C. READINESS ISSUES.
1. Introduction: This section addresses whether Air Force members met their obligations in the area of readiness. It discusses several issues concerning communications, specifically the lack of automated alarms in dormitories, the lack of radio links between sentries and the operators of the Giant Voice system, and the accessibility of interpreter services for quick response to a threat. It also reviews the planning, practice and evaluation of building evacuations, and issues relating to the training, equipping and manning of the security force, with special attention to procedures for cleaning and maintaining weapons. Finally, it reviews the appropriateness of the wing threat condition level.
2. Evacuation Planning, Practice and Evaluation.
a. Background. One of the issues raised by the Downing Assessment was the adequacy of evacuation procedures at Khobar Towers. The Downing Assessment found that there were no DoD standards for warning systems and concluded that the absence of a warning system was a significant factor that contributed to the injuries sustained in the attack on Khobar Towers. The Assessment noted that Saudi construction standards did not require a fire alarm system. Later it indicated that a fire alarm system could have doubled for a mass warning notification of an attack. This section examines evacuation planning.
(1) The buildings most damaged in the bombing at Khobar Towers, Buildings 131 and 133 on the north perimeter, are similar to apartment or dormitory structures. They are eight story "T" shaped buildings constructed of 5 ½ inch precast, concrete wall panels and 6 ½ inch floor panels. Access to and exit from the buildings is by way of a central entrance. The facilities, as originally built, did not have any fire protection devices. Sometime after occupancy, the wing installed smoke detectors.
(2) There were three separate emergency responses in place at Khobar Towers on 25 June 1996. The first was a bomb threat evacuation procedure. The second was a fire evacuation procedure. The third was the attack warning procedure. The fire evacuation procedure and the bomb threat evacuation procedure relied on the same notification system.
(3) On the night of 25 June 1996, security police posted on the roof of Building 131 saw a tank truck pull up to the fence and the driver run to another awaiting vehicle. The guards reacted to the truck as a potential bomb threat and initiated a bomb threat evacuation procedure.
(4) In the event of a bomb threat or indications of fire, the individual discovering the event would report it to central security control (CSC) or the fire department. After reporting the event, the individual could initiate an evacuation of the building. Security police or fire personnel would respond to the scene. Giant Voice had not been activated during previous bomb threats. In the event of a bomb threat, responding patrols would set up a 300 foot cordon. To evacuate buildings within the 300 foot cordon, a security police patrol would be dispatched to go to the top floor of the building to be evacuated and begin knocking on doors, notifying the occupants to evacuate. As individuals left their rooms, they were instructed to notify other occupants on lower floors to evacuate. This method of evacuation notification was described as a "waterfall" method. Individuals would evacuate the building through the central entrance and proceed to their designated squadron assembly areas for a personnel accounting.
(5) In April 1996, the AFOSI detachment commander recommended that evacuation plans for the Khobar Towers facilities be re-accomplished. On 13 April 1996, each squadron was tasked to develop individual evacuation plans and assembly areas for its facilities. These were submitted to the civil engineer readiness flight for consolidation and deconfliction of squadron assembly points. A review of the plans collected after the bombing indicates that evacuation plans were submitted in April 1996, deconflicted, and published. Copies of the new plans were provided to each of the squadrons and posted in each building.
(6) In addition to the evacuation procedures for fire or bomb threats, the wing had established emergency procedures for an enemy attack. In the event of an incoming attack, Giant Voice, a roof-top speaker system, could be activated by the wing operations center (WOC) in the siren mode. It could be followed by voice instructions that an attack was probable (Alarm Yellow) or imminent (Alarm Red). Upon notification of an attack warning, personnel were to seek shelter in their front hallways, the innermost areas of their suites. The procedure specifically instructed them to remain away from the kitchen, television room, and individual bedrooms because these rooms were located toward the outside of the building. The written procedures were posted in the dormitories.
(7) All personnel assigned to live in Khobar Towers received a mandatory briefing on general evacuation procedures during the Right Start Program. Briefings on the specific evacuation plans for each dormitory were the responsibility of each squadron. Squadrons posted the instructions for evacuation and attack response on bulletin boards and/or the doors of individual suites. Support offices were located in the same buildings used as dormitories, meaning some personnel lived and worked in the same building, including Building 131 on the north perimeter.
(8) There was no program within the wing to practice dormitory evacuation exercises. There were actual evacuations. They were not evaluated. From November 1995 through June 1996, there were fourteen suspicious package incidents within Khobar Towers. All of these incidents were reported in the security police blotters. Three of these incidents in the blotters were reported in sufficient detail to determine the times of the evacuations and the buildings evacuated. Assuming established procedures were followed, other suspicious package incidents resulted in three other actual building evacuations. This number is consistent with witness recollections of about six evacuations during this period.
(9) The requirements for fire drills are separate from bomb threat evacuations and attack warnings. The fire protection unit did not schedule or conduct any fire drills for occupants, but encouraged facility monitors to conduct drills. Some fire drills may have been conducted. Additionally, the fire department performed internal exercises for proficiency training of its personnel which were conducted on a monthly basis during April, May and June 1996. A different facility within Khobar Towers was used for each exercise. One of these drills was in the civil engineer facility, Building 133 on the north perimeter. These fire training exercises tested the fire departments capabilities for fighting a fire in a high-rise facility or office complex. During these exercises, fire department personnel evacuated the facility before conducting the exercise. There is no indication that these evacuations were timed or evaluated.
(10) The Wing had no formal program to evaluate dormitory evacuations. Two staff assistance visits (SAVs) were conducted by the USCENTAF staff, a fire protection SAV in January 1995 and a civil engineering SAV in January 1996. Neither SAV identified any deficiencies related to fire drills.
(1) DoD 0-2000.12-H, Protection of DoD Personnel and Activities against Acts of Terrorism and Political Turbulence (February 1993), provides general guidance on evacuations. It states:
(a) Evacuation Procedures: Evacuation procedures depend upon circumstances. Prepare, publicize and rehearse evacuation plans in advance. Address alarm systems, assembly areas, routes to assembly areas, personnel evacuation response, building and area clearance and evacuation drills.
(b) Alarm system: The bomb threat alarm system should be easily distinguished from the fire alarm.
(c) Evacuation Drills: Periodically practice evacuation and search drills under the supervision of installation or unit senior officer. Hold drills in cooperation with local police if possible. Avoid unnecessarily alarming personnel and civilians in adjacent premises.
(2) Joint Publication 3-07.2, Joint Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Antiterrorism. provides guidance to commanders.
(a) It provides: every commander, regardless of echelon of command or branch of Service, has an inherent responsibility for planning, resourcing, training, exercising and executing antiterrorism measures to provide for the security of command.
(b) Joint Publication 3-07.2 goes on to say that drills and exercises are the best test of an installations ability to respond to a terrorist incident short of an actual event. In the event of a bomb threat in a building, search, movement of personnel within the building, partial evacuation, and total evacuation are possible responses. Evacuation procedures are to be prepared, publicized, and rehearsed in advance. Also to be addressed by plans are alarm systems, assembly areas, routes to assembly areas, personnel evacuation response, building and area clearance, and evacuation drills. The alarm system should be easily distinguished from the fire alarm. Evacuation drills should be periodically practiced under the supervision of the installation or unit senior officer. As to enemy attack, Joint Publication 3-07.2 contains no specific guidance beyond calling for drills and exercises.
(3) AFI 31-210, The Air Force Antiterrorism (AT) Program, 1 July 95, establishes the Air Forces antiterrorism program. Installation commanders are to establish an antiterrorism program tailored to local mission, conditions and terrorist threat. In doing so they are to use a number of publications including: DoD 0-2000.12H, Protection of DoD Personnel and Activities Against Acts of Terrorism and Political Turbulence, and Joint Publication 3-07.2, Joint Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Antiterrorism. Installation commanders are expected to ensure the installation can respond to a terrorist attack. Commanders at all echelons are expected to plan, train, exercise and execute antiterrorism measures as specified in DoD 0-2000.12 where appropriate. Commanders are also responsible for integrating lessons learned from actual incidents and operation exercises, to correct deficiencies. The installation chief of security police coordinates and directs operations and programs to protect the installation.
(4) AFI 32-4001, Disaster Preparedness Planning and Operations, 6 May 94, requires each Air Force Installation to have a disaster preparedness plan to include an annex on enemy attack. There is no requirement for the plan to address evacuation. Training of installation personnel in disaster preparedness responses is required. The base civil engineer oversees the disaster preparedness program. The instruction required the wing to conduct attack response exercises twice a year as the installation was located in a chemical-biological threat area. These exercises are to provide "realistic, integrated, large-scale training for the installation and the DRF [Disaster Response Force]." It also directs the conduct of a major accident response exercise (MARE) at least once every quarter. Further, it requires the Installation Commander to establish an Exercise Evaluation Team (EET) to develop exercise scenarios and debrief and critique performance. It requires a report to track discrepancies in performance.
(5) Air Force Policy Directive (AFPD) 32-20, Fire Protection, requires fire drills to be conducted by referencing and adopting the requirement set by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Code 101, Code for Safety to Life In Buildings and Structures. Fire exit drills must be conducted with sufficient frequency to familiarize all occupants with the drill procedures and to make them a matter of established routine. There is no standard establishing a set frequency for drills.
(1) General. Buildings are evacuated for different reasons: bomb threats, fire, accidents, gas leaks, natural disasters, hostage situations, etc. Consequently, the responsibility for evacuation of a building may fall within the scope of several different programs to include AFI 31-210, The Air Force Antiterrorism Program; AFI 32-4001, Disaster Preparedness Planning and Operations; and AFPD 32-20, Fire Protection.
(2) Bomb Threats. Regarding bomb threats, the antiterrorism program, AFI 31-210, requires the wing commander to establish an antiterrorism program using a number of different publications as guidance. One of the publications providing general guidance, Joint Pub 3-07.2, states that evacuation procedures are to be prepared, publicized and practiced in advance. The bomb threat plan should address alarm systems, assembly areas, routes, personnel evacuation response building and area clearance and evacuation drills. It also states that drills and exercises are the best test of an installations ability to respond to a terrorist incident, short of an actual event. The guidance indicates that bomb threats should be exercised in advance, but establishes no specific requirements for the frequency of drills or exercises.
