Military Exercises, Or Wargames, Related To 9/11
Snippet(s) taken from "The Complete 911 Timeline", an online cooperative research project that evaluates mainstream press and other "credible" news and information sources. Its regular updates are mirrored in this blog to give it more overall exposure as well as provide an opportunity to discuss these research results.
Time magazine reports in 1994, "During the Gulf War, uniformed air-defense teams could be seen patrolling the top floor [of the White House] with automatic rifles or shoulder-mounted ground-to-air missiles." [Time, 9/26/1994] While a battery of surface-to-air-missiles remains permanently on the roof of the White House, the rest of these defenses are apparently removed after the war is over. [Daily Telegraph, 9/16/2001] Yet even though counterterrorism officials later call the alerts in the summer of 2001 "the most urgent in decades," similar defensive measures will apparently not be taken. [US Congress, 9/18/2002]
At some point between 1991 and 2001, a regional NORAD sector holds an exercise simulating a foreign hijacked airliner crashing into a prominent building in the United States, the identity of which is classified. According to military officials, the building is not the World Trade Center or the Pentagon. The exercise involves some flying of military aircraft, plus a "command post exercise" where communication procedures are rehearsed in an office environment. [CNN, 4/19/2004]
Entity Tags: North American Aerospace Defense Command
New York City's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) was created in 1996 by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to manage the city's response to catastrophes, including terrorist attacks (see 1996). In the years preceding 9/11, it holds regular interagency training exercises, aiming to carry out a tabletop or field exercise every eight to 12 weeks. Mayor Giuliani is personally involved in many of these. Scenarios drilled include disasters such as poison-gas releases, anthrax attacks, and truck bombs. One exercise, which takes place in May 2001, is based on terrorists attacking New York with bubonic plague (see May 11, 2001). Another, conducted in conjunction with the New York Port Authority, includes a simulated plane crash. Just one week before 9/11, OEM is preparing a tabletop exercise with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), to develop plans for business continuity in New York's Financial District - where the World Trade Center is located - after a terrorist attack. Jerome Hauer, OEM director from 1996 to February 2000, later testifies, "We looked at every conceivable threat that anyone on the staff could think of, be it natural or intentional but not the use of aircraft as missiles." He tells the 9/11 Commission: "We had aircraft crash drills on a regular basis. The general consensus in the city was that a plane hitting a building ... was that it would be a high-rise fire. ... There was never a sense, as I said in my testimony, that aircraft were going to be used as missiles." [Time, 12/31/2001; Jenkins and Edwards-Winslow, 9/2003, pp. 30; 9/11 Commission, 5/19/2004; 9/11 Commission, 5/19/2004 ; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 283] OEM will be preparing for a bioterrorism exercise the morning of 9/11 (see 8:48 a.m.) (see September 12, 2001).
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Secretary of Defense William Cohen issues a comprehensive assessment of America's defense requirements, called the Report of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). This is a six-month analysis of the "threats, risks and opportunities for US national security," and reviews all aspects of the US defense strategy. [US Department of Defense, 5/19/1997] Amongst other things, the 1997 QDR outlines the conversion of six continental air defense squadrons to general purpose, training or other missions. It calls for there being just four "alert" air defense sites around the US: at Otis, Massachusetts; Homestead, Florida; Riverside, California; and Portland, Oregon. [US Department of Defense, 5/1997; Filson, 2004, pp. 348] Major General Larry Arnold, who is commanding general of NORAD's Continental Region on 9/11, later says, "The QDR didn't make any sense at all. [T]here was a fight just to maintain the number of alert sites that we had. We felt we could operate fairly reasonably with about 10 sites and thought eight was the absolute highest risk we could take." NORAD Commander in Chief General Howell M. Estes III has written to the Joint Chiefs of Staff that a minimum of seven alert sites are needed to maintain America's air sovereignty. In the end, three extra alert sites are added to the four suggested in the QDR. These are at Hampton, Virginia.; Panama City, Florida.; and Ellington, Texas. Larry Arnold later says: "I didn't feel particularly comfortable with seven [alert sites] because there are great large distances between the alert sites." [Filson, 2004, pp. 36] Other bases will lose their NORAD air defense functions over the next year, including those in Fresno, California; Fargo, North Dakota; Duluth, Minnesota; Burlington, Vermont; Atlantic City, New Jersey; Great Falls, Montana. [US Department of Defense, 5/1997] Of these closed bases, the most critical loss on 9/11 will be the Atlantic City, New Jersey, base, located about halfway between New York City and Washington. Boston air traffic control, apparently unaware the base has lost its air defense function will try and fail to contact the base shortly after learning about the first hijacking of the morning, Flight 11 (see (8:34 a.m.)).
Counterterrorism "tsar" Richard Clarke chairs a tabletop exercise at the White House, involving a scenario where anti-American militants fill a Learjet with explosives, and then fly it on a suicide mission toward a target in Washington, DC. Officials from the Pentagon, Secret Service, and FAA attend, and are asked how they would stop such a threat. Pentagon officials say they could launch fighters from Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, but would need authorization from the president to shoot the plane down, and currently there is no system to do this. The 9/11 Commission later states: "There was no clear resolution of the problem at the exercise." [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 345, 457-458; Slate, 7/22/2004]
According to USA Today, "In the two years before the Sept. 11 attacks, the North American Aerospace Defense Command conduct[s] exercises simulating what the White House [later] says was unimaginable at the time: hijacked airliners used as weapons to crash into targets and cause mass casualties." One of these imagined targets is the World Trade Center. According to NORAD, these scenarios are regional drills, rather than regularly scheduled continent-wide exercises. They utilize "[n]umerous types of civilian and military aircraft" as mock hijacked aircraft, and test "track detection and identification; scramble and interception; hijack procedures; internal and external agency coordination; and operational security and communications security procedures." The main difference between these drills and the 9/11 attacks is that the planes in the drills are coming from another country, rather than from within the US. Before 9/11, NORAD reportedly conducts four major exercises at headquarters level per year. Most of them are said to include a hijack scenario (see Before September 11, 2001). [USA Today, 4/18/2004; CNN, 4/19/2004]
At some point during the two-year period preceding 9/11, NORAD fighters perform a mock shootdown over the Atlantic Ocean of a jet loaded with chemical poisons heading toward the US. [USA Today, 4/18/2004]
Entity Tags: North American Aerospace Defense Command
A 1998 presidential directive gave the National Security Council authority to designate important upcoming events as National Special Security Events (NSSEs) (see May 22, 1998). The US Secret Service is in charge of planning and implementing security for NSSEs, and the FBI and FEMA also have major security roles. [Scripps Howard News Service, 1/11/2005; CSO Magazine, 9/2004] Louis Freeh, director of the FBI for much of the 1990s until June 2001, will later tell the 9/11 Commission that in the years 2000 and 2001, the subject of "planes as weapons" was always one of the considerations in the planning of security for "a series of these, as we call them, special events," and "resources were actually designated to deal with that particular threat." He confirms that "the use of airplanes, either packed with explosives or otherwise, in suicide missions" was "part of the planning" for NSSEs. [9/11 Commission, 4/13/2004] According to the Secret Service, "there is a tremendous amount of advance planning and coordination" for NSSEs, sometimes taking months or even years. Various training initiatives are conducted, including "simulated attacks and medical emergencies, inter-agency tabletop exercises, and field exercises." [United States Secret Service, n.d.; US Congress, 7/9/2002] Presumably the use of airplanes in suicide missions is incorporated into some of these simulated attacks.
