The world may know him now as Chief Charles Moose, the Montgomery County police chief who was the foremost face of the sniper hunt. But at the D.C. Air National Guard, Chief Moose answers to "major."
Moose, who led the law enforcement task force that arrested two suspects linked by authorities to 15 shooting deaths in the Washington region, wears a second hat as commander of the D.C. Air National Guard's security forces squadron.
It's a job that has kept him involved in another major story rooted in a different type of terror than the sniper spree -- the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the Pentagon. Squadron members could be called to deploy overseas to support a U.S. war against Iraq, although there is a good likelihood that military officials would decide to exempt Moose because of his job as police chief.
"I don't make that call," Moose said in an interview. "I'm qualified. I'm in the mix. Being police chief is not any kind of a waiver."
Moose has commanded the squadron during a time of enormous activity brought on by world events. "It was real high tempo for a while, then it backed down, and now it's looking like it might go high tempo again," Moose said.
The squadron provides security for the D.C. Guard's 113th Wing, which is based at Andrews Air Force Base in Prince George's County. The wing flies F-16 fighters that have regularly patrolled the skies over Washington since the hijacked airliner hit the Pentagon in the terrorist attacks.
Moose's squadron of 60 service members is responsible, among other things, for protecting the fighter aircraft, equipment and runways at Andrews. Some squadron members have been sent to protect U.S. aircraft and bases overseas, and more would likely be needed in the event of a war with Iraq.
"He's real focused on getting the job done and not who gets credit," said Brig. Gen. David Wherley, commander of the D.C. Air National Guard. "The people who work for him, they respect him."
Although a tough taskmaster who would make his displeasure with poor performance readily known, Moose is known to also look out for the welfare of the members of his squadron. "He spent time with the troops in the trenches, and they respect that," Wherley said.
"What you see is what you get with Maj. Moose," Chief Master Sgt. Bobby Spear, the senior enlisted member of the security forces squadron, said in a news release. "He is direct, but he is also a humanitarian."
Moose, who had served previously with the Oregon National Guard, joined the D.C. Air National Guard soon after arriving in Montgomery in 1999 and served in the headquarters. "He did such a great job, I asked him to be the security forces commander" leading the whole squadron beginning in May 2000, Wherley said.
Before the Sept. 11 attacks, the 113th Security Forces Squadron would only occasionally get called out to help with security for events such as major protests in Washington or presidential inaugurations.
That all changed after the terrorist strikes. With the F-16s flying almost round-the-clock, the entire security forces squadron was called to active duty, except for Moose and Spear. Wherley said he made the decision that Moose's job as Montgomery police chief was more important than his Guard duties. Spear worked for the U.S. Secret Service at the time but has since retired.
"I told [Moose], 'I think you being a good chief in Montgomery County is more important than you being out here,' and he agreed," Wherley said.
Even so, Moose spent long hours at Andrews after the attack on the Pentagon, according to Guard officials, and when not at the base would frequently check in via cell phone or e-mail.
"He worked around the clock for two or three weeks after the terrorist attacks," Spear said. "He would work all day at Montgomery County and then come to Andrews and work with us late into the night, making sure we had everything we needed to keep our planes and our part of the base secure. He'd spend the night and then go back to work at Montgomery County the next day."
Moose was scheduled for weekend Guard duty during the sniper hunt, but he arranged to postpone it. "Everybody understood," Moose said.
"Until the sniper thing, he very seldom missed a weekend drill," Wherley said.
Even during the sniper crisis, Moose was in touch with the squadron via cell phone and e-mail, though most of the communication was in the form of words of encouragement from squadron members. "They'd say," Moose recalled, " 'Don't worry, we'll take care of it. We're praying for you. Get some rest.' "
After the sniper suspects were caught, Moose came to a D.C. National Guard retreat Nov. 1 and talked to the officers present about lessons he had learned from the sniper drama that might apply to the military.
"He talked about his experience and how it related to leadership," Wherley said. "He talked about building the task force."
Moose didn't tell the Guard officers any more about the sniper investigation than he told the news media, which is to say not much, Wherley said. "He was very cautious about the evidence-gathering," Wherley said.
"We're proud of him for what he has done," Spear said. "This is not a role that he would ordinarily relish."
A recent article by the American Forces Press Service, which is run by the Defense Department, said Moose "has become the new poster person for members of the National Guard and other military reservists who maintain demanding civilian careers."
Moose's dual roles are hardly unique among the security forces squadron, which includes law enforcement officers from several area jurisdictions, including Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties, Wherley said.
"Many police and law enforcement officers still serve their nation in the National Guard while supporting their communities as well," said Maj. Gen. Raymond Rees, acting chief of the National Guard Bureau in Arlington County.
Before coming to Montgomery as chief in 1999, Moose served with the police department in Portland, Oregon, starting as a patrol officer in 1975 and rising to the position of chief in 1993.
While in Portland, beginning in 1987 and continuing through 1998, Moose served with the Oregon Air National Guard. Ironically, one of the suspects arrested in the sniper shootings, John Allen Muhammad, served with the Oregon Army National Guard in 1994 and 1995.
Moose said that as far as he knows, their paths never crossed.