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In reference to a 2015 Oregon mass shooting, Ben Carson said he would have rushed the shooter. Would rushing a shooter be a good option at any point?

This answer may contain sensitive images. Click on an image to unblur it.Given the context of the question, Carson's answer was exactly right.His exact words:Not only would I probably not cooperate with him [the shooter], I would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say, ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.’According to the statements put out by numerous police and safety officials, the Department of Homeland Security, and even OSHA, some level of active response, active defense, or reaction is recognized to be necessary to end the threat of violence in events such as the Umpqua Community College Shooting. For this reason, the new methods being now developed in which police officers, schools, and workplaces are addressing the threat of violent instances are evolving to include times where fighting back against the shooters directly is necessary and sometimes more effective than a passive response.For background, I am an honorably discharged Marine with experience as a rifle and pistol instructor having served two Iraq tours. Currently, I am a high school and middle school teacher. That said, my experience isn't in law enforcement, but my training in counter-terrorism has made me sensitive and alert to information where my two chosen careers intersect. I try to help my school by communicating some of the modern training being developed in response to the rise of school shootings and other active shooter workplace incidents. I can tell you that active shooter response is a field of self-defense that is being taken very seriously by the education communities.Given that, what Carson said, in the context he said it, matches exactly with what police and schools are beginning to teach in response a shooter in a danger close encounter. The question being asked is "Would rushing a shooter be a good option at any point?" The answer to it is, sometimes that is the best of all the horrible options left to you. Most of the time, it isn't. This answer is going to focus on situations when fighting back would be appropriate, but much more on when it needs to be avoided. After that, I will explain specifically why I believe what Dr. Carson said was appropriate for the situation in which he was asked.ALICEA new training method is being used to help schools prepare for the event of an active shooter. This method is called ALICE.AlertLockdownInformCounterEvacuateALICE is a tool used to keep victims and staff aware of their options during what is called an "active shooter event" and the important decisions you may need to make in the event of an active shooter. It important to understand the ALICE acronym is not meant to serve as a sequential list of steps to follow. They aren't meant to be followed in order, but to serve as a guide for understanding your role - determined by the shooter - in surviving the encounter and aiding others in doing so, as well. Depending on where the shooter is in relation to you, you have several different responsibilities to ensure your own safety, and that of others. In relation to this question, most of the steps involved do not involve interacting with the shooter - in fact, they specifically attempt to avoid it.AlertThe first is that you witness the event taking place. Hypothetically, consider this someone who, from a safe distance, saw someone enter the building with a weapon. This person has the responsibility to stay safe (by not entering the dangerous area) and alerting police or any other official.LockdownIf warning is given, this allows schools and workplaces to create as defensible a position as possible. As I said, an active shooter's goal is cause as many casualties as possible. The average response time for police is somewhere around 14 minutes to produce first responders to a scene of a violent incident. This in no way is a failure of police, but just a reality of having very few people responsible for the safety of very, very many. For this reason, those who are alerted to the presence of danger are asked to Lockdown, an effort to gain some security during the time when it isn't known if a safe escape route exists and when first responders have not yet arrived on the scene. Lockdown drills are performed by most schools already, though this is typically the extent of the exercise. They do this by locking all doors, both exterior and interior, and barricading those doors before taking a position in a darkened room, away from visible sightlines of any windows and in a defensive posture.By defensive posture, this means that students or anyone caught in an active shooter environment where the shooter currently isn't, such as a room behind a locked door, are to try to use whatever means necessary to provide them with cover and concealment. Concealment is anything that will prevent an enemy from seeing a target, like a curtain. Cover is the military term for something that can conceal you from a threat and be used as a source of shielding in the event that you're shot at. Once the students are in the most covered and concealed location they can create in a timely manner, they should stay vigilant, and stay prepared to move to escape or react to a forced entry by the shooter.This is an effort to create a "safe space", not meant to say that it is perfectly defensible, but as a primary fall back point for all students and individuals to retreat and seek shelter in the event of an active shooter until an escape route can be secured. As I said, an active shooter's goal is to cause as many casualties as possible. That said, they will often be deterred by obstacles, instead looking for easier targets. In this event, creating barriers between a shooter and potential victims often ends the threat of a direct confrontation, before it starts. That said, having a secondary fall back position, in case it seems apparent that a shooter is set to enter your safe space, is a good idea if one is available.Lockdown is not the same as hiding. We have seen examples of those involved in shootings attempting to make use of whatever concealment they have to hide from the attacker. This includes hiding under tables in the room they are in or in unsecured rooms, then staying put there for several minutes during a massacre. In the Columbine attack, students who hid under tables when it became known that an event had begun were eventually found and murdered.InformSomeone in the room should be communicating with police and emergency personnel, both to tell them what you are witnessing and to have a link with information from the outside. During lockdown, communications may be disrupted, or it may not be advised to broadcast escape information while the shooter is active. This isolates students, which can be deadly. For that reason, it is important for someone in the room to keep an active communication line to the police in the event of an emergency. Most police departments are equipped to handle overflow traffic in the event of a major emergency.My personal advice is that the person on the phone, shouldn't be the teacher. They need to be in charge of leading the students in whatever circumstances take place from then on. If specific instructions need to be given, than the leader can be given the phone, but generally, the leader's job in this instance is to keep the rest of room calm and prepared. Communicating with the outside takes the leader's focus away from the room and away from what is going on outside their safe space. For high school, a student who is calm and reliable should be able to communicate with emergency response and relay important information to the teacher. Most middle school classrooms should, as well. For elementary and primary schools, the teacher unfortunately needs to be the one responsible for many roles.EscapeI'm going to go out of order and talk about escape before counter. The ultimate goal of any active shooter event should be to escape the situation. This needs to be repeated for emphasis. The goal should not be for individuals to stop the shooter, but to get to a safe area. Everything else listed in this answer is strictly in the event escape is deemed more unsafe than staying put, or the shooter has removed the option to escape.Most of the people who become victims do so very early on. Either they were very close to the shooter when they started or they were isolated because they hesitated in their movements, or found themselves pinned in and immobilized. Once you find the exit, you should be going there. There shouldn't need to be thinking about which exit may be closer, or which exit may be jammed or what if there is someone waiting at the exit... just run. A person should be far enough ahead that you can't get pinned in the event of a wrong turn.If the shooter is in the open, such as an attack on a mall, one should attempt to get away from the immediate danger as fast as possible. Don't call the police immediately, just get to a safe location. Immediately seek cover and concealment by staying low, out of eyesight. Remember that concealment is anything that will prevent an enemy from seeing a target and cover is anything that can both coneil a potential victim and will help deflect or absorb incoming rounds fired at the them.From there, one should know the source of the threat and find the exits. Is this person shooting actively? Are they on the move? In which direction? Try to assess what actually caused the threat. Don't take more than a few seconds on this. Where is it that you get the instinctive reaction that the threat is coming from? Don't look at which way people are running, or running from. In one mall shooting, people were so panicked that they ran in all directions, some right past the shooter, who took them as easy prey. This isn't their fault. They just lacked the training to know what to do.Knowing this, a person should find the nearest avenue to an escape as possible. Where is the nearest exit? Can I reach it while staying behind cover and/or concealment? If you know the source of danger and you know the route to the exit, watch for hardened obstacles to keep between you and the threat. A hardened pillar or support beam can be a good source of cover, as can a large desk or wall. A large fountain, a car, the corner around a turn; anything that is hard and large should be a goal of someone to keep between them and the threat. It's important not to get pinned behind cover, and to just think of it as a temporary obstacle to keep between you and the threat until you reach the exit or safety. Again, time is key, a few seconds at most to find the exits. As soon as possible, make for the exits.This is also why keeping in contact with police is so vital, primarily if you aren't in the open and in a lockdown situation where your escape is determined by information you can't know because it is outside your room. Keeping communication lines open, even if you are silent and just waiting for information to be given to you, lets police and rescue know where you are, which lets you know when it is safe to escape and by what means. Most likely, there will never be a need to encounter a shooter. This is because, once a shooting begins, entire towns shutdown to ensure that the event is taken care of as quickly as possible. For that reason, those who don't begin an attack in a safe place need to find the safest place possible, fortify, call for help, and prepare to evacuate when it is safe to do so.By prepare to evacuate, I don't mean find a safe place and stay there forever. An element of static defenses, those that don't move or change, i.e. our barricades or locked doors, is that a determined adversary can and will overcome them. Think about if a shooter is searching for one particular person, like that bully, mean teacher, or their boss. If that person was the motive of the attack, then obstacles won't deter them. This is true of muggings, burglaries, terrorism, or military combat. Most of the time these are deterrents that force a shooter on, hoping to find an easier target, however, if a gunman is set to defeat a certain barrier, for any reason, they will attempt to do so and given time, will defeat it. This is why staying in a state of Lockdown throughout the duration isn't advised. We can see an example of this from the Virginia Tech Shooting of 2007. There, 32 students were killed and the majority of those were traced to a single room. A professor locked the students in the room, similar to a lockdown, but wouldn't let them leave even when an opportunity was available. The shooter eventually overcame the lock on the doors. The room had no exits and he then proceeded to kill first the teacher, then everyone else in the room. From this lesson we see that a lockdown is necessary, but not a perfect defense. While we must lockdown, we must also prepare for an escape as quickly as possible. Making a plan out of staying put is itself, a danger.CounterThis is the most direct response to the question. If a gunman enters