COMMENTS REGARDING THE DOWNING REPORT
RELATING TO ACCOUNTABILITY
a. Introduction. The Secretary of Defense, in his report to the President, commented on the important contributions of the Downing Task Force Report (hereinafter referred to as the Task Force Report). He stated, "On the whole, I accept General Downings recommendations and I believe we can take effective action to deal with each of the problems identified in his comprehensive report." In Part A of this report, my review team supported, or partially supported, 22 of the 24 Task Force Report findings and recommendations. The Air Force has already accepted our recommendations in Part A on how the Air Force should organize, train, and equip for Force Protection and has already begun implementing them. However, Part A did not address Findings 19 and 20 as they relate to accountability. Finding 19 states, "The chain of command did not provide adequate guidance and support to the Commander, 4404th Wing (Provisional). Finding 20 states, "The Commander 4404th Wing (Provisional) did not adequately protect his forces from a terrorist attack."
From my perspective, the different far reaching focus and the desire to deliver results in a very short period of time led to findings and conclusions in the Task Force Report, relating to the critical area of accountability, without a sufficiently in-depth investigation or substantiation of evidence. Consequently, individuals were unfairly and publicly criticized as being derelict in their duties for failure to properly provide Force Protection. I did not have the same time constraints, and benefited from General Downings work products and observations. Further, the focus of my inquiry was considerably more narrow than General Downings. My review team went to great lengths to thoroughly investigate and assess whether the actions of those in the military chain of command were reasonable under the circumstances. I found that all commanders in the chain of command not only acted reasonably, but professionally, under the circumstances known to them at the time.
b. Comments. This section will focus specifically on the accountability issues of Findings 19 and 20 in the Task Force Report. This section will also discuss those portions of other Findings addressed in Part A, which relate to accountability under the "Additional Task Force header." Findings 19 and 20 contain numerous "assessments" by the Downing Task Force which I discuss in my "comments" below in the order of their appearance in the Task Force Report, referenced to the page number in the classified version of the Report.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 62) FINDING 19: The chain of command did not provide adequate guidance and support to the Commander, 4404th Wing (Provisional).
Task Force Assessment: (Page 62) The Task Force determined that conditions and circumstances created at all levels of the chain of command caused vulnerabilities that were exploited in the actual attack.
Comments: Following the OPM-SANG bombing, commanders at all levels in the chain of command went to Saudi Arabia and assessed the changing terrorist threat and associated Force Protection measures. Soon after the OPM-SANG bombing, General Peay met with the ambassadors in the region to discuss shared security responsibilities. He met with his senior component commanders and with senior military leaders in regional countries to review the terrorist threat, chain of command responsibilities, and legal and military Force Protection responsibilities. On November 13, 1995, USCENTCOM changed the threat level from "medium" to "high" and reassessments of the security of facilities were directed theater-wide. Between November 13, 1995 and April 12, 1996, USCENTCOM dispatched seven messages to subordinate units related to Force Protection. One of the purposes of the messages was to ensure that all commanders understood their responsibilities in an effort to prevent another OPM-SANG type incident. These messages set the tone for Force Protection measures in the USCENTCOM AOR. For example, they started by implementing the SECDEF directive to review installation antiterrorism measures and advising commanders to "go the extra mile" and to err on the side of being "overly cautious." They also required commanders to forward information about their Force Protection efforts including their latest vulnerability assessments for "full staff review" and to help " refine Force Protection enhancements and develop support relationships."
In response to concerns that Force Protection actions were not consistent within Saudi Arabia, General Peay used his mid-winter Commanders Conference (February 1996) to conduct follow-on discussions with component commanders on Force Protection. This conference resulted in the publication of the USCENTCOM April 12, 1996 Letter of Instruction (LOI) on Force Protection. The LOI outlined Force Protection responsibilities and established the oversight role of the Commander, JTF-SWA, for combatant forces and support personnel in Saudi Arabia. General Peay designated the Commander, JTF-SWA, as his senior representative so that General Peay would have "more control forward in terms of executing force protection . [He] wanted a capability there to respond to threats more quickly then [sic] to respond from seven thousand miles away ."
USCENTCOM has few assigned forces. Almost all of its forces are provided to the unified command by component commands, with OPCON for specific missions. General Peay and his staff compensated for the long distances that separated him from his forward units by making frequent visits to the USCENTCOM area of responsibility (AOR). General Peay visited Saudi Arabia nine times between September 1994 and June 1996. In addition, General Peay held meetings with subordinate commanders and their staffs and directed his component commanders to assist "their forward deployed elements in reviewing and implementing installation and facility security and antiterrorism measures." General Peay spoke to the component commanders at least two or three times a week and his Deputy Commander, Lieutenant General Richard I. Neal (USMC), or his J-3, Major General Joseph E. Hurd spoke with JTF-SWA daily.