(3) Bomb Threat Procedures. The wing had established procedures for bomb threat evacuation. There is no requirement for an automated bomb threat alarm. Responses to bomb threats change as the nature of the threat changes. The bomb threat evacuation procedures at Khobar Towers were last updated in April 1996. They were posted in dormitories and briefed at the mandatory Right Start program. The procedures were written, described escape routes, and included procedures to account for all personnel after evacuation. All but those few personnel with rotations longer than 90 days should have had the briefings within the last 90 days. Some people worked in the same buildings in which they had their rooms. The system of notification, via the "waterfall" method was flexible, simple and used for other evacuations as well. These procedures, and their predecessors, had been used to respond to at least three and probably six or more suspected bomb threats requiring evacuations between November 1995 and May 1996. The guidance in Joint Publication 3-07.2 recognizes that real world scenarios are the best training and that evacuation procedures "depend upon circumstances." Given this guidance, actual evacuations could substitute for training. The blotter entries for these incidents note no problems with the evacuations and the times noted to establish a 300 foot cordon were six and nine minutes.
(4) The purpose of a bomb threat evacuation is to remove personnel from the area of a suspected bomb. It is premised on having enough time for personnel to distance themselves far enough from a suspected bomb to reduce or eliminate injury. If a bomb goes off during the evacuation, injury may result. On the other hand, the purpose of an attack warning is to alert personnel of an imminent attack: to take cover. The procedures for an attack warning at Khobar Towers required personnel to take shelter in the interior portions of their dormitories. This response was designed to afford maximum protection to personnel when it was believed attack was imminent. The guards who saw the truck drive up to the fence perceived it to be a possible bomb threat and initiated a bomb threat evacuation rather than an attack warning. They had no way of knowing the size of the bomb or the amount of time that would transpire between the time they saw it as a potential threat and the time it would detonate.
(5) Disaster Preparedness. In addition to the antiterrorism program, the disaster preparedness program, AFI 32-4001, generally requires the wing commander to ensure that his installation has the capability to respond to a disaster. The base civil engineer has a duty to oversee the disaster preparedness plans. Disaster preparedness, including the planning and execution of exercises and drills, normally falls under the purview of the readiness flight. Building evacuations may be required in conjunction with disaster preparedness. The disaster preparedness plan does not, however, establish standards for building evacuation exercises. It does establish requirements for the frequency of other types of exercises such as major accident response exercises (MAREs) and base attack response exercises. Building evacuations are often included, but are not required to be included, in these major exercises. Exercises were conducted but MAREs were practiced at King Abdul Aziz Air Base and not at Khobar Towers. Some attack exercises were restricted by Saudi sensitivities, and conducted as "table top" exercises. The MARE plan was activated for a real world airplane crash.
(6) Attack Warning. Distinct from the evacuations discussed above, there is a separate requirement under the disaster preparedness program for an attack warning response and alarm. This differs from an evacuation in that its purpose is to warn and prepare personnel for an imminent attack. It is a basic "take cover" warning. The readiness flight, under the base civil engineer, has the responsibility for developing the attack response emergency plans outlined in AFI 32-4001. The wing commander through the base civil engineer and communications organizations installs and maintains an installation warning system. Each installation is required to have a rapid and effective system to disseminate disaster information quickly, consistent with local and host nation signals.
(7) Attack warning procedures had been posted in each building in the Khobar Tower facility. A copy of the procedure was recovered from building 133 after the bombing. The procedures were written, described emergency actions in detail and included procedures to account for personnel after attack. By directing personnel to seek shelter in the innermost area of the suite, away from the exterior of the building, the Dormitory Attack Response Plan took into account efforts to minimize injuries from an imminent explosive blast.
(8) Squadron Responsibilities. Each squadron within the wing had been tasked to establish procedures for evacuation of the facility they occupied.
(9) Timing of Evacuations. The evidence does not indicate that any formal process was used to accurately establish the time it took to evacuate facilities during these incidents. The evidence suggests that it took from 6 to 15 minutes to evacuate a building the size of Building 131. There are however, no time standards for evacuation of a building. The support group commanders estimate of 5 minutes appears to have been optimistic or optimal. The waterfall system depended on those on the upper floors notifying those on the floors below. That the process at the top of the building would be slower than for lower floors would be a function of the number of personnel available to keep the notice cascading down. Notification of the lower floors would be expected to be faster and faster. From all accounts, whatever time expectations there were for the evacuation, people took the threat seriously and were evacuating the building quickly.
(10) Purpose of Evacuation. Bomb threat evacuations are dependent on having enough time for personnel to remove themselves to a safe distance. Evacuation may not be effective if the time between detection of a bomb and its detonation is insufficient for personnel to achieve a safe distance. Given the unknown size of the bomb on 25 June 1996 and the uncertainty of the time it would detonate, there was no way of knowing in advance if there would be sufficient time to remove personnel from the building or not. There was a risk that the bomb would go off while the evacuation was in progress, as it did, some three to four minutes after the truck was identified as a potential threat.
(11) Evacuation on 25 June 1996. On the night of 25 June 1996, security police were posted on the roof of Building 131. Their posting required them to specifically watch and note any unusual occurrences on the northern and eastern perimeters. If they perceived any unusual occurrences they were required to notify central security control (CSC). They observed a Saudi tank truck back up to the fence on the north perimeter and immediately notified CSC. Based on their observations, they determined it was a bomb threat and immediately took the initiative to evacuate the building. The actions of the occupants of the truck indicated to the security police that it was a potential bomb; the guards had no way of knowing the size of the bomb or the time it would detonate.
(12) Fire Drills. In addition to evacuations for bomb threats and as a part of the disaster preparedness program, there is a specific requirement for fire drills. There is some indication that fire drills were conducted at Khobar Towers. The responsibility for evacuations had been delegated to the individual squadrons. Standards for conducting fire drills are found in the National Fire Protection Association, Code 101, Code for Safety to Life from Fire In Buildings and Structures, made applicable by AFPD 32-20 . While the code indicates that fire drills should be conducted in facilities of the kind found at Khobar Towers, the Code does not specify the number of drills that must be conducted, only that they be conducted frequently enough for everyone to be familiar with the procedure such that conduct of the drill will "be a matter of established routine." Two different Staff Assistance Visits failed to observe any deficiency in this area.
(13) As discussed later in the section on fire alarms, fire in the dormitories was not a major concern because of their concrete construction and the general absence of flammable materials. Personnel at Khobar Towers were briefed on fire evacuation procedures at the Right Start program within the last 90 days, based on the rotation policy. Additionally, evacuation diagrams were posted in each building in rooms or on the squadron bulletin board. Some personnel worked as well as lived in the buildings and should have been very familiar with exit routes. The procedures for evacuation for fire were essentially the same as those for an evacuation of a building for a bomb threat. The purpose of the evacuations could be different and more instruction might be necessary during a bomb threat evacuation because the response to a bomb threat must be flexible enough to protect personnel to the extent possible from the threat during the evacuation. Because there was no fire alarm system, the notification system was the same as for all other evacuations. Although not practiced, it appears reasonable that personnel knew how to exit the building through the central entrance/exit, whether the threat was posed by a fire or a bomb threat.
(14) Substitution of a Fire Alarm for a Bomb Threat. The Downing Assessment suggested that a fire alarm system could have been used at Khobar Towers as a substitute for a bomb threat alarm. DoD 0-2000.12-H and Joint Pub 3-07.2 make it clear that fire alarms are not to be the same as bomb threats alarms, because a fire evacuation is or can be fundamentally different than an evacuation for a bomb threat. A fire evacuation substituted for a bomb threat may increase the exposure of responding emergency personnel to the threat of the bomb and mislead personnel as to the nature of the threat. A bomb threat evacuation must be designed to avoid exposing people being evacuated to the bomb whereas a fire drill would not take that factor into consideration. A bomb threat warning procedure requires the flexibility to tailor the response to the threat. The "waterfall" notification system was well suited for this purpose. Because no single bomb threat alarm can adequately address all bomb threat scenarios, none was required. It was also suggested that Giant Voice might have been initiated to warn personnel more quickly. Giant Voice in siren mode had a specific meaning; general attack. It had not been used for prior bomb threats. Whether it would have been effective in voice mode is questionable and at least the superintendent of disaster preparedness believed its activation on 25 June 1996 would have been disastrous as it would have drawn personnel to their balconies and windows in order to hear the message.
(15) According to personnel assigned to the readiness flight and the support group commander, the wing was conducting disaster preparedness exercises, although they may not have measured up to stateside standards. One concern was that exercises interfered with crew rest and a balance had to be struck between crew rest and exercises. Primarily because of host nation sensitivities, the Giant Voice siren was not used in exercises so as not to alarm the civilian populace, and for the same reason, chemical protection gear was not worn outside. Evacuation drills were not being conducted, but actual evacuations were. There is some indication fire drills were held, but because this responsibility had been delegated to the individual squadrons, there is no evidence it was being done on a regular basis. Given the limitations on exercises, the turnover in personnel, the simplicity of the evacuation plans in use and the actual building evacuations taking place, real-world events did provide training on evacuation. Personnel had demonstrated that they knew how to evacuate the buildings, whether for a bomb threat which used the same evacuation plan or for a fire. However, these evacuations were not being evaluated as required, and any lessons learned from the evacuations were not being captured for the future.
(16) Conclusion: The evidence indicates that the wing commander was fulfilling his general obligations under the antiterrorism and disaster preparedness plans. Plans were in place and disaster preparedness exercises, within the constraints of local conditions, were being used to provide training to wing personnel. Evacuation procedures were in place and notification procedures in use to address different kinds of threats. The base civil engineer and security police squadron commander were fulfilling their general obligations under their respective plans. Evacuation drills and fire drills were not being conducted. Actual evacuations were being conducted in response to suspected bombs. The responsibility for drills had been delegated down to the squadron level. This did not relieve the fire chief, the base civil engineer, the group commander, or the wing commander of their supervisory oversight responsibilities. The findings of two SAVs had not identified fire drills as a deficiency at Khobar Towers. The wing commanders reliance on these reports and his experts in the area was reasonable. The actions of the base civil engineer and the fire chief are explained in part by the general absence of the possibility of dormitory fires. As evidenced by the absence of any fire after the bombing, the concrete buildings eliminated much of the normal concern about fire and perhaps the need for fire drills. Under the circumstances, the actions of wing personnel in response to required evacuation and fire drills appear to have been reasonably adapted to local conditions, threats and constraints, but the lessons learned, if any, from actual evacuations were not being captured.
