New 9/11 Timeline Entries: Nuclear War Exercise on 9/11, NORAD Commanders' Delayed Response to Attacks, and More

From the History Commons Groups blog:

Numerous new entries have been added to the Complete 9/11 Timeline at History Commons, many of which deal with the US military's actions around the time of--and in response to--the 9/11 attacks, while other new entries provide important information about the military's responses to suspicious aircraft prior to 9/11.

New timeline entries describe how NORAD--the military organization responsible for defending US airspace--regularly launched fighter jets in response to suspicious aircraft in the years before 9/11, with fighters able to take off within minutes of a scramble order.

Other new entries describe a large Russian military exercise that began the day before 9/11 and was monitored by NORAD fighters that were deployed to Alaska and Northern Canada. The Russians promptly called off their exercise in response to the attacks in the US on September 11. As well as monitoring this Russian exercise, on September 11, personnel at the NORAD operations center in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, were participating in the annual training exercise Vigilant Guardian, which has been described as a "full-blown nuclear war" exercise.

New timeline entries also examine in detail the actions on September 11 of two key NORAD officials: Robert Marr, the battle commander at NORAD's Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), and Larry Arnold, the commander of the Continental United States NORAD Region (CONR). After these two men spoke over the phone about the day's exercise, Arnold joined a teleconference with other NORAD officials. This, however, meant he was unavailable when Marr tried calling him to get authorization to launch fighters in response to the hijacked Flight 11. After leaving the teleconference, Arnold learned of Marr's call but wondered if the report of a hijacking was part of the exercise. Arnold soon called Marr back and told him to go ahead and launch fighters in response to the hijacking.

Arnold then called the NORAD operations center about the hijacking and the request for fighters. However, when operations center personnel saw television reports about the first crash at the World Trade Center, minutes later, they did not realize it involved the hijacked plane they'd just been alerted to. The operations center was in fact in an "information void" during the course of the attacks, according to officers there that day. It was also receiving many reports of hijackings from the FAA that turned out to be incorrect.

Other timeline entries describe how the US military was placed on an increased state of alert on September 11. Following the terrorist attacks, installations around the world were placed on the highest state of alert, known as Force Protection Condition Delta (FPCON Delta). Soon after that, the defense readiness condition was raised to Defcon 3, the highest level since 1973. News of the increased defense readiness condition was soon communicated within NORAD, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld notified President Bush of the raised threat level. The military stayed at Defcon 3 until September 14, when the defense readiness condition was lowered one notch, to Defcon 4.


Isn't it true that Col. Marr

Isn't it true that Col. Marr didn't need Gen. Arnold's permission to scramble Otis? I believe it was a deliberate delaying tactic. Now they've just got to explain why Marr basically stood down (for an hour) The Nat. Guard fighters in Syracuse,sent Capt. Borstrum up as a unneeded 3rd pilot at Langley (which resulted in no mission orders being received & the put the Langley fighters out over the Atlantic),Refused Nasypany's 9:09 request to scramble Langley (Original FFA timeline had NORAD being notified of 11 possible hijacked aircraft at this time-FFA 'revised' [covered up] their time line in 2004), and waited until after the report of phantom FL11 at 9:21 (which gave him an excuse to send Langley fighters ,if they got mission orders, NE away from DC whilr FL77 approached from the SW [redundancy]) and last,but not least,why he refused to relay the 10:00 shoot down orders to the pilots.


General Marr reacted conforming to the law by asking Arnold for permission. I explained it fully and discussed it with Mister Schreyer:
see my comments after, "more discussion":

in short:
Regarding a hijacking (which is not an an in flight emergency), the NMCC has to approve the scrambling after getting approval from the secretary of defense.

Did Marr think hijacking was part of the exercise?

I wondered if the reason Robert Marr contacted Larry Arnold, when he could have ordered that fighters be scrambled himself, without Arnold's permission, was because Marr thought the reported hijacking was part of the Vigilant Guardian exercise. Perhaps NORAD and NEADS personnel (including Marr) were under the impression that the day's exercise would require them to practice the standard procedure for dealing with a hijacking. (Note that Arnold told the 9/11 Commission that his staff "had reviewed the procedures of what it is we do for a hijacking, because we were in the middle of an exercise.") Therefore, if Marr believed the reported hijacking was part of the exercise, he may have thought he was expected to go through the cumbersome process of calling his higher-ups for permission to act, when in fact he could have ordered the scramble himself, immediately.

two points

I would like to highlight one point from the timeline-entries:
Between September 2000 and June 2001, fighters are scrambled 67 times to intercept suspicious aircraft, according to the Associated Press. [Associated Press, 8/14/2002]
There are no reports about scrambling from June 2001 to 911. From June on there was a new law, which regulated the handling of "In-Flight-Emergencies" and hijackings.

