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Profile: National Military Command Center

 
  

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National Military Command Center actively participated in the following events:

 
  

8:30 a.m.: FAA Hijack Coordinator Responsible For Contacting Military is Out of Contact      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Mike Canavan testifying before the 9/11 Commission.
Protocols in place on 9/11 state that if the FAA requests the military to go after an airplane, “the escort service will be requested by the FAA hijack coordinator by direct contact with the National Military Command Center (NMCC).” [FAA, 11/3/98] Acting FAA Deputy Administrator Monty Belger states essentially the same thing to the 9/11 Commission, “The official protocol on that day was for the FAA headquarters, primarily through the hijack coordinator ... to request assistance from the NMCC if there was a need for DOD assistance.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04 Sources: Monty Belger] However, the hijack coordinator, FAA Office of Civil Aviation Security Director Mike Canavan, is in Puerto Rico and claims to have missed out on “everything that transpired that day.” The 9/11 Commission fails to ask him if he had delegated that task to anyone else while he was gone. [9/11 Commission, 5/23/03; 9/11 Commission Final Report, 7/22/04, pp 17]
People and organizations involved: 9/11 Commission Report, Mike Canavan, Federal Aviation Administration, National Military Command Center
          

(After 8:37 a.m.): NORAD Scramble Order Moves Through Official and Unofficial Channels      Complete 911 Timeline

      
NORAD commander Larry Arnold.
NORAD gives the command to scramble fighters after Flight 11 after receiving Boston's call. Lieutenant Colonel Dawne Deskins at NEADS tells Colonel Robert Marr, head of NEADS, “I have FAA on the phone, the shout line, Boston [flight control]. They said they have a hijacked aircraft.” Marr then calls Major General Larry Arnold at NORAD's Command Center in Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, and says, “Boss, I need to scramble [fighters at] Otis [Air National Guard Base].” Arnold recalls, “I said go ahead and scramble them, and we'll get the authorities later.” Arnold then calls the operations deputy at NORAD's Colorado headquarters to report. The operations deputy tells him, “Yeah, we'll work this with the National Military Command Center. Go ahead and scramble the aircraft.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, p. 56; ABC News, 9/11/02] Then, upon receiving this authorization from Larry Arnold, NEADS calls Canadian Captain Mike Jellinek at NORAD's Colorado headquarters. Jellinek is sitting near Canadian Air Force Major General Rick Findley, director of combat operations there. Findley's staff is “already on high alert” because of Vigilant Guardian and Operation Northern Vigilance, a training exercise and a NORAD operation that are currently in progress. Jellinek gets the thumbs up authorization from Findley to send fighters after Flight 11. Yet, according to the 1st Air Force's own book about 9/11, the “sector commander [at NEADS] would have authority to scramble the airplanes.” Military controllers at NEADS are only a hot line call away from the pilots on immediate alert. Why NEADS calls NORAD's Command Center at Tyndall, then NORAD's Colorado headquarters, to get authorization to launch fighters after Flight 11, is unclear. Rick Findley later states, “At that point all we thought was we've got an airplane hijacked and we were going to provide an escort as requested. We certainly didn't know it was going to play out as it did.” Findley remains in charge of NORAD headquarters while his staff feeds information to NORAD Commander in Chief Ralph Eberhart, who is stationed in Florida. [Canadian Broadcasting Corp., 11/27/01; Toledo Blade, 12/9/01; Ottawa Citizen, 9/11/02; Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02; Air War Over America, by Leslie Filson, 1/04, pp. 50-52]
People and organizations involved: Dawne Deskins, Rick Findley, 9/11 Commission Report, Ralph Eberhart, Larry Arnold, Operation Northern Vigilance, Federal Aviation Administration, Mike Jellinek, National Military Command Center, Robert Marr
          

(8:56 a.m.): Flight 77 Transponder Signal Disappears; NORAD Not Informed      Complete 911 Timeline

       Flight 77's transponder signal is turned off at this time. [Guardian, 10/17/01; Boston Globe, 11/23/01; Newsday, 9/23/01] According to the 9/11 Commission, the Indianapolis flight controller in charge of the flight has watched it go off course and head southwest before the signal disappears. He looks for primary radar signals along its projected flight path as well as in the airspace where it has started to turn. He cannot find the plane. He tries contacting the plane but gets no answer. “ ‘American 77, Indy,’ the controller said, over and over. ‘American 77, Indy, radio check. How do you read?’ By 8:56 a.m., it was evident that Flight 77 was lost.” [New York Times, 10/16/01] The controller has not been told about any other hijacked planes. (Other centers have been notified about the Flight 11 hijacking more than 20 minutes earlier at 8:25 a.m. [Guardian, 10/17/01] ) He assumes Flight 77 has experienced electrical or mechanical failure. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Apparently, American Airlines headquarters and the Pentagon's NMCC are notified that Flight 77 is off course with its radio and transponder not working, but NORAD is not notified at this time. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/27/04]
People and organizations involved: American Airlines, National Military Command Center, Indianapolis flight control, North American Aerospace Defense Command
          