your safe space, or if he pulls the weapon during your class period, leaving you no time to prepare. You have to accept that the gunman has removed all good options from you. You're now left with very few alternatives. Essentially, you have been left with the few options to that break down into more than simply fight or flight. They are flight, freeze, submit, posture, or fight. Before I continue, we need to consider these five basic human responses to fear and how they would manifest themselves in an active shooter environment.Flight - generally speaking, if you can, fleeing is the best option. That said, as a teacher, fleeing isn't always an option. For example, in my classroom, which is virtually identical to all the other classrooms in the Middle School, High School, and Elementary, there is only one door. The windows are also shatter resistance, designed to prevent an intruder from the outside getting in, but also preventing students from being able to break out, as well. ( They are actually designed for storm debris because far more people are killed by tornadoes where I live than the violence of this question.) There is only one entrance to the room, and therefore, only one exit. While the ultimate goal of being in an event is the escape the situation, and most of the time, an avenue is available... frankly, sometimes we don't have that as a real option.*Freeze - Freeze is a common response to panic educing situations. For many, it will be the default response. There is a saying, made most famous by the United States Navy SEALs, but common throughout the United States armed forces: "One doesn't rise to the occasion, but falls back to their training." This means that if a person is not trained to recognize and respond to a stressful situation, they will likely fail in that situation.A person who freezes, or fails to take any action in the presence of an active shooter with an easy target. Shooters aren't targeting specific individuals, at least not long into the shooting. If they are attempting to right some injustice, the shooting eventually turns indiscriminate, where shooters are attempting to not find specific targets of opportunity, those that aren't actively seeking escape, or using cover and concealment. This obviously isn't the best solution, but not honestly the fault of the victim. A person must be trained to recognize and prepare for the possibility of violence and have a plan on how to act. If they don't, they default to the freeze state.Submit - submit refers to complying to the shooter's demands. This is the hostage scenario. Hostage takers bargain with victims for compliance. They offer safety in exchange for control of the situation. For active shooters, those involved with terrorist attacks, school shootings, and workplace massacres, this is not common. They aren't interested in a prolonged engagement and may not even care if they get out alive. Typically, these events take place, from beginning to end in less than 12 minutes, that being the amount of time it would take a dedicated shooter to either run out of ammunition, be brought down by police, or as often as is the case, end the encounter by taking their own lives.Therefore, it isn't common for shooters to make demands that will keep people alive. Typically, they are there for a set purpose of inflicting causalities. For that reason, in the event of an active shooter, it is extremely unlikely that giving into the shooter by following any of their demands will ensure survival. In the Umpqua Community College Shooting, this is what students did. The shooter began by first executing the teacher of the room before making demands that all Christians in the room make themselves known by standing. The classroom full of students did as they were instructed and several who stood, were then executed.Posture - Posture is creating the appearance of threat without actually being a threat. Imagine boxers before a fight, trying to look intimidating to psyche out the other opponent. This is an attempt to psychologically dominate an opponent during a fight, in the hopes that it makes them easier to deal with.I can't imagine a worse idea in this situation. Shooters are obviously unbalanced people, so attempting to intimidate someone who, because of their gun, is in an obviously tactical advantage seems, to me, to be suicidal. Furthermore, I can only imagine it further enraging an active shooter, so that, once they are done with whoever tried to appear intimidating is dead, the rest will receive an even more relentless assault.What is currently being taught, in these danger close circumstances, where escape is not a timely or possible solution, is to fight, some would say attack, the attacker.The idea here isn't to combat an attacker one-on-one armed with only a book or stapler against a gunman. In the instance of a single attacker against a room full of individuals, the presence of massive amounts of common items being thrown to assault, en masse, is the key defensive element. This means that a person doesn't need to be a martial arts expert, or spend countless hours in training and exercise to prepare for the event. It also doesn't require that any one individual has the physical and mental capability to disable the shooter. The act only requires coordination of many people moving very quickly. This doesn't end the threat, but is intended to stun the attacker long enough for the students, once again en masse, to swarm the attacker, ground him, and hold him until others are able to evacuate or hold the attacker until police are able to intervene. Through swarm tactics, which is how they are literally termed in some ALICE training, the groups of potential victims are able to maximize their collective survival by overwhelming attackers.During this time, students are encouraged to use "weapons of opportunity" or "improvised weapons" in their own defense. "Weapon of opportunity" is a term used from the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program and other self-defense programs, which basically means any common place item which can be used a weapon. The Marines train to fight, in the last resort, with sticks, rocks, and anything else which may be available to them. For a classroom or office setting, this translates to books, staplers, tape depressors, and even chairs being used as throwing objects or even blunt force items. Teachers are advised to keep on hand pepper spray and a very good improvised weapon is also the fire extinguisher. The cloud is both stunning and disorienting, and the canister itself is an extremely blunt object which can be both deadly and easily used as a club. The fact that any good classroom or office should have fire extinguishers available anyway, makes this one of the best self-defense tools for this question.There is practical rationale to this tactic that is, as well, based on military combat psychology. The term is violence of action.