3. Communications, Alarms, Radio Links and Interpreters:
a. Automated Fire Alarm Systems
(a) This section reviews the lack of automated fire alarm systems in dormitories, focusing on the appropriateness of the commanders decision to defer installation of fire alarms. Saudi building codes did not require the installation of a fire alarm system. Some time after the US began to occupy the compound in 1992, smoke detectors were installed in the sleeping areas of the US occupied buildings. The decision to install smoke detectors versus an automated facility alarm (fire alarm) system was based on the small amount of flammable items contained in the buildings and the fact that the buildings were constructed predominantly of prefabricated cement sections and other masonry products. The civil engineer squadron commander, who was also the base fire marshal, and his deputy concurred with earlier opinions that the buildings were not combustible. In fact, the fireball resulting from the bomb did not cause a fire.
(b) The British coalition forces living at Khobar Towers had fire alarm systems in their facilities.
(c) The topic of an automated fire alarm system was discussed among senior staff members on several occasions. These discussions were initiated by the wing fire chiefs. The fire chiefs were virtually unanimous in their opinion that the lack of a centralized fire alarm system was not a problem. Three prior chiefs stated that, based on their experience, an automated building alarm system was not needed at Khobar Towers and that the wing did not need to spend the money on one. Their reasoning was also due to the very few flammable items in the facilities, the most flammable being the air conditioners. This belief was further supported by the fact USCENTAF, during two civil engineering staff assistance visits, did not identify the need for a fire alarm system. In January 1996, the Vulnerability Assessment addressed the need for a fire alarm system. The assessment recommended installation of an alarm system to notify occupants and the fire department. The recommendation was unrelated to security, it simply addressed the shortcoming with fire alarm procedures.
(d) The purchase and installation of an automated building fire alarm system was included in the wings Five-Year Facilities Improvement Plan, called Vision 2000, dated 24 May 1996. The project for a centralized alarm system was programmed for FY00 with an estimated cost of $250,000. The commander included it in the fire year plan to "capture" the input for the benefit of follow on commanders. He placed the alarm system in the last year of the program because he felt it was appropriate based upon the risk.
(e) An automated fire alarm system provides a quick warning and allows people to expeditiously exit a building. This differs from an attack warning which (1) warns people to seek refuge in the interior of facilities away from glass windows, (2) to close the doors as they leave their rooms, and (3) to await notification of the "all clear", or other instructions.
(f) An automated fire alarm system also differs from a notification system for a bomb threat. A response for a bomb threat may require additional, more elaborate precautions than those envisioned in a standard fire evacuation. For example, if there is a small bomb outside a building, or near the exit, it may be more appropriate to stay inside the building and take cover. A proper response to a bomb threat might require evacuating a building through some but not all the exits, to avoid coming near the bomb. Thus, a bomb threat warning system must be more flexible than a fire alarm to properly notify residents of the danger. The "waterfall" notification system was used for bomb threats and building evacuations. Guidance requires that fire alarms be readily distinguishable from bomb threat notifications.
(a) AFI 32-2001 and DoD Instruction 6055.6 required compliance with Military Handbook 1008B, Fire Protection for Facilities Engineering, Design, and Construction, 15 Jan 94. Military Handbook 1008B establishes protection engineering policy and criteria for DoD components and applies to DoD facilities located on or outside of DoD installations, whether acquired or leased, or third party financed and constructed. The Handbook incorporates by reference fire protection criteria published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), which requires fire alarm systems. For existing dormitory and apartment buildings, para 1.3.2 of the Handbook does not require modification of the buildings to meet more stringent Handbook 1008B requirements, so long as the buildings meet NFPA 101 standards and are acceptable to the "authority having jurisdiction," who is the Chief Fire Engineer of the Air Force, HQ AFCESA/DFE.
(b) Joint Pub 3-07.2, Joint Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Antiterrorism, (25 June 1993), requires evacuation plans to address alarm systems. Appendix K, paragraph 1g, notes the distinction between bomb threat systems and fire alarm systems. The "bomb threat system should be easily distinguished from the fire alarm."
(a) It is necessary at the outset to distinguish between the objective requirement to have a fire alarm system installed in dormitories, and the general requirement to have a system to warn against attacks. As noted in Joint Publication 3.07.2, Appendix K, bomb threat systems must be easily distinguished from the fire alarm. A fire alarm alerts residents to vacate a building in the event of a fire. An attack warning is used for the purpose of having personnel take appropriate responsive action to an imminent attack, which could include taking cover immediately, going to a shelter, evacuating a building or donning protective gear.
(b) The wing did not meet the objective requirement of having an automated fire alarm system installed in the dormitories at Khobar Towers. In assessing accountability for this shortcoming, one should consider that the buildings were not built, owned or leased by the United States--rather they were provided by the government of Saudi Arabia for the use of the US armed forces. The US occupancy was originally intended to be temporary but was extended. The cost of an installed automatic fire alarm system was estimated at $250,000. Smoke alarms had been installed, and the buildings construction presented a very low risk of fire, in the opinion of a number of assigned fire chiefs. The US occupied the buildings for five years before the time period in question. This shortcoming was not recognized in two different staff assistance visits.
(c) The wing commander decided to program funding for the fire alarm system in the five-year plan, rather than attempt to have an alarm system installed immediately. The appropriateness of this decision must be evaluated in terms of the information available to him. Apparently, his decision was based, in large part, upon the unanimous opinions of several fire marshals, the civil engineering squadron commander, and the support group commander, that such a system was not required. It is expected that a commander will rely upon the advice of functional experts, absent significant evidence to the contrary. Additionally, the commander was aware that the wing had occupied the buildings for five years, and that the cement construction of the buildings did not present a significant threat of fire. Given the opinions of the experts, the history of the occupation of the buildings at Khobar Towers, the construction of the buildings, the absence of any fire related incidents in the dormitories, the advice of his experts and the cost of the system, the wing commanders decision was reasonable.
b. Radio Links Between Sentries and Giant Voice
(a) This section analyzes the adequacy of the procedures for activating the Giant Voice system in response to a bomb threat. In contrast to fire alarms, the Giant Voice system was multi-purpose. In siren mode, consistent with local practice, it was an attack alarm historically used as the alert for Scud missiles. In siren mode, it could also be used as a general attack warning. Any warning sent over Giant Voice would go out to the entire Khobar Towers complex. The siren warning could be augmented by voice messages to moderate the sense of emergency as required. However, the voice mode was difficult to hear.
(b) The Wing Operations Center (WOC) was located at King Abdul Aziz Air Base (KAAAB) while the central security control (CSC) was located at Khobar Towers. During normal day-to-day activities, the WOC provided the wings emergency action response and reporting, was the primary interface for the wings senior commanders, and was the primary point of contact between the wing and higher headquarters. During emergencies and contingencies, the WOC was staffed by senior organizational representatives to advise the battle staff (wing commander and his senior staff) of operations within their respective units. The CSC was connected to the WOC by telephone and radio. On 25 June 1996 the land mobile radio communications system at Khobar Towers and KAAAB included the wing command net and the security police communication networks. The wing command net fell under the operational control of the wing operations center (WOC) and CSC controlled the security police net. This arrangement was a legacy from Desert Storm and is similar to that found at most Air Force installations.
(c) Security police used a quick reaction checklist for the activation of Giant Voice. The checklist at Khobar Towers is a variation of those used at other bases for activating Giant Voice.
(d) Security police sentries and patrols did not have direct access to the WOC or to the command net. They communicated with the CSC and between one another via the security net. WOC personnel monitored the security police net on a continuous basis.
(e) The Giant Voice siren was the means used to notify the local populace and base personnel of an impending enemy attack and was controlled by the WOC. It was not used for previous bomb threat warnings within the compound. Procedures for the security police to activate the Giant Voice system were as follows:
1 Observation post/patrol requests CSC to activate the alert system
2 CSC requests the WOC activate Giant Voice
3 WOC notifies the wing commander of the request seeking his permission to activate Giant Voice
4 If permission received, the WOC activates Giant Voice to warn KAAAB and Khobar Towers of an emergency.
(f) On 25 June 1996, the security police commander and his personnel could not activate Giant Voice without going through the established procedures; the procedures in place reserved that authority to the wing commander or his designee under emergency response plans. The requirement that Giant Voice be approved by the commander or his designee was designed to avoid the unnecessary or inadvertent activation of the system, in deference to the host nations sensitivities about alarming its citizens.
(a) AFI 32-4001, Disaster Preparedness Planning and Operation, (6 May 1994), provides only general guidance concerning warning and notification systems.
7.1. Warning and Notification. Every Air Force installation must have a rapid and effective system to disseminate disaster information quickly.
7.1.1. Use signals that are compatible with local, host-nation, or theater systems. Follow command or theater guidance when more than one warning and notification system could apply.
(b) There are no regulations or instructions prescribing radio links between sentries and those who activate Giant Voice.
(a) At issue is whether the procedure for activating the Giant Voice system was inappropriate, because it did not allow for the timely activation of the Giant Voice System in response to a bomb threat. The general adequacy of warning systems is discussed earlier in this report. Since there are no objective standards providing direction or guidance on the employment of a Giant Voice system, it is necessary to analyze of the commanders conduct in continuing this multi-layered process for activation in light of all the circumstances.
(b) The Giant Voice system was not the appropriate warning system for a suspected bomb threat. In siren mode, it was used as a general attack (take cover) warning alarm. It was difficult to hear the outdoor loudspeakers, especially when people were inside, with air conditioners, radios or televisions operating. Messages had to be spoken very slowly to be understood. Giant Voice announcements drew personnel to their windows and balconies in order to hear the message. As such, it was only appropriate for use in limited circumstances, in siren mode as a general attack warning, and in voice mode in those circumstances not requiring the most urgent response, such as assuming mission oriented protective postures (MOPP conditions) well in advance of attack, or in announcing all clear. Giant Voice was not used at Khobar Towers for previous bomb threats. The purpose of the Giant Voice system was to warn of general attacks. The procedures for activating Giant Voice were consistent with this purpose.
(c) Based on its limitations and history, Giant Voice was not a suitable alarm system for a bomb threat. The citizens of Dhahran experienced the threat of Scud missile attacks during the Gulf War. The Saudi government was sensitive to having a large foreign military force stationed in one of its major cities. It was thought that frequent use of the Giant Voice in siren mode would alarm the local citizens and exacerbate the situation. The US forces, in deference to the host nations wishes, minimized the use of Giant Voice to those circumstances consistent with the host nations concerns. Under the circumstances, a procedure designed to avoid unnecessary or inadvertent activation is appropriate.
(d) The wing had specific procedures in place to react to bomb threats. The wings antiterrorism plan included roving and stationary police patrols, including rooftop sentries, to alert personnel. While not automated, this flexibility permitted an appropriate response to the wide variety of forms a terrorist attack or a bomb threat could take. Guidance in the area specifically recognizes that evacuations depend on the circumstances. Consequently, while procedures exist for bomb threats, and bomb threats may employ general evacuation plans, there is no requirement for a bomb threat alarm system. Each threat must be evaluated and guidance tailored to the specific threat posed.