Pentagon and Arlington County emergency responders assemble in the office of the Secretary of Defense's conference room in the Pentagon for a mass casualty exercise ("MASCAL"). The exercise involves three mock-scenarios. One is of a commercial airliner crashing into the Pentagon and killing 342 people, while the other two involve a terrorist attack at the Pentagon's subway stop and a construction accident. The exercises are conducted using a large-scale model of the Pentagon with a model airplane literally on fire in the central courtyard of the building. An Army medic who participates in the mock attack calls it "a real good scenario and one that could happen easily," while a fire chief notes: "You have to plan for this. Look at all the air traffic around here." [MDW News Service, 11/3/2000; Mirror, 5/24/2002; United Press International, 4/22/2004; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 314]
The Joint Chiefs of Staff holds a large, worldwide exercise called Positive Force, which focuses on the Defense Department's ability to conduct large-scale military operations and coordinate these operations. [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 8/14/2000 ] The 2001 Positive Force exercise is a "continuity of operations exercise," meaning it deals with government contingency plans to keep working in the event of an attack on the US. [Guardian, 4/15/2004] Over a dozen government agencies, including NORAD, are invited to participate. The exercise prepares them for various scenarios, including non-combatant evacuation operations, cyber attacks, rail disruption, and power outages. [Provider Update, 10/2001; GlobalSecurity (.org), 6/9/2002] Apparently, one of the scenarios that was considered for this exercise involved "a terrorist group hijack[ing] a commercial airliner and fly[ing] it into the Pentagon." But the proposed scenario, thought up by a group of Special Operations personnel trained to think like terrorists, was rejected. Joint Staff action officers and White House officials said the additional scenario is either "too unrealistic" or too disconnected to the original intent of the exercise. [Air Force Times, 4/13/2004; Boston Herald, 4/14/2004; Guardian, 4/15/2004; Washington Post, 4/14/2004; New York Times, 4/14/2004]
The Tri-Service DiLorenzo Health Care Clinic and the Air Force Flight Medicine Clinic, both housed within the Pentagon, train for a scenario involving a hijacked 757 airliner being crashed into the Pentagon. It is reported that the purpose of the training is "to fine-tune their emergency preparedness." [US Medicine, 10/2001]
New York City's Office of Emergency Management (OEM), which is located in World Trade Center Building 7, organizes a bio-terrorism drill where militant extremists attack the city with bubonic plague and Manhattan is quarantined. The "tabletop exercise" is called RED Ex - meaning "Recognition, Evaluation, and Decision-Making Exercise" - and involves about seventy different entities, agencies, and locales from the New York area. Federal legislation adopted in 1997 requires federal, state, and local authorities to conduct regular exercises as part of the Domestic Preparedness Program (DPP). The US Defense Department chose New York City as the venue for RED Ex due to its size, prominence, and level of emergency preparedness. Various high-level officials take part, including Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, OEM Director Richard Sheirer, Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen, and Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik. Agencies and organizations that participate include New York City Fire Department, New York City Police Department, the FBI, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The exercise is supposedly so intense that, according to one participant, "five minutes into that drill, everybody forgot it was a drill." [New York City Government, 5/11/2001; New York City Government, 9/5/2001, pp. 74 ; New York Sun, 12/20/2003; 9/11 Commission, 5/18/2004] According to OEM Director Richard Sheirer, "Operation RED Ex provided a proving ground and a great readiness training exercise for the many challenges the city routinely faces, such as weather events, heat emergencies, building collapses, fires, and public safety and health issues." [New York City Government, 5/11/2001] In his prepared testimony before the 9/11 Commission, Bernard Kerik later states: "The City, through its OEM, had coordinated plans for many types of emergencies; and those plans were tested frequently." The types of emergencies they prepared for, he states, included "building collapses" and "plane crashes." [9/11 Commission, 5/18/2004 ] Considering Richard Sheirer's comments, RED Ex appears to be one example where the city tests for building collapses. Details about training for airplanes crashing into New York City remain unknown. The second part of this exercise, called Tripod, is scheduled to take place in New York on September 12, 2001, but is cancelled due to the 9/11 attacks.
Entity Tags: New York City Fire Department, US Department of Defense, World Trade Center, Bernard Kerik, Rudolph ("Rudy") Giuliani, National Air College, New York City Police Department, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Pentagon's police force, the Defense Protective Service (DPS), conducts emergency drills throughout summer 2001. Some members of the DPS subsequently assist in directing rescue efforts at the Pentagon on 9/11. [Los Angeles Times, 9/13/2001]
The US military conducts Amalgam Virgo 01, a multi-agency planning exercise sponsored by NORAD involving the hypothetical scenario of a cruise missile being launched by "a rogue [government] or somebody" from a barge off the East Coast. Bin Laden is pictured on the cover of the proposal for the exercise. [American Forces Press Service, 6/4/2002] The exercise takes place at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. [GlobalSecurity (.org), 4/14/2002] The next Amalgam Virgo exercise, scheduled to take place the following year, will involve two simultaneous commercial aircraft hijackings. Planning for the exercises begins before 9/11 (see Before September 11, 2001).
A major training exercise based upon a simulated terrorist attack is held in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, which neighbors Somerset County where Flight 93 crashes on 9/11. The exercise, called Mall Strike 2001, is conducted in Greengate Mall, Hempfield, and involves over 600 emergency first responders and emergency managers responding to the simulated release of a toxic chemical agent and the simulated release of radiation and radiological contamination. [Westmoreland County Annual Financial Report, 2001 ; Connellsville Daily Courier, 9/11/2002] Mall Strike is organized by the Pennsylvania Region 13 Working Group: a 13-county organization that began preparing for terrorist attacks in 1998. When Flight 93 crashes on September 11, the Region 13 Working Group's chair immediately contacts other members of the group and emergency teams are quickly deployed to the crash site. The group's four years of preparing and working together "allowed them to develop and train teams that could work efficiently together during an event of this magnitude." [Smart Practices Spotlight, 3/12/2003 ]
Entity Tags: Mall Strike 2001
A MASCAL (mass casualty) training exercise is held at Fort Belvoir. It is "designed to enhance the first ready response in dealing with the effects of a terrorist incident involving an explosion." [MDW News Service, 7/5/2001]
Entity Tags: Fort Belvoir
A mass casualty exercise, involving a practice evacuation, is held at the Pentagon. General Lance Lord of US Air Force Space Command, one of the participants in the exercises, later recalls: "[It was] purely a coincidence, the scenario for that exercise included a plane hitting the building." Lord will also say that on 9/11, "our assembly points were fresh in our minds" thanks to this practice. [Air Force Space Command News Service, 9/5/2002]
The US Army is preparing to severely restrict public access to its posts in the Washington, DC area. For decades, visitors have been able to enter these bases freely. But now, as a probably permanent change, barriers will be erected across many roads leading into them, funneling traffic to a few roads staffed by guards. Drivers entering without proper registration will be sent to a visitor's center to obtain a guest pass. [Washington Post, 8/15/2001] The new measures will mean commanders know who is entering their installations 24 hours a day, and give them the capability to adjust security measures immediately if required. [MDW News Service, 8/3/2001] The changes will occur at all installations belonging to the Military District of Washington (MDW). [MDW News Service, 7/2001] These include forts Hamilton, Meade, Belvoir, Ritchie, Myer, and McNair. Several of these bases will be reported as having implemented the changes in the following weeks, prior to September 11 (see August 20, 2001)(see September 4, 2001)(see September 5, 2001). Whether the changes take place at the other MDW installations prior to 9/11 is unknown. Part of MDW's stated mission is to "respond to crisis, disaster or security requirements in the National Capital Region through implementation of various contingency plans." [Military District of Washington, 8/2000; GlobalSecurity (.org), 11/28/2001] It will therefore be much involved with the rescue and recovery efforts following the 9/11 Pentagon attack. [Army, 10/2004] The restriction of access to MDW posts stems from guidance from Army leadership and specifically from MDW Commander Maj. Gen. James Jackson. [MDW News Service, 7/2001] It is reportedly part of a nationwide security clampdown due to concerns about terrorism, following such attacks as the Oklahoma City bombing and the attack on the USS Cole. [Washington Post, 8/15/2001]
About 100 members of the 174th Fighter Wing, part of the New York Air National Guard, are deployed to Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia, to patrol the no-fly zone over southern Iraq, as part of the ongoing Operation Southern Watch. This is the unit's second deployment there, its first having been in March 2001. [Post-Standard (Syracuse), 9/11/2001; Post-Standard (Syracuse), 9/12/2001; US Congress, 3/1/2005; 174th Fighter Wing, 12/9/2005] The 174th FW is located at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, five miles north of Syracuse, in Central New York State. It is currently equipped with 17 F-16 fighters. These are kept in a six-bay shelter where they are, reportedly, "ready to fly in any weather, at a moment's notice." [Airman, 1/2001; Post-Standard (Syracuse), 9/25/2001; GlobalSecurity (.org), 4/26/2005] However, Hancock Field is not one of NORAD's two "alert" sites in the northeast US. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] The unit has 350 full-time staff and 650 part-timers, who work one weekend each month plus two full weeks a year. [Post-Standard (Syracuse), 9/25/2001; Post-Standard (Syracuse), 10/24/2001] The 100 members of the unit who go to Saudi Arabia are due to arrive back at Hancock Field at around 3 p.m. on 9/11, but as a consequence of the day's events are diverted to Canada. [Post-Standard (Syracuse), 9/14/2001] They will eventually arrive back at the base on September 14. [Post-Standard (Syracuse), 9/15/2001] In the months after 9/11, 174th FW fighters are involved in flying combat air patrols over New York City. [Post-Standard (Syracuse), 12/8/2001; New York State, 3/26/2003]
Fort Meade, a US Army installation located between Baltimore and Washington, DC, begins strict new entrance restrictions. For decades, visitors such as churchgoers and parents taking their children to schools on the base have been able to enter the post freely. But the Army is now closing seven access points, with only four points remaining open full time and four others part time. The restrictions, part of a security crackdown ordered by Army leaders concerned about terrorism, will require visitors to stop at a visitor's center and obtain a day pass allowing them to enter and travel on the base. [Washington Post, 8/15/2001; Laurel Leader, 8/23/2001; Laurel Leader, 8/23/2001] Fort Meade is home to about 10,000 military personnel and 25,000 civilian employees. Its major tenant units include the National Security Agency (NSA), the US Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), and the US Air Force's 694th Intelligence Group. [Military District of Washington, 8/2000; GlobalSecurity (.org), 4/9/2002] All other installations in the Military District of Washington are currently implementing similar access restrictions (see August 15, 2001). [MDW News Service, 7/2001]
The Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) in Washington, DC suffers a four-day power loss following an electrical transformer fire on August 27. Backup generators ensure patient care is minimally affected, but as a precaution 77 of the hospital's roughly 100 patients are moved to other facilities until it regains full power. Most go to the National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) in Bethesda. According to Capt. Tom Sizemore, the acting commander of the NNMC, precautionary measures are necessary due to the size of the patient transfer. So on August 28 he sets the hospital into a mass casualty condition. Usually such a condition is only set in response to a major incident with many seriously injured people. Sizemore says, "This most unfortunate opportunity has provided NNMC with a very special opportunity. We were able to exercise our response system, with real patients, but (thank God) not with patients involved in some mass disaster." [Stripe, 8/31/2001; Bethesda Journal, 9/6/2001; Stripe, 9/6/2001; Office of Medical History, 9/2004, pp. 146] Walter Reed is about six miles from the Pentagon, and its ambulance teams will respond to the attack there on September 11. Many believe that coping with the power failure helps prepare them for this. One member of staff later says, "A lot of the procedures that we used in the September 11 tragedy, we had just come out of this power loss where we had implemented a lot of what we did. We had good procedures in place that we had already just executed. It was really eerie." [NurseWeek, 9/17/2001; Office of Medical History, 9/2004, pp. 145-146] A similar incident also occurs around this time at DeWitt Army Community Hospital at Fort Belvoir, an army base roughly 10 miles south of the Pentagon. The details of this are unspecified. [Stripe, 9/20/2001] Ambulance teams from DeWitt will also be involved in the emergency response to the Pentagon attack. [Office of Medical History, 9/2004, pp. i]
In late August 2001, two-thirds of the 27th Fighter Squadron are sent overseas. Six of the squadron's fighters and 115 people go to Turkey to enforce the no-fly zone over northern Iraq as part of Operation Northern Watch. Another six fighters and 70 people are sent to Iceland to participate in "Operation Northern Guardian." The fighter groups will not return to Langley until early December. [Flyer, 7/1/2003] (Note that the word "operation" specifies that Operation Northern Guardian and Northern Watch are not exercises, but actual military actions or missions. [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 4/23/1998 ; US Department of Defense, 11/30/2004] ) Operation Northern Guardian is based at Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland, the host command for the NATO base in that country. The US sometimes assists Iceland with extra military forces in reaction to Russian military maneuvers in the region. Approximately 1,800 US military personnel and 100 Defense Department civilians are involved. [Flyer, 6/4/2004; GlobalSecurity (.org), 4/9/2002; Iceland Defense Force, 6/30/2004] The 27th is one of three F-15 fighter squadrons that make up the 1st Fighter Wing, the "host unit" at Langley Air Force Base in Langley, Virginia. The other two are the 71st and 94th Fighter Squadrons. [Langley Air Force Base, 11/2003; GlobalSecurity (.org), 8/2/2004] Langley is one of two "alert" sites that can be called upon by NORAD for missions in the northeast region of the US. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] Langley's 71st Fighter Squadron also participates in Operation Northern Watch and Operation Northern Guardian at some (unstated) time during 2001. [Air Combat Command News Service, 6/13/2002] Whether this deployment of fighters diminishes Langley's ability to respond on 9/11 is unknown. However, Air Force units are cycled through deployments like operations Northern and Southern Watch by the Aerospace Expeditionary Force (AEF) Center, which is at Langley Air Force Base. [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 4/23/1998 ; GlobalSecurity (.org), 4/26/2005] And according to NORAD Commander Larry Arnold, "Prior to Sept. 11, we'd been unsuccessful in getting the AEF Center to be responsible for relieving our air defense units when they went overseas." [Filson, 2004, pp. 99]
Entity Tags: 27th Fighter Squadron, Operation Northern Guardian, Operation Northern Watch, US Department of Defense, 71st Fighter Squadron, 94th Fighter Squadron, Langley Air Force Base, North American Aerospace Defense Command
The US Army sharply restricts public access to Fort Belvoir, one of its installations about 10 miles south of the Pentagon. After being an open post for over 25 years, Belvoir has now erected barriers across many of the roads leading into it, leaving only six guarded gates as points of entry and exit. Twenty access points are being permanently closed. Visitors must now register their vehicles at a visitor's center or get a day pass to enter the base. [MDW News Service, 7/2001; Washington Post, 8/15/2001] The access restrictions will allow commanders to know who is entering the base 24 hours a day and adjust security measures immediately if needed. [MDW News Service, 8/3/2001] All other Military District of Washington (MDW) installations are implementing similar changes, due to Army concerns about terrorism (see August 15, 2001). Fort Belvoir has about 20,000 workers and is home to many different agencies, including the US Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), plus the headquarters of the Defense Logistics Agency and the Defense Technical Information Service. [Military District of Washington, 8/2000; Washington Post, 8/15/2001; GlobalSecurity (.org), 10/21/2001] Occupying over 500 acres at Belvoir is Davison Army Airfield. The 12th Aviation Battalion, which is MDW's aviation-support unit, is stationed at Davison. This operates UH1 "Huey" and UH60 Black Hawk helicopters in support of training and "contingencies" for various MDW units. [Military District of Washington, 8/2000; GlobalSecurity (.org), 1/5/2002] The Washington Post has reported, "Fort Belvoir will be holding exercises the next two Tuesdays to test the changes" in access to the base. [Washington Post, 8/15/2001] This will therefore include September 11 (a Tuesday). Other reports will confirm an antiterrorism exercise being conducted at Belvoir on 9/11 (see 8:30 a.m.).