[The following is an excerpt from SEAL SURVIVAL GUIDE: A Navy SEAL's Secrets to Surviving Any Disaster, written by Former Navy SEAL and preeminent American survivalist Cade Courtley.]Violence of action means the unrestricted use of speed, strength, surprise, and aggression to achieve total dominance against your enemy. I'm repeating this to drive home the concept that any fighting technique is useless unless you first totally commit to violence of action. Don't be afraid to hit first, and when you do, hit hard. Remember, you are fighting because this is the best and only option. Pull the trigger -- because you are in a battle for your life! Your instincts, assessment, and situational awareness have told you that you are in mortal danger. You don't know the other person's intentions fully, and you never can. What you can do is survive -- it is your right to not be killed or harmed by another person. As with most things survival-related, fighting has its own set of priorities that need to be addressed at lightning speed.Stories of violence of action successes are well documented in the military, showcasing how lone soldiers or Marines pushed back or dominated enemy forces when they were very much outnumbered. In an active shooter scenario, however, a single person will almost never be able to dominate an aggressor because of the presence of their gun. Working in conjunction with an entire classroom, all working to stun, disorient, and then hold down an enemy until help arrives, would have the effect of violence of action. As a seasoned shooter myself, I don't know how I could manage to carry on an attack while simultaneously dodging a barrage of non-lethal items. As a teacher, I was extremely pleased with this approach because it addresses the danger involved in Lockdown only training, in which a static defender is always the victim to violent attackers.If you feel this is a terrible idea, I agree with you. It does put those attacked in momentary extreme danger. It is very, very hard for me to say this, because, to me, these children aren't statistical, but faces with names and it terrifies me to think of them being in harm. Yet, I know that statistically, though some may come to harm if more organizations implement ALICE type group defense, more of these rampages will have ended before a shooter has a full 14 minutes to blow away anyone who he sees. The long term reality of this is fewer children and innocent people will die. This is particularly true of the children in the room, those who have had the choice to hide and wait taken from them. If history is our guide, these children have faced the cruelest and most unforgivable odds of all, being trapped face to face with an active shooter. Grimly speaking, they are most benefited by fighting back for their own lives.We see this example too, demonstrated recently by actions of military veterans who took part in ending shootings or aiding others in their escape. The first of these examples is Chris Mintz.Image courtesy of Chris Mintz - UCC Shooting Survivor.Chris Mintz is the current man of the hour. Mintz is a 10 year veteran of the United States Army, but became national news when he protected classmates in a shooting rampage at the local community college he was attending. According to eyewitnesses, Mintz ran at the attacker and blocked a door to a classroom in the attempt to protect fellow classmates.According to a student witness Chris"ran to the library and pulled all the alarms. He was telling people to run. ... He actually ran back towards the building where the shooting was. And he ran back into the building."While attempting to stop the shooter Mintz was shot an incredible seven times. He was rushed to surgery, and is now on the road to recovery and a normal life, but will require a great deal of recuperative care. To repay his heroism, a gofundme was set up for $10,000 to go toward his medical expenses. That fund is currently just over $800,000. What Chris' heroic acts showed was how a dedicated person can slow down and prevent a shooter, making it possible for others to survive and, just as importantly, that this act itself is not a death sentence.A better example comes from the recent attack aboard a train between France and Belgium. There, a terrorist opened fire on a train wounding a few of the passengers. Onboard the train were National Guard Specialist Alek Skarlatos, a recent Afghanistan veteran, Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, along with a civilian friend Anthony Sadler. They earned international praise for stopping nothing less than a full on terrorist gunman in the middle of what amounted to a holiday vacation.“My friend Alek (Skarlatos) yells, 'Get him,' so my friend Spencer (Stone) immediately gets up to charge the guy, followed by Alek, then myself," Anthony Sadler said in an interview with CNN.Stone received injuries during the fight between the Moroccan born gunman, armed with an AK-47 rifle, a pistol, several magazines of ammunition, and a knife. The Americans wrestled him to the ground after he opened fire. In the end, he was hog tied and, though one of the heroes received superficial injuries, no one, not even the shooter, was killed. No better example currently exists for the argument that active defense is necessary in ending the threat posed by an active shooter or terrorist.While both of these events center around veterans who placed themselves in harm's way while in civilian roles, what they did isn't something that requires one to be a military person to do. In these specific cases, it was just people who believed they could control the situation, who knew how to react to danger, and who were, at least instinctively aware that the collective's survival was most ensured by the group fighting back.Some may think that, given this information and everything that is required, schools should be redesigned to incorporate defense planning. I don't. Some common sense ideas are great, like cameras around doors and hallways and automatic doors which can be controlled remotely by a receptionist or secretary. Beyond that, a school is not a battlefield. It is not a prison either. They shouldn't be designed to be. Given the odds of ever being involved