(9:29 a.m.): Pentagon Command Center Begins High Level Conference Call      Complete 911 Timeline

      
The National Miilitary Command Center, inside the Pentagon.
Captain Charles Leidig is in command of the National Military Command Center (NMCC), “the military's worldwide nerve center.” [CNN, 9/4/02] Telephone links are established with the NMCC located inside the Pentagon (but on the opposite side of the building from where the explosion will happen), Canada's equivalent Command Center, Strategic Command, theater commanders, and federal emergency-response agencies. An Air Threat Conference Call is initiated and it lasts for eight hours. At one time or another, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, key military officers, leaders of the FAA and NORAD, the White House, and Air Force One are heard on the open line. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02; 9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] NORAD command director Captain Michael Jellinek claims this happens “immediately” after the second WTC hit. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] However, the 9/11 Commission concludes it starts nearly 30 minutes later, at approximately 9:29 a.m. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Brigadier General Montague Winfield, who later takes over for Leidig, says, “All of the governmental agencies that were involved in any activity going on in the United States at that point, were in that conference.” [ABC News, 9/11/02] The call continues right through the Pentagon explosion; the impact is not felt within the NMCC. [CNN, 9/4/02] However, despite being in the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld doesn't enter the NMCC or participate in the call until 10:30 a.m. (see (10:30 a.m.)).
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney, National Military Command Center, George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Mike Jellinek, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Federal Aviation Administration, Charles Leidig, Montague Winfield
          

(9:35 a.m.): Treasury Department Evacuates; Pentagon and Other Washington Department Do Not      Complete 911 Timeline

       The Treasury Department is evacuated a few minutes before Flight 77 crashes. [9/11 Commission Report, 1/26/04] Yet, CNN notes that “after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) warned the military's air defense command that a hijacked airliner appeared to be headed toward Washington, the federal government failed to make any move to evacuate the White House, Capitol, State Department, or the Pentagon.” [CNN, 9/16/01] A Pentagon representative says, “The Pentagon was simply not aware that this aircraft was coming our way.” Even Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and his top aides in the Pentagon remain unaware of any danger up to the moment of impact. [Newsday, 9/23/01] Senators and congresspeople are in the Capitol building, which is not evacuated until 9:48 a.m. (see 9:48 a.m.) Only Vice President Cheney, National Security Adviser Rice, and possibly a few others are evacuated to safety a few minutes after 9:03 a.m. (see (After 9:03 a.m.)). Yet, supposedly, since at least the Flight 11 crash, “military officials in a Command Center [the National Military Command Center] on the east side of the [Pentagon] [are] urgently talking to law enforcement and air traffic control officials about what to do.” [New York Times, 9/15/01] The White House is evacuated at 9:45 a.m. (see (9:45 a.m.))
People and organizations involved: US Department of the Treasury, 9/11 Commission Report, Richard ("Dick") Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, US Department of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, Federal Aviation Administration, National Military Command Center, US Department of State
          

9:37 a.m.: Rumsfeld Either Being Briefed by CIA or with Clarke Video Conference When Pentagon Is Hit      Complete 911 Timeline

       There are conflicting accounts of what Defense Secretary Rumsfeld does in the 35 minutes between the second WTC crash and the Pentagon crash. In his 9/11 Commission testimony, he covers the time with the phrase “shortly thereafter:” “I was in my office with a CIA briefer and I was told that a second plane had hit the other tower. Shortly thereafter, at 9:38 a.m., the Pentagon shook with an explosion of then unknown origin.” [9/11 Commission Report, 3/23/04] In the book Bush at War, Bob Woodward writes, “Aware of the attacks on the World Trade Center, Rumsfeld had been proceeding with his daily intelligence briefing in his office” when the Pentagon gets hit. [Woodward, 2002] However, according to counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke, Rumsfeld joins a video conference at 9:10 a.m. (see (9:10 a.m.)), shortly after the second WTC hit, and stays with the conference, possibly from his office. After being told the Pentagon has been hit, Clarke says, “I can still see Rumsfeld on the screen, so the whole building didn't get hit”. The military response to the 9/11 crisis is being coordinated in the NMCC, apparently located only around 200 feet away, directly below Rumsfeld's office. [Reuters, 9/11/01; Defense Department, 9/15/01 (B)]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, Richard A. Clarke, National Military Command Center
          

