!! History Commons Alert, Exciting News

Context of 'August 31, 2001: Air National Guard Operation against Drug Flights in Gulf of Mexico Ends'

This is a scalable context timeline. It contains events related to the event August 31, 2001: Air National Guard Operation against Drug Flights in Gulf of Mexico Ends. You can narrow or broaden the context of this timeline by adjusting the zoom level. The lower the scale, the more relevant the items on average will be, while the higher the scale, the less relevant the items, on average, will be.

A decade-old Air National Guard (ANG) operation aimed at interdicting drug-smuggling aircraft in the Gulf of Mexico is terminated. Operation Coronet Nighthawk relied on ANG units flying unarmed F-16s based on the island of Curacao, to identify suspected drug-flights visually and relay that information to law enforcement agencies. The operation was generally considered successful in reducing air-based smuggling, but in August the Air Force announces that the interdiction mission will be turned over to aircraft that “can participate in the actual law enforcement activity.” [Code One Magazine, 4/2000; National Guard Magazine, 10/2001; Air Power History, 2008]

Entity Tags: Air National Guard

Timeline Tags: US Military

Apparently around 8:34 a.m., the FAA’s Boston Center attempts to contact an Atlantic City, New Jersey, military unit, to have it send fighters after Flight 11. However, the outcome of this call, and whether it is even answered, is unclear. [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 20] Atlantic City International Airport is the home of the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard, which flies F-16 fighter jets. The 177th FW was part of NORAD’s alert force for many years, and kept two F-16s constantly on alert, ready to scramble when requested. But in October 1998, as a result of Pentagon cutbacks, it lost its scramble-ready status and began converting to a general-purpose F-16 mission (see May 19, 1997). [Bergen Record, 12/5/2003; GlobalSecurity (.org), 8/21/2005] The outcome of Boston Center’s attempt at contacting the Atlantic City unit is unclear. The 9/11 Commission will only state, “The center… tried to contact a former alert site in Atlantic City, unaware it had been phased out.” [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 20] NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) will also try contacting the unit minutes later, but its call will not be answered (see (Between 8:40 a.m. and 8:46 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Spencer, 2008, pp. 34] The Bergen Record will later comment that, with the removal of the Atlantic City fighters from NORAD’s alert mission, “the Pentagon left what seems to be a yawning gap in the midsection of its air defenses on the East Coast—a gap with New York City at the center.” [Bergen Record, 12/5/2003] Around this time, two F-16s from the 177th FW are away from base performing a training mission, and are just minutes from New York City, but the pilots are unaware of the unfolding crisis (see 8:46 a.m.-9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001).

Entity Tags: Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center, 177th Fighter Wing

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Paul Weaver.Paul Weaver. [Source: US Air Force]The Air National Guard’s Crisis Action Team (CAT) is activated and coordinates the Air National Guard’s response to the terrorist attacks. [Air National Guard, 9/18/2001; US Congress. Senate, 4/24/2002; Rosenfeld and Gross, 2007, pp. 39-40] Major General Paul Weaver, director of the Air National Guard (ANG), instructs Brigadier General Paul Kimmel, chief operating officer of the ANG, to run the CAT. [Daytona Beach News-Journal, 9/7/2004 pdf file]
Crisis Team Activated 'Immediately' after the Pentagon Attack - Weaver had been watching the crisis unfold on television in his 12th-floor office at Jefferson Plaza in Crystal City, Virginia, and heard the crash when the Pentagon was hit, at 9:37 a.m. (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). He had seen the smoke from the burning Pentagon, which the wind had blown in the direction of his building, but, he will later recall, had mistakenly thought it was caused by “airplanes that had been blown up at [Washington’s Reagan] National Airport.” [Air National Guard, 10/22/2001 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 4/29/2004] He activates the CAT “immediately” after the Pentagon has been hit, according to an ANG memorandum from late September 2001. Kimmel, meanwhile, was in a staff meeting at the Pentagon when the attacks in New York occurred (see (9:00 a.m.-9:20 a.m.) September 11, 2001). After that meeting ended, he was scheduled to attend another meeting at the Pentagon, at 9:30 a.m., but decided to go to his 12th-floor office at Jefferson Plaza. He arrived there shortly after the Pentagon was hit.
Crisis Team Leader Contacts NORAD Commander - Kimmel and Weaver now confer, and Weaver instructs Kimmel to go to Andrews Air Force Base, just outside Washington, DC, to run the CAT. Kimmel and his executive officer are quickly driven to the base, covering the 17-mile journey in just 12 minutes. The CAT carries out its operations at the ANG Readiness Center at Andrews. When Kimmel and his executive officer arrive there, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, “Nobody knew the extent of the attack or what was going to happen next.” “My job was to get folks ready to do whatever it took,” Kimmel will comment. The first call he makes after arriving is to Major General Larry Arnold, commanding general of NORAD’s Continental US Region. Kimmel will recall that Arnold tells him “to get everything we’ve got in the National Guard ready and loaded.” This, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, means “89 different flying units and 200 other kinds of geographically separated units.” [Air National Guard, 9/18/2001; Daytona Beach News-Journal, 9/7/2004 pdf file]
Crisis Team Arranges for Fighter Jets to Defend the US - The CAT contacts ANG fighter, tanker, and airlift units across the nation, so as to prepare as many aircraft as it can, as quickly as possible, to defend the US. “Our role was to coordinate the necessary Air National Guard resources to assist in making sure all civilian pilots knew to ground their aircraft,” Major General Paul Sullivan, assistant adjutant general for the Ohio ANG who is also the acting deputy director of the ANG, will recall. The CAT also has to “get key members of the government back to Washington, including President Bush, who was flying aboard Air Force One,” Sullivan will say. [Rosenfeld and Gross, 2007, pp. 39; Coshocton Tribune, 9/11/2011]
Crisis Team Continues Operating around the Clock - The CAT will be staffed mostly by personnel from ANG headquarters, but also by some ANG personnel from the Air Education and Training Command who are in the area on temporary duty, along with some individuals who are trapped in the area due to the terrorist attacks. [Air National Guard, 9/18/2001] For example, Sullivan was in Crystal City for a meeting this morning. After learning of the attacks in New York, he had offered to fly back to Columbus, Ohio, immediately, but was ordered to stay in the Washington area and take charge of the CAT as its senior director. The CAT, according to an official history of the ANG, serves as “the central point of contact assisting the mobilization, coordination, and monitoring of ANG resources worldwide for emergency missions concerning natural and man-made disasters, including terrorism.” It will start working around the clock as the 1st Air Force expands the air defense of the nation in response to today’s attacks. [Rosenfeld and Gross, 2007, pp. 39-40; Coshocton Tribune, 9/11/2011]

Entity Tags: Larry Arnold, Air National Guard, Paul Kimmel, Air National Guard Crisis Action Team, Paul Sullivan, Paul Weaver

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Ordering 

Time period


Email Updates

Receive weekly email updates summarizing what contributors have added to the History Commons database

 
Donate

Developing and maintaining this site is very labor intensive. If you find it useful, please give us a hand and donate what you can.
Donate Now

Volunteer

If you would like to help us with this effort, please contact us. We need help with programming (Java, JDO, mysql, and xml), design, networking, and publicity. If you want to contribute information to this site, click the register link at the top of the page, and start contributing.
Contact Us

Creative Commons License Except where otherwise noted, the textual content of each timeline is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike