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Context of '10:00 a.m. September 11, 2001: NEADS Commander Complains about Senior Officer Interfering on Operations Floor'

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The battle cab at NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) is staffed this morning due to the sector’s participation in the training exercise, Vigilant Guardian. [9/11 Commission, 10/28/2003 pdf file; 9/11 Commission, 10/30/2003 pdf file; Jones, 2011, pp. 24] The battle cab is a glass-walled command area that overlooks the NEADS operations floor. [Filson, 2003, pp. 55; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 460] The “battle staff”—presumably the personnel working in it—is only formed when a training exercise or an “air defense event” is underway, according to Lieutenant Colonel Dawne Deskins, who is on duty in the battle cab. [9/11 Commission, 10/30/2003 pdf file] Because NEADS is currently participating in an exercise, therefore, the battle cab is manned this morning. [9/11 Commission, 10/30/2003 pdf file] “If the exercise had not been planned, there would not have been any staffing in the battle cab,” Lieutenant Colonel Ian Sanderson, who is also in the battle cab this morning, will later say. He will add that if a battle cab has not already been formed and is required, it would be necessary to call the NEADS director of operations in order to arrange for one to be set up. Forming a battle cab would only take a few minutes once it is understood that a serious incident is taking place, according to Sanderson. Sanderson will comment that if the battle staff had not already been in place when the terrorist attacks began this morning, the NEADS operations floor would still have functioned the same way. But the advantage of already having the battle staff in place is that “key figures of authority [are] there and ready to respond” when NEADS learns of the crisis. [9/11 Commission, 10/29/2003 pdf file] Vigilant Guardian is a major annual air defense exercise simulating an attack on the United States (see (6:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). Across NORAD, “from Alaska to Canada and throughout the continental United States,” author Leslie Filson will describe, “battle staffs [are] poised to fight the simulated air war” this morning, due to their participation in it. [Filson, 2003, pp. 55, 122; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 458; Arkin, 2005, pp. 545]

Entity Tags: Ian Sanderson, Northeast Air Defense Sector, Dawne Deskins, Vigilant Guardian

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

On the operations floor at NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), Major Kevin Nasypany, the facility’s mission crew commander, instructs Major James Fox, the leader of the weapons team, to launch fighter jets from Otis Air National Guard Base in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. [Vanity Fair, 8/1/2006] Nasypany has just received this order—to launch the jets—from Colonel Robert Marr, the NEADS battle commander. [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 15 and 88] Marr issued it after seeking permission to do so from Major General Larry Arnold, the commanding general of NORAD’s Continental Region (CONR) (see (8:42 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 20] Marr will later claim, “My intent was to scramble Otis to military airspace while we found out what was going on.” [Filson, 2003, pp. 56] Nasypany gives Fox a coordinate for just north of New York City, and tells him, “Head ‘em in that direction.” [Vanity Fair, 8/1/2006] The jets will be scrambled from Otis a minute later (see 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001), but there will be conflicting accounts of what their initial destination is (see (8:53 a.m.-9:05 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 20] Interestingly, the 9/11 Commission will later state that, “Because of a technical issue, there are no NEADS recordings available of the NEADS senior weapons director and weapons director technician position responsible for controlling the Otis scramble.” [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 459]

Entity Tags: Kevin Nasypany, Northeast Air Defense Sector, Larry Arnold, Robert Marr, James Fox

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

Ian Sanderson.Ian Sanderson. [Source: Rome Sentinel]Major Kevin Nasypany, the mission crew commander at NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), complains about Lieutenant Colonel Ian Sanderson—an officer from the NEADS battle cab—spending time on the operations floor, where, Nasypany says, he has been “circumventing my system.” [North American Aerospace Defense Command, 9/11/2001] Sanderson is the NEADS Sector Operations Control Center (SOCC) director. He is also beginning his training as a fighter director on this day. [9/11 Commission, 10/29/2003 pdf file] He is one of a number of senior personnel working in the battle cab, which is a glass-walled room overlooking the NEADS operations floor. [Filson, 2003, pp. 55; 9/11 Commission, 10/30/2003 pdf file] However, he has also been spending time on the operations floor.
Director Is 'Circumventing My System' - Nasypany therefore now complains, “Got to get Ian [Sanderson] off the floor.” He adds that Sanderson has been “on it, circumventing my system here.” [North American Aerospace Defense Command, 9/11/2001] (As the mission crew commander (MCC), Nasypany is supposed to be in charge of the entire operations floor. [Spencer, 2008, pp. 25] ) He continues with his complaint, saying that Sanderson is “not an MCC” and so he “needs to stay up there” in the battle cab. [North American Aerospace Defense Command, 9/11/2001]
Director Says He 'Did Not Interfere' - Despite Nasypany’s grievance that he has been “circumventing my system,” Sanderson will tell the 9/11 Commission that his “first inclination” after the first World Trade Center tower was hit had been to “step back and let everyone do their jobs.” He will say that in “wartime”—presumably referring to situations like the present crisis—“there really is no function for the SOCC director.” His role on this day is therefore, partly, “to stay out of everyone’s way.” Sanderson will also say he is “parental” to the NEADS personnel, and, in contrast with Nasypany’s complaint about him, will say he “did not interfere.”
Director Responsible for Recalling Off-Duty Personnel - The SOCC director, according to Sanderson, serves as “an internal look at the operations on the SOCC [operations] floor,” and “involves manning and procedures of floor operations.” On this day, Sanderson is responsible for ensuring that the operations floor has additional personnel, and for coordinating fighter jets from bases that are not NORAD assets. Sanderson will say he is “primarily concerned with calling back the operations personnel” who are off duty. [9/11 Commission, 10/29/2003 pdf file]

Entity Tags: Kevin Nasypany, Ian Sanderson

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


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