My argument ultimately boils down to two points: First, there is a very real threat that Australian Defence Force members face today, and second, it’s a fact that they can do nothing about it. It highlights how dangerously exposed they are due to specific legislation which is benefiting no one except criminals and would-be terrorists. The government is delusional if it thinks that it alone is going to be able to protect every single one of its citizens at all times. The Sydney Siege is a perfect example. Their Band-Aid solution so far has revolved around simply issuing memorandums to their service personnel in order to keep them safe.
While these certainly fit into an effective risk-management strategy, it would only ever form one layer of a comprehensive, defence-in-depth approach to force protection. The defence-in-depth principle represents a systematic, highly integrated approach to the physical security of people and assets. Like layers of an onion, mitigation strategies such as Facebook restrictions should only form part of an overall protection strategy; it should not be the only strategy. The entire concept of defence-in-depth rests on the notion that a shortfall in one protection layer will not lead to a wider, more serious failure in the entire system.
If, however, an attacker manages to defeat a military personnel’s softer measures—such as Facebook restrictions—and confronts them at their place of work, their home, at the shops, or anywhere for that matter, how effective is a memo going to be in protecting that individual? If that military personnel did everything they could to minimise their public profile as a current or former member of the ADF, but were still faced with an impending act of violence, what at that given point is going to protect them? I don’t think I need to spell it out.
Take two recent examples of security breaches in Defence establishments. On 14 March, a former professional football player turned degenerate drug user scaled two fences and was found in what is apparently one of the most secure Australian Defence Force sites in the country. Ben Cousins had infiltrated the Special Air Service Regiment’s base at Swanbourne Barracks and was later found by guards allegedly sitting in a Defence vehicle. Similarly, on 8 October last year, eight anti-war protestors from a group known as the Swan Island Peace Convergence broke into the highly sensitive Swan Island military base. The group claimed that it was there to “nonviolently disrupt preparations for [Australia’s] imminent war in Iraq.”
These two bases are undoubtedly considered the country’s most secure, yet both were easily penetrated by a drug addict on a week-long bender and a bunch of left-wing deadbeats. God forbid anyone with a malicious agenda ever try and infiltrate our bases. Not only would they apparently have an easy time in achieving this, but once inside, they’d undoubtedly find a large number of unarmed and defenceless military personnel.
It is a sad state of affairs to admit that we are living in a time where our soldiers, sailors, and airmen cannot comfortably wear their uniforms in the country that they have volunteered to serve and protect. It is also unacceptable that they cannot proudly and safely showcase their service on their social media accounts if they choose to do so. But sadly, these are the times we are living in. Rather than issuing memorandums and hot tips on how to hide their profession, the Australian government needs to get serious with the measures available for its service personnel to protect themselves.
As disgraceful as this is, it is just as disgraceful that the government fails to afford us a legal avenue to protect ourselves domestically from the threats posed by groups like IS and their sympathisers. They are happy to send us overseas to further their national interests and, if need be, die in the course of doing so, but the minute we get home, we are stripped of all means of protecting ourselves from people who are targeting us because of the very nature of our employment.
I am not suggesting a free-for-all and an unrestricted gun policy, yet there are certainly alternatives to the draconian gun laws Australia enforces. For instance, even if the only law that was changed gave licensed gun owners the ability to defend their homes from armed intruders, this at least empowers them to protect their families in the event of a worst-case scenario. It would at the very least give people the right to choose how they defend what they care about the most, not to mention it would make criminals think twice about their intended actions.
My specific focus on the military in this article is based purely on the current security situation regarding our defence personnel. I am using the ADF as a case in point, because if there is going to be a wedge driven into the current system to initiate a change, then what better way to introduce incremental changes than through Defence personnel or police officers?
In 2004, President George W. Bush signed H.R. 218, the Law Enforcement Officers’ Safety Act into law. The bill exempts qualified active and retired law enforcement officers from local and state prohibitions on the carrying of concealed firearms. Those who meet the federal definitions of either a ‘qualified law enforcement officer’ or a ‘qualified retired law enforcement officer’ can carry a concealed firearm in any U.S. state as part of the LEOSA.
This act was amended by the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act Improvements Act of 2010, and later in 2013 by the National Defense Authorization Act. The latter amendment was significant because it extended the definitions of a ‘qualified active’ and ‘qualified retired’ law enforcement officer to include the military police. MPs have the authority to apprehend suspects under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and as such, were granted the same privileges as civilian police officers as part of this federal law.
President Bush understood that the contemporary terrorism threat of today needed contemporary security measures to go with it. By giving the power of concealed carry to qualified active and qualified retired law enforcement (and Obama later extending that to military police officers) he essentially placed thousands more ‘good guys’ on the streets that could act as first responders if need be. It increased the chances of one of these good guys being at the right place to intervene and stop an event before it spiraled out of control. An active shooter or hostage scenario are perfect examples. If an individual operating under a LEOSA equivalent were present in, say, the Lindt café when the Sydney siege unfolded, that story would have had a very different ending.
(Featured image courtesy of theconversation.com)