“The first report is always wrong…”
That phrase is something I lived by when I was in the navy. So true. “Holy crap, the sub is going down!” often turned into “the soft serve ice cream machine needs an E-divver (electrician) AGAIN.” So, when something sounds sensational, take whatever immediate action is necessary to avert the worst likely scenario, then sit back and wait on the next report. Or as I’ve learned in my current job, go to gemba and find out the truth. In either case, don’t take that first emergency report at face value. That being said, I’m afraid to learn the truth about this.
I’ve had sailors commit suicide at my command three times, and it’s tragic and heart-rending. I don’t understand the conditions it would take for someone to do that; I’ve always said that if life is that bad, you don’t need to worry about me hurting myself; I’ll take someone else out with me. Apparently that was as equally false as the common phrase, now used as the current submarine get-out-of-jail: “Just kill me.” since now that we’ve experienced it as a nation first hand (again, I know), I feel differently. I couldn’t do it; I can’t understand what would make someone lose control like this. If someone were directly provoking me, that would likely be different, but to just go on a rampage? UNHINGED.
Strangely, this guy was a psychiatric doctor of some sort; sadly, he had access to the most deadly tools in creation: those of the United States Army. And he turned them inward. I had heard shortly after September 11th that we can “protect ourselves from 200 unknown, outside aggressors, or against 20 contractors peripherally associated with our organization [in this case, the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command], but it is almost impossible to defend ourselves against a single, inside, trusted agent.”
I’m also surprised that this was a Major. That’s an O-4, at least a 10 year man in most cases. If such men have a beef with the organization, they’re usually out of the force by then. That, or they’ve already committed their atrocity. We’ve seen several enlisted men, usually mid-level sergeants (E-4, E-5) kill their LT or senior enlisted before turning their weapons on themselves, but this is different. Ten years is halfway to retirement; that’s cruising time; let it ride, man.
I don’t think this was a Muslim carrying out a fatwa; I don’t think this was a guy whose association with weapons suddenly wanted to mow people down. I don’t even think (worried, but I don’t yet believe it) that this was an inside job, a man who infiltrated the army. If that were the case, I doubt he’d have been a psychiatrist; he’d have gone bigger. I DO think there was a some sort of mental breakdown that just sent him over the edge. At least, that’s what I’m hoping.
In any case, my thoughts and prayers go out to the friends, family, and shipmates. As we say in the naval services, “Sailor, rest your oar.”
UPD, 11/9: I hope this isn’t a religious zealot. It’s sounding like it a bit. Even if this guy was such a monster (which I’m not convinced of), I hope the majority of Americans, and especially the majority of the military, which can be even more prone to stereotyping, don’t take this as standard policy for Muslims. It’s not. Go meet a few; they’re just people.