Navy Recommends Security Changes in Wake of Navy Yard Tragedy
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama bow their heads as a Navy chaplain leads a prayer during a memorial service at the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C., Sept. 22, 2013. The service honored the victims of the Sept. 16 shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard.
The Navy has recommended three changes to security procedures following the Washington Navy Yard shooting Sept. 16 in which a Navy contractor killed 12 people at the facility.
Juan M. Garcia, the assistant secretary of the Navy for manpower and reserve affairs, studied the service record of the shooter – Aaron Alexis – to see how his conduct “did or did not meet the threshold for the sustainment of his security clearance and fitness for Naval duty.”
One recommendation, which must go to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel for approval, is that all Office of Personnel Management investigative reports include any available police documents related to the subject being backgrounded.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has already approved two other recommendations. The first will require command security manager responsibilities be assigned to executive officers or other senior members of commands. Currently, junior officers hold those responsibilities.
The second is to “require senior-level accountability on all detachment of individual evaluations/fitness reports.”
A senior Navy official discussed the timeline of Alexis’ service and what the Navy knew about security problems during a Pentagon background briefing. Alexis’ service went from 2007 to 2011.
“Looking individually at the events, as we knew them at the time, it’s very difficult to see a glaring indicator that there is any kind of potential for the events that took place last week, the senior Navy official said.
Many questions were raised about how Alexis, a former sailor and Navy contractor at the time of the shootings, received a secret security clearance. Three years prior to his enlistment, Alexis shot out the tires of a construction worker’s vehicle in Seattle. No charges were filed.
Upon entering the Navy Reserve in 2007, OPM initiated an investigation. The check turned up Alexis’ fingerprints in the FBI system and investigators became aware of the incident in Seattle. OPM sent investigators to speak to Alexis at Great Lakes Naval Training Center, Ill. There was no mention of the incident involving firearms in the OPM report to the Navy.
The OPM report to the Department of the Navy Central Adjudication Facility determined Alexis was eligible for a secret clearance with one caveat – he had negative credit information.
During his Navy service, Alexis received a non-judicial punishment for an unauthorized absence during service with VF-46 in Atlanta, Ga. His unauthorized absence coincided with a brief stay in jail after being arrested for disorderly conduct outside a nightclub.
There were other incidents, but there were no further Article 15s. In one, Alexis discharged a firearm in his quarters. He stated he accidently discharged the weapon while cleaning it.
His commander initiated actions to administratively separate Alexis from the service, but once the charges were dropped, that process stopped.
On December 2, 2010, Alexis requested separation from the service in accordance with a reduction-in-force program. On Jan. 31, 2011, he received an honorable discharge with a reentry code of RE-1 – the most favorable code.