in a school shooting, I don't see it justifiable to plan around defense if it takes away from a school's ability to learn.The odds still prove that there are far more schools than there are school shootings, to the point that they are still extremely newsworthy events, but incredibly unlikely. There are over 100,000 public schools in the United States while there have only been around 160 school shootings that occurred between 2000 and 2013, according to the FBI. This means that the odds of one experiencing such an event outside of the news are astronomically low. This needs to be remembered and repeated (though not used to validate the statement, "It will never happen here.")For that reason, I can't say it makes sense to me that schools subtract millions upon millions of dollars to implement static defense systems from the budget of programs which actually do contribute to student learning. I'll take this opportunity to remind readers that a determined active shooter will always defeat static defenses. At the point when school shootings are no longer freak events, but an event that one might consider probable, that is the point where you need to start considering fortifications for education centers a rational part of the annual budget meeting. Until that point, it does not make sense to design schools around defense, if the costs of those defenses takes away from the goal of providing children with an education. If we adapt the philosophy to build a school around security first, and education second, we will have failed at both. When any static defense can be overcome by a determined shooter. The only true defense we have is our ability to adapt and overcome situations which we cannot plan for, cannot expect, but must still survive. Schools that say, "The safety of our students is our number one priority," annoy me. Educating is our number one priority. For that reason, we have to educate kids, as well as ourselves, how best to deal with situations which are difficult.I know that it is hard for many people to accept this idea. ALICE training is highly controversial because, when it is implemented in schools, it asks teachers to encourage kids to work together to take on lethal and murderous shooters in certain, very limited, situations. No one feels this as much as I do. This has been one of the hardest articles I have ever written in the last six years of writing online. As a teacher, it's painful for me to accept that this is even something we need to prepare for. I had to stop and gather myself several times when the thought passed through my mind of my kids (students) being put in this scenario. As a Marine, however, I know that our actions are often determined by those who want to do us harm. Sometimes, a terrible idea, such as leading a group of children to assault a deadly attacker, is the only option left to you.While this article started as a response to what seems is a political question, I feel it became very personal, and over the course of the last few hours, has left the scope of the question. I'm actually happy with this, because the information that came about today, I feel is information which needs to be shared. I know that if this information becomes commonplace enough, many innocent people are going to make it out all right, who otherwise wouldn't. Furthermore, when those people who are thinking about attacking schools and workplaces see similar actions foiled in the first few minutes by groups of individuals before they turn into massacres, they wouldn't see the sinister glory in it. They wouldn't be able to dream of suicide after committing massacre or death by cop. Instead, they might even face prison. Their goals would be worthless.Furthermore, ALICE initiatives take away the helplessness of the victim, and let's them know that they have options and responsibility in their own survival, as well as the survival of others. This knowledge is empowering in that it lets them know that the power doesn't just revolve around the attacker, but that they have agency in the matter, as well. I know in my heart that if the people who attack others like this were to become more afraid of the victims, than the victims are of them - school shootings would disappear.Speaking on the subject of the meta-question within this one, "Was Dr. Ben Carson correct to say that we should fight back?" For that, I feel we need to look at the specific case of the UCC Shooting and the exact question which was asked. At this point, it's necessary to give some background context into the shooting. It should be known now that numerous accounts have shown that during the attack, the shooter first murdered the teacher, then pointed to individual students, asked their religion, then mocked Christians before executing them. Knowing that, the specific question that was asked, and which inspired this question was,"Dr. Carson, if a gunman walks up and puts a gun up to you, and says, 'What religion are you?' That is the ultimate test of your faith.""I'm glad you asked that question, because not only would I probably not cooperate with him [the shooter], I would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say, ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.’In that instance, if we take what we know, that the shooter was inside the room before the shooting started, there was no time to prepare, no warning, no escape route. There was no way to lockdown and no one outside the room was even aware a shooting had begun. According to what is currently be taught, Carson's view was appropriate. Even skeptical people have to ask the question honestly to themselves, if everyone in the room had done everything could have to attack and restrain Chris Harper-Mercer, would 17 people have been able to be shot? Would 10 people now be dead? Would it be possible for him to kill so many people, if everyone knew to work together to prevent it? I'm sure at least one would have. The teacher was targeted immediately. Her death signaled what was happening to the room. But what about the other 9 people?Also see: How do I survive a shopping mall massacre or terrorist attack in a city?Thanks for reading!For more answers like this check out The American and follow my blog War Elephant for more new content. Everything I write is completely independent research and is supported by fan and follower pledges. Please consider showing your support directly by visiting my Patreon support page here: Help Jon Davis in writing Military Novels, Articles, and Essays.

Why are the cantonment roads meant for the army being politicized?