Major General Hurd, J-3, USCENTCOM, was responsible for managing the commands Force Protection Program. Following the OPM-SANG bombing, Major General Hurd visited Khobar Towers and was shown the security enhancements by the Commander, 4404th Wing (Provisional), Brigadier General Terryl J. Schwalier. The Commander, USCENTAF, Lieutenant General John P. Jumper, and the Commander, Air Combat Command, General Joseph W. Ralston, both visited Khobar Towers immediately after the OPM-SANG bombing and were briefed by Brigadier General Schwalier on the status of the Wings security and Force Protection measures. Although not in the operational command chain of the 4404th Wing (Provisional), both Major General (now Lieutenant General) Carl L. Franklin, and Major General Kurt B. Anderson, Commanders, JTF-SWA, visited Khobar Towers frequently.
As Commander, USCENTAF, Lieutenant General Jumper had operational control over the 4404th Wing (Provisional). He was Brigadier General Schwaliers immediate supervisor. He had the duty to provide guidance to and supervision of Brigadier General Schwalier. This included guidance and supervision for matters relating to Force Protection. In addition to visiting Khobar Towers on November 19-20, 1995, Lieutenant General Jumper visited many operational locations in the AOR during his command tenure. Additionally, Lieutenant General Jumper spoke frequently with Brigadier General Schwalier. These discussions included security matters at Khobar Towers and at other locations under the Wings jurisdiction. During these visits and conversations, Lieutenant General Jumper assured himself that Brigadier General Schwalier and his staff were focused on and engaged in active Force Protection measures. He agreed with their focus on the multitude of possible threats with emphasis on preventing a penetration of the facility. In addition, Lieutenant General Jumper deployed members of his immediate functional staff, (including Lieutenant Colonel James J. Traister, a career security policeman), to serve at the 4404th Wing (Provisional) and at other locations. The Commander, USCENTAF, and his functional staff traveled to the AOR on numerous occasions and were very familiar with and engaged in the operations there. Both Lieutenant General Jumper and his Vice Commander, Major General Arnold R. Thomas, deployed to Saudi Arabia in 1994 and 1995, respectively, as Commander, JTF-SWA, had walked the ground and lived in the environment.
USCENTAF responded to the requests of the 4404th Wing (Provisional) for assistance. For example, USCENTAF supported a recommended increase in tour lengths for key personnel and provided additional bomb detection dogs for the security police.
Major General Anderson established a review process for vulnerability assessments to ensure local responses to recommendations contained in the assessments were being implemented. This review process called for vulnerability assessments to be conducted semi-annually and for commanders to report their actions to Major General Anderson and his Force Protection officer for their review and coordination.
Major General Anderson visited Khobar Towers several times in the first two months of his command, both to fly and visit, during which he noted increases in security measures on each visit. Specifically, he testified that Brigadier General Schwalier was:
proactive, aggressive. I used the word earlier, and I dont use it in a negative sense, he was consumed with force protection, and you saw it on every visit. I visited Khobar often, and it was never the same. There was always better force protection -- in-depth.
Every commander in the chain of command knew that Force Protection was an inherent responsibility of command. Frequent dialogue occurred up and down the chain of command on Force Protection issues. The chain of command was there to assist and act when the known threat required action.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 63) In U.S. Central Command, command relationships did not support the enhancement of force protection under increased Threat Conditions. The April 12, 1996 Letter of Instruction on Force Protection caused confusion, and its implementation was subject to differing interpretations.
Comments: Units are not routinely manned for higher threat conditions (THREATCONs). The 4404th Wing (Provisional) determined it had sufficient manning and resources for THREATCON BRAVO except for bomb detection dogs, which they requested and the chain of command provided. If there would have been a need to sustain THREATCON CHARLIE, a request for additional manning would have been made and, as the USCENTAF track record reflects, the request would have likely been granted.
The April 12, 1996 Letter of Instruction (LOI) on Force Protection from USCENTCOM to its subordinate commanders provided additional guidance on Force Protection oversight and coordination. When the bombing occurred, this new structure was in its early stage of development. This was an evolving process which stemmed from the preceding dialogue of component commanders at the USCENTCOM Commanders Conference on this topic. I found there was no confusion regarding the inherent responsibility of a commander to protect forces under his command.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 63) USCENTCOM did not inspect the force protection posture of its combatant units in the theater.
