In an exclusive interview with Fox News, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, who is set to retire as Army chief in August, clarified remarks he made in the wake of the Chattanooga shootings which left four Marines and one sailor dead.
He says the Army is in fact considering whether to arm recruiters if the legal restrictions are lifted.
"When it comes to recruiting stations, we are looking at it now -- what are we doing now to best protect them," Odierno said in a sit-down interview as he prepared to leave the Army after 39 years of service. "We will look at every avenue -- arming them, there is some authority issues with that so we have to look all the way through that."
He says his remarks on Friday were misunderstood. On Friday, Odierno told reporters he was reluctant to arm soldiers on every base in the U.S., a position that led to criticism. He had said, "We have to be careful about over-arming ourselves," when asked about any plans to arm more soldiers at bases.
Odierno clarified to Fox News, "What got confused was another question asked to me, 'Do you think we should arm all our soldiers on all our installations.' That I have a problem with."
He says he was not referring to recruiters in his original remarks.
Watch the full Odierno interview on Fox News' "Special Report with Bret Baier" Tuesday at 6 p.m. ET
Meanwhile, at his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday, the Army general slated to replace Odierno and serve as the next Army chief says he is in favor of arming recruiters, if the legal restrictions are changed.
"As far as arming recruiters go, I think that's complicated, legally," Gen. Mark Milley told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "And there's issues involved throughout the country, but we'll have to come to grips with that and certainly something to consider."
Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., asked Milley, "If the legal part of it can be resolved, do you think that they should, under certain conditions, be armed?"
"I think under certain conditions, both on military bases, and in our stations, recruiting stations, reserve centers, that we should seriously consider it, and in some cases I think it's appropriate," Milley said.
He and Odierno agree.
Asked to react to critics who say if a 21-year old civilian in Tennessee can carry a weapon why shouldn't a Marine or soldier, Odierno pointed to the Constitution.
"When you wear this uniform, you represent something very different. You represent the Constitution of our United States you represent all these other things, you have to make sure you are in line with that. Obviously, I want to protect our soldiers. Absolutely to the most highest standard we can. We want to come up with the best solution, what we don't want to do is rush to something and make a mistake," he said.
Military leaders are in part hamstrung by a 19th century law that bars the federal government from using the military for law enforcement purposes.
The service chiefs will make a recommendation to Defense Secretary Ash Carter at the end of the week on security changes. They are also considering adding bullet-proof glass at recruiting centers and surveillance patrols.