9:39 a.m.: Rumsfeld Is Wanted at NMCC Teleconference but Cannot Be Reached      Complete 911 Timeline

       Captain Charles Leidig, a low ranking officer temporarily in charge of the NMCC, is handling the NMCC's crisis teleconference. He mentions reports of a crash into the opposite side of the Pentagon, and requests that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld be added to the conference. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] As one magazine has noted, “On September 11, the normal scramble-approval procedure was for an FAA official to contact the [NMCC] and request Pentagon air support. Someone in the NMCC would call NORAD's Command Center and ask about availability of aircraft, then seek approval from the defense secretary—Donald H. Rumsfeld—to launch fighters.” [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02] Rather than join the NMCC conference, Rumsfeld has already gone out of the Pentagon to see the crash site, and remains out of contact for some time. It is unknown if Rumsfeld had a cell phone or pager, and if so, why he cannot be reached.
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, National Military Command Center, Charles Leidig
          

9:44 a.m.: NMCC Conference Thinks Flight 1989, Not Flight 93, Is Fourth Hijack      Complete 911 Timeline

       NORAD briefs the NMCC teleconference on the possible hijacking of Delta Flight 1989. Four minutes later, a representative from the White House bunker containing Vice President Cheney asks if there are any indications of other hijacked planes. Captain Charles Leidig, temporarily in charge of the NMCC, mentions the Delta Flight and comments, “that would be the fourth possible hijack.” Flight 1989 is in the same general Ohio region as Flight 93, but NORAD doesn't scramble fighters toward either plane at this time. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: Charles Leidig, North American Aerospace Defense Command, National Military Command Center, Richard ("Dick") Cheney
          

9:46 a.m.: NMCC Teleconference Still Looking to Include Rumsfeld and Myers      Complete 911 Timeline

       Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's office, and acting Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Myers' office, report to the NMCC teleconference that they are still trying to track down Rumsfeld and Myers, respectively, and bring them into the conference. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Rumsfeld is apparently outside the Pentagon looking at the Flight 77 crash site (see (After 9:37 a.m.)), though counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke suggests Rumsfeld is elsewhere in the Pentagon for much of the time (see (Between 9:37-9:45 a.m.)). Myers' whereabouts in the period after the Pentagon crash have not been fully explained (see (Before 10:30 a.m.)). Rumsfeld and Myers do not enter the NMCC until about 10:30 a.m. (see (10:30 a.m.)).
People and organizations involved: National Military Command Center, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard B. Myers
          

9:59 a.m.: White House Finally Requests Continuity of Government Plans, Air Force One Escort, and Fighters for Washington      Complete 911 Timeline

       The 9/11 Commission Reports, “An Air Force Lieutenant Colonel working in the White House Military Office [joins] the [NMCC] conference and state[s] that he had just talked to Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. The White House request[s]: (1) the implementation of Continuity of Government measures, (2) fighter escorts for Air Force One, and (3) the establishment of a fighter combat air patrol over Washington, D.C.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke gave the Continuity of Government orders a few minutes before from inside the White House (see (Between 9:45-9:55 a.m.)). This is consistent with Bush's claim that he doesn't make any major decisions about the 9/11 attacks until shortly before 10:00 a.m.
People and organizations involved: Stephen Hadley, Richard A. Clarke, National Military Command Center
          

(Between 10:00-10:30 a.m.): Rumsfeld Returns to the Pentagon and Speaks to Bush; Rumsfeld's Whereabouts Murky      Complete 911 Timeline

       Rumsfeld returns from the Pentagon crash site “by shortly before or after 10:00 a.m.” Then he has “one or more calls in my office, one of which was with the president,” according to his testimony before the 9/11 Commission. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04 (B)] The commission later concludes that Rumsfeld's call with President Bush has little impact: “No one can recall any content beyond a general request to alert forces.” The possibility of shooting down hijacked planes is not mentioned. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Then Rumsfeld goes to the Executive Support Center before finally entering the NMCC at 10:30 a.m. Acting Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers repeats all these details. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04 (B)] The Executive Support Center has secure video facilities [Washington Times, 2/23/04] , so it is possible Rumsfeld joins or rejoins the video conference that counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke claims Rumsfeld is a part of much of the morning (see (9:10 a.m.)).
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, Richard A. Clarke, National Military Command Center, George W. Bush, Richard B. Myers
          

10:03 a.m.: NMCC Learns of Flight 93 Hijacking, NORAD Still Not Told      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to the 9/11 Commission, the NMCC learns about the Flight 93 hijacking at this time. Since the FAA has not yet been patched in to the NMCC's conference call, the news comes from the White House. The White House learned about it from the Secret Service, and the Secret Service learned about it from the FAA. NORAD apparently is still unaware. Four minutes later, a NORAD representative on the conference call states, “NORAD has no indication of a hijack heading to Washington, D.C., at this time.” [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: Federal Aviation Administration, National Military Command Center, Secret Service
          

(10:10 a.m.): Military Put on High Alert      Complete 911 Timeline

      
Blast doors at NORAD headquarters in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado.
All US military forces are ordered to Defcon Three (or Defcon Delta), “The highest alert for the nuclear arsenal in 30 years.” [ABC News, 9/11/02; CNN, 9/4/02; Daily Telegraph, 12/16/01; Clarke, 2004, pp 15] Rumsfeld claims that he makes the recommendation, but it is hard to see how he can do this, at least at this time. He later asserts that he discusses the issue with acting Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers in the NMCC first. However, they do not arrive at the PEOC until about 10:30 a.m. [9/11 Commission Report, 3/23/04] At 10:15 a.m., the massive blast doors to US Strategic Command, headquarters for NORAD in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, are closed for the first time in response to the high alert. [Aviation Week and Space Technology, 6/3/02; BBC, 9/1/02] In another account, acting Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers gives the Defcon order by himself. President Bush later contradicts both accounts, asserting that he gives the order. [Wall Street Journal, 3/22/04]
People and organizations involved: Richard B. Myers, National Military Command Center, North American Aerospace Defense Command, George W. Bush, US Strategic Command, Donald Rumsfeld
          

10:14 a.m.: Cheney Gives Engage Order to NMCC to Relay to Fighters      Complete 911 Timeline

       According to the 9/11 Commission, beginning at this time, the White House repeatedly conveys to the NMCC that Vice President Cheney confirmed fighters were cleared to engage the inbound aircraft if they could verify that the aircraft was hijacked. However, the authorization fails to reach the pilots. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: Richard ("Dick") Cheney, National Military Command Center
          

(10:17 a.m.): FAA Out of the Loop; Finally Joins NMCC Teleconference      Complete 911 Timeline

       The National Military Command Center (NMCC) has been conducting an interagency teleconference to coordinate the nation's response to the hijackings since 9:29 a.m. Yet the 9/11 Commission Reports that the FAA is unable to join the call until this time, apparently due to technical difficulties. NORAD asked three times before the last hijacked plane crashed for the FAA to provide a hijacking update to the teleconference. None were given, since no FAA representative was there. When an FAA representative finally joins in, that person has no proper experience, no access to decision makers, and no information known to senior FAA officials at the time. Furthermore, the highest-level Defense Department officials rely on this conference and do not talk directly with senior FAA officials. As a result, the leaders of NORAD and the FAA are effectively out of contact with each other during the entire crisis. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04]
People and organizations involved: North American Aerospace Defense Command, US Department of Defense, National Military Command Center, Federal Aviation Administration
          

(10:30 a.m.): Missing Rumsfeld Finally Enters NMCC      Complete 911 Timeline

       Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, missing for at least 30 minutes, finally enters the NMCC, where the military's response to the 9/11 attacks is being coordinated. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04; CNN, 9/4/02] Rumsfeld later claims that he only started to gain a situational awareness of what was happening after arriving at the NMCC. [9/11 Commission Report, 6/17/04] Rumsfeld was in his office only 200 feet away from the NMCC until the Pentagon crash at 9:37 a.m. (see 9:37 a.m.). His activities during this period are unclear. He went outside to the Flight 77 crash site and then stayed somewhere else in the Pentagon until his arrival at the NMCC. Brigadier General Montague Winfield later says, “For 30 minutes we couldn't find him. And just as we began to worry, he walked into the door of the [NMCC].” [ABC News, 9/11/02] Winfield himself apparently only shows up at the NMCC around 10:30 a.m. as well.
People and organizations involved: National Military Command Center, Montague Winfield, Donald Rumsfeld
          

(2:40 p.m.): Rumsfeld Wants to Blame Iraq      Complete 911 Timeline, Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is provided information from the CIA indicating that three of the hijackers were suspected al-Qaeda operatives. Notes composed by aides who were with Rumsfeld in the National Military Command Center on 9/11 are leaked nearly a year later. According to the notes, information shows, “One guy is [an] associate of [USS] Cole bomber.” (This is a probable reference to Khalid Almihdhar or Nawaf Alhazmi.) Rumsfeld has also been given information indicating an al-Qaeda operative had advanced details of the 9/11 attack. According to the aide's notes, Rumsfeld wants the “best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H. [Saddam Hussein] at same time. Not only UBL [Osama bin Laden]. Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not.” [Bamford, 2004, pp 285; CBS News, 9/4/02]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, National Military Command Center, al-Qaeda, Nawaf Alhazmi, Central Intelligence Agency, Khalid Almihdhar  Additional Info 
          

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