Comments: Major General Hurd, the USCENTCOM J-3, was taken on a perimeter tour of Khobar Towers by Brigadier General Schwalier in December of 1995. Also, Brigadier General Schwalier frequently showed his continuing Force Protection improvements to successive JTF-SWA commanders. Each JTF-SWA commander talked regularly with Brigadier General Schwalier and General Peay about Force Protection matters.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 63) There are no theater-specific training programs in USCENTCOM.
Comments: USCENTCOM is not responsible for training. I covered that Air Force deficiency in Part A. The force provider has the responsibility to train the personnel to meet the CINCs requirements. Suplementally, the 4404th Wing (Provisional) had theater specific training. Throughout his tour at Dhahran, Brigadier General Schwalier emphasized the need for security awareness. For example, he personally briefed incoming personnel at the Wings weekly "Right Start" newcomers orientation program, emphasizing the nature of the Saudi environment, known threats, and the need for vigilance and security consciousness. He commissioned security awareness and antiterrorism articles for the Wing newspaper, Gulf View, and features for the closed circuit television Commanders Access Channel. He instructed his subordinate commanders, both in staff meetings and Force Protection meetings, to brief their personnel about security and safety concerns. While some Wing personnel interviewed claimed not to have received antiterrorism briefings, the vast majority of those interviewed indicated otherwise. These interviews support the conclusion that antiterrorism briefings were conducted, and that Brigadier General Schwalier was extremely pro-active in this area, and that security awareness information was disseminated regularly. Colonel James A. Coning, Ohio Air National Guard, was the Deputy Chief of Logistics with the 4404th Wing (Provisional) from November 13, 1995 to February 17, 1996. He stated that the Wing leadership received daily and weekly threat briefings. Colonel Coning further added:
Brigadier General Schwalier and the staff (in my opinion) did as much as humanly possible to provide maximum security, have the Wing at the correct THREATCON level and ensure the individual personnel were as safe as possible.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 63) No member of the U.S. Central Command chain of command inspected force protection at Khobar Towers.
Comments: Major General Hurd, J-3, USCENTCOM, (while not in the chain of command) was responsible for managing the commands Force Protection Program and was General Peays primary officer for these matters. Following the OPM-SANG bombing, Major General Hurd visited Khobar Towers and was shown the security enhancements by the Commander, 4404th Wing (Provisional), Brigadier General Schwalier. The Commander, USCENTAF, Lieutenant General John P. Jumper (who was in the chain of command), and the Commander, Air Combat Command, General Joseph W. Ralston, both visited Khobar Towers immediately after the OPM-SANG bombing and were briefed by Brigadier General Schwalier on the status of the Wings security and Force Protection measures. Although not in the operational command chain of the 4404th Wing (Provisional), both Major General (now Lieutenant General) Carl L. Franklin, and Major General Kurt B. Anderson, Commanders, JTF-SWA (who reported directly to the Commander, USCENTCOM), visited Khobar Towers frequently and observed and were shown enhancements in Force Protection, including the M-60 machine gun posts at the front gate, roof top sentries and elaborate entrance requirements.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 64) U.S. Air Forces Central Command relied upon Headquarters, U.S. Air Combat Command for some critical functions, like Inspector General inspections. This reliance on Air Combat Command did not, however, relieve U.S. Air Forces Central Command of its command responsibilities.
Comments: The current Air Force structure does not include Inspector General (IG) functions in the Numbered Air Forces (NAFs) to do the type of "IG Inspections" contemplated in the Task Force Report. The current structure allows the NAFs to do IG inspections of Guard and Reserve units. Within Air Combat Command, NAF Commanders rely on the MAJCOM IG to provide inspections in areas deemed necessary. MAJCOMs do not inspect deployed contingency forces. However, many members of the USCENTAF functional staff traveled to the USCENTCOM area of responsibility, both to conduct staff assistance visits (SAVs), in support of their deployed functional counterparts, and to perform deployments themselves, usually with JTF-SWA. In fact, the Commander, USCENTAF, deployed Lieutenant Colonel Traister from his staff to serve as the security police squadron commander for the 4404th Wing (Provisional). Also, Major General Arnold R. Thomas, the Ninth Air Force Vice Commander, had served as the Commander JTF-SWA from 8 August through 1 September 1995 and was therefore very familiar with the AOR.
In addition, USCENTAF Fire Protection SAVs to the 4404th Wing (Provisional) were conducted on January 3-20, 1995, and January 2-18, 1996. Although not inspections, as contemplated by the Downing Task Force, SAVs reflect a higher headquarters involvement to identify issues and potential problems.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 64) No member of the U.S. Air Forces Central Command chain of command inspected physical security at Khobar Towers or reviewed Vulnerability Assessments.
Comments: The Commander, USCENTAF, Lieutenant General John P. Jumper, and the Commander, Air Combat Command, General Joseph W. Ralston, both visited Khobar Towers immediately after the OPM-SANG bombing and were briefed by Brigadier General Schwalier on the status of the Wings security and Force Protection measures.
Lieutenant Colonel Traister reviewed the July 1995 AFOSI Vulnerability Assessment at HQ USCENTAF and talked with former commanders of the 4404th (Provisional) Security Police Squadron before deploying as the new Security Police Squadron Commander. The Commander, USCENTAF, and his staff traveled to the AOR on numerous occasions and were very familiar with and engaged in the operations there.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 64) Despite end-of-tour reports from the Security Police Squadron commanders, no effort was made to modify the Air Force 90-day rotation policy.
Comments: The 90-day rotation policy was modified. Brigadier General Schwalier recommended seven additional key positions be converted to one-year tours to further increase stability. These positions consisted of members of his immediate staff, including the Wing Vice Commander, the commanders of the Services, Transportation, and 4402 Reconnaissance Squadrons, the commander of the Medical Group and of the 4406 Support Flight, as well as the Chief of the Wing Operations Center. This recommendation was supported and implemented by USCENTAF and USCENTCOM. Brigadier General Schwalier had discussed additional extended tour positions with the CENTAF commander, and in his end-of-tour report, written before the Khobar Towers bombing, he identified seven more positions for tour extension, including the Security Police Squadron Commander.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 64) Security Police were not structured for sustained Threat Condition CHARLIE operations.
Comments: In a peacetime contingency, an Air Force unit is not manned to sustain THREATCON CHARLIE for an indefinite period of time. If it became apparent, based on the threat or circumstances, that a wing would stay in THREATCON CHARLIE for an extended period, it would request additional manning. Similarly, the security police were not manned for wartime operations either. If that had occurred, additional manning would have been requested and obtained.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 66) FINDING 20: The Commander, 4404th Wing (Provisional) did not adequately protect his forces from a terrorist attack.
Comments: The legal standard for accountability is whether Brigadier General Schwalier exhibited a lack of that degree of care which a reasonably prudent person would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances. The standard is not whether he took what would or would not prove to be "adequate" measures, or whether he took "all measures possible" to protect his forces.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 65) A review of end-of-tour reports written by previous commanders of the 4404th Security Police Squadron revealed little activity in force protection or physical security upgrades until after the November 1995 bombing.
Comments: Prior to the OPM-SANG bombing, Saudi Arabia was considered a low threat area. Nevertheless, Brigadier General Schwalier had begun to implement measures identified in the July 1995 Vulnerability Assessment commensurate with the known threat.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 68) The 4404th Wing (Provisional) concentrated on preventing penetration of the compound to the exclusion of other vulnerabilities.
Comments: While the Wing leadership focused on penetration of the compound, as they should have, they did pay attention to other threats. For example, rooftop sentries were posted to detect threats from stand-off weapons and snipers along with any suspicious conditions that might indicate other potential external threats. In fact, it was the rooftop sentries who detected the truck carrying explosives. The Wing also sought and received additional cooperation from Saudi authorities regarding increased patrols outside the fence. The Wing established liaison procedures to allow Air Force Security Police to report rapidly the license plate number of suspicious vehicles observed around the Khobar Towers area to the local Saudi police. They also increased the scrutiny of Third County National workers entering Khobar Towers.
Regarding individual off-base activities, a variety of measures were used depending on the threat level and/or the terrorist events that transpired in the immediate region. At times, personnel were required to remain on the installation or were restricted from visiting certain locations. When off-base travel was permitted, personnel were directed to avoid agitated crowds or large groups of Westerners. They could not travel alone or in groups larger than four, and as noted in Battle Staff Directives (BSDs), they were restricted from visiting Bahrain where security incidents were common. The Wing dress and appearance instruction directed appropriate off-base attire. Wing personnel were instructed, through various means such as the Wing newspaper and briefings by commanders, to maintain a low profile outside the compound. Brigadier General Schwalier required unit commanders to brief and account for their personnel traveling off-base. For senior personnel and distinguished visitors, who were most at risk for kidnapping or ambush, personal security officers were used, plus travel and lodging plans were developed which were designed to minimize the risk.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 69) The Report stated there were ten incidents of possible surveillance on Khobar Towers.
Comments: Ten suspicious incidents were reported by Wing personnel in April, May, and June 1996, however, only four of these were determined to be possible surveillance. Many were during the period of the Hajj. These incidents were investigated by the AFOSI, the Saudi military and local police. None indicated an attack on Khobar Towers was imminent. These suspicious incidents near the Khobar Towers in the Spring of 1996 were thoroughly evaluated by the entire chain of command, to include USCENTCOM. These incidents included one possible threat indicator -- the "alleged" ramming of a Jersey barrier on the east perimeter. It was reported to Saudi authorities, who permitted the Wing to secure the barriers by staking them into the ground. There were four incidents of possible surveillance, which were reported to local Saudi authorities for further investigation. These occurred on April 1, 4, 17 and 25, 1996, and all involved reports by Wing personnel of Middle Eastern men driving by or parked and observing the compound. Of the five remaining incidents, two were inconclusive and three were completely discounted.
These incidents were discussed with the Saudis, who did not view them as threatening. They attributed the incidents of possible surveillance to natural curiosity on the part of the Saudi populace about the activities of Americans inside the perimeter. Just outside the northern perimeter of Khobar Towers is a parking lot which was used by people visiting a nearby mosque. It also serviced a recreational area. During the month-long period of the Hajj, it was not unusual for many people to congregate in this area in the evenings. Most of the reported incidents took place during this time, and this may have caused the Saudi police to dismiss them as non-threatening. The Saudis also said they had undercover security personnel in the area.
While it may appear that these incidents represented an increase in potentially suspicious activity, it should be noted that, due to the Wing's increased emphasis on security (especially during the period of the Hajj), airmen were being much more vigilant and were more likely to report suspicious incidents. There is no way of knowing how often such incidents had been occurring or would have been reported if this level of vigilance had been in effect during the previous years.
Task Force Assessment: (Pages 69-70) Leaders and staffs at various levels met regularly to discuss force protection in committees formed for that purpose. These groups "reviewed and coordinated" measures to counter terrorism. There was little or no physical command inspection or follow-up.
Comments: The meetings at the 4404th Wing (Provisional) were effective; the extensive list of Force Protection measures was implemented as a result of discussions at those meetings. Moreover, at the 4404th Wing (Provisional), inspection was a constant process, often conducted by the Wing Commander himself.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 70) The Report cited the following quote for the proposition that these meetings were ineffective: "Lessons Learned: The things learned are there is a lack of follow-up on projects, the leadership are (sic) unaware of problems until too late, little or no Staff Assistant Visits or Assessment at Dhahran flightline." Minutes from March 26, 1996, 4404th Wing Security Council meeting. Lt Col Traister, Recorder.
Comments: Rather than being an example of lack of effectiveness, this passage indicates that the Wing Security Council was effective. This meeting was used to identify problem areas which led to corrective actions. This particular observation resulted in a staff assistance visit and an assessment of the Dhahran flightline.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 72) Brigadier General Schwalier failed to mention force protection in his end-of-tour report, despite the significant change in terrorist threat during his command tenure.
Comments: The short end-of-tour report, written prior to the bombing, discussed three focus areas and discussed progress in those areas. Brigadier General Schwalier was writing this report to his commander, Lieutenant General Jumper, who was very familiar with the local environment and was well aware of Force Protection measures that Brigadier General Schwalier had accomplished. While Force Protection was not mentioned as a focus area, Brigadier General Schwalier did indicate in the report that he was suggesting seven more positions for tour extensions, including the Security Police Squadron Commander, the staff officer primarily responsible for Force Protection matters. The end-of-tour report also addressed one of the focal areas, maintaining good host nation relationships, which was important in obtaining positive results on security initiatives outside the fence. The end-of-tour report was not an all inclusive list of accomplishments and concerns. For example, Brigadier General Schwalier did not mention flying safety, nor many other concerns and actions which he effectively addressed during his tenure as commander.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 72) During his tour of duty, Brigadier General Schwalier never raised to his superiors force protection matters that were beyond his capability to correct. Nor did he raise the issue of expanding the perimeter or security outside of the fence with his Saudi counterparts in the Eastern Province.
Comments: The expansion of the perimeter by moving the barriers or fence is clearly a critical issue. It is impossible to state categorically that elevating the request up the chain of command would have been fruitless. Perhaps if Brigadier General Schwalier had discussed this matter with his Saudi counterpart or had elevated the request up his own chain of command, sufficient political/diplomatic pressure could have been applied to convince the Saudis that the need to move the perimeter fence was imperative. Brigadier General Schwalier determined otherwise based largely on the threat as it was then evidenced, the other security measures implemented, and his assessment of the overall dynamics. He chose to concentrate on those initiatives that he believed were appropriate and could be accomplished. Further, he was satisfied with the additional external Saudi security measures. I find this decision reasonable under the circumstances.
Anecdotal information supports Brigadier General Schwaliers decision. The Deputy Chief of Mission in Saudi Arabia stated that even after the bombing, the Saudis had not changed their view of terrorism activity in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In fact, as of the time of the Deputy Chiefs interview, four months after the Khobar Towers bombing, the Saudis had not approved the request for enhanced security stand-off measures believed necessary at the U.S. Embassy.
Because they were concerned about the vulnerability on the perimeter, Colonel Gary Boyle, Support Group Commander, and Lieutenant Colonel Traister, Security Police Squadron Commander, testified they had asked their Saudi military counterparts to expand the north, east and west perimeters by moving the concrete barriers a short distance outside the fence. They, along with Special Agent Reddecliff, also requested to move the fence and clear out vegetation growing on the north perimeter in order to provide better visibility. The request regarding the east and west perimeters was granted and concrete barriers were placed approximately five feet outside the fence. In addition, two rolls of concertina wire were installed between the barriers and the fence, and a third roll was added on top to prevent access over or through the fence. The requests to cut down the vegetation on the north perimeter were not granted because the Saudis did not want their people easily to see activities inside the compound, such as jogging in shorts and other Western attire. The requests to move the fence or place concrete barriers outside the fence also were not granted because the Saudis believed the distance was adequate to defend against a bomb such as the one used at OPM-SANG, and stated it was not a request that could be approved at that time. Mr. David Winn, the Consul General at Dhahran stated that moving the fence would have been like "moving heaven and earth."
In order to understand why the Saudis may have been reluctant to extend the perimeter fence farther out, the following factors should be taken into account. The Khobar Towers complex consists of dozens of tightly arranged high-rise buildings located in the middle of a densely populated metropolitan area. (See the photographs of Khobar Towers and the surrounding city at Part B, Tab Y) According to the U.S. Department of State, Background Notes, the population of the Dhahran metropolitan area is approximately one million people. Khobar Towers is directly adjacent to civilian housing, religious buildings and a recreational area (where children play soccer, residents picnic, etc.) available to Saudi civilians. Any changes to the perimeter fence line and barriers, therefore, would have had an impact on Saudi civilian lifestyle.
When interviewed by investigators from the Downing Task Force, Major Ray Elloso, Operations and Intelligence Advisor for the Western Region Headquarters, OPM-SANG, discussed an initiative to move barriers out to obtain a larger stand-off distance at OPM-SANG following the Khobar Towers bombing. He characterized the impact on the Saudis as, "We would be cutting off the community at large if we shut down the streets." ((S N/F) The photographs at Tab Y illustrate the impact on the Saudi civilian community had various stand-off distances been implemented to further protect Khobar Towers.)
Special Agent Reddecliff discussed with his Saudi counterpart his "best case scenario" where the parking lot on the north perimeter would be closed to vehicle traffic. The Saudis deemed such an action unnecessary considering the threat and other security measures already in place there, including undercover security personnel and unmarked cars. However, the Saudis did increase their patrols of the area.
An interview with Major General Sultan al-Mutairi, Commander, Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia, further underscores the Saudi sensitivity to expanding the Khobar Towers perimeter. The General told the Downing Task Force that the fence had been moved closer to the north side of Khobar Towers in 1994, by order of the Saudi Government, because the fence denied local families easy access to their homes.
Brigadier General Schwalier was aware that these requests had been made and that the requests regarding the vegetation, the fence and the barriers on the north perimeter had not been granted. When questioned on why he did not elevate this issue, Brigadier General Schwalier stated that given the alternative cooperation received from the Saudis (e.g. increased Saudi patrols), other security measures taken, including measures to improve visibility (e.g., positioning of rooftop sentries), the then-known threat, and the nature of the property involved (a public parking area, serving a public park and a mosque, used as a recreation area), he believed that pursuing this from a higher level was not necessary and would have been fruitless. According to Lieutenant General Neal (USMC), "the Saudis convinced Brigadier General Schwalier in no short order that they were going to make up for not moving the fence by active patrols, increased patrols, and more active a more active [sic] vigilance." Brigadier General Schwalier stated he was not reluctant to pass things up the chain of command and cited several operational examples of having done so, but added he did not have a reason to elevate the issue of removing vegetation and moving the barriers or the fence based upon the information that he knew at the time and the threat that he saw.
Task Force Assessment: (Pg. 72) The Report states Brigadier General Schwalier did not respond to memorandum dated November 15, 1995 from Commander, JTF-SWA, Subject: Security of Subordinate Units, asking to identify potential weaknesses, shortfalls and requirements.
Comments: The memorandum in question was sent by then-Major General Franklin to Brigadier General Schwalier indicating Lieutenant General Franklin planned to assess the status of security throughout the AOR. Brigadier General Schwalier responded and sent him a package that was also intended for use in connection with an upcoming DoD inspection.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 72) Brigadier General Schwalier was not well served by an "ad hoc" intelligence structure. The Air Force Office of Special Investigations "stovepipe" system, in effect, denied him direct access to Special Agent Reddecliffs prophetic 4 April message. This same system did not allow him to receive Special Agent Kipp's germane force protection recommendations one month before the bombing.
Comments: The Wing Commander improved the existing intelligence structure by adding weekly Security Review Meetings to focus specifically on threats to Wing facilities and operations. These augmented his daily threat meetings. The Report also states, "The combination of frequent rotations, inconsistency in the professional qualifications of officers assigned to counterintelligence duties, and their lack of area expertise degraded the support provided the Wing Commander." I found no evidence any member of the Wings counterintelligence structure was lacking in "professional qualifications" or that the Wing Commander would have been better served by a different intelligence structure. Brigadier General Schwalier and his subordinate commanders asked coalition members and sister service leaders, as well as the Chief of the National Intelligence Team (NIST), to critique their security efforts and to make constructive security enhancement recommendations. They found the Wings efforts to be extensive and recommended no substantive changes. It was his local intelligence structure that was the first to learn of the imminent beheadings by the Saudi government of the perpetrators of the OPM-SANG bombing.
In his April 4, 1996 message to HQ AFOSI in Washington D.C., the AFOSI Detachment Commander, Special Agent Reddecliff, explained that "Security measures here [Khobar Towers] are outstanding, which in my view would lead a would be terrorist to attempt an attack from a position outside the perimeter and if a truck parks close to the fence line, and the driver makes a quick getaway, I think the building should be cleared immediately."
With the benefit of hindsight, the message may be viewed as "prophetic." At the time, it merely identified a known risk which the Wing was thoroughly engaged in addressing. While Brigadier General Schwalier was not shown this message, he had discussed the issues in the message with Special Agent Reddecliff. This report has described the Wings efforts to address this and other vulnerabilities in detail. Many of Brigadier General Schwaliers added security measures (e.g., rooftop lookouts, etc., discussed below) were in direct response to Special Agent Reddecliffs assessment.
The scenario described by Special Agent Reddecliff is one of the five Department of State scenarios advanced in the January 1996 AFOSI vulnerability assessment. Due to the threat posed by this potential scenario, sentries were posted on top of Building 131, increased Saudi patrols were requested and provided. Subsequently, the lookout sentries posted on the roof saw the truck driver make a "quick getaway," and initiated evacuation of the building "immediately."
Classified Text Removed
The Wing implemented a number of specific measures regarding potential threats posed by Third Country Nationals (TCNs) who worked at Khobar Towers. The number of TCNs living in the compound was reduced and movement restrictions within the compound were imposed. Color-coded identification badges were required to be displayed based on the individuals job location. Wing personnel were briefed on the need to increase scrutiny of TCN activities. Efforts to improve TCN living and working conditions were initiated to increase their loyalty.
The Report indicates that Headquarters, Air Force Office of Special Investigations sent Special Agent Steven Kipp to Khobar Towers from May 22 through May 25, 1996, in response to the above message from Special Agent Reddecliff. He conducted an informal physical security assessment. He provided Special Agent Reddecliff a list of recommendations, one of which was to build a 9 - 12 foot concrete wall around the Khobar Towers facility or, at a minimum, along the north perimeter. Special Agent Reddecliff considered the recommendation for construction of the wall but decided not to send it forward because it was his sense that the Saudis had a good handle on the security of the parking lot, that Special Agent Kipp had not come up with any new vulnerability or threat information, and it would have required a contracting action, with Saudi approval. As Special Agent Reddecliff stated:
I was unaware of any particular physical security expertise that he had. I dont believe it was a detailed study, and given my working relationship with Brigadier General Schwalier and my knowledge of what I perceived his impression or his reaction to be, I did not think that he would build a wall based on one recommendation. To my knowledge, no other recommendation had come in before or after regarding that wall, including the vulnerability assessments and so forth. So it was for these reasons that I pressed on without moving that forward.
The idea of a wall around the perimeter of Khobar Towers was not a new one. Special Agent McDonald surfaced that proposal in the mid-October 1995 to mid-January 1996 timeframe. The proposal was discussed in several of the weekly Security Review Meetings and serious concerns were raised. Specifically, the Security Police did not want to be sealed in because they would not be able to see what was going on outside the compound. EOD personnel stated that the wall might not be effective due to the physics of a blast wave. The proposal for a wall did not progress beyond this discussion phase.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 73) The 4404th Wing (Provisional) chose to concentrate the majority of its force protection efforts on preventing a penetration of the perimeter by a car, truck, or man-pack suicide bomb.
Comments: While the majority of the Wings Force Protection efforts were focused on a penetration of the perimeter by a car, truck, or man-pack suicide bomb, many other precautions were taken. Immediately following the OPM-SANG bombing, on November 13, 1995, Brigadier General Schwalier issued the first of many Battle Staff Directives (BSDs) aimed at further improving the Wings security posture. He raised the Wings local threat condition (THREATCON) to THREATCON BRAVO and set into motion more stringent Force Protection measures to contend with various types of possible attacks. Among other measures, Brigadier General Schwalier deployed physical barriers; directed that stationary objects, such as trash dumpsters and parked vehicles, be moved at least 25 meters from all buildings; restricted off-base travel; implemented measures to check for letter and parcel bombs; suspended non-essential commercial deliveries; instituted procedures to verify the identity of unannounced or suspicious visitors; directed commanders to brief personnel at regular intervals on all forms of terrorist threats; and stressed increased threat awareness. He specifically directed the Security Police to give attention to vulnerable points outside the installation.
Even more rigorous security measures were implemented in the spring of 1996 as the period of the Hajj approached, a religious holiday when millions of visitors are permitted into Saudi Arabia, and terrorist activities are known to occur. These included increasing Saudi patrols outside of the fence, getting local police to check license plate numbers of suspicious vehicles, and placing armed sentries on building rooftops to gain better vantage points.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 73-74). The decision to budget Mylar in later years was made despite Recommendation #36 in the January 1996 Vulnerability Assessment and the alternative recommendation that if the cost of upgrading all perimeter windows is deemed too great, begin with the perimeter faces of building 133 and 131, then work roughly clockwise around KT through to building 117.
Comments: The Downing Task Force criticized Brigadier General Schwalier for not installing Mylar window film immediately following the January 1996 AFOSI Vulnerability Assessment. My Review Team made a special point to examine the issue of why Mylar was not installed on the windows in Khobar Towers as recommended.
Brigadier General Schwalier testified that he chose to include Mylar in the Five-Year Facilities Improvement Plan rather than seek approval for its immediate installation. While Brigadier General Schwalier certainly could have requested the project be immediately considered for approval and funding, the issue is whether it was reasonable for him to program for the Mylar project in the Five-Year Facilities Improvement Plan instead. I found this to be reasonable.
Of the other potential targets in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the International School, USMTM, and the commissary at Riyadh, none had Mylar at the time of the Khobar Towers bombing. As stated elsewhere in this report, a U.S. Embassy request to install Mylar was not approved by the State Department on some of their buildings in Riyadh following the OPM-SANG bombing, the request was not approved because the threat level was not thought to be high enough.
It has been alleged that Mylar would have prevented several of the deaths. When interviewed by the Downing Task Force, Colonel Paul Ray (U.S. Army), the Third Army Engineer, opined that based on the actual size of the bomb, "you could put all the Mylar on earth on your windows, but the buildings going to be gone." The Wright Laboratory, Air Base Technology Branch, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, having reviewed the Downing investigation data and conducted an independent assessment, concluded that Mylar would not have prevented any of the 18 deaths in Building 131. The assessment determined these individuals sustained "fatal blunt injuries from structural debris and translation/impact." However, the Wright Laboratory stated that Mylar might have prevented the one fatality in Building 133, which was approximately four hundred feet away from the detonation location. On the other hand, installation of Mylar may have reduced the number of non-fatal injuries.
Brigadier General Schwalier decided to program for this four million dollar project in his Five-Year Facilities Improvement Plan. Brigadier General Schwalier made this decision to defer immediate installation after discussions with his Support Group and Civil Engineer Squadron Commanders, and considering a variety of factors, including the then-known threat, the effects of other security enhancements which had been or were being implemented to mitigate risks, the cost and complexity of the project, that there were no DoD or Air Force