(e) The established procedures for activating Giant Voice recognized the Saudi sensitivity to the use of Giant Voice, and required approval of the wing commander or his designee. The limitations inherent in the system made it unsuitable as a warning system for terrorist attacks or bomb threats. While the approval system in place was slower than having direct access, it was sufficient for the limited use for which the Giant Voice system was intended. This limited use is consistent with the manner in which Giant Voice is used at other installations. Another system of notification by security police patrols was in place to warn personnel of localized bomb threats. Under the circumstances, the multi-level activation process was reasonable.
c. Full-Time Interpreters
(a) This section addresses the reasonableness of having only one interpreter for the wing in responding to a terrorist threat. From the time the wing moved to Dhahran in 1992, it relied on coordinating with the Saudis through those host nation contacts who spoke English. Shortly after his arrival, General Schwalier observed the difficulties associated with not having a full-time interpreter and hired the wings first, and only, interpreter in September 1995.
(b) The interpreter was assigned to the support group commander, but the majority of his time was spent supporting the security police. In addition to assisting the security police, the interpreter worked on various claims and assisted the AFOSI detachment. In the event of competing requests for his services, the support group commander would set priorities. When the interpreter was on vacation, the wing returned to its old methods of coordination, relying on English speaking Saudi liaisons until his return.
(c) The interpreter was provided a pager and cell phone for easy contact. When security police saw what they believed to be suspicious activity outside the fence line, they paged the interpreter and requested he coordinate their concerns with the proper host nation forces. The Saudis required US authorities to contact their Saudi military police counterparts, who would in turn notify the civilian police. The system did not facilitate an immediate response by civilian police, and many times the suspicious person had departed the area before civilian police forces arrived.
(d) The night of the bombing, the wing interpreter was off-base at a local mall. After security police on Building 131 contacted the CSC, the CSC paged the interpreter. He immediately contacted them via his cell phone. Security police advised him that a tank truck had just backed up and parked near the bushes along the northern perimeter and they needed him to call the Saudi military police as soon as possible. The interpreter immediately attempted to call the Saudi military police, but their telephones were busy. He then heard the bomb explosion.
(e) Prior to the wing hiring the interpreter, the security police had limited communication with the Saudi Military Police who had security responsibilities at Khobar Towers. After the interpreter was hired, the security police used the wing interpreter at will, night and day.
(f) AFOSI mostly relied on English speaking Saudis, but in those cases where an interpreter was required, they used the wing interpreter. They also used the services of the Protocol Officer at the U.S. Consulate, Dhahran and a U.S. Army Military Intelligence linguist for introductions and translations with host nation officials.
(2) Standards: There are no specific standards for assigning or hiring interpreters for wings.
(a) Brigadier General Schwalier was the first wing commander assigned for one year, and the first to recognize the benefits of having an interpreter working for the wing. He hired the first interpreter for the wing and assigned him to the support group, because its members had the most frequent contact with the Saudis.
(b) The assigned interpreter was on-call 24-hours a day. Other than those times he was on leave, he responded when paged, called or requested. Wing personnel preferred to use the wings interpreter than to go through the Saudi liaisons. The interpreter had to work hard to satisfy all the desires of the wing. Wing leadership believed that the interpreter did an outstanding job interfacing with the Saudis. In fact, the wing commander later recognized that the wing would have benefited from an additional interpreter, because the present interpreter worked so hard.
(c) On the night of 25 June 1996, the interpreter had been contacted and was seeking to establish contact with the Saudi military police when the explosion occurred. Given the wings reaction time from assessment of a potential threat to the explosion, approximately three to four minutes, the fact the interpreter had been contacted and was attempting to call the Saudi military police indicates that the notification was proceeding in a timely manner. The security police followed established Saudi procedures for notifying Saudi military police who would notify their civil police. The availability of the one full-time interpreter was not a limiting factor in the wings response to the suspicious truck.
(d) There are no standards for assigning or authorizing interpreters for wings. As in this case, wing commanders must rely on their own judgment and resources to fill the position. Brigadier General Schwaliers decision to hire an interpreter showed initiative. It would have been possible to coordinate with the Saudi law enforcement offices without the wing interpreter, as the wing had done for the preceding five years. Indeed, having an interpreter in the wing may have speeded up the efforts to contact the Saudi military police. There is no indication having only one interpreter affected coordination with Saudi officials on 25 June 1996. It was reasonable to have only one interpreter.
4. Training, Equipping and Manning the Guard Force:
a. General. This section discusses the lack of a formal training program for security police personnel on temporary duty at Khobar Towers, the adequacy of the supplies of weapons and ammunition for the security force, and the maintenance of weapons.
(a) Training the Security Force: The security police squadron did not provide formal training to its members; the unit was not staffed to perform this function. Security police deploying from stateside units were expected to arrive trained. Despite the lack of training manpower for formal training, the security police commander conducted scenario-based training with his personnel. Training conducted from April to June 1996 included a response exercise to test patrols, an M-60 machine gun exercise at the Main Gate, and an exercise with vehicles to secure the Main Gate. Air Force guidance requires a training program and does not differentiate between permanent and provisional units. The chief of security police establishes and directs the unit training program which does not contain exceptions for deployed units.
(b) Security Force Equipment: Before the bombing, there were 181 M-16 rifles with 79,418 rounds of ammunition; 35 9mm handguns with 3,760 rounds; eight M203 grenade launchers with 252 40mm HE rounds; and seven M-60 machine guns with 20,395 rounds. The total number of people to be armed determines the amount of ammunition required. Using THREATCON CHARLIE as a baseline, the unit required 134 weapons to be issued with ammunition. Each member of the unit was armed with a single weapon.
(c) In THREATCON CHARLIE, the ammunition requirement for each person armed with an M-16 rifle is 210 rounds. Given this baseline and assuming each individual were armed with an M-16, 28,140 rounds of M-16 ammunition (134 x 210) were required. After allocating the 28,140 rounds, 51,278 would remain. However, not all posts required the issuance of an M-16 rifle. Some required the 9mm semi-automatic pistol, which used 9mm ammunition (basic load = 30 rounds) or the M-60 machine gun, which used 7.62mm ammunition (basic load = 800 rounds). The wing had 35 9mm handguns and 3,760 rounds of ammunition. If all 9mm handguns were issued with the requisite basic load, only 1,050 rounds (35 x 30) were required, leaving 2,710 rounds. The wing had 7 M-60 machine guns with 20,395 rounds of ammunition. If all 7 M-60 machine guns were issued with their basic load, 5,600 rounds were required (7 x 800), leaving 14,795 rounds.
(d) How weapons were assigned: The security police used two methods to assign weapons. The M-16s were assigned to an individual for the duration of their 90-day TDY. That individual was then responsible for cleaning the assigned weapon. 9mm handguns, on the other hand were rotated among different individuals because the wing did not have one to issue each SP.
(e) Weapons Cleaning and Maintenance: A detailed discussion of the facts, standards, and analysis pertaining to those subjects and the finding by the Downing Assessment regarding the discovery of dirty weapons or weapons that were not well maintained is contained in the next section.
(f) Manning. Air Force requirements and local commanders, the wing commander and his chief of security police, determine how many posts security police must work daily. The chief of security police identified 39 24-hour posts to be manned in THREATCON BRAVO. Their duties included stationary sentries, vehicle patrols and supervisors. In THREATCON CHARLIE, the unit was required to man 67 posts.
(g) There were 169 personnel assigned to the security police squadron at Dhahran before the bombing. They worked rotating 12 hour shifts in order to provide 24-hour coverage of posts dispersed throughout the King Abdul Aziz Air Base flight line and Khobar Towers complex. At THREATCON BRAVO, a minimum of 78 security police (39 x 2) were required. At THREATCON CHARLIE, a minimum of 134 (67 x 2) security police personnel were needed. For extended THREATCON CHARLIE, the unit needed an additional 44 personnel to allow assigned personnel time off. Preliminary coordination had been accomplished in the event this became necessary.
(h) At the time of the bombing, the security police manned the 39 posts required by THREATCON BRAVO. The Wing had been in THREATCON BRAVO since the OPM-SANG bombing in November 1995.
(i) The formula for security police shift manning in peacetime is 5.340 persons for each 24-hour post. Peacetime manning assumes an 8 hour workday, a six day work week with three days off, and normal rates of leave, TDY, training and illness. In this deployed location, the security police worked 12 hour shifts (two days on duty and one day off) to man the required posts. It was not uncommon for individuals to work more hours in the 4404th Wing (P) than they worked when they were not deployed.
(j) With respect to security forces working 12-hour shifts, this was noted when the wing was in advanced threat conditions after the bombing, which necessitated additional posts. It was common for personnel in the 4404th Wing (P) to work 12- hour shifts. Finally, sentries on static posts during 12-hour shifts were periodically rotated approximately every six hours to other duties to shield them from the elements and keep them alert.
(k) Policies and Practices Regarding Weapons Proficiency. The security police squadron did not provide proficiency (weapons qualification) training for its TDY members. Like formal training, deployed security police were expected to arrive in Dhahran proficient in their weapons from their home base. AFI 36-2255 does not require re-certification during a 90-day rotation. The security police squadron had set up procedures to check the weapons cards of incoming personnel to make sure they were proficient. There was no firing range readily available for security police personnel to fire their weapons. Even without a firing range, the unit coordinated with the French to provide weapons training to a newly arrived airman whose proficiency was overlooked prior to his arrival. The French range was approximately 30 miles from Khobar Towers. The evidence shows that M-16 rifles and M-60 machine guns throughout Southwest Asia had not been fired since the Gulf War. Without being fired, a weapon cannot be battle-sighted to zero. However, all weapons at Dhahran were mechanically zeroed when they were inspected by the Combat Arms Training and Maintenance (CATM) Technician. Basically, mechanical zeroing is not as accurate as zeroing after firing, but it is close. The security police commander was very confident that the weapons were properly calibrated for targets up to 300 meters. Deploying security forces weapons proficiency training was conducted at their home base.
(a) Standards, regulations and instructions applicable to security police training, equipment and manning are cited below.
(b) Instructions affecting training. AFI 36-2225, Security Police Training and Standardization Evaluation Programs, 1 Mar 96. This instruction explains procedures and establishes requirements and guidelines for the security police unit training and standardization evaluation programs. Mandatory standards for the Chief of Security Police are:
(1) Establish the unit training program with guidance from the major command.
