Is someone afraid of their own troops?
[A] sergeant major abruptly told the Marines gathered to hear Mr. Panetta in a tent at Camp Leatherneck to get up, place their M-16 and M-4 automatic rifles and 9-millimeter pistols outside, and return unarmed. The sergeant major, Brandon Hall, told reporters that he was acting on orders.
“All I know is I was told to get the weapons out,” he said. Asked why, he replied: “Somebody got itchy — that’s all I’ve got to say. Somebody got itchy. We just adjust.”
Normally, American forces in Afghanistan keep their weapons when the defense secretary visits and speaks to them. The Afghans in the tent had not been armed to begin with, as is typical.
Later, American officials said that the top military official in Helmand, Maj. Gen. Mark Gurganus, had decided on Tuesday that no one would be armed while Mr. Panetta spoke, but that word had not reached those in charge in the tent until shortly before Mr. Panetta was due to arrive.