Tennessee Recruiters return to Storefronts

NASHVILLE — State officials hope to have Tennessee National Guard recruiters back in their storefront offices in Chattanooga and across the state next week as final touches on security upgrades are made in response to the July 16 deadly attack.
“We’re ready to go back to business,” state Adjutant General Max Haston said, noting National Guard recruiters have been working out of armories since July.
The temporary relocation of the seven offices was prompted by 24-year-old Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez’s Chattanooga shooting rampage. Abdulazeez first shot at a U.S. military recruiting office, located next door to a state National Guard office in a Lee Highway strip mall.
The gunman then drove to the U.S. Naval Reserve Center on Amnicola Highway, where he killed four Marines and fatally injured a Navy petty officer before he was shot to death by Chattanooga police.
The shootings prompted a national discussion about U.S. and National Guard security on American soil in an age of worldwide extremism.
After the attack in Chattanooga, Gov. Bill Haslam directed Haston to review Tennessee’s recruiting office and armory security and examine whether Guard members should be allowed to carry handguns. Major General Haston temporarily relocated the recruiters to more secure armories while security fixes were made. Military officials favor the storefronts because they provide easier access to would-be recruits.
Since the recruiting center leases are handled by U.S. military officials, he needed to get the Pentagon’s approval. Haston announced in August he received authority for properly trained Guard members to carry federally issued sidearms at the recruiting centers or on federal property, including vehicles.
“They absolutely told us we can do what we want to on that,” Haston said this week. “So they’ll be carrying federal weapons.” “The big issue,” Haston said, has been “getting all of our recruiters requalified in their assigned weapons.”
State officials said National Guard recruiters will likely be sent back to the Chattanooga area on Tuesday or Wednesday. Recruiters in other areas of Tennessee will return later this week. No update yet on recruiters from other services.