(2) Schedule and conduct orientation and initial training.
(3) Determine contingency training requirements.
(c) AFI 36-2226, Combat Arms Training and Maintenance (CATM) Program, 16 Jun 94. This instruction describes how to plan, conduct, administer, evaluate, and manage the CATM Program, which develops individual ground-weapon skills. Key standards:
(1) It requires CATM technicians to supervise and perform maintenance and inspections on all weapons assigned.
(2) The Installation Commander funds ranges and ensures support facilities, weapons maintenance facilities, and an adequate number of qualified combat arms personnel are available to the installation's CATM program.
(3) The Chief of Security Police appoints a CATM Superintendent or NCOIC who is at least a 7-skill level.
(4) Exempts personnel serving short overseas tours from firearms training until they complete their original tours, not to exceed 24 months. However, commanders at these overseas locations are encouraged to provide firearms training to meet normal firearms training requirements whenever possible.
(d) AFM 36-2227, Volume 1, Combat Arms Training and Maintenance (CATM) Training Management and Range Operations, 1 February 1996. This manual provides procedures and guidance for managing the CATM section. It includes procedures on firearms training programs, range operation and management, and weapons maintenance. It requires weapons to be inspected semiannually for cleanliness, lubrication, and proper function.
(e) Instructions applicable to manning. HQ USAF/SFX Memorandum, 18 Mar 97 w/atch. This memorandum provides security police post manning factors to compute manpower requirements per authorized position. In addition, it provides an outline of the objective wing security police squadron manpower.
(f) Instructions applicable to equipment. Air Force Catalog (AFCAT) 21-209, Ground Munitions, 28 October 1994. This catalog lists who has operational and training munitions authorizations and explains how these authorizations are established, reviewed and changed. USCENTAF minimum requirements include:
(1) 168 rounds of 5.56mm ball ammunition for each M-16;
(2) 800 rounds of 7.62mm ball ammunition for each M-60;
(3) 30 rounds of 9mm ball ammunition for each M9 handgun;
(4) Various amounts (of different numbers) of rounds for the M203 Grenade Launcher depending upon the type of ammunition.
(a) This analysis will not address issues relating to the maintenance and cleaning of weapons. That subject is addressed separately in the next section.
(b) Training. AFI 36-2225 requires the Security Police Commander to establish a training program. AFI 36-2201, provides general guidelines for that program. It is generally understood that a training program will include some systematic process including a system of record keeping and job certification. While Lieutenant Colonel Traister did initiate training scenarios, it is doubtful that these would qualify as a training program. On the other hand, there were significant limiting factors which made the establishment of a formal training program nearly impossible.
(c) All of the personnel assigned were required to arrive fully qualified and, after 90 day rotations, returned to their parent organizations which were required to maintain their own formal training program. To maintain the continuity of such a formal program with all personnel rotating every 90 days, including the commander, would have been a tremendous undertaking and would have detracted from other efforts to support the mission. A significant level of effort to improve the physical security of Khobar Towers was in progress.
(d) The requirements of AFI 36-2225 for mission oriented training were being addressed by Lieutenant Colonel Traister who initiated several training exercises and scenarios. Concentration on these training scenarios and exercises would appear to have been a prudent use of time, resources and personnel. The deviations from what would officially be considered a training program were minor in light of the mission and the actual training that took place. Lieutenant Colonel Traister did not request additional manning to fulfill the technical requirements of a formal training program for record keeping and certification of individuals who were suppose to be fully qualified on arrival and were only in country for 90 days.
(e) Ammunition and Manning. The standards regarding ammunition and manning were clearly met. The standards are mathematical in their application. The squadron was manned to maintain the various THREATCON levels for the requisite time periods and had made initial arrangements for increased manning should they need to sustain THREATCON CHARLIE for long durations.
(4) Conclusion: Standards regarding ammunition stocks and manning levels were met. The security police commander did not meet the requirement for a formal training program. When Lieutenant Colonel Traister arrived, there was no formal training program. He did initiate mission oriented training as required. While manning was adequate for all mission oriented activities including the various threat conditions, Lieutenant Colonel Traister would have had to request additional manning to satisfy the administrative record keeping requirements of a formal program. In light of the 90-day rotation policy, the fact that personnel were to arrive fully trained, the initiation of mission oriented training, and the sensitivity regarding the size of the force, the failure to institute a formal training program was reasonable.
b. Maintenance of Weapons:
(a) Within Finding 20 of the Downing Assessment it was observed that weapons "were dirty and/or not well maintained at Khobar Towers and other locations in the region. In some instances, it was doubtful that these weapons would have functioned properly, if fired." This section focuses on the maintenance and condition of weapons at Khobar Towers.
(b) The 4404th Security Police Squadron had a Combat Arms Training and Maintenance (CATM) specialist assigned to at the time of the Khobar Towers bombing. He was the only CATM specialist in the AOR at the time. As such, he was responsible for inspecting and maintaining all the Air Force weapons in the AOR. Weapons in daily use required semi-annual functional inspection. During the inspection, the weapon is disassembled-checked to determine if it will function without actually firing it. During his rotation, the CATM specialist conducted the inspection at Dhahran, three locations in Kuwait, Ali Al Salem, and Al Jaber. Most other locations belonging to the 4404th Wing (P) did not require inspections during his rotation, however one site may have been due an inspection that was not completed.
(c) The CATM specialist inspected all the M-16s at Dhahran before the bombing and mechanically zeroed them. All the weapons were in operational condition. Because of the heat and humidity, the CATM specialist found some surface rust on the outside of some of the barrels near the front sight and flash suppresser. There was no rust on the internal components including the bolt and other operational parts. He discovered the surface rust on the 10 to 25 weapons that had been there the longest.
(d) There were continuing problems with rust on the M-60 machine guns. Two were kept at all times in the air-conditioned static machine gun bunker. The end of the barrel near the flash suppresser stuck out of the bunker into the heat and humidity while the rest of the weapon was in the air-conditioned bunker. Some rust developed externally where the humidity condensed on the cold barrel. The weapons had to be rotated to wipe off any surface rust and re-oiled. As with the M-16s, there was no rust on the internal components. The M-60s were rotated every Tuesday and Saturday.
(e) The armory maintained approximately 35 9mm handguns. As with the other weapons, some developed surface rust despite daily lubrication by the armorers.
(f) (U) The CATM specialist never found a weapon of any type that did not function, nor was one ever reported.
(g) Originally, the squadron required security police personnel to clean their assigned weapon, at a minimum, every fifth cycle. This normally meant every two weeks as each cycle consisted of two days on and one day off duty. Prior to the Khobar Towers bombing, the minimum cleaning cycle was reduced to one week. In order to enforce the requirement, armory personnel posted the names of those security police who returned "dirty" weapons to the armory. "Dirty" in the context of the environment meant a thin coat of dust from being outside with the weapon during the day. The wind would blow fine sand onto the weapon which would stick to the lubricated parts. If the member did not have a plastic muzzle cap, sand could travel down the barrel as well. Normally a "dirty" weapon merely needs to be wiped off followed by a coat of lubricant. Since the weapons were not fired, there would not be any carbon. Normally the sand would be around the front sight, the rear sight and the outside of the barrel.
(h) Prior to the Khobar Towers bombing, personnel did not deploy with weapons but were assigned a weapon on arrival. They were assigned the same M-16 for their entire rotation. Because the number of 9 millimeters was limited, they would be rotated. The armorers were responsible for cleaning and maintaining the unassigned M-16s and the 9-millimeter handguns.
(i) After the Downing Assessment visited the facility, the CATM specialist was informed by the operations officer that the Downing Assessment had inspected the two M-60 machine guns and was of the opinion that the weapons were non-operational. The CATM specialist immediately inspected the guns. One had a thumbprint size rust spot on the outside of the receiver, the spot where the user would hold on to the weapon. The spot did not interfere with the operation of the weapon. Function checks were performed immediately and both M-60 machine guns were found to function properly.
(j) It is not possible to determine if a weapon is functional merely by looking at it absent obvious damage. Unless the weapon is taken apart and inspected for such things as the placement of the firing pin, an observer cannot tell if it is operational without firing it.
(a) AFI 36-2226, Combat Arms Training and Maintenance (CATM) Program, 16 Jun 94. This instruction describes how to plan, conduct, administer, evaluate, and manage the CATM Program, which develops individual ground-weapon skills. It requires CATM technicians to supervise and perform maintenance and inspections on all weapons assigned.
(b) AFM 36-2227, Volume 1, Combat Arms Training and Maintenance (CATM) Training Management and Range Operations, 1 February 1996. This manual provides procedures and guidance for managing the CATM section. It includes procedures on firearms training programs, range operation and management, and weapons maintenance. It requires weapons to be inspected semiannually for cleanliness, lubrication, and proper function.
(c) 4404th Wing (P) Security Police Squadron Operating Instruction 31-201, 8 Jun 1996, Operation of the Security Police Armory, required all flight personnel to clean their assigned weapon weekly. Weapons exposed to adverse weather were required to be cleaned and lightly oiled before turn in. Maintenance of weapons assigned to the Armory was the responsibility of the Armorer.
(a) The semi-annual inspections were being completed as required by AFM 36-2227, with the possible exception that one six month inspection at one site. The requirements of AFI 36-2226 were being discharged by the CATM specialist. He also enforced the provisions of the Squadron Operating Instruction.
(b) While there was some rust on weapons, it was not unexpected considering the conditions in the AOR, It did not affect the operation of the weapons which were fully functional. It was natural for some fine sand to cling to the weapons by the end of the day. The operating instruction requiring weapons to be cleaned was being enforced.
(4) Conclusion: The wing was in compliance with all directives dealing with weapons maintenance, with the possible exception of the inspection of one site.
5. Establishment of THREATCON Levels.
(1) This section examines the adequacy of threat conditions for Khobar Towers established by the wing commander. From March 1992 through November 1995, USCENTCOM declared the terrorist threat level in Saudi Arabia as MEDIUM. After the bombing at OPM-SANG, USCENTCOM raised the threat assessment to HIGH.
(2) After the OPM-SANG bombing in November 1995, the wing commander established the threat condition at Khobar Towers and King Abdul Aziz Air Base at BRAVO. Additionally, a number of measures for CHARLIE had been implemented. He coordinated the THREATCON with the JTF-SWA, the Army component commander, the British and the French. He conducted weekly meetings with his staff to address force protection issues, providing an opportunity to reevaluate the appropriateness of the threat condition. The commanders staff discussed, at length, the appropriate threat condition.