Fort Myer and Fort Lesley J. McNair, both within two miles of the Pentagon, implement "full access control," which means they increase the level of military police surveillance of those who enter them. Visitors are now required to register and sign in at a visitor center, and obtain a temporary pass. The measures, part of a security crackdown due to concerns about terrorism, will allow commanders to know who is entering their installations 24 hours a day and adjust their security measures immediately as needed. [MDW News Service, 8/3/2001; Washington Post, 8/15/2001] All other Army posts in the Washington, DC area are currently implementing similar access restrictions (see August 15, 2001).
The future of "continental air sovereignty" over America is in doubt. Discussions at the Air Force's highest levels call for the dismantling of NORAD's seven "alert" sites around the US and its command and control structure. [Filson, 2004, pp. 149] Earlier in the summer of 2001, "a reduction in air defenses had been gaining currency in recent months among task forces assigned by [Defense Secretary] Rumsfeld to put together recommendations for a reassessment of the military."(see Summer 2001)
NORAD begins Operation Northern Vigilance. For this military operation, it deploys fighters to Alaska and Northern Canada to monitor a Russian air force exercise in the Russian Arctic and North Pacific Ocean, scheduled for September 10 to September 14. The Russian exercise involves its bombers staging a mock attack against NATO planes that are supposedly planning an assault on Russia. [NORAD, 9/9/2001; Washington Times, 9/11/2001; BBC Worldwide, 2001, pp. 161] The NORAD fighters are due to stay in Alaska and Canada until the end of the Russian exercise. At some time between 10:32 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. on 9/11, Russian President Vladimir Putin will call the White House to say the Russians are voluntarily halting their exercise. [Washington Post, 1/27/2002] It is unknown from which bases NORAD sends fighters for Operation Northern Vigilance, and how many US military personnel are involved. However, in December 2000, it took similar action - called Operation Northern Denial - in response to a "smaller scale" Russian "long-range aviation activity in northern Russia and the Arctic." More than 350 American and Canadian military personnel were involved on that occasion. [Canadian Chief of Defense Staff, 5/30/2001, pp. 6 ; NORAD, 9/9/2001]
According to an FBI official interviewed by journalist Seymour Hersh, for several years prior to 9/11, the US government reportedly plans for "simulated terrorist attacks, including scenarios [involving] multiple-plane hijackings." This presumably refers to more than just the Amalgam Virgo 02 (see Before September 11, 2001) exercise, which is based on the scenario of two planes being simultaneously hijacked. [New Yorker, 9/24/2001] Similarly, NORAD will tell USA Today that before 9/11, it normally conducted four major exercises each year at headquarters level. Most of them include a hijack scenario, the newspaper reports [USA Today, 4/18/2004] , and some of them were apparently quite similar to the 9/11 attacks (see Between 1991 and 2001)
(see 1999-September 11, 2001).
NORAD plans for the Amalgam Virgo 2 exercise. The exercise, scheduled for June 2002, involves two simultaneous commercial aircraft hijackings. One, a Delta 757, with actual Delta pilots and actors posing as passengers, will fly from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Honolulu, Hawaii. It will be "hijacked" by FBI agents posing as terrorists. The other will be a DC-9 hijacked by Canadian police near Vancouver, British Columbia. US and Canadian fighters are to respond and attempt to escort the hijacked planes to airfields in British Columbia and Alaska. But they possibly could "mock" shoot down the aircraft. [USA Today, 4/18/2004; CNN, 6/4/2002; American Forces Press Service, 6/4/2002] USA Today will note that this is an exception to NORAD's claim that the agency focused only on external threats to the US and did not consider the possibility of threats arising from within the US. [USA Today, 4/18/2004] 9/11 Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste will similarly comment that this planned exercise shows that despite frequent comments to the contrary, the military considered simultaneous hijackings before 9/11. [9/11 Commission, 5/23/2003]
Lieutenant Colonel Dawne Deskins and other day shift employees at NORAD's Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) in Rome, NY, start their workday. NORAD is conducting a week-long, large-scale exercise called Vigilant Guardian. [Newhouse News Service, 1/25/2002] Deskins is regional mission crew chief for the Vigilant Guardian exercise. [ABC News, 9/11/2002] Vigilant Guardian is described as "an exercise that would pose an imaginary crisis to North American Air Defense outposts nationwide"; as a "simulated air war"; and as "an air defense exercise simulating an attack on the United States." According to the 9/11 Commission, it "postulated a bomber attack from the former Soviet Union." [Newhouse News Service, 1/25/2002; Filson, 2004, pp. 55 and 122; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 458] Vigilant Guardian is described as being held annually, and is one of NORAD's four major annual exercises. [GlobalSecurity (.org), 4/14/2002; Filson, 2004, pp. 41; Arkin, 2005, pp. 545] However, another report says it takes place semi-annually. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/2002] Accounts by participants vary on whether 9/11 was the second, third, or fourth day of the exercise. [Newhouse News Service, 1/25/2002; Ottawa Citizen, 9/11/2002; Code One Magazine, 1/2002] Vigilant Guardian is a command post exercise (CPX), and in at least some previous years was conducted in conjunction with Stratcom's Global Guardian exercise and a US Space Command exercise called Apollo Guardian. [US Congress, n.d.; GlobalSecurity (.org), 4/14/2002; Arkin, 2005, pp. 545] All of NORAD is participating in Vigilant Guardian on 9/11. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/2002] Vanity Fair reports that the "day's exercise" (presumably Vigilant Guardian) is "designed to run a range of scenarios, including a 'traditional' simulated hijack in which politically motivated perpetrators commandeer an aircraft, land on a Cuba-like island, and seek asylum." [Vanity Fair, 8/1/2006] However, at NEADS, most of the dozen or so staff on the operations floor have no idea what the exercise is going to entail and are ready for anything. [Utica Observer-Dispatch, 8/5/2004] NORAD is currently running a real-world operation named Operation Northern Vigilance (see September 9-11, 2001). It may also be conducting a field training exercise calling Amalgam Warrior this morning (see 9:28 a.m.). NORAD is thus fully staffed and alert, and senior officers are manning stations throughout the US. The entire chain of command is in place and ready when the first hijacking is reported. An article later says, "In retrospect, the exercise would prove to be a serendipitous enabler of a rapid military response to terrorist attacks on September 11." [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/2002; Bergen Record, 12/5/2003] Colonel Robert Marr, in charge of NEADS, says, "We had the fighters with a little more gas on board. A few more weapons on board." [ABC News, 9/11/2002] However, Deskins and other NORAD officials later are initially confused about whether the 9/11 attacks are real or part of the exercise. (see (8:38 a.m.-8:43 a.m.)).
Sergeant Matt Rosenberg, an army medic at the Pentagon, is studying "a new medical emergency disaster plan based on the unlikely scenario of an airplane crashing into the place." [Washington Post, 9/16/2001] The day before, Rosenberg later recalls in an interview with the Office of Medical History, he called the FBI with questions about who would have medical jurisdiction if such an event were to take place. "Believe it or not, the day prior to the incident, I was just on the phone with the FBI, and we were talking 'so who has command should this happen, who has the medical jurisdiction, who does this, who does that,' and we talked about it and talked about it, and he helped me out a lot. And then the next day, during the incident, I actually found him. He was out there on the incident that day." [Office of Medical History, 9/2004, pp. 9]
An "emergency drill" has been scheduled for today, to take place on the 97th floor of the WTC south tower. [New York Times, 3/31/2006; New York Times, 4/1/2006] A team of technology consultants from California is visiting investment firm Fiduciary Trust for this drill. (Fiduciary Trust has offices on the 97th floor.) [USA Today, 9/13/2001; Dwyer and Flynn, 2005, pp. 77; New York Times, 3/30/2006] No further details are reported as to what it entails, or who the technology consultants are. However, California-based software company Oracle Corp. will later report that six of its consultants were working on the 97th floor of the south tower on 9/11 and are subsequently missing. So presumably these were the workers involved with the drill. [InfoWorld, 9/13/2001; Associated Press, 9/14/2001]
The 9/11 attack: Four planes are hijacked, two crash into the WTC, one into the Pentagon, and one crashes into the Pennsylvania countryside. Nearly 3,000 people are killed.
