Written by Allen West on April 18, 2015
I had a fantastic Friday evening down in Gladewater Texas with the East Texans for Liberty (ET4L) at St. Theresa’s Catholic Church. This morning I drove back up to Dallas for my special rendezvous at noon. I met U.S. Army 1SG David Beck of the Texas National Guard at the recent Boots n’ Shoots Veterans Charity event at the Dallas Shooting Club. At that event 1SG Beck gave me an invite to his unit’s next drill weekend — that was today. It was an enjoyable two hours with the men and women of the Texas 49th Division (National Guard) at the Army Reserve Center in Grand Prairie, just south of Dallas.
I was met by Captain Smith and 1SG Beck who are the command team for Delta Company (MI), 156th Brigade Engineer Battalion (BEB), 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT). The 56th IBCT is commanded by COL David Webb (no, not the Fox News contributor and Sirius/XM radio host). The 156th BEB command team is LTC Robert Crockem and CSM Robert Nieto. I was able to me this entire command team and speak to them about personnel and training issues — and they are doing excellently in their manning numbers. The 156th BEB will soon be conducting a deployment exercise to Ft. Hood and to the National Training Center.
It was chow time so I got to walk around and speak to the Soldiers. I chatted with one section from Delta Company and asked how many had been deployed — one raised his hand. Then I asked the group of Soldiers who was looking forward to being deployed — they all raised their hands. This is what makes our men and women the best our nation has to offer — their commitment to serve and sacrifice. This is why when I hear pundits pontificate about “America is war weary” I want to tell them to shut up. Americans are weary of the mall and reality TV. Our warriors, like this Military Intelligence Soldiers want one thing, which they confided in me — to use their talents and training to find the enemy and smoke ‘em.
It was nice spending those two hours with Soldiers, brought back fond memories as I drove away — and therein lies my real concern for these warriors who were fulfilling their commitment to our nation this weekend.
Just this week, ISIS conducted several suicide bomber attacks, one in Jalalabad Afghanistan — but more disconcerting was the attack at the U.S. Consulate in Irbil, Kurdistan. This past week in Ohio a man was arrested and charged as he had been in Syria training with ISIS and returned to the U.S. committed to killing our men and women in uniform. ISIS has released a list of our men and women for targeting — we wrote about that earlier this week, and the USNORTHCOM response to that threat.
And so it was when I drove onto the Army Reserve Center at Grand Prairie for a visit yesterday, I was met by a lone unarmed female contract security person who did not even take my ID and match it to my face. She came out of the shack and waved me right onto this military installation.
Yes, the Army Reserve Center at Grand Prairie is a military installation. Not only is the Army based there but also a U.S. Marine Reserve artillery unit — and the majority of their equipment is located on this installation. But, as I saw during my visit , their unit arms room and intelligence sensitive items are there as well.
So let me ask the simple question: why was the force protection status for this installation, especially during a drill weekend not higher? Why weren’t there armed U.S. military guards at the entry point to this installation? I was briefed that the Grand Prairie Police Department has jurisdiction over this installation — so where was the armed patrol unit to monitor the entry point to this installation on drill weekend?
Do you all know how serious this was? This is a pure example of a “soft target” and a “gun free zone” where our men and women in uniform were stationed. Would we allow this to happen at the Pentagon? Shall we be reminded of what happened at Ft. Hood and the Navy Yard in Washington DC?
Now, what I don’t want to happen is that some higher-up — who should be as concerned as I am — takes retribution against the leadership who was there today — who knew of my coming– and I briefed them that I was concerned about the security of the Reserve Center — they nodded in agreement.
And the Texas Army National Guard Commanding General knew of my visit — the real question is what are we going to do to correct this failure in force protection and security for our soldiers? I am a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel and a former Member of Congress who served on the House Armed Services Committee. If I saw this, and did not raise the issue it would be deplorable.
And remember, Texas is the state home to the Chairmen of the House Homeland Security and Armed Services Committees. This should be a matter of deep concern for them — for all of us.
Someone needs to conduct a full-scale review of our Military Reserve Component Centers, especially during drill weekends. There is NO excuse as to why this installation was unsecured — especially with the amount of sensitive items, weapons, and equipment. However, that can be replaced. The most important resource is those Soldiers who were there going through their medical readiness update — unprotected. Unconscionable!
I know Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Dempsey, stated that the Iraqi town of Ramadi was not symbolic, and his words seemed dismissive and to render Ramadi as insignificant — not true for those Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines who shed blood there.
I pray it is not the case that he and others see the Army Reserve Center in Grand Prairie as “not symbolic” because I can bet that the enemy does not. What I witnessed today was highly disturbing and should anger you as well. I truly do not expect the liberal progressive socialists to care. What do I want? A full review of reserve center security procedures and processes, especially during drill weekends. This was unacceptable. There MUST be armed security controlling entry access on any military installation — no soft targets!
Lastly, I recall at the last 2012 Presidential debate on foreign policy and national security at Lynn University in Boca Raton Florida between President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. During that debate there was a very condescending exchange where Barack Obama chided Romney about seemingly being outdated and that the military now has aircraft carriers and not horses and bayonets. Well Mr. President, while I toured the Delta Company (MI), 156th BEB arms room guess what was there on the shelf to be issued to the Soldiers? Yes, bayonets. There are many things I could say but I will say this, so much for you being an engaged and knowledgeable Commander-in-Chief — perhaps, fewer photo ops?