(3) US authorities recognized the likelihood of another bomb attack in the AOR. Khobar Towers was recognized as one of the more likely points of attack. A Military Intelligence Digest (MID) report dated 17 June 1996 indicated there was an increased security threat for Khobar Towers. The MID summarized information that the AFOSI had sent up for publication. The local AFOSI offices actually had more information about each individual occurrence, which suggested the incidents were not as threatening as reported in the MID. The wing commander had not seen the MID which was published just eight days prior to the bombing, although he had been briefed on the underlying incidents.
(4) The Downing Assessment stated that, when considering raising the THREATCON level from BRAVO to CHARLIE, the support group commander was told by the security police squadron commander that there were insufficient personnel to sustain the number of posts at THREATCON CHARLIE, suggesting that the decision not to go to THREATCON CHARLIE was driven by manning considerations. However, the support group commander specifically denied that manpower constraints dictated the threat level. Instead, he indicated the THREATCON was not raised because the conditions for CHARLIE were not present. The support group commander explained that an "imminent threat" against a "specific target" had not been identified. The security police squadron commander also indicated that he did not believe THREATCON CHARLIE was necessary or justifiable because the threat was not imminent. He also stated that additional manning would be requested for THREATCON CHARLIE. Most such requests had been granted by USCENTAF and USCENTCOM.
b. Standards: Several regulations and guides provide instructions on establishing the threat condition. This is handled as a part of overall efforts dedicated toward force protection.
(1) DoD 0-2000.12-H, Protection of DoD Personnel and Activities Against Acts of Terrorism and Political Turbulence (February 1993), specifically applies to unified and specified commands, and defense agencies. It provides general guidance to commanders, and suggestions for programs to be implemented.
(2) DoD 0-2000.12-H, Appendix BB, also defines the criteria for threat conditions.
THREATCON ALPHA ... applies when there is a general threat of possible terrorist activity against installations and personnel, the nature and extent of which are unpredictable, when the circumstances do not justify full implementation of the measures of threat condition BRAVO.... The measures in this threat condition must be capable of being maintained indefinitely.
THREATCON BRAVO ... applies when an increased and more predictable threat of terrorist activity exists. The measures in this threat condition must be capable of being maintained for weeks without causing undue hardship, without affecting operational capabilities, and aggravating relations with local authorities.
THREATCON CHARLIE ... applies when an incident occurs or when intelligence is received indicating some form of terrorist action against personnel and facilities is imminent. Implementation of measures in the THREATCON for more than a short period will create a hardship and affect peacetime activities ....(emphasis added)
(3) Air Force Instruction 31-210, The Air Force Antiterrorism (AT) Program (1 July 1995), defines the installation commanders role in terms of certain functions, but does not use mandatory language. The installation commanders functions include implementing THREATCON measures as specified in DoDD 0-2000.12, DoD Combating Terrorism Program, as appropriate.
(4) Joint Publication 3-07.2, Joint Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Antiterrorism, (25 June 1993), provides general guidance on the establishment of threat conditions, as part of force protection. Joint doctrine is authoritative but not directive. Joint Pub 1-01 specifically provides that "Commanders will exercise judgment in applying the procedures herein to accomplish their missions. This doctrine ... should be followed except when, in the judgment of the commander, exceptional circumstances dictate otherwise."
(5) USCENTCOM Message, 10 April 1996, Letter of Instruction for Force Protection within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, was directive for all U.S. military forces in Saudi Arabia. It provided that the Commander, JTF-SWA, was to perform force protection oversight for all combatant forces. It also stated the commander, JTF-SWA, had the authority necessary to "set minimum threat conditions for all deployed combatant forces; monitor actual threat conditions at all deployed combatant force locations; direct the preparation of vulnerability assessments; direct or conduct security related inspections; and direct or conduct security related assistance/site visits."
(6) The 4404th Wing (P) Installation Security Plan set forth various guidelines for executing its force protection mission. The plan specifically addressed measures to be taken in threat conditions ALPHA, BRAVO, CHARLIE, and DELTA.
(1) Under AFI 31-210, the wing commander, was required to establish the installations threat condition as specified in DoDD 0-2000.12, DoD Combating Terrorism Program, as appropriate. The objective standards required for establishing threat conditions were set out in the definitions. Even though objective criteria for threat conditions are provided, commanders are nonetheless required to exercise their own judgment in establishing threat conditions, considering the mission, the local environment and the nature of the threat.
(2) The wing commander set the THREATCON for his installation. He coordinated the THREATCON with the JTF-SWA, the Army component commander, the British and the French. He conducted weekly meetings with his staff to address force protection issues, providing a weekly opportunity to reevaluate the appropriateness of the threat condition. Also, the commanders staff discussed at length the appropriate threat condition.
(3) According to DoD 2000.12H, Appendix BB, THREATCON BRAVO is appropriate in situations where "an increased and more predictable threat of terrorist activity exists." Given the generalized nature of the threat (discussed in section III.B.2, above), and the lack of any indication that an attack was "imminent," it appears the THREATCON BRAVO was appropriate. There was no specific information of an imminent threat--indeed none of the intelligence provided any indication of when a terrorist attack might occur. In the complete absence of any indication that an attack was "imminent," THREATCON CHARLIE was neither required nor appropriate. Nevertheless, the wing commander implemented some measures from CHARLIE. He acted in accordance with the objective criteria for establishing threat conditions.
(4) The suggestion that the decision to establish the THREATCON at BRAVO was driven by manning is not supported by the evidence. The conclusion seems to be based upon Lieutenant Colonel Traisters observation that his unit could only support THREATCON CHARLIE for two or three weeks. However, it is clear that going to THREATCON CHARLIE is expected to cause such manning problems. DoDD 2000.12, paragraph 8, specifically anticipates such a manning problem in THREATCON CHARLIE, and therefore notes that it is a condition to be maintained for a short time. Moreover, the commanders at Khobar Towers were aware of the need for additional manning should CHARLIE be required, and they stood ready to request such manning should it have been necessary. When Lieutenant Colonel Traister made the comments about the manning difficulties presented by THREATCON CHARLIE, he noted that he would have to request additional manning. It is appropriate that commanders consider the impact on manning when THREATCON change--indeed, the objective guidance cited above makes this consideration a required part of the decision process.
D. CHAIN OF COMMAND RESPONSIBILITIES
1. Facts. This section analyzes the adequacy of the supervision and support provided by the chain of command in the area of force protection.
a. On August 26, 1992, USCINCCENTCOM activated the JTF-SWA at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. At the outset of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, USCENTCOM approved a 90 day rotation policy for Air Force personnel, implemented after 15 October 1992. In January 1995, the 90-day rotation policy was reviewed by Headquarters, Air Force Military Personnel Center, and coordinated with the commanders of joint commands. This review was driven by the increase in TDY taskings for Air Force members world-wide which greatly increased the operations tempo for the Air Force, and the desire to minimize the hardships which accompany such requirements. In response, USCENTCOM expressed the opinion that a standard tour length "between 120 to 179 days provides a degree of continuity and allows enough flexibility to meet service/mission specific requirements ...." USCINCCENT observed that, "although a 90 day tour length works well for the Air Force, it may not provide required continuity and transition time for other services ...." USCENTCOM continued the 90-day rotation policy for Air Force personnel, with exceptions for select positions. As the Joint Task Force mission continued into 1995, the Commander, USCENTAF, requested that the tour lengths for the commanders, JTF-SWA and the 4404th Wing (P), as well as nine other positions be extended to one year. After coordination with USCENTCOM and Air Combat Command (ACC), these tours were extended.
b. The United States Air Force provided personnel to Operation SOUTHERN WATCH taken from various Air Force organizations, including, in order of priority, USCENTAF, ACC, and other Air Force resources world-wide. Most were deployed on temporary duty (TDY) for 90 day rotations. At the time of the bombing in June 1996, a few positions within the 4404th Wing (P) required TDYs longer than 90 days, including the commanders of JTF-SWA and 4404th Wing (P). Brigadier General Schwalier requested that seven additional positions within the wing, including the chief of security police, be converted to one-year tours. USCENTAF supported the request, adding two one-year billets for intelligence officers. The number of personnel at the 4404th Wing (P) and their tour lengths were as follows:
99 Less than 90 days
2,139 91 days
163 120 days
24 179 days
15 (1 pending) 1 year remote
c. There were disadvantages to having most personnel on 90-day tours. One disadvantage of 90-day tours was that it resulted in a turnover of about 10 percent of the personnel each week. While this turnover rate affects continuity, having key billets on one year tours helped provide necessary continuity. The Downing Assessment found that the short tours affected the continuity and effectiveness of force protection teams and initiatives, prevented the development of teamwork necessary for security operations, hampered effective liaison with host-nation intelligence counterparts, and prevented development of low-level intelligence sources.
d. Other factors weighed in favor of 90-day rotations. Having few personnel on longer tours is consistent with Saudi desires to avoid the appearance of having a permanent force in the AOR. At the time of the bombing, the Saudis perceived one-year tours as permanent. Saudi Arabia was recognized as a harsh environment in which to conduct a mission, even more so if personnel are required to maintain THREATCON CHARLIE on a daily basis. Limiting TDYs to 90 days helps reduce the hardships experienced by the members tasked to support the operation. It also reduces the impact on the personnel of the units which give up members to the task force. As Lieutenant Colonel Traister noted, after the drawdown of forces in the Air Force, security police manning was reduced about 50 percent. Even though there is a ten percent turnover each week, the new personnel join a force with 90 percent experienced personnel, providing a constant level of preparedness. If a new unit replaces an existing one, it takes time for the new unit to become fully adjusted to the new duty assignment. A constant rotation of personnel provides greater continuity than turning over whole units..
e. USCENTCOM Involvement.
(1) USCENTCOM had operational control over the AOR including Saudi Arabia. USCINCCENT, General J.H. Binford Peay, III, commander of the combatant command, had authority over assigned commands to organize, employ and direct all aspects of military operations necessary to accomplish OPERATION SOUTHERN WATCH. As such, USCENTCOM had operational control over USCENTAF, JTF-SWA and the 4404th Wing (P).
(2) From March 1992 through November 1995, USCENTCOM determined the terrorist threat level in Saudi Arabia to be MEDIUM. After the bombing at OPM-SANG, USCENTCOM raised the threat level assessment to HIGH. This threat level differs from the threat condition, which refers to an installations defensive posture. After the bombing in November 1995, USCENTCOM established a force protection board as a link to the component commanders and the field.