At Fort Belvoir, an army base 10 miles south of the Pentagon, Lt. Col. Mark R. Lindon is conducting a "garrison control exercise" when the 9/11 attacks begin. The object of this exercise is to "test the security at the base in case of a terrorist attack." Lindon later says, "I was out checking on the exercise and heard about the World Trade Center on my car radio. As soon as it was established that this was no accident, we went to a complete security mode." Staff Sgt. Mark Williams of the Military District of Washington Engineer Company at Fort Belvoir also later says: "Ironically, we were conducting classes about rescue techniques when we were told of the planes hitting the World Trade Center." Williams' team is one of the first response groups to arrive at the site of the Pentagon crash and one of the first to enter the building following the attack. [Connection Newspapers, 9/5/2002] A previous MASCAL (mass casualty) training exercise was held at Fort Belvoir a little over two months earlier (see June 29, 2001). It was "designed to enhance the first ready response in dealing with the effects of a terrorist incident involving an explosion." [MDW News Service, 7/5/2001] Located at Fort Belvoir is Davison Army Airfield, from where UH-1 "Huey" and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters fly. Davison's mission includes maintaining "a readiness posture in support of contingency plans," and providing "aviation support for the White House, US government officials, Department of Defense, Department of the Army, and other government agencies." [Pentagram, 5/7/1999; Military District of Washington, 8/2000]
USA Today reports that at this time, "a joint FBI/CIA anti-terrorist task force that specifically prepared for this type of disaster" is on a "training exercise in Monterey, Calif." Consequently, "as of late Tuesday, with airports closed around the country, the task force still [hasn]'t found a way to fly back to Washington." [USA Today, 9/11/2001] The US politics website evote.com adds that the FBI has deployed "all of its anti-terrorist and top special operations agents at a training exercise (complete with all associated helicopters and light aircraft) in Monterey, California." So at the time of the attacks, "the chief federal agency responsible for preventing such crimes [is] being AWOL." [Evote [.com], 9/11/2001]
As the 9/11 attacks are taking place, a large military training exercise called Global Guardian is said to be "in full swing." It has been going on since the previous week. [Omaha World-Herald, 2/27/2002; Omaha World-Herald, 9/10/2002] Global Guardian is an annual exercise sponsored by US Strategic Command (Stratcom) in cooperation with US Space Command and NORAD. One military author defines Stratcom as "the single US military command responsible for the day-to-day readiness of America's nuclear forces." [Arkin, 2005, pp. 59] Global Guardian is a global readiness exercise involving all Stratcom forces and aims to test Stratcom's ability to fight a nuclear war. It is one of many "practice Armageddons" that the US military routinely stages. [Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 11/12/1997; Associated Press, 2/21/2002; Omaha World-Herald, 2/27/2002; Omaha World-Herald, 9/10/2002] It links with a number of other military exercises, including Crown Vigilance (an Air Combat Command exercise), Apollo Guardian (a US Space Command exercise), and NORAD exercises Vigilant Guardian and Amalgam Warrior [US Department of Defense, 5/1997; GlobalSecurity (.org), 10/10/2002] Global Guardian is both a command post and field training exercise, and is based around a fictitious scenario designed to test the ability of Stratcom and its component forces to deter a military attack against the US. Hundreds of military personnel are involved. [Collins Center Update, 12/1999 ; Times-Picayune, 9/8/2002; US Congress, n.d.] According to a 1998 Internet article by the British American Security Information Council - an independent research organization - Global Guardian is held in October or November each year. [Kristensen, 10/1998] In his book Code Names, NBC News military analyst William Arkin dates this exercise for October 22-31, 2001. [Arkin, 2005, pp. 379] And a military newspaper reported in March 2001 that Global Guardian was scheduled for October 2001. [Space Observer, 3/23/2001, pp. 2 ] If this is correct, then some time after March, the exercise must have been rescheduled for early September. Furthermore, there may be another important facet to Global Guardian. A 1998 Defense Department newsletter reported that for several years Stratcom had been incorporating a computer network attack (CNA) into Global Guardian. The attack involved Stratcom "red team" members and other organizations acting as enemy agents, and included attempts to penetrate the Command using the Internet and a "bad" insider who had access to a key command and control system. The attackers "war dialed" the phones to tie them up and sent faxes to numerous fax machines throughout the Command. They also claimed they were able to shut down Stratcom's systems. Reportedly, Stratcom planned to increase the level of computer network attack in future Global Guardian exercises. [IAnewsletter, 6/1998 ] It is not currently known if a computer attack was incorporated into Global Guardian in 2001 or what its possible effects on the country's air defense system would have been if such an attack was part of the exercise.
Entity Tags: North American Aerospace Defense Command, US Space Command, US Department of Defense, Global Guardian, US Strategic Command, Amalgam Warrior, Vigilant Guardian, Crown Vigilance, Apollo Guardian
When Boston flight control first contacts NORAD's Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) to notify it of the hijacking of Flight 11 (see (8:37 a.m.)), personnel there initially mistake it for a simulation as part of an exercise. Lieutenant Colonel Dawne Deskins, mission crew chief for the Vigilant Guardian exercise currently taking place (see (6:30 a.m.)), later says that initially she and everybody else at NEADS thought the call was part of Vigilant Guardian. [Newhouse News Service, 1/25/2002] Although most of the personnel on the NEADS operations floor have no idea what the day's exercise is supposed to entail, most previous major NORAD exercises included a hijack scenario. [Utica Observer-Dispatch, 8/5/2004; USA Today, 4/18/2004] The day's exercise is in fact scheduled to include a simulated hijacking later on. Major Kevin Nasypany, the NEADS mission crew commander, had helped design it. Thinking the reported hijacking is part of this exercise he actually says out loud, "The hijack's not supposed to be for another hour." In the ID section, at the back right corner of the NEADS operations floor, technicians Stacia Rountree, Shelley Watson, and Maureen Dooley, react to the news. Rountree asks, "Is that real-world?" Dooley confirms, "Real-world hijack." Watson says, "Cool!" [Vanity Fair, 8/1/2006] NORAD commander Major General Larry Arnold, who is at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, also says that when he first hears of the hijacking, in the minutes after NEADS is alerted to it, "The first thing that went through my mind was, is this part of the exercise? Is this some kind of a screw-up?" [ABC News, 9/11/2002; 9/11 Commission, 5/23/2003] At 8:43 a.m., Major James Fox, the leader of the NEADS Weapons Team, comments, "I've never seen so much real-world stuff happen during an exercise." [Vanity Fair, 8/1/2006]
Entity Tags: James Fox, Dawne Deskins, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Vigilant Guardian, Kevin Nasypany, Stacia Rountree, Larry Arnold, Northeast Air Defense Sector, Maureen Dooley, Shelley Watson
At the time of the first WTC crash, three F-16s assigned to Andrews Air Force Base, ten miles from Washington, are flying an air-to-ground training mission to drop some bombs and hit a refueling tanker, on a range in North Carolina, 207 miles away from their base. However, it is only when they are halfway back to Andrews that lead pilot Major Billy Hutchison is able to talk to the acting supervisor of flying at Andrews, Lt. Col. Phil Thompson, who tells him to return to the base "buster" (as fast as his aircraft will fly). After landing back at Andrews, Hutchison is told to take off immediately, and does so at 10:33 a.m. The other two pilots, Marc Sasseville and Heather Penney, take off from Andrews at 10:42 a.m., after having their planes loaded with 20mm training rounds. These three pilots will therefore not be patrolling the skies above Washington until after about 10:45 a.m. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9/9/2002; Filson, 2004, pp. 56] F-16s can travel at a maximum speed of 1,500 mph. [Associated Press, 6/16/2000] Traveling even at 1,100 mph (the speed NORAD Major General Larry Arnold says two fighters from Massachusetts travel toward Flight 175 [MSNBC, 9/23/2001; Slate, 1/16/2002] ), at least one of these F-16s could have returned from North Carolina to Washington within ten minutes and started patrolling the skies well before 9:00 a.m.
Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana is an important node in the US Strategic Command (Stratcom) exercise Global Guardian (see 8:30 a.m.) on 9/11. Colonel Mike Reese, director of staff for the 8th Air Force, is monitoring several television screens at the base as part of the exercise when he sees CNN cut into coverage of the first World Trade Center crash, two minutes after it happens. He watches live when the second plane hits the World Trade Center at 9:03 a.m. Reese says that at this point, "we knew it wasn't a mistake. Something grave was happening that put the nation's security at risk." An article in the New Orleans Times-Picayune later recounts how awareness of the real attacks impacts those participating in the exercise: "Immediately [the Barksdale staff's] focus turned to defense, securing Barksdale, Minot [North Dakota], and Whiteman [Missouri] air force bases, where dozens of aircraft and hundreds of personnel were involved in the readiness exercise 'Global Guardian.' The exercise abruptly ended as the United States appeared to be at war within its own borders. Four A-10s, an aircraft not designed for air-to-air combat, from Barksdale's 47th Fighter Squadron, were placed on 'cockpit alert,' the highest state of readiness for fighter pilots. Within five minutes, the A-10s, equipped only with high intensity cannons, could have been launched to destroy unfriendly aircraft, even if it was a civilian passenger airliner." Lt. Col. Edmund Walker, commander of the 47th Fighter Squadron, a novice pilot still in training, is sitting in his fighter along with other pilots in other fighters, ready to take off, when they are ordered back to the squadron office. They are told they are no longer practicing. Walker recalls, "We had to defend the base against any aircraft, airliner or civilian. We had no idea. Would it fly to the base and crash into the B-52s or A-10s on the flight line?" [Times-Picayune, 9/8/2002] When President Bush's Air Force One takes off from Sarasota, Florida, at approximately 9:55 a.m., it has no destination, and circles over Florida aimlessly. But around 10:35 (see (10:35 a.m.)), it begins heading towards Barksdale Air Force Base. [CBS News, 9/11/2002; Washington Post, 1/27/2002] It finally arrives at Barksdale around 11:45 a.m. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/2001; CBS News, 9/11/2002] It's never been explained exactly why Bush traveled from Florida to Barksdale. The Daily Telegraph has reported, "The official reason for landing at Barksdale was that President Bush felt it necessary to make a further statement, but it isn't unreasonable to assume that - as there was no agreement as to what the President's movements should be - it was felt he might as well be on the ground as in the air." [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/2001]
New York City's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is responsible for coordinating the city's response to major incidents, including terrorist attacks. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 283-284] Its offices are in Building 7 of the World Trade Center. Today is reportedly "going to be a busy day at the OEM," as staff members have come to work early to prepare for Tripod, a major biological-terrorism training exercise scheduled for September 12 (see September 12, 2001). Their building shakes when the north tower is hit at 8:46 a.m. OEM Commissioner John Odermatt initially believes a freak accident has occurred involving a ground-to-air missile, but soon after, OEM is informed that a plane hit the WTC. Immediately, OEM staff members begin to activate their emergency Command Center, located on the 23rd floor of WTC 7 (see June 8, 1999). [Jenkins and Edwards-Winslow, 9/2003, pp. 15] They call agencies such as the New York fire and police departments, and the Department of Health, and direct them to send their designated representatives to the OEM. They also call the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and request at least five federal Urban Search and Rescue Teams. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 293] OEM's Command Center will be evacuated at 9:30 a.m. due to reports of further unaccounted for planes (see 9:30 a.m.). By this time, none of the outside agency liaisons will have arrived. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 305]
For the past two days, NORAD has had fighters deployed to Alaska and Northern Canada. They are there for a real-world maneuver called Operation Northern Vigilance, tasked with monitoring a Russian air force exercise being conducted in the Russian Arctic all this week (see September 9-11, 2001). [NORAD, 9/9/2001] At its operations center deep inside Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, NORAD is also reportedly at "full 'battle staff' levels for a major annual exercise that tests every facet of the organization." Canadian Captain Mike Jellinek is one hour into his shift, overseeing the operations center, when he is contacted by NORAD's Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), based in Rome, NY: The FAA believes there is a hijacking in progress and is asking NORAD for support. As the Toronto Star reports, "In a flash, Operation Northern Vigilance is called off. Any simulated information, what's known as an 'inject,' is purged from the screens." [Toronto Star, 12/9/2001] NORAD has the capacity to inject simulated material, including mass attacks, during exercises, "as though it was being sensed for the first time by a radar site." [US Department of Defense, 1/14/1999] However, Northern Vigilance is a military operation, not a training exercise. [NORAD, 9/9/2001; US Congress, 3/11/2005] So presumably the "simulated information" is part of a NORAD exercise currently taking place, such as Vigilant Guardian (see (6:30 a.m.)). Therefore, many minutes into the real 9/11 attacks, there may have been false radar blips causing confusion among NORAD personnel. Additional details, such as whose radar screens have false blips and over what duration, are unknown. The Russians, after seeing the attacks on New York and Washington on television, will quickly communicate that they are canceling their Russian Arctic exercise. [Toronto Star, 12/9/2001; National Post, 10/19/2002]
Staff at Fort Monmouth, an Army base in New Jersey located about 50 miles south of New York City, is preparing to hold a "disaster drill" to test emergency response capabilities to a fake chemical attack. The exercise, called Timely Alert II, is to involve various law enforcement agencies and emergency personnel, including Fort Monmouth firefighters and members of the New Jersey State Police. Personnel are to be deployed and measures taken as in a real emergency. A notice has been sent out, warning that anyone not conducting official business will be turned away from Fort Monmouth during the exercise. Soon after 9 a.m., the exercise director tells a group of participating volunteers that a hijacked plane has crashed into the World Trade Center. The participants pretend to be upset, believing this is just part of the simulation. When they see the live televised footage of the WTC attacks, some people at the base think it is an elaborate training video to accompany the exercise. One worker tells a fire department training officer: "You really outdid yourself this time." Interestingly, the follow-up exercise held in July 2002 (Timely Alert III) does incorporate simulated television news reports to give participants the impression that the emergency is real. And in the first Timely Alert exercise, held on the base in January 2001, a call had come through of a supposed "real" bomb situation, but this "fortunately turned out to be a report related to a training aid being used during the exercise." On 9/11, Fort Monmouth is geared to go into high-alert status as part of Timely Alert II. The exercise is called off once the base is alerted to the real attacks. [Monmouth Message, 2/9/2001; Hub, 9/21/2001; Monmouth Message, 9/21/2001; Asbury Park Press, 7/24/2002; Monmouth Message, 8/23/2002; US Department of the Army, 7/26/2003; Monmouth Message, 9/12/2003] Fort Monmouth is home to various Army, Defense Department, and other government agencies. The largest of these is the US Army's Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM). CECOM serves to "develop, acquire, field, and sustain superior information technologies and integrated systems for America's warfighters." It is tasked with the "critical role of command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR)." [Communications-Electronics Command, 4/17/2002; GlobalSecurity (.org), 8/2/2004; Army, 1/2003 ] Fort Monmouth services also directly assist in the emergency response later in the day. Its fire department deploys to Atlantic Highlands to assist passengers coming from Manhattan by ferry, and members of its Patterson Army Health Clinic are also sent out to help. Teams of CECOM experts from the base are later deployed to ground zero in New York with equipment capable of locating cellular phone transmissions within the ruins of the collapsed World Trade Center. Its explosive ordnance company is also deployed to assist authorities should they come across anything they think might be explosives, while digging through the debris in search of victims. [Hub, 9/21/2001; Monmouth Message, 9/21/2001]
