Military personnel on Fort Bragg may soon be able to carry personal weapons for protection, under a new Department of Defense directive approved this month.
The document, titled “Arming and the Use of Force,” details the new firearms policy. Fort Bragg officials are awaiting guidance on how to implement the policy on post.
Previously, service members have been barred from carrying weapons unrelated to their official duties. That policy had come under criticism in recent years, after high-profile shootings on military installations.
At the same time, some leaders have been critical of a push to allow all troops to be armed. The directive appears to be a compromise of sorts.
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The new policy would permit commanders to approve the carrying of weapons, both government-issued and personally owned, based on a number of factors.
Those include the training and qualifications of individuals, assigned missions, threats and risks, response times of local law enforcement and security personnel, and the need to protect military assets and people.
A Pentagon spokesman, Major Jamie Davis, said officials will consider arming troops other than law enforcement and security personnel in locations where those police and security officers are not located on site or in a reasonable proximity.
So recruiters may be allowed to be armed, but will not be permitted to be armed when visiting high schools that have law enforcement or security on site.
Davis said the directive doesn’t apply to National Guard troops.
“The decision as to whether to arm those state personnel is at the discretion of governors and state adjutants generals consistent with federal and state law,” Davis said.
At Fort Bragg, officials said they are unsure how the new directive will be applied.
“We have seen the DOD directive and we are awaiting guidance from Department of the Army on how this will be implemented,” Fort Bragg spokesman Tom McCollum said.
The directive spells out some of the guidelines for the new policy to the services.
For instance, an authorization to carry a firearm outside of normal duties can be for a maximum of 90 days. After that, the authorization would need to be renewed.
Those approved to carry weapons would have to meet other local, state and federal laws and requirements.