(3) USCINCCENT communicated regularly with commanders on force protection issues. He briefed Major General Anderson before his assignment as Commander, JTF-SWA, specifically emphasizing force protection. USCENTCOM sent out a series of messages between November 1995 and April 1996 to give commanders guidance on force protection issues. He or his staff also visited several sites in the AOR, though not all. Between September 1994 and June 1996, USCINCCENT made 16 visits to Saudi Arabia, including visits with the commander, JTF-SWA, in September 1995 and April 1996. Major General Hurd, Director of Operations, J3, USCENTCOM, visited sites in the AOR, including Khobar Towers. Brigadier General Schwalier showed Major General Hurd the perimeter and discussed force protection issues with him.
(4) In February 1996, USCENTCOM hosted a two day conference for component commanders, including USCENTAF and JTF-SWA, which included a briefing on force protection and a one hour discussion on division of responsibilities. This discussion prompted the production of the 10 April 1996 message, Letter of Instruction, outlining USCENTCOMs and JTF-SWAs responsibilities with respect to force protection. Because USCENTCOM was not forward-stationed, (the headquarters is at MacDill AFB, Florida) USCINCCENT relied upon the Commander, JTF-SWA, to perform much of USCENTCOMs oversight role, and gave him specific authority to inspect the units for force protection measures.
(5) USCENTCOM involvement with the wing was minimal below the wing commander level. Testimony indicated that the USCENTCOM staff considered any staff interaction to be the responsibility of the component. The opinion that the wing was an attached versus assigned unit (a contingency versus permanent unit) further reinforced their belief that oversight was not within their purview as a "war-fighting" headquarters. The USCENTCOM IG staff was small, and did not undertake the same functions as an IG staff at a major command. Instead, USCENTCOM relied upon component commanders for IG inspections.
f. USCENTAF Involvement.
(1) As the Air Force component command to USCENTCOM, USCENTAF had operational control over the 4404th Wing (P). USCENTAF is located at Shaw AFB, South Carolina. The headquarters was not located in the AOR, consistent with the political sensitivity to the number of US forces stationed in the AOR.
(2) Lieutenant General Jumper, the Commander, USCENTAF, was a direct supervisor of the Commander, 4404th Wing (P). The members of the wing understood USCENTAF to be their immediate headquarters. Lieutenant General Jumper had previously served as the Commander, JTF-SWA, and was thoroughly familiar with the AOR. He spoke regularly with the wing commander. Lieutenant General Jumper, and members of his functional staff, visited the AOR several times, touring facilities and discussing force protection efforts. They visited Khobar Towers on 19-20 November 1995.
(3) USCENTAF did not have experts on its staff to assist subordinate units. There was no security police section on the USCENTAF staff. The Downing Assessment found that USCENTAF relied upon Air Combat Command for some critical functions, such as Inspector General inspections. Most of the USCENTAF personnel were dedicated to operational issues; about 25 people were assigned to provide assistance to support functions. USCENTAF relied on experts from other organizations to provide assistance.
(4) The USCENTAF civil engineering section conducted annual staff assistance visits which included an inspection of fire prevention measures. These were the only ones performed by functional staff representatives. Although their visits and reports focused on inspections rather than assistance, they appeared to be the most involved. Another significant factor affecting the interface between USCENTAF and the wing was the small size of the USCENTAF support staff and their other taskings, such as exercise support and contingency planning.
(5) The 4404th Wing (P) requested that seven positions within the wing be converted to one-year tours. USCENTAF supported the request, and recommended that two additional positions for intelligence officers be converted to one-year tours. The additional nine one-year tours were approved.
g. JTF-SWA Involvement.
(1) When the Joint Task Force-Southwest Asia was created in November 1992, USCENTCOM delegated tactical control (TACON), but retained the operational control (OPCON) over assigned forces. TACON is the detailed and usually local direction and control of movements necessary to accomplish assigned missions. Thus, JTF-SWA controlled the aircraft of the 4404th Wing (P) after they were airborne.
(2) Major General Anderson, Commander of JTF-SWA, had tactical control over the forces under the wing. His role concerning force protection for subordinate organizations was limited to coordination and oversight. He indicated he was not able to order a supporting commander to take a specific action, although he did not feel it presented any problems, due to the nature of his relationships with the commanders concerned, and the fact that he had the authority of USCINCCENT behind him. Major General Andersons coordination function arose from the USCENTCOM Letter of Instruction on force protection, dated 10 April 1996, which he discussed with the drafters and his legal staff. Major General Anderson did not establish any standardized measures for force protection for supporting units, rather he coordinated on the protective measures taken by each organization. JTF-SWA had a force protection officer assigned, who was in daily contact with his counterparts in intelligence and the security police.
(3) In performing his oversight function, Major General Anderson visited support units, personally or by using functional experts. His second highest priority for inspection, right behind mission accomplishment, was force protection. He visited Khobar Towers on several occasions and inspected their force protection efforts. Meetings of the force protection committee were chaired by the Vice Commander, JTF-SWA.
(4) Lieutenant General Franklin served as the commander of JTF-SWA prior to Major General Anderson. He served a 90-day rotation beginning in February 1995, and went on to serve the first one year tour as the commander of JTF-SWA. He was committed to force protection, and, as the threat increased in Saudi Arabia, initiated measures to protect the security of the US personnel. He negotiated with the Saudis for physical improvements to compounds, directed that vulnerability assessments be conducted, disseminated intelligence and antiterrorist information, and provided guidance to other units.
a. DoDD 0-2000.12, DoD Combating Terrorism Program (Aug 27, 1990), requires the development, publication and maintenance of DoD 0-2000.12-H to provide guidance to commanders on force protection. Paragraph 8, of DoDD 0-2000.12 provides:
(1) The Commanders of the Unified and Specified Commands with territorial responsibilities shall:
(a) Establish command policies and programs for the protection of DoD personnel and their families, facilities, and other materiel resources from terrorist acts.
(b) Assess the terrorist threat for the theater according to this Directive, and provide a copy of the threat assessment to the Military Services....
(c) Keep subordinate commanders and chiefs of mission informed of the nature and degree of the local threat, and ensure that commanders are prepared to respond to threat changes.
(d) Assist subordinate commanders and DoD Agencies, within their geographic regions, in implementing antiterrorism programs.
(e) Ensure that THREATCONs are uniformly implemented and disseminated as specified by this Directive and by guidance in supporting Directives.
b. DoD 0-2000.12-H, Protection of DoD Personnel and Activities Against Acts of Terrorism and Political Turbulence (February 1993), specifically applies to unified and specified commands, and defense agencies. It is intended to be a reference document, and provides general guidance to commanders on force protection.
c. Air Force Instruction 31-210, The Air Force Antiterrorism (AT) Program (1 July 1995), prescribes broad areas of responsibility for antiterrorism efforts among the headquarters. The instruction implements DoDD 0-2000.12 and DoD 0-2000.12-H. Major commands are required to establish an antiterrorism program tailored to the local mission, conditions and the terrorist threat. This was in addition to their oversight responsibility exercised through their command security police chief under AFPD 31-2, Law Enforcement, 6 May 94. The instruction defines the installation commanders role in terms of certain functions, but does not use mandatory language.
d. Joint Publication 3-07.2, Joint Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Antiterrorism, (25 June 1993) provides commanders "guidance on how to organize, plan and train for the employment of US forces in interagency and multinational antiterrorism operations." Joint doctrine is authoritative but not directive. Joint Pub 1-01 specifically provides that "Commanders will exercise judgment in applying the procedures herein to accomplish their missions. This doctrine ... should be followed except when, in the judgment of the commander, exceptional circumstances dictate otherwise." Combatant Commanders are to designate a staff officer, usually in the J-3 or law enforcement or security section, to supervise, inspect, test and report on the base antiterrorism programs within theater. Joint Pub 3-07.2, applies to commanders of combatant commands, subunified commands, joint task forces, and their component commands. Thus, it applied to USCENTCOM, USCENTAF, and the 4404th Wing (P). Joint Pub 3-07.2 procedures were to be followed except in exceptional circumstances. It provides:
(1) [E]very commander, regardless of echelon of command or branch of Service, has an inherent responsibility for planning, resourcing, training, exercising, and executing antiterrorism measures to provide for the security of command.
(2) Theater Combatant Commanders:
(a) Through their chain of command, create a level of awareness, appreciation, and readiness commensurate to the threat.
(b) Ensure proper coordination of all local policies and measures for protecting DoD facilities, resources, equipment, personnel, and family members in foreign areas from terrorist acts and for assisting their subordinate commanders in implementing Military Service programs.
(c) Ensure DoD THREATCONS for combating terrorism are uniformly implemented ....
(d) Serve as the DoD point of contact with US embassies and host nation officials ....
(e) Assess the terrorist threat for the theater and provide a copy of the threat assessment to the Services.
e. USCENTCOMR 190-2, USCENTCOM Antiterrorism Measures (12 July 1995), applies to all units under operational control of USCINCCENT. Under the regulation, USCINCCENT is not responsible for setting the THREATCON for an installation, but is expected to:
(1) Ensure USCENTCOM installations and activities develop, maintain and make available protective procedures, guidance and instructions suitable to the local terrorist threat conditions, and in accordance with the organizations mission and other local conditions.
(2) Keep commanders informed of the nature and degree of the local terrorist threat and ensure they are prepared to respond appropriately to changes in that threat.
(3) Ensure proper coordination of all local policies and measures to protect DoD personnel from terrorist acts, and assist military theater commanders in implementing programs developed under DoDD 0-2000.12.
f. Additionally, specific offices within USCENTCOM are tasked to assist USCINCCENT in providing such support to the USCENTCOM activities. It appears that USCENTCOM regulations were not intended to apply to the 4404th Wing (P) or other similar units. At the time it was written, the drafters of USCENTCOMR 190-2 thought they did not have the authority to issue instructions on force protection to attached units. For that reason, it appears this regulation was never communicated to JTF-SWA or the 4404th Wing (P).
g. USCENTCOM Message, 10 April 1996, Letter of Instruction for Force Protection within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, was directive for all U.S. military forces in Saudi Arabia. It provided that the Commander, JTF-SWA, was to perform force protection oversight for all combatant forces. It also stated the commander, JTF-SWA, had the authority necessary to "set minimum threat conditions for all deployed combatant forces; monitor actual threat conditions at all deployed combatant force locations; direct the preparation of vulnerability assessments; direct or conduct security related inspections; and direct or conduct security related assistance/site visits."
h. AFPD 31-3, Air Base Defense, March 2, 1995, established policy for base defense operations, addressed the responsibilities of Air Force components of joint commands in ensuring force protection, and outlined installation commanders responsibilities for the defense of assets under their control. The policy directive specifically provided:
2.3 USAF components of joint commands will provide planning support to ensure adequate forces and intelligence are dedicated to protect USAF resources. The Air Force component, in coordination with the joint command, will ... tailor defense force structure and equipment to match force protection needs for Air Force war-fighting resources.
3. (U ) Analysis.
(1) USCINCCENT was responsible for assuring each organization planned, trained, exercised and executed antiterrorism measures, where appropriate. USCINCCENT did visit the AOR on numerous occasions, however there is no evidence that USCINCCENT personally visited the 4404th Wing (P) or other units, or that formal inspections were conducted by USCENTCOM personnel. USCENTCOM was located over 7,000 miles from Dhahran. The commander of a large unit with widely separated facilities cannot be expected to personally perform all inspections--rather, he must rely on subordinate staff officers and commanders to complete such functions. Major General Hurd, the USCENTCOM Director of Operations, visited Khobar Towers and other sites in the AOR. Brigadier General Schwalier took Major General Hurd on a tour of the perimeter and discussed force protection issues with him. The 10 April 1996 Letter of Instruction outlining USCENTCOMs and JTF-SWAs responsibilities delegated from USCINCCENT to JTF-SWA the authority for inspecting and overseeing the force protection efforts of the wing. Considering the relative locations of both organizations, the decision to delegate force protection responsibilities to the local commander was reasonable.
(2) Under DoDD 0-2000.12 and USCENTCOMR 190-2, USCENTCOM is responsible for providing a threat assessment to subordinate units. USCENTCOM fulfilled this objective requirement by providing a threat assessment for the AOR, and updating it as circumstances dictated. As noted above, USCENTCOM raised the threat level for the AOR from MEDIUM to HIGH after the bombing at OPM-SANG in November 1995. USCENTCOM does not set the threat condition for individual installations, but is expected to ensure a subordinate bases procedures are adequate. USCENTCOMs supervision was sufficient to meet its responsibility to oversee force protection.
(3) The intelligence concerning the nature of the terrorist threat to Khobar Towers was available to USCINCCENT, who had the responsibility to review the intelligence and assess the nature of the threat as part of his inherent duties to take adequate measures to protect forces. USCINCCENT indicated he kept himself constantly apprised of the intelligence reports from the AOR. He stated that, although there were general indications of increased activity, there was no clear indication of an impending major terrorist attack. This is consistent with the evaluations of others and the nature of the information available which lacked specificity as to a time, place or method of attack.
(4) USCENTCOM oversight of the daily operations of the wing was minimal given the immense geographical distance between them. This is consistent with Joint Pub 0-2, Chapter III, paragraph 3, which provides that command authority should normally be exercised through the commanders of subordinate organizations, and Joint Pub 3-07.2, p.I-3, which indicates theater combatant commanders should work "through the chain of command," to "create a level of awareness, appreciation and readiness commensurate to the threat."
(5) USCENTCOM coordinated on and accepted the 90-day rotation policy in the AOR. The Downing Assessment found that the 90-day rotation policy contributed to problems in force protection. There were disadvantages to the 90-day rotation, however, there was no indication that the rotation policy contributed to the bombing.
(a) The Downing Assessment found that the short tours affected the continuity and effectiveness of force protection teams and initiatives. Force protection initiatives at the 4404th Wing (P) began in earnest after the bombing at OPM-SANG in November 1996. They were handled by several standing committees, including the force protection working group and the Security Council. The groups considered the vulnerability assessments, discussed the various recommendations for corrective action, and implemented most of the proposals. There is no evidence establishing that any turnover in personnel during the working groups consideration of these matters resulted in some adverse impact on these initiatives.
(b) The Downing Assessment also found that the 90-day rotations prevented the development of teamwork necessary for security operations. The commander of the security police squadron agreed that longer tours would increase the continuity and improve the ability of units to function together. On 25 June 1996, the guards spotted the tank truck as soon as it pulled up outside the fence, notified the CSC and began an evacuation of the building. There is no evidence indicating that the security police squadrons ability to function together caused or contributed to the bombing at Khobar Towers.
(c) The Downing Assessment opined the 90-day tours hampered effective liaison with host-nation intelligence counterparts. SA McDonald, an AFOSI agent assigned to the 4404th Wing (P) agreed that longer tours would help US intelligence agents develop a rapport with their Saudi counterparts. There is no indication that any shortcoming in relations with Saudi intelligence caused or contributed to the bombing, or hampered readiness.
(d) The Downing Assessment found that the 90-day tours prevented intelligence agents from developing low-level intelligence sources. However, there is evidence indicating US intelligence assets were not authorized to develop low-level intelligence sources in Saudi Arabia. SA Reddecliff consulted with the CIA representative in Riyadh, and was advised that he was not to attempt to develop low-level sources.
(e) The Downing Assessment found that frequent rotations among intelligence personnel contributed to a lack of intelligence support for the 4404th Wing (P) commander. However, there is no evidence demonstrating the wing commander was deprived of any intelligence because of the rotation of intelligence personnel. The Downing Assessment characterized SA Reddecliffs 9 April 1996 message as an example of a failure of intelligence. The message did not contain any new intelligence information. SA Reddecliff only recommended that, in the event of an attack by a stand-off weapon from the northern perimeter, that adjacent buildings should be evacuated immediately. The wing had already recognized this possibility and planned to evacuate if necessary and did so on 25 June 1996. Brigadier General Schwalier was aware of the intelligence reports indicating the terrorist threat. No intelligence information was denied him because of tour length restrictions.
(f) The Downing Assessment found that "no effort was made to modify the Air Force 90-day rotation policy." As the mission evolved, critical positions were changed to one year tours, including the commanders of JTF-SWA and the 4404th Wing (P). The requests from the 4404th Wing (P) and USCENTAF for nine additional billets as one-year tours were approved. Also, the 90-day rotation policy was reviewed at the highest levels.
(1) USCENTAF was tasked, in coordination with USCENTCOM, to tailor defense force structure and equipment to match force protection needs. Under DoDD 0-2000.12 and AFI 31-210 it had the general responsibility to ensure the 4404th Wing (P) had adequate force protection plans in place. USCENTAF has no role in setting the THREATCON for a particular installation.
(2) As the direct supervisor of the wing commander, the USCENTAF commander had supervisory and inspection responsibilities over the wing. It appears USCENTAF was the only headquarters to conduct staff assistance visits at Khobar Towers. Through regular telephonic contact, and personal visits by the commander and functional staffs, USCENTAF took reasonable measures to ensure the wing was in the proper threat condition, considering the information known at the time, and taking reasonable steps to address the threat. Lieutenant General Jumper and his staff visited Dhahran in October 1995, and again in November 1995, when he visited facilities and was briefed on security measures. He made additional trips to the AOR in December 1995 and April 1996, although these trips did not include visits to Dhahran. Given the physical separation of the organizations, the level of contact and supervision was reasonable.
(3) The Downing Assessment indicated that USCENTAF did not review the vulnerability assessments of the 4404th Wing (P). The vulnerability assessments were reviewed by the Force Protection Board at USCENTCOM, although USCENTCOM relied upon the services to perform this function for combat units. Lieutenant General Jumper recalled discussing with Brigadier General Schwalier the progress made in implementing the recommendations contained in the vulnerability assessments.
(4) Lieutenant General Jumper was dual-hatted as the commander, 9th Air Force and the commander, USCENTAF. He noted that he did not have any experts on his staff at 9th Air Force. USCENTAF did not have a security police section. USCENTAF had personnel to assist the operations side, but only about 25 people assigned to provide assistance on the support side. Nonetheless, the commander, USCENTAF brought in experts to assist subordinate headquarters. CENTAF made sure the JTF SWA obtained the expert assistance they needed. Lieutenant Colonel Schellhous, the commander of the 4404th Civil Engineering Squadron, related that he normally forwarded requests for assistance to USCENTAF, and that they eventually got most of what they asked for, although they sometimes were required to go through "bureaucracy" to get it. It appears USCENTAF would have benefited from additional manning in areas dedicated to provide assistance to support units. Considering the manning limitations affecting the entire Air Force, and the mission in the AOR at the time, the manpower dedicated to assist the support sections was appropriate.
(1) In accordance with USCINCCENT Letter of Instruction, 10 April 1996, paragraph 3, the Commander, JTF-SWA had the authority to set threat conditions for all deployed combatant forces. It does not appear that JTF-SWA was required to set a uniform threat condition, where, as here, the individual organizations did so. The Commander, JTF-SWA did have the responsibility for oversight and coordination on force protection matters. It appears Major General Anderson met these objective requirements by having his representative, the vice commander, chair the force protection meetings, and by inspecting the various locations force protection measures. JTF-SWA fulfilled the suggestion contained in Joint Publication 3-07.2, Chapter I, paragraph 3, by having a force protection officer assigned, who coordinated with the security forces and intelligence assets.
(2) The commander made sure he maintained he had sufficient manpower to complete the force protection mission. The size of the JTF-SWA staff was controlled by the Saudis. The size of the JTF-SWA staff did not negatively impact the mission.
(3) In Finding 4, the Downing Assessment criticized the fact that the JTF-SWA commander did not have operational control over the wing, and thus could not direct that specific actions on force protection be taken. The evidence indicates the wing commander at the 4404th Wing (P) understood the relationship between USCENTCOM and JTF-SWA. No problems were reported. Major General Anderson did not believe he would have had any problem accomplishing specific recommendations, because he spoke for USCINCCENT on force protection matters. There is no evidence indicating that JTF-SWAs role as USCENTCOMs delegee for inspection and coordination of force protection matters was misunderstood, or in any way hindered force protection efforts.
a. USCENTCOM met their obligations under existing regulations and directives. It was appropriate under the circumstances to delegate inspection and oversight of force protection to JTF-SWA. USCENTCOM properly assessed and set the threat level. Although they provided minimal day to day oversight to the wing, this was consistent with applicable guidance.
b. USCENTAF met their obligations to provide supervision and inspection. They insured the wing was in the proper threat condition and taking reasonable steps to address the threat. Although USCENTAF had limited personnel to provide direct assistance to the wing, they insured that the necessary experts were made available.
c. JTF-SWA complied with their obligation to provide oversight and coordination of force protection issues. The commander personally inspected the wing. The force protection officer coordinated with security forces and intelligence assets. Although JTF-SWA did not have operational control, this limitation did not cause any problems.
d. The senior officers in the chain of command above the wing reasonably discharged their duties related to force protection.