WASHINGTON – "Obviously, something went wrong" in security procedures at the Washington Navy Yard, where a gunman killed 12 workers Sept. 16, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said here today, and the department will close gaps, address inadequacies and correct failures.
In a Pentagon news conference, Hagel announced two panels that will investigate the situation and make recommendations.
Hagel and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed their condolences to the families and co-workers of the 12 Navy employees gunned down at the Navy Yard. Both emphasized that DOD personnel deserve a safe and secure environment wherever they work.
Yesterday, Hagel said, he asked Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter to lead two departmentwide reviews. The first will examine physical security and access procedures at all DOD installations, the secretary said.
In the second, Carter will look at DOD's practices and procedures for granting and renewing security clearances, including those held by contractors. He will coordinate with officials at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Office of Management and Budget, Hagel said.
The secretary also has directed an independent panel to conduct its own assessment of security at DOD facilities and of the department's security clearance procedures and practices.
Dempsey praised the actions of the police and medical personnel who responded to the rampage.
"Even in the midst of tragedy, there are moments of triumph," he said. "The most visible feats were accomplished by professionals -- our military, police, and EMTs -- but there were other unseen moments equally heroic. I was especially inspired by the story of Omar Grant, a Navy Yard civilian, who helped a blind colleague to safety as they exited building 197 in the middle of the shooting. Omar refused to leave his friend behind. The urge to run toward danger to help someone in need is a testament to an American's character."
Dempsey said some of the lessons learned from past tragic episodes helped during the Navy Yard shooting. Early indications are that procedures put in place after a Nov. 9, 2009, shooting spree that killed 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, may have led to "a less horrific outcome," the chairman said. Officials put in place alert notices. Base officials also coordinated with local and federal officials in advance of crises, he said. There was also some benefit from training scenarios for employees and law enforcement on active shooter situations, he added.
"Some of the things we did as a result of those earlier incidents, we believe, actually reaped the benefit we intended," Dempsey said.