Call Ahead

Pentagon Tells Workers to Ask Before Bringing Bombs to Work

It may seem obvious to most office workers but, after a security breach last month, the Pentagon had to remind staff: please, check before bringing bombs to work.

After a harmless but embarrassing security breach last month, the Pentagon is advising workers not to bring bombs to work, even non-explosive ones for training purposes, without getting permission first.

According to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the story, the no-bombs reminder memo was prompted by an incident late last month when a civilian working for the Navy was stopped by security while trying to bring a non-working bomb into the Pentagon.

It’s unclear exactly what purpose the inoperable bomb was intended to serve but it appears that it may have been used in a briefing to Navy brass.

In addition to being the headquarters for the Department of Defense and the seat of the United States’ war planning, the Pentagon also houses some smaller agencies that specialize in improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and bombs. The Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) is one such organization, founded in 2006 to study and counter the deadly IEDs being used by insurgent groups in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is nothing linking the civilian responsible for the security gaffe with JIEDDO but the presence of groups devoted to studying IEDs makes the fact that one showed up at the Pentagon a bit more routine than a similar occurrence in your average office building.

Though it’s home to the nation’s top military brass and built like a fortress from the outside, Pentagon workers were able to enter the building without passing through metal detectors until a recent tightening of security protocols according to the Wall Street Journal report. The enhanced screening and security procedures, enacted in the wake of the deadly shooting at the Washington Navy Yard where a military contractor killed 12 people in a shooting spree, turned up a number of banned items including drugs and small weapons and led to several employees being barred from the building.

But it was the discovery of the inactive bomb that crossed the threshold and led to the policy email on November 22 from Steven Calvery, director of the Pentagon security agency, alerting all employees. “It would be helpful if you could ensure your components are familiar with the authorization process outlined in Administrative Instruction 30 for bringing inoperable firearms or inert ordnances into the Pentagon for official business. These require written approval from PFPA,” he said.

It’s not an unreasonable request and, as Calvery points out, it could prove to be helpful. Simply check with your supervisors before bringing bombs to work.