National Guard recruiters: Location won't affect mission

Scott orders recruiters be moved to armories after Tenn. shooting rampage


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Gov. Rick Scott on Saturday issued an executive order to temporarily move National Guard members from six "storefront" recruitment centers to armories in the wake of a shooting rampage in Tennessee that killed four Marines and a sailor.

The order only affects National Guard recruiting offices, not other military recruiting offices. The governor is assessing the situation before deciding when those offices will reopen.

The executive order said Guard members will be moved from the recruitment centers to armories until Adjutant Gen. Michael Calhoun "can fully evaluate and make recommendations for improving the security" of the centers. It said possible improvements could include installing bulletproof glass and enhancing video-surveillance equipment.

For security reasons, exactly which armories those recruiters are now working from is not being released.

Scott issued the executive order two days after 24-year-old Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez opened fire at a military-recruiting center and a Navy Reserve facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Abdulazeez, whose name has been spelled in different ways by news organizations, killed four Marines, and a Navy petty officer died early Saturday of wounds, according to The Washington Post.

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The shooting spree has spurred investigations into whether Abdulazeez, who also died, had links to terrorist organizations. In a Twitter post Saturday, Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, said he supported Scott's executive order to "help protect our military from acts of terror."

The move to the armories affects how National Guard recruiters do their jobs, but then recruiters say they'll still be able to carry out their mission.

"We don't expect it to have any impact on our recruiting," Maj. Caitlin Brown, a Florida National Guard spokeswoman, said. "We're still able to get the word out through high school programs and obviously the phone numbers the 1-800 phone numbers people can use to contact us are still working."

The change means that people won't be able to walk in to storefront locations and speak to a recruiter.

The move was designed to increase protections for members of the Florida National Guard after the shooting highlighted some of the vulnerabilities of the storefront locations.

"That kind of situation is a possibility in a storefront location, just because of the nature of these locations," Brown said. "They're out in public. We want them to be accessible to the public. That's the point of these recruiting efforts. With that comes a certain amount of risk."

Potential recruits won't be able to speak to a recruiter at the armories. Instead, people who want to meet with a recruiter in person will need to set up a meeting by calling 1-800-GO-GUARD or by going online at  www.joinflguard.com.

Scott ordered Calhoun to work with local law enforcement to arrange regular security checks of armories.

"What we're looking to do now is look at ways we can still be out in the community, still reaching out and finding those people that want to be in our ranks, but doing it in a safer way that keeps our recruiters more safe, while they're doing their job," Brown said.

Scott's office did not return a request for comment on the executive order.

News Service of Florida reporter Jim Saunders contributed to this report.