Air Force Brass Confident of Nuclear Base Security Following Deadly Navy Incident

Elaine M. Grossman, Global Security Newswire
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Elaine M. Grossman, Global Security Newswire
Sept. 18, 2013, 10:02 a.m.

NA­TION­AL HAR­BOR, MD. — A two-star Air Force gen­er­al re­spons­ible for over­see­ing atom­ic mat­ters on Tues­day voiced con­fid­ence in se­cur­ity at ser­vice bases hous­ing nuc­le­ar-tipped ground-based bal­list­ic mis­siles and grav­ity bombs, fol­low­ing Monday’s deadly shoot­ing at the Navy Yard in Wash­ing­ton.

Asked if the Air Force would re­view its con­tract­or se­cur­ity clear­ances and base-ac­cess pro­ced­ures — giv­en rev­el­a­tions that al­leged killer Aaron Alex­is had a his­tory of men­tal-health prob­lems and gun-re­lated in­cid­ents — Maj. Gen. Gar­rett Har­en­cak played down the idea that sim­il­ar se­cur­ity gaps could af­fect his ser­vice’s stew­ard­ship of two-thirds of the na­tion’s nuc­le­ar ar­sen­al.

“We nev­er stop do­ing that,” said Har­en­cak, the Air Force as­sist­ant chief of staff for stra­tegic de­terrence and nuc­le­ar in­teg­ra­tion. “We’re al­ways con­stantly self-as­sess­ing our se­cur­ity pro­ced­ures; we’re al­ways test­ing our se­cur­ity pro­ced­ures.”

“This is not just part of the nuc­le­ar en­ter­prise … but [is] throughout our United States Air Force,” he con­tin­ued, speak­ing at an Air Force As­so­ci­ation con­fer­ence just out­side of Wash­ing­ton.  “We’re nev­er stat­ic when it comes to look­ing at bet­ter ways … to se­cure our air­men and our fa­cil­it­ies.”

The nuc­le­ar lead­er ad­ded, though, that he would have to check with his ser­vice’s se­cur­ity dir­ect­or­ate be­fore know­ing wheth­er a fresh Air Force re­view would be con­duc­ted, based on the ap­par­ent Navy Yard lapses that al­lowed Alex­is a fa­cil­ity badge as a con­tract­or and entry in­to the Navy fa­cil­ity.

The Air Force did not provide a re­ques­ted re­sponse on the mat­ter pri­or to press time on Wed­nes­day.

The Navy Yard shoot­er killed 12 ci­vil­ian per­son­nel at the base be­fore be­ing shot dead him­self by law en­force­ment. Sev­er­al oth­ers were wounded in the at­tack, which has since been at­trib­uted to Alex­is as the lone gun­man.

De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel on Wed­nes­day an­nounced that he had launched two ma­jor re­views the pri­or day, both of which will be led by Ashton Carter, the Pentagon’s No. 2 of­fi­cial.

“We will do everything pos­sible to pre­vent this from hap­pen­ing again,” Hagel said at a press con­fer­ence.

One re­view is to fo­cus on “phys­ic­al se­cur­ity and ac­cess pro­ced­ures” for U.S. bases world­wide, while the oth­er will ad­dress De­fense De­part­ment “prac­tices and pro­ced­ures for grant­ing and re­new­ing se­cur­ity clear­ances,” in­clud­ing for con­tract­ors, he said.

Pentagon lead­ers would im­ple­ment the re­com­mend­a­tions of both re­views and ad­dress any gaps they find, Hagel said.

“Ob­vi­ously there were a lot of red flags,” the de­fense sec­ret­ary said in ref­er­ence to Alex­is’s abil­ity to re­tain a se­cur­ity clear­ance and fa­cil­ity priv­ileges. “Why they didn’t get picked up, why they didn’t get in­cor­por­ated in­to the clear­ance pro­cess, what he was do­ing — Those are all le­git­im­ate ques­tions that we’re go­ing to be deal­ing with.”