Offutt Air Force Base, near Omaha, Nebraska, appears to be the headquarters of the US Strategic Command (Stratcom) exercise Global Guardian that is "in full swing" when the 9/11 attacks begin. At least the director of the exercise, Admiral Richard Mies, commander in chief of Stratcom, is at Offutt this morning. [Omaha World-Herald, 9/10/2002] Because of Global Guardian, bombers, missile crews, and submarines around America are all being directed from Stratcom's Command Center, a steel and concrete reinforced bunker below Offutt. [Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 11/12/1997; Associated Press, 2/21/2002; Omaha World-Herald, 2/27/2002; BBC, 9/1/2002; Omaha World-Herald, 9/10/2002] This bunker is staffed with top personnel and they are at a heightened security mode because of the exercise. [Associated Press, 2/21/2002; Air Force Weather Observer, 7/2002] Because of Global Guardian, three special military command aircraft with sophisticated communications equipment, based at Offutt, are up in the air the morning of 9/11. These E-4B National Airborne Operations Center planes - nicknamed "Doomsday" planes during the Cold War - are intended to control nuclear forces from the air in times of crisis. They are capable of acting as alternative command posts for top government officials from where they can direct US forces, execute war orders and coordinate the actions of civil authorities in times of national emergency. The Federal Advisory Committee (whose chairman is retired Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft) is aboard one of these Doomsday planes, being brought to Offutt to observe the exercise. Media accounts indicate Global Guardian is cancelled at Offutt shortly after the second WTC tower is hit (at 9:03 a.m.), with staff switching to "real-world mode." [US Department of Defense, 1/9/2002; Air Force Weather Observer, 7/2002; Omaha World-Herald, 9/8/2002] However, even after Global Guardian is called off, the three E-4Bs remain airborne. [Omaha World-Herald, 2/27/2002; BBC, 9/1/2002] Also, the morning of 9/11, a small group of business leaders are at Offutt Air Force Base for a charity fundraiser event due to take place there later in the day, hosted by the multi-billionaire Warren Buffett. When the attacks begin, these visitors are having breakfast with Admiral Mies, the director of Global Guardian. After the second WTC tower is hit, Mies excuses himself from the group, presumably to assist in canceling the exercise. [San Francisco Business Times, 2/1/2002; Omaha World-Herald, 2/27/2002; Omaha World-Herald, 9/10/2002]
A team in the 102nd Fighter Wing at Otis Air National Guard Base, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, finishes loading dummy missiles onto two fighters that are going to fly a training mission over the Atlantic. They take off sometime before the second WTC tower is hit. Shortly after that hit, the fighters on the training mission are recalled. The implication is that the fighters are then refitted with actual weapons instead of dummy ones. [Cape Cod Times, 9/8/2002] Otis is the base from which the two F-15s launch in response to the first hijacking (Flight 11) at roughly the same time. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] One of the pilots of these F-15s - nicknamed "Nasty"
- is reportedly standing in for the usual "alert" pilot, who is "scheduled for training" on 9/11. [Cape Cod Times, 8/21/2002]
An "emergency response exercise" is scheduled to take place at 9 a.m. the morning of 9/11, involving the simulated crash of a small corporate jet plane into a government building. The exercise is to be conducted by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in Chantilly, Virginia - just four miles from Washington Dulles International Airport, from where Flight 77 took off, and 24 miles from the Pentagon. The NRO draws its personnel from the CIA and the military, and operates many of the nation's spy satellites. John Fulton, chief of the NRO's strategic war gaming office, and his team at the CIA, are in charge of the exercise. It is to involve the jet experiencing mechanical problems then crashing into one of the four towers at the NRO. In order to simulate the damage from the crash, some stairwells and exits are to be closed off, forcing NRO employees to find other ways to evacuate the building. However, according to an agency spokesman, "as soon as the real world events began, we cancelled the exercise." After the attacks, most of the agency's 3,000 staff are supposedly sent home. [National Law Enforcement and Security Institute, 8/4/2002; National Law Enforcement and Security Institute, 8/6/2002 ; Associated Press, 8/21/2002; United Press International, 8/22/2002]
NORAD Commander Larry Arnold later says that after Flight 175 hits the South Tower, "I thought it might be prudent to pull out of the exercise [presumably Vigilant Guardian (see (6:30 a.m.))], which we did." He says: "As we pulled out of the exercise we were getting calls about United Flight 93 and we were worried about that." Some early accounts say the military receives notification of the possible hijacking of Flight 93 at around 9:16 a.m. [CNN, 9/17/2001; 9/11 Commission, 5/23/2003] However, the 9/11 Commission later claims that the military first receives a call about Flight 93 at 10:07 a.m. [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] Larry Arnold adds, "Then we had another call from Boston Center about a possible hijacking, but that turned out to be the airplane that had already hit the South Tower but we didn't know that at the time." [Filson, 2004, pp. 59]
NORAD's Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) in Rome, NY, has just received a phone call informing it of the hijacking of Flight 175 (see (9:03 a.m.)), and several personnel have witnessed the plane crashing into the second WTC tower live on CNN. There is considerable confusion on the operations floor over whether the plane seen on TV is the hijacking they have just been informed of. Tape recordings capture NEADS personnel in the background trying to make sense of things: "Is this explosion part of that that we're lookin' at now on TV?" ... "And there's a possible second hijack also - a United Airlines" ... "Two planes?" Someone comments, "I think this is a damn input, to be honest." "Input" refers to a simulations input, as part of a training exercise. [Vanity Fair, 8/1/2006] NORAD has the capacity to inject simulated material, including mass attacks, during exercises, "as though it was being sensed for the first time by a radar site." [US Department of Defense, 1/14/1999] At least one military exercise this morning is reported to include simulated information injected onto radar screens (see (9:00 a.m.)). At the current time, despite the earlier crash of Flight 11, NORAD has yet to cancel a major exercise it is in the middle of (see After 9:03 a.m.). [Filson, 2004, pp. 59]
According to the 9/11 Commission, "During the course of the morning, there were multiple erroneous reports of hijacked aircraft in the system." [9/11 Commission, 6/17/2004] Around 9:09 a.m., the FAA Command Center reports that 11 aircraft are either not communicating with FAA facilities or flying unexpected routes. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/2002] NORAD's Major General Larry Arnold claims that during the "four-hour ordeal" of the attacks, a total of 21 planes are identified as possible hijackings. [Filson, 2004, pp. 71; Code One Magazine, 1/2002] Robert Marr, head of NEADS on 9/11, says, "At one time I was told that across the nation there were some 29 different reports of hijackings." [Newhouse News Service, 3/31/2005] It is later claimed that these false reports cause considerable chaos. Larry Arnold says that particularly during the time between the Pentagon being hit at 9:37 and Flight 93 going down at around 10:06, "a number of aircraft are being called possibly hijacked vØ¬ø¬O There was a lot of confusion, as you can imagine." [Filson, 2004, pp. 55,122; Filson, 2004, pp. 55,122] He says, "We were receiving many reports of hijacked aircraft. When we received those calls, we might not know from where the aircraft had departed. We also didn't know the location of the airplane." [Code One Magazine, 1/2002] According to Robert Marr, "There were a number of false reports out there. What was valid? What was a guess? We just didn't know." [Filson, 2004, pp. 73]
