The same day as the tragic shootings by 24-year-old Kuwaiti-born and possible self-radicalized jihadi Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez opened fire at two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee, killing four Marines and injuring three others before dying from a gunshot wound, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the Department of Defense (DOD) “does not have a policy for when it would be appropriate for DOD military and contractor personnel to report to DOD base security officials when an individual is observed carrying a weapon on an installation, especially into a work environment.”
GAO said in its 55-page audit report that, “Senior DOD officials acknowledged this policy gap and agreed to take steps to address the issue.”
While the holes in security identified by GAO auditors probably would not have prevented Abdulazeez’s killing spree because he reportedly fired from inside his car outside the two facilities, the gaps in force security identified by GAO will enhance general facility force protection.
Since the 2009 Fort Hood shooting by a Muslim Army Major turned jihadist, GAO said in its audit report that, “DOD has made efforts to update 7 of 10 key force protection–related policy and guidance documents, and is taking steps to revise the remaining 3 to incorporate insider threat considerations.”
DOD’s own Fort Hood independent review recommended DOD “develop policy and procedures to integrate disparate efforts to protect DOD resources and people against internal threats,” GAO said.
“Officials from the eight US installations GAO visited identified actions taken to protect against insider threats. However, DOD has not consistently shared information across the department about the actions it has taken,” GAO said. “DOD has issued guidance and recommendations addressing the 2009 Fort Hood shooting stating that DOD should identify and share leading practices to enhance the department’s ability to protect the force. For example, installation officials have trained response personnel on active shooter training and piloted a workplace violence risk assessment program.”
But, GAO reported, “DOD is not sharing all the information about such actions because DOD officials are not consistently using existing mechanisms to share information, such as lessons-learned information systems and antiterrorism web portals.”
“Unless the military services consistently use existing mechanisms to share information on insider threats, US installations may miss opportunities to enhance the department’s ability to protect the force against such threats.”
GAO further reported that while DOD has taken actions to implement the recommendations from the official reviews of the 2009 Fort Hood and 2013 Washington Navy Yard shootings, it “was unable to identify the number of the 79 Fort Hood recommendations that were fully implemented because DOD has received inconsistent information from the military services and has conducted limited monitoring of recommendation implementation.”
For example, GAO found “DOD and military service officials provided differing responses to a questionnaire on the implementation status of some Fort Hood recommendations. In addition, officials from three military services stated that they generally do not monitor the implementation of the recommendations from the Fort Hood independent review at the installation level.”
“Until DOD and the military services improve the consistency of reporting and monitoring of the implementation of recommendations, DOD will be unable to know whether the deficiencies identified in the official review of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting have been addressed,” GAO stated.
“With regard to the official reviews from the 2013 Washington Navy Yard shooting, DOD has taken initial actions towards implementing the four recommendations prioritized by the Secretary of Defense,” GAO said. “For example, DOD issued an implementation plan that identifies milestones, timelines, and resource requirements needed to address the four recommendations.
GAO recommended DOD consistently use existing mechanisms to share information about actions taken to protect against threats, and to take steps to improve the consistency of reporting and monitoring of the implementation of the recommendations from the 2009 Fort Hood review.
DOD concurred with GAO’s recommendations and cited related corrective actions planned or which already are under way.