Alex­is pre­vi­ously had been ar­res­ted but nev­er charged with a crime, lead­ing some ob­serv­ers to ques­tion wheth­er the clear­ance pro­cess may not ac­count suf­fi­ciently for troub­ling warn­ing signs.

The chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff stopped short of con­clud­ing wheth­er the pro­cess was to blame, or if in­stead there was hu­man er­ror in im­ple­ment­ing ex­ist­ing clear­ance or ac­cess rules.

“I think this will be scru­tin­ized a great deal,” said Gen. Mar­tin De­mp­sey, speak­ing at the same press brief­ing. “Un­til I un­der­stand the out­come of the in­vest­ig­a­tion, I can’t render a judg­ment about wheth­er it was a red flag or just something that flew be­neath the radar.”

What We're Following See More »
VENEZUELA, NORTH KOREA ADDED
White House Announces Enhanced Vetting for Eight Countries
29 minutes ago
WHY WE CARE
"President Trump is replacing his controversial travel ban with a targeted list of restrictions that will enhance vetting for nationals from eight countries, senior administration officials announced Sunday. The eight countries on the modified list of countries are Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen."

The officials say these states failed to comply with the U.S. information-sharing requirements that aim to make vetting processes stronger.

Source:
TRUMP SPEECH “AN ASSAULT ON OUR MOST CHERISHED RIGHT”
Every NFL Team Protests Trump in Some Way
29 minutes ago
THE LATEST

"Every team that played on Sunday participated in some form of demonstration" of President Trump's comments about players who kneel during the National Anthem. Some "players, coaches and executives ... stood together arm-in-arm along the sidelines" while "others sat, knelt or raised a fist" and some entire teams "stayed in the locker room or tunnel for the duration of the anthem." The Broncos' Von Miller, who knelt with 31 of his teammates, said, "We felt like President Trump's speech was an assault on our most cherished right—freedom of speech. So, collectively we felt like we had to do something before this game."

Source:
TUESDAY ADDRESS AT GEORGETOWN
Sessions to Address Campus Free Speech
29 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

"Trump isn't the only member of his administration fighting a culture war this week; his Attorney General Jeff Sessions will make a "free speech on campus address" on Tuesday at Georgetown University law school in D.C. It's going to get testy." Sessions will tell the students: "Whereas the American university was once the center of academic freedom — a place of robust debate, a forum for the competition of ideas — it is transforming into an echo chamber of political correctness and homogenous thought, a shelter for fragile egos."

Source:
FAR-RIGHT MAKES BIG GAINS
Merkel Wins Reelection but Party Loses Seats
29 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

"Angela Merkel will once again lead Germany, but her governing coalition is going to have to deal with the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which rode a wave of anti-immigrant anger to claim a sizable chunk of seats in the Parliament for the first time. ... AfD, a hard-right, anti-Islam group not even represented in parliament in 2013, has become the third largest party. That might mean big changes to the character of a parliament that, thanks to the long shadow cast by Germany’s Nazi past, was largely free of hardline nationalism. Elsewhere, the environmentalist Greens and classical liberal, centrist Free Democrats (FDP) both grew their share of the vote," at the expense of socialists and Merkel's Christian Democrats.

Source:
VOTE TO GO FORWARD
Collins, Cruz Appear to Oppose Health Bill
10 hours ago
THE LATEST

Republican opposition to the GOP health care bill swelled to near-fatal numbers Sunday as Sen. Susan Collins all but closed the door on supporting the last-ditch effort to scrap the Obama health care law and Sen. Ted Cruz said that "right now" he doesn't back it. White House legislative liaison Marc Short and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of the measure's sponsors, said Republicans would press ahead with a vote this week." Collins said she doesn't support the bill's cuts to Medicaid, while Cruz said it wouldn't do enough to lower premiums.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login