Additional, I would like to throw your attention to one blog-entry about Colonel Marr:

Interesting background information of former NEADS-chief Col. Marr
It seems, that Colonel Marr worked for the same private defense contractor (Phonix Air), which sold the fly-school of Atta its jets. If true, it would be an incredible coincident.

Procedure only referred to hijackings

Bio wrote:
There are no reports about scrambling from June 2001 to 911.

Yes, but that does not mean there were no scrambles in that period. The Associated Press statistic of 67 scrambles between September 2000 and June 2001 does not mean that after June 2001 there were no more scrambles.

From June on there was a new law, which regulated the handling of "In-Flight-Emergencies" and hijackings.

I think you are incorrect here. The procedure introduced on June 1, 2001--CJCSI 3610.01A--was solely about how to deal with hijackings, not also with "in-flight-emergencies." (The instruction was actually titled, "Aircraft piracy (hijacking) and destruction of derelict airborne objects.") Note also that the requirements of this instruction were not actually new, as the previous instruction for dealing with hijackings, from July 31, 1997, was almost identical to it.

Tim Duffy, who was scrambled

Tim Duffy, who was scrambled along with Nash out of Otis on 9/11, talks lighlty about his prior hijack experience around 1990 - when he had to shadow and escort a civilian airliner down to JFK.

Anoyonw know the response time for that one?!
(5:55 -6:28)

CJCSI 3610.10

Yes, it would be interesting, why there are no reports about scrambling after the "new" procedure was issued.

Do you have a clue, why this new procedure was issued at all? It was really "almost identical" to the old one?

Ralph Eberhart

...made a lot of interesting comments, according to the MFR of his interview.

An odd comment here:
"Eberhart commented that Delta 1989 and UAL 93 may have been interchanged. He commented that he understands that there is "support" for this theory."

On his badly timed trip to Cheyenne Mtn (which took him 45 minutes although it was only about 12 miles away):
"Eberhart stayed in communication with General Myers. He believes he moved his operations to Cheyenne Mountain at approximately 9:30EMT. He believes that as he was traveling while both Delta 1989 and United Airlines Flight 93 (UAL 93) were ongoing events. He believes he reported to Cheyenne Mountain as UAL 93 was ongoing."

On the VP's [shoot down?] order (apparently Eberhart was on a cell phone with Cheney during the trip):
"Eberhart noted that the VP order occurred slightly prior to his arrival at the mountain." and "Eberhart assumed that the order was passed to the level of the fighter pilot. "

On the false timelines given by NORAD (where he appears to have no knowledge of NORAD's responses during the 9/11 investigation, despite having been the commander in charge of NORAD on 9/11):
"Eberhart stated that in "no way" were the timelines created as a "falsification of the truth", and that they were compiled with best intent. Commission staff represented to Eberhart the timeline facts that have been cornpi led by its research. Eberhart, after being presented with these facts, commented that he does not know who was tasked with compiling the timelines for NORAD, and that whenever NORAD is shown that there is something wrong with the timeline, they adjust it."

"He commented that "no one has ever discussed that with me before", regarding the differences between the NORAD official timeline and the facts uncovered by Commission staff."

"Eberhart denied in the course of this interview that he had ever been exposed to the aforementioned timeline."

"Eberhart also stated that the newest NORAD time line [delivered to Commission staff on February 23,2004] was likely the result of his "standing order" to correct the record of events whenever possible."

It appears that Eberhart was admitting that he told his people to keep changing the story until everyone stopped complaining.

Eberhart's actions are suspicious

I find Ralph Eberhart's actions during the 9/11 attacks very suspicious. Even though Eberhart was in charge of NORAD on 9/11, we know surprisingly little about what he did while the attacks were taking place.

I wrote a blog entry a while back, summarizing the key points about Eberhart's actions on 9/11, called: "The Actions and Inactions of the Commander in Charge of the U.S. Air Defense Failure on 9/11." You can read it here:

Did Marr believe it was an exercise? No.

See the famous phone call from FAA to NEADS:

FAA: "We need someone to scramble some F-16s."
NEADS: "Is this real-world or exercise?"
FAA: "No, this is not an exercise, not a test."

This phone call shall have taken place at 8.38 according to the 9/11 Commission Report. (By the way, in my book "Inside 9/11" I suggest, it might have take place even 8 minutes earlyer.) Immediately afterwards Marr called Arnold. So it must have been all very clear to him that the hijacking was real-world. Why Marr didn´t act immediately, ordering the scrambling of the Otis-jets on his own, is still unclear. Colin Scoggins of Boston Center repeatedly said, that Marr had the authority to do so - and didn´t need General Arnold´s approval.