of DoD's off-site facilities are recruitment offices and reserve component facilities like the site of the Chattanooga attack.
And on On July 16, Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez, 24, crashed his rented Ford Mustang through the gate of a Navy-Marine reserve center, killing five service members.
Carter wants the service secretaries and other military component heads to provide the plans for his review by Aug. 21.
Andrew Tilghman is the executive editor for Military Times. He is a former Military Times Pentagon reporter and served as a Middle East correspondent for the Stars and Stripes. Before covering the military, he worked as a reporter for the Houston Chronicle in Texas, the Albany Times Union in New York and The Associated Press in Milwaukee.