Navy pilots say they are ‘soft targets’ following Pensacola attack and demand changes to 1992 directive

Scores of U.S. Navy pilots are demanding Congress or the Trump administration make changes to a 1992 law they say has made them “soft targets” for terrorists and other attackers on military bases.

The letter comes in the wake of an attack at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola by Saudi national Mohammad Said Alshamrani’s deadly attack Dec. 6.

The second lieutenant killed three and wounded several more before he was stopped through deadly force by base police.

Dozens of Navy pilots are demanding changes to a law that they say has made them “soft targets” for attackers on military bases for decades.

“ENS Joshua Kaleb Watson was a small-arms instructor and captain of the rifle team at the United States Naval Academy,” the letter says of one victim, Fox News reported Sunday.

“Yet when charged with standing the watch, he was equipped with nothing more than a logbook and a pen.”

The pilots said in their letter it is “reprehensible” that trained warfighters are left “at the mercy of off-base, civilian law enforcement” during an emergency involving an armed attacker.

Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper told “Fox & Friends” during an interview on Saturday that officials were “looking at that right now.”

“We can always strive to do better,” he said from Philadelphia.

“But at the same time, these are communities. We’ve got to balance out all those interests. But yeah, we should and can do better,” Esper added.

“And we’re looking at that right now. And I work closely with the service secretaries and the service chiefs to get that right.”

In February 1992 by Donald J. Atwood, deputy secretary of defense under President George H.W. Bush, signed Department of Defense (DoD) Directive 5210.56, which sought to “limit and control the carrying of firearms by DoD military and civilian personnel.”

“The authorization to carry firearms shall be issued only to qualified personnel when there is a reasonable expectation that life or DoD assets will be jeopardized if firearms are not carried,” the policy notes further.

Military personnel regularly engaged in security duty are permitted and even required to be armed.

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