According to former counterterrorism "tsar" Richard Clarke, around this time the acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers speaks to him via video link (see 9:28 a.m.). During their conversation, Myers mentions, "We are in the middle of Vigilant Warrior, a NORAD exercise." [Clarke, 2004, pp. 5] However, no other references have been found to this exercise, "Vigilant Warrior." Considering that exercise terms are "normally an unclassified nickname," [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 4/23/1998 ] this is perhaps a little odd. Could Richard Clarke have mistakenly been referring to the Vigilant Guardian exercise (see (6:30 a.m.)), which is taking place on 9/11? According to a later news report though, NORAD confirms that "it was running two mock drills on Sept. 11 at various radar sites and Command Centers in the United States and Canada," one of these being Vigilant Guardian. [New Jersey Star-Ledger, 12/5/2003] If this is correct then there must be another NORAD exercise on 9/11. If not "Vigilant Warrior," a possibility is that the exercise referred to by Richard Clarke is in fact "Amalgam Warrior," which is a NORAD-sponsored, large-scale, live-fly air defense and air intercept field training exercise. Amalgam Warrior usually involves two or more NORAD regions and is held twice yearly, in the spring for the West Coast and in the autumn for the East Coast. [Airman, 1996; US Congress, n.d.; Arkin, 2005, pp. 254; GlobalSecurity (.org), 4/27/2005] Is it possible that in 2001 the East Coast Amalgam Warrior is being held earlier than usual (like Global Guardian (see 8:30 a.m.)) and is taking place on 9/11? In support of this possibility is a 1997 Defense Department report that describes the Stratcom exercise Global Guardian, saying it "links with other exercise activities sponsored by the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Unified Commands." The exercises it links with are Crown Vigilance (an Air Combat Command exercise), Apollo Guardian (a US Space Command exercise), and - significantly - the NORAD exercises Vigilant Guardian and Amalgam Warrior. [US Department of Defense, 5/1997; GlobalSecurity (.org), 10/10/2002] Since in 2001, Vigilant Guardian (see (6:30 a.m.)) is occurring the same time as Global Guardian, might Amalgam Warrior be as well? In his book Code Names, William Arkin says that Amalgam Warrior is "sometimes combined with Global Guardian." [Arkin, 2005, pp. 254] Amalgam Warrior tests such activities as tracking, surveillance, air interception, employing rules of engagement, attack assessment, electronic warfare, and counter-cruise-missile operations. A previous Amalgam Warrior in 1996 involved such situations as tracking unknown aircraft that had incorrectly filed their flight plans or wandered off course, in-flight emergencies, terrorist aircraft attacks, and large-scale bomber strike missions. Amalgam Warrior 98-1 was NORAD's largest ever exercise and involved six B-1B bombers being deployed to Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, to act as an enemy threat by infiltrating the aerial borders of North America. [Airman, 1996; Arkin, 2005, pp. 254; GlobalSecurity (.org), 4/27/2005] Another Amalgam Warrior in fall 2000 similarly involved four B-1 bombers acting as enemy forces trying to invade Alaska, with NORAD going from tracking the unknown aircraft to sending up "alert" F-15s in response. [Eielson News Service, 10/27/2000; Associated Press, 10/29/2000] If either one (or both) of these exercises ending with the name "Warrior" is taking place on 9/11, this could be very significant, because the word "Warrior" indicates that the exercise is a Joint Chiefs of Staff-approved, Commander in Chief, NORAD-sponsored field training exercise. [North American Aerospace Defense Command, 8/25/1989] Real planes would be pretending to be threats to the US and real fighters would be deployed to defend against them.
Entity Tags: US Department of Defense, Vigilant Warrior, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Ellington Air National Guard Base, Amalgam Warrior, Richard A. Clarke, Richard B. Myers, Vigilant Guardian
At the Education Center at Fort Myer, an army base 1.5 miles northwest of the Pentagon, the base's firefighters are undertaking training variously described as "an airport rescue firefighters class"; "an aircraft crash refresher class"; "a week-long class on Air Field Fire Fighting"; and a "training exercise in airport emergency operations." Despite hearing of the first WTC crash during a break, with no access to a TV, the class simply continues with its training. According to Bruce Surette, who is attending the session: "We had heard some radio transmissions from some other units in Arlington about how they thought they had a plane down here or a plane down there. So you're thinking, 'Hey this could be real.' But it really didn't strike home as being real until our guy came on the radio and said where the plane crash was." The Fort Myer firefighters then immediately head for the Pentagon, arriving there at 9:40 a.m., only three minutes after it is hit, and participate in the firefighting and rescue effort there. The fire station at the Pentagon heliport is actually operated by the Fort Myer Fire Department, and is manned on the morning of 9/11 by three Fort Myer firefighters who have already undertaken the airfield firefighting training. [MDW News Service, 10/4/2001; Pentagram, 11/2/2001; JEMS, 4/2002 ; US Department of Health and Human Services, 7/2002; First Due News, 4/17/2003] The Fort Myer military community, which includes Fort Myer and Fort Lesley J. McNair - another army base, just two miles east of the Pentagon - was scheduled to hold a "force protection exercise" the week after 9/11. However this has been cancelled, so just prior to the attacks the morning of September 11, "some of its participants [are] breathing a sigh of relief." [Pentagram, 9/14/2001]
As part of a NORAD training exercise, a simulated hijacking was scheduled to occur around this time. It was to have been based around politically motivated perpetrators taking command of an aircraft, landing it on a Cuba-like island, and seeking asylum there. The hijacking was one of several simulated scenarios prepared for the day. Details of the other scenarios are unknown. Major Kevin Nasypany, the NEADS mission crew commander who'd helped designed the exercise, initially thought the reports of Flight 11 being hijacked were because "Somebody started the exercise early." [Vanity Fair, 8/1/2006] The exercise was canceled after the second plane hit the World Trade Center (see After 9:03 a.m.).
While President Bush is still in Sarasota, an AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System plane) is flying a training mission off the coast of Florida. Referring to the AWACS plane, NORAD Commander Larry Arnold later says: "I had set up an arrangement with their wing commander at Tinker [Air Force Base, Oklahoma] some months earlier for us to divert their AWACS off a normal training mission to go into an exercise scenario simulating an attack on the United States. The AWACS crew initially thought we were going into one of those simulations." Another AWACS is also flying a training mission, near Washington, DC, the morning of 9/11. [Code One Magazine, 1/2002] When its pilot, Anthony Kuczynski, hears of the first WTC crash, he mistakenly believes he is involved in a planned military simulation. He says, "We sometimes do scenarios where we're protecting the United States from bombers coming in from unknown areas." [St. Thomas Aquin, 4/12/2002]
Two F-16s from the 147th Fighter Wing, Ellington Air National Guard Base, Texas, are said to be already airborne on a local training mission when they are instructed to escort Air Force One after it departs Sarasota, Florida, with President Bush on board. [American Defender, 12/2001; Code One Magazine, 1/2002]
Having left Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana at around 1:30 p.m. (see (1:30 p.m.)), Air Force One lands at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska. President Bush stays on the plane for about ten minutes before entering the United States Strategic Command bunker at 3:06 p.m. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/2001; Salon, 9/12/2001] Offutt Air Force Base appears to be the headquarters of the US Strategic Command (Stratcom) exercise Global Guardian that was "in full swing" at the time the attacks began (see 8:30 a.m.). While there, the president spends time in the underground Command Center from where Global Guardian was earlier being directed, being brought up to date on the attacks and their aftermath. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/2001; Omaha World-Herald, 2/27/2002; Washington Times, 10/8/2002]
Before 9/11, New York City was scheduled to have a major terrorism training exercise on this day, in a large commercial warehouse on the Hudson River. Called Tripod, it was intended to test how well the city's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) could administer treatment in the event of a biological-terrorism attack. More than 1,000 Police Academy cadets and Fire Department trainees were recruited to act the parts of terrified civilians afflicted with a range of medical conditions. Various individuals were invited to watch, including Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the police and fire commissioners, and representatives of the FBI and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Presumably many have already arrived for the exercise when the 9/11 attacks occur. Because Pier 92, where Tripod was due to take place, has been set up ready for the exercise, OEM staff are able to move there and quickly convert it into a large emergency operations center when their original command center (in WTC Building 7) is evacuated and later destroyed during 9/11. Thus, within 31 hours of the attacks, OEM has a functional facility able to manage the search and rescue effort, just four miles north-northwest of the WTC site. [New York Magazine, 10/15/2001; Jenkins and Edwards-Winslow, 9/2003, pp. 20; 9/11 Commission, 5/19/2004] Tripod is the follow-up to a previous training exercise in New York, called RED Ex (see May 11, 2001). [New York Sun, 12/20/2003] Due to the 9/11 attacks, Tripod is called off, but will eventually take place on May 22, 2002. [City of New York, 5/22/2002]
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