This question was bound to crop up here on Quora sooner or later. I have been watching this issue very closely, but was refraining from forming an opinion…until now.So here goes…On 22 May 2018, ALL Cantonment roads in 62 Cantonments across the nation (except Srinagar and Jammu) were thrown open to public. This caused a HUGE uproar in defence circles.While the general public seems to be rejoicing the decision as this has genuinely lessened some of their pain in commute but the armed forces community seems to be disheartened and is still assessing the various issues related to this decision even as some local BJP cadres were seen shamelessly celebrating their ‘victory'. (Victory against your own Army?!) Posters such as this one congratulating local leaders were put up overnight in cantonments.Irrespective of who is right, one thing for sure has happened and has happened for the first time and that is both communities seem to be against each other. Kudos to Nirmala Sitaraman on achieving this.The main issue is simple — several sensitive military installations are located within cantonments. So unrestricted thoroughfare CANNOT be permitted. Related to this are the issues regarding security of separated families and open invitaion to terrorists to conduct Pathankot, Samba, Nagrota, Sanjuwan etc like incidents.Concerns related to the safety of families who generally stay alone, as men would be posted far from their homes for duty, serving the nation have been raised by the wives of Army officers themselves to the RM and on national TV.But there is one moot point which somehow seems to be missing from the debate.Why do you think that such a mechanism was created? Why did we create a secluded society which has its own area marked with no access/restricted access to general public/ civilians? Why do they have their own schools/colleges, shopping facilities (Canteens), their own mess for wining and dining and their own temple/mosque/gurudwara (all clubbed in one)? Their own police, their own courts? And then also ensuring that no one settles in any specific location by enforcing frequent transfers.Why was such a setup created, a very secluded, kind of a cocoon? A world of its own. A society within a society?Army’s ability to function as the most reliable agency for the State comes from this very secluded nature of the institution. Why do police fail in controlling riots? Well, one of the reasons says - because they start associating themselves with rioters and instead of controlling, they start participating with them. The rioter could be his next door neighbour, the stone pelter could be his neighbor's son, and so on and so forth. And even if the policemen want to remain unbiased he still carries the risk, as he has to go back to those same people, the same society which won’t be easy.That’s where army comes in. It is these same men who are staying in those closed cantonments, secluded, untouched, unrelated and unbiased to the outside world who come and finally help control situations like strikes and riots……leave terrorism aside, I am not even going there! They could do this only because for them everyone is same, everyone is unknown and no relation with anyone whatsoever. No religion, no caste, a totally pure unbiased approach to the situation. They just follow what State desires.The strength and character of the institution derives lot of power from this very protective and secluded setup that has been created for them. The institution has successfully remained apolitical and secular even in these times where so much of negativity is flying.The similar restrictions are put even on social media, where these men have been asked asked officially not to be part of any social media. No mingling at all.If we want at least one agency to be able to work without any biases and deliver when all odds are against you, then please don’t touch this very basic setup. Understand this, the restriction is not on civilians, although it may look like, but the truth is that all these restrictions are placed on these men and their families.There was no intention to trouble civil population, in fact for this reason, the cantonments are setup far out of town, it’s just that these towns have overgrown themselves beyond the cantonment areas leading to some trouble to public.If required, Army should agree to uproot and setup a base outside the town but not accept this dictum. This is detrimental to the fabric of the institution, mark my words.Anyway, after much hue and cry, especially from Army wives, Madam Raksha Mantri held a press conference. Here's what she had to say…(Source: You Tube)But this question is about politicizing the whole issue. So lets discuss that too…The Political AngleWith Nirmala Sitharaman opening cantonment roads to the public, uncomfortable questions regarding the use of defence land once again arise. (Also, because Nirmala Sitharaman's house is inside the Secundrabad Cantt, & also her husband runs schools there).A series of tweets by Major Priyadarshi have raised rather troubling questions regarding the use of defence land. He has argued that the recent decision of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to allow thoroughfare through roads in cantonment areas only serves the interests of the land mafia and a few individuals in the Director General of Defence Estates (DGDE). The official press release on May 28 regarding the decision cited reasons such as civilian access to army schools.However, a rumour circulating in defence circles is that the present Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and her husband possess a house in the cantonment area in Secunderbad. They also allegedly operate schools and commercial establishments in the area. It is also alleged that this influenced the decision to allow civilian access to the cantonment areas. The house and other interests in the cantonment area are allegedly not in either of their names.Regarding the non-defence use of defence land, it has been documented in Supreme Court decisions as well as in CAG reports. As far back as in 2010, the Comptroller General of Defence Accounts (CGDA) had recommended disbanding the Directorate General of Defence Estates. The DGDE is the overseer of all real estate in cantonment areas and reports to the MoD. It is no secret that property in cantonment areas is not always in the