Monday, June 21, 2010

Lakehurst station lockdown prompted by driver with gun, report of gunshots

At about ten a.m.(6/21/10) two separate incidents sparked a lock-down of a U.S. military base. Initial response is said to have occurred at about 9:15 a.m. according to Senior Airman David Carbajal, but the lock-down did not go into affect for another 45 minutes or so.

"At 9:30 a.m., the 87th Security Forces Squadron responded to simultaneous incidents on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst," the Air Force said in a statement. "Due to security forces quick and timely response, base security ensured the incident was contained. No personnel were in danger at any time and no injuries have been reported."

The Airforce also issued a statement saying the gates were closed from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

N.J. State Police were called in to assist. Barricades were set up on routes 547 and 571. Manchester school district's Regional Day School, a special needs school, was also put on lock-down but food and medicine were brought in.

The lock-down was sparked by two separate incidents occurring at roughly the same time. Near one gate, there was a report of possible gunfire, which later proved to be unfounded. At another gate, a man making a routine delivery was cited for carrying a registered handgun.

That information was reported here, among other sources...

Now let's ask some more questions. Why did it take 45 minutes to lock down a military base under possible threat of attack? It seems to me that if an attack were occurring simultaneously at separate gates, the military would have seconds, maybe minutes to respond. Yet it took the better part of an hour to stop people from entering or leaving the base? Of course, when you are maintaining order and security in an area with a lot of people and activity, all sorts of fairly mundane things can trigger an alert or be an erroneous cause for concern. Things like, a car backfire perhaps. Maybe someone playing with firecrackers at a house near the base. Any number of things. Sure, it pays to investigate, and be vigilant. But the response here seemed to be either sluggish, or serious overkill, or both.

So we have these two events occurring, which may have at first taken on a "probably no big deal, but we should check it out," sort of approach. Some folks might not think that is a very vigilant approach, but when you are dealing with all sorts of little things each day that turn out to be mundane, it is to be expected. It takes a professional to discern the level and credibility of any possible threat. But then why the full crackdown 45 minutes later? Even if it was not a terrorist attack, let's just say maybe that someone took a shot at someone else on the base for personal reasons, a police matter rather than a terror threat. That person would likely be long gone by the time they got around to closing the gates. Remember what the statement said, "Due to security forces quick and timely response, base security ensured the incident was contained." Hardly. So really, after 45 minutes, why bother to close the gates at all? What was the credible threat level that warranted the lockdown?

Moreover, what was such a threat that the military could not manage it without calling in civilian authority, and shutting down civilian roadways, after base security already had the threat "contained?" What was such a threat that the police had to break out assault rifles for traffic duty?

From the information provided, there are two conclusions that can be reached. First, that there was a credible threat, which did in fact turn out to be erroneous, but that the response for was shamefully slow and desperately lacking in the "three C's." (Command, control, and communication.)

Second, that a mundane, routine affair was blown entirely out of proportion and exploited as a show of force, a low-level psy-op to be splashed on the national media to keep everyone on their toes and jittery. To keep the threat of terrorism fresh in everyone's minds, so that people are more malleable to the idea of trading in their liberty for security. To keep the chatter of dissent in hushed tones, to sell fear.

This is not a one time event, this is a pattern, of botched response to less than credible threats.

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