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Profile: Air National Guard (ANG)
Air National Guard (ANG) was a participant or observer in the following events:
A modernization program of the 1st Air Force’s air operation centers, which include NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), is started. Over the next several years, Litton Data Systems is tasked with computerizing the way the Air National Guard accomplishes its air sovereignty mission, which is the surveillance of US skies in coordination with the FAA. Until now, flight plans from the FAA have been “compiled in logs and have to be searched by hand to identify aircraft,” according to National Guard magazine. “The new system will mean fewer manual inquiries and phone contact with FAA officials about commercial aircraft. The FAA flight plan is now hooked up via computer with the new R/SAOCs [Regional/Sector Air Operation Centers] so operators can easily track friendly aircraft through our air space without having to get someone on the phone or thumb through written log books of flight plans. Composite air pictures are now shown in real time on the screen with no delay in transmission. Plans on the screen are shown as they are happening.” The software also allows computer simulations to be used for training purposes, so operators can “go through a situation at their terminals as if it were happening.” Col. Dan Navin, the special assistant to the commander of 1st Air Force, says, “It will enhance our ability to do what many say is the most important job of the Air Force, and that is air sovereignty.” The new systems should be fully operational in all seven 1st Air Force air operation centers by 2003. [National Guard, 9/1997] It is possible that this software is being used on the morning of 9/11, when a NORAD training exercise will include simulated information, known as “inject,” being shown on its radar screens (see (9:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Toronto Star, 12/9/2001]
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]
Based on interviews with FBI officials, the New Yorker will report that, for several years prior to 9/11, the US government plans for “simulated terrorist attacks, including scenarios [involving] multiple-plane hijackings.” This presumably refers to more than just the Amalgam Virgo 02 exercise (see July 2001), which is based on the scenario of two planes being simultaneously hijacked. [New Yorker, 9/24/2001] Similarly, NORAD will state that before 9/11, it normally conducts four major exercises each year at headquarters level. Most of them include a hijack scenario, and some of them are apparently quite similar to the 9/11 attacks (see Between 1991 and 2001 and Between September 1999 and September 10, 2001). [USA Today, 4/18/2004; CNN, 4/19/2004] According to author Lynn Spencer, before September 11, “To prepare for their missions in support of NORAD, the Air National Guard pilots—some of the finest pilots in the world—often use hijacking scenarios to train for intercept tactics.” [Spencer, 2008, pp. 84-85] John Arquilla, an associate professor of defense analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, later says that while “No one knew specifically that 20 people would hijack four airliners and use them for suicide attacks against major buildings… the idea of such an attack was well known, [and] had been war gamed as a possibility in exercises before Sept. 11.” [Monterey County Herald, 7/18/2002]
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 ]
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 ; 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 ]
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]
In the battle cab at NORAD’s Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), Colonel Robert Marr instructs his troops to contact every Air National Guard unit in the Northeast US and tell them to get their fighter jets airborne. [Spencer, 2008, pp. 180] NEADS has already launched the four fighters in the Northeast US that are kept on alert, ready to take off at a moment’s notice: Two F-15s were scrambled from Otis Air National Guard Base at 8:46 (see 8:46 a.m. September 11, 2001) and two F-16s were scrambled from Langley Air Force Base at 9:24 (see 9:24 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 17, 20, 27]
NEADS Calls Air National Guard Units - Marr now realizes these four jets are not enough, and tells his troops: “The nation is under attack. Get ‘em in the air!” Officers in the NEADS battle cab and on its operations floor begin calling Air National Guard units, one after another. The NEADS officers are surprised to find that wing commanders have been anticipating their call for help, and have already started arming fighter jets. According to author Lynn Spencer: “Although wing commanders do not necessarily have the authority to arm their planes with live missiles, nor Marr the authority to call them into action, these are not ordinary times. Marr can’t help but think that the incredible response is due to the fact that the Guard units are Title 32, or state-owned. They report to the governors of their respective states, and the wing commanders have every confidence that their governors will support them.” [9/11 Commission, 10/30/2003 ; Spencer, 2008, pp. 180]
Time of Order Unclear - Exactly when Marr instructs his officers to contact the Air National Guard units is unclear. It appears to be at around 9:50 a.m., or some time shortly after. At the Continental US NORAD Region (CONR) headquarters in Florida, CONR commander Major General Larry Arnold began contacting all three CONR sectors (which includes NEADS) at around 9:45 a.m., after learning the Pentagon had been hit and realizing the attacks were no longer isolated to New York. His instruction to the sectors was, “Generate, generate, generate!” meaning, “Get as many fighters as you can into the sky now!” [Spencer, 2008, pp. 177-178] General Ralph Eberhart, the commander of NORAD, directed “all air sovereignty aircraft to battle stations, fully armed,” at 9:49 a.m. (see 9:49 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 38] But “battle stations” means only that pilots get into their aircraft with the engines turned off, so they are ready to launch if a scramble order follows. [Filson, 2003, pp. 55; Spencer, 2008, pp. 27] The Toledo Blade will report, “By 10:01 a.m., [NEADS] began calling several bases across the country for help.” [Toledo Blade, 12/9/2001] According to the Newhouse News Service, though, Marr apparently gave his order significantly earlier. It will report that, when the South Tower was hit at 9:03, NEADS personnel “looked to Col. Robert Marr, who rallied the operation: Get to the phones. Call every Air National Guard unit in the land. Prepare to put jets in the air. The nation is under attack” (see (After 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Newhouse News Service, 1/25/2002] Air National Guard jets will reportedly take off from Toledo Express Airport in Ohio at 10:17 a.m., in response to NEADS’s call for help, and, according to Spencer, NEADS instructs Otis Air Base to launch all its available aircraft at around 10:20 a.m. (see (10:20 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Toledo Blade, 12/9/2001; Spencer, 2008, pp. 244-245]
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