hands of the defence establishment. This can arise for any number of reasons, such as a former serviceman bequeathing his house to his children. However, a 2013 Supreme Court decision has put to rest the status of such property.The decision of the apex Court in 2013 concerned a house in Pune. The house had been built by a descendent of the present owner on land allotted to him by the Army for him to construct a house. The land was given on grant – meaning that he had a right to possess and reside upon it. However, the government retained absolute ownership of the property. The Supreme Court, in this case, laid down that the people residing in the property had rights to the extent of the structures that they built on it. However, the government could take back the property at any time after paying them due compensation for the house.In 2013, CAG found that inordinate delay in renewing leases led to non-realisation of revenue to the tune of Rs. 829.71 crore. In earlier reports, the CAG had taken note that defence land under occupation by other departments without any government sanction, the revenue due amounted to Rs. 8.63 crore. The report also mentioned that defence land under grant did not revert to the Defence Estates Officer (DEO), as it should have, when the purpose for which the grant was made, had ended. In Pune, land under grant to Willingdon Clubs did not revert back to the DEO when the clubs were closed. Instead the Local Military Authorities had, in one case, allowed a girls hostel to be constructed, and in another case, a shopping mall.In 2014, the CAG once again reported unauthorised use of defence land. In this case, United Services Club, Mumbai had occupied defence land which resulted in a loss of Rs. 5.74 crore per annum. The value of the land occupied was Rs. 114.85 crore, and the rent paid by the club was Rs. 36,000 per annum. Therefore, it appears that there is a pattern to the misuse and unauthorised use of defence land.In a written reply to Lok Sabha MP Poonam Mahajan in 2014, then Defence Minister Arun Jaitley admitted that around 11,455 acres of defence land had been encroached. Uttar Pradesh had the highest amount of land under encroachment – over 3,142 acres, while Maharashtra and Haryana came in second and third at around 1,512 and 1,002 acres respectively.In 2014, Common Cause, an NGO based out of Delhi, along with Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), had filed a petetion in the Supreme Court concerning the unauthorised use and encroachment of defence land. The petition alleged that “crass mismanagement of Defence lands is intrinsically linked to irregularities, illegalities and corruption”. The petition relied heavily on CAG reports, and is still sub judice. The last order passed by the Court was on August 25, 2017.In spite of the 2013 Supreme Court Order, as well as annual rebuke from the CAG, it appears that the vested interests in the MoD and the defence establishment have very thick skin.Edit 1RAKSHA MANTRI'S PRESS CONFERENCE: AN OBFUSCATION PAR EXCELLENCEThe Raksha Mantri’s press conference raises more questions than, what she has answered? When she was asked; whether the army was consulted before the announcement of a ceasefire in Kashmir; she says it is the decision of the Government of India and we all will abide by it. She neatly dodges the question. She adds that she respects the announcement made by the Home Minister, however, the army would retaliate if provoked by terrorists. It also means that if few terrorists pass by and they do not fire at the army; the army will not fire at them, as they are only permitted to fire on being provoked? The respect she has for the Home Minister is by choice and convention, but she is actually paid to respect the National Security. Going by her choice of words neither the Army nor she, were a part of the decision. It was done by the Home Minister in consultation with the PM and probably the NSA. Hence, the main stakeholders in J&K; the Army came to know of the decision after it was made? Even a totalitarian government like China has a better system of consultation, as the Chairman of Chinese Military Commission is Xi, himself.Second, her straight-faced response that there is no shortage of ammunition and there is no shortage of funds; indeed, shows her composure and equanimity in moral crises. She had refined her fine art since the time she gave her permission to Chief Minister at Srinagar to file an FIR against an officer for doing his legitimate duty and later backing out of it. She reels out data on money spent for capital acquisitions but fails to reel out the allocations for the current budget 2018-19; the election year. It is indeed a clever move to obfuscate the question.It was in April 2018, during the Army Commanders Conference, The Army Chief had told the Press that some expensive critical ammunition will not be bought due to budget constraints and they would even be inadequate for 10 days warfighting. Earlier in Mar 2018, the Army Vice Chief had highlighted to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence that allocation of ₹ 21338 crores for modernisation is insufficient even to cater for committed payment for 125 ongoing schemes and emergency procurements. He had also affirmed that the army has 68% of vintage weapons and equipment. Either the Army Top Brass is lying to the press and Defence Parliamentary Committee or the Raksha Mantri is prevaricating to the nation? Just a day before her press conference there was a news report that the Army had cut down the requirement of assault rifles from 8 lakhs to 2.5 lakhs due to budget constraints. However, the Minister straight-faced continues with her parody that there is no shortage of funds. To quote the famous TV anchor: The Nation certainly wants to know; the Truth!The Defence Ministry has been reduced to an errand boy. The formation of Defence Planning Committee has clipped the wings of the ministry in operational matters. It is a good thing to happen; seeing its past track record. Now, the Minister is not even consulted; though she is a member by default of the Cabinet Committee on Security. Her opening of roads in cantonments shows her lack of concern for the security of separated families of all ranks, who are serving on the borders. Just look at the Minister’s justification; 80 of the119 roads were opened to civilian traffic as they had not followed the procedure. The Minister is more bothered about following procedures rather than assessing the underlying security threat! The procedures are routine measures and they can be regularised by follow up paperwork.Look at the irony, the minister comes heavily on the Local Military Authorities for not following procedures. She is not really worried about the reason behind the closure and their security implications. For the minister and the bureaucracy, the procedures are more important; Indeed! the security aspect of families is a minor issue, not worthy of consideration vis-à-vis the ‘Watertight Procedures’. Who will tell the Minister, is she opens up even one road the number of sentries at each junction of the road would increase manifolds. If this is not done, the civilian vehicles would roam around ad nauseam in the unit lines, on side roads leading to armouries, separated family quarters, fuel dumps and ammunition magazines. In order to prevent such a situation, several additional sentries have to be deployed to restrict the traffic to the main arterial roads. The troops, would only be doing sentry duties and not training; they would also not be able to go home each night as the number of sentries would have increased manifolds. She keeps quoting the Director General of Defence Estates; without doubts, he heads one of the most corrupt and dysfunctional organisations, ever conceived and existing.Does the Minister actually think that defence ministers since independence did not know their job and she has come to redeem all the ills of Cantonments? She justifies her decision by a number of conferences she held before she took the decision; in which she says the President of Cantonment Boards were represented by their Vice Presidents. It is such a clever statement to camouflage the truth from those ill-informed stating the uniformed fraternity were represented. The President of the Cantonment Board is a local military commander, who is vested with responsibility and accountability for the security of troops and their families. The Vice President is an elected representative, whose main interest lies in opening the cantonments and make it a thoroughfare as his interest lies in pandering to his electorates, who elected him. The Minister very cleverly talks to the Vice Presidents of 62 cantonments and takes the decision, though a handful of uniformed army personnel of the services headquarters was there, who are not aware of the local situation in any of the cantonments.The minister cannot cleanse the corruption in the Defence Estates, she cannot get the illegal encroachments ousted from Cantonments and defence lands, she cannot reclaim huge bungalows with expired leases located in cantonments and military stations, she cannot get the illegal constructions removed, which have come up close to sensitive installations and pose a security threat; however, she uses her sagacity to browbeat those in uniform, as they are subject to the Military Law, and do not have the power of collective bargaining, as other citizens have in this country. Definitely, the Minister is in the election mode; security of military families does not inspire Votes!Jai Hind.

What are some of the things India can learn from USA's handling of superstorm Sandy?

While this question dates back to 2012 and perfectly made sense at that time, the handling of cyclone Phailin by Indian authorities in 2013 displayed a marvellous maturity of response to such occurrences and thus we can say that India learnt some lessons from others' and its own mistakes. However, there is a lot we can build upon that and not just sustain that, to lead the way for whole world. Here are some of the things I believe we can do:Central Distaster management and response agency such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of USA, should be kept well oiled, nimble and well equipped.There should be State level forces in each state, more so in the ones which are susceptible to disasters and have history of them.These forces should be locally situated and are first level responders. Typically their job would be to respond to the direst of cases, for eg, people who are dangerously stuck at some place or are impacted enough to have lost mobility within hours of the disasters.Private sector should be made partner. During the hurricane Katrina, which ravaged the state of Louisiana, Walmart had its trucks rolled in with relief supplies, within few hours of the impact.Mind it, this was way before Govt machinery came into action. While Walmart acted on its own accord, the the Private sector could be engaged more meaningfully.This also means that presence of supply chains, such as the ones owned by Walmart could be a huge factor.NGOs and faith-based and other community organizations should be made the part of the larger plan. They are generally ignored in the larger scheme of things while they are often very passionate supporters.Post disaster, they can be engaged in immediate relief and longer term rehabilitation and recovery.Cutting the red tape, reducing and streamlining regulations after a disaster would help encourage investment and rebuilding of communities.Strategic, high impact and vulnerable facilities such as the Nuclear plants should participate in full emergency exercises with emergency response agencies and local first responders at regular intervals.Different states in India are prone to different types of calamities. There should be a detailed study and documentation of the potential disasters and very importantly, the local people should be trained in and made more aware to response and recovery in those situations. This starts in homes, schools and community gathering places.Finally, if there is nothing working, the Armed Forces are the final fallback for the Indian state. And they always deliver with quickest response and maximum effectiveness.The Uttarakhand tragedy in 2013 was another shining example where Army and the Air Force went all out to save people and restore normalcy.The jawans carried stuck people on their backs for miles to safety. In the master plans for disaster response, a smooth, non interfering and synergized effort should be rendered so that in the direst of situations, the forces can deliver with relative ease.

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