Saturday, Jan 24, 2009
When it seems impossible to discover additional shady military exercises occurring Sept. 11, 2001, there comes along yet another investigator uncovering secret documents pointing to unprecedented military actions happening the same day.
National Security Archive senior fellow Jeffrey T. Richelson is reporting in his new book, “Defusing Armageddon: Inside NEST, America’s Secret Nuclear Bomb Squad,” that the U.S. nuclear bomb squad, known as the Nuclear Emergency Search Team, was out of the country on its first foreign deployment since 1998, at a British air base in the Cotswolds, on Sept. 11 as part of Operation Jackal Cave.
According to the book, the exercise involved more than 500 personnel, 62 aircraft, 420 short tons of cargo, the CIA and a special operations force that would seize a mock nuclear device that the NEST squad would disable.
The after-action report from the deployment, “DOE EXERCISE 03-01 JACKAL CAVE” notes the early termination of the exercise because of the attacks, but finds useful “strengths and weaknesses” including the need to “[i]ssue secure international cell phones to control members and team leaders.”
The heavily redacted report created in 2003 and prepared for the Department of Energy’s Office of Emergency Response by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education gives only hints of the exercise, including continuing training and exercises between the Department of Energy’s Joint Technical Operations Teams (JTOT) and the Army’s 21st Ordnance Company (EOD) to “enhance command and control relationships.”
A Sept. 13, 2001 report by the BBC News Online quotes British Squadron Leader John Morris of Royal Air Force station Fairford that U.S. planes were flying to the station after being recalled from their participation in Operation Jackal Cave.
Morris is also quoted in a story printed in the Swindon Advertiser in South West England in an article dated Aug. 30, 2001 in which he describes RAF Fairford, a former wartime base, hosting a major United States European Command sponsored training exercise between September 5 and 18. Morris said Fairford would be used as a transit point for the exercise.
“Fixed wing transport aircraft will arrive and depart from the base in support of the exercise,” Morris said in the article. “There will be some early morning and late evening flights, and all flights will be for unit movement and none for local flight training. There will be no ground tactical training taking place and the overall training event will exercise crisis planning and response capabilities.”
Fairford was undergoing a £60 million runway upgrade and was temporarily reopened for the exercise.
Its most prominent use recently has been as a base for USAF B-52s during the 2003 Iraq War, Operation Allied Force in 1999, and the first Gulf War in 1991.
Fairford is also the only TransOceanic Abort Landing site for NASA’s Space Shuttle in the UK. It also has NASA-trained fire and medical crews stationed on the base.
According to the Jackal Cave report, the Department of Energy participants and equipment were returned to the U.S. by military airlift within five days of Sept. 11.
The question remains and should be posed to every major politician and military expert as to why so many drills and exercises were scheduled at the same time.
This article was posted: Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 6:58 am