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Profile: Global Guardian

 
  

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Global Guardian actively participated in the following events:

 
  

8:30 a.m.: US Military Holding ‘Practice Armageddon’ Nationwide Training Exercise      Complete 911 Timeline

       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, 9/10/02; Omaha World-Herald, 2/27/02] 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. [Omaha World-Herald, 2/27/02; Omaha World-Herald, 9/10/02; Associated Press, 2/21/02 (B); Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 11/12/97] 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 [Defense Department, 5/97; GlobalSecurity [.org], 10/10/02] 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. [Committee on Armed Services, 2000; Times-Picayune, 9/8/02; Collins Center, 12/99] 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. [BASIC, 10/98] 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, 3/23/01, 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, 6/98] 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.
People and organizations involved: North American Aerospace Defense Command, US Department of Defense, US Space Command, Global Guardian, Amalgam Warrior, Apollo Guardian, US Strategic Command, Crown Vigilance, Vigilant Guardian
          

8:48 a.m.: Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, Preparing for Global Guardian Exercise When Attacks Start      Complete 911 Timeline

       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, 9/8/02] 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, 9/11/02; Washington Post, 1/27/02] It finally arrives at Barksdale around 11:45 a.m. [Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; CBS News, 9/11/02] 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, 12/16/01]
People and organizations involved: Global Guardian, Mike Reese, Eni, James O. Ellis Jr, Offutt Air Force Base
          

Before 9:00 a.m.: Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, is Directing Global Guardian Training Exercise      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Admiral Richard Mies.
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, 9/10/02] 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. [BBC, 9/1/02; Omaha World-Herald, 2/27/02; Omaha World-Herald, 9/10/02; Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 11/12/97; Associated Press, 2/21/02 (B)] This bunker is staffed with top personnel and they are at a heightened security mode because of the exercise. [Air Force Weather Observer, 7/02; Associated Press, 2/21/02 (B)] 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.” [Omaha World-Herald, 9/8/02; Defense Department, 1/9/02; Air Force Weather Observer, 7/02] However, even after Global Guardian is called off, the three E-4Bs remain airborne. [Omaha World-Herald, 2/27/02; BBC, 9/1/02] 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. [Omaha World-Herald, 2/27/02; Omaha World-Herald, 9/10/02; San Francisco Business Times, 2/1/02]
People and organizations involved: Warren Buffet, Brent Scowcroft, Federal Advisory Committee, Richard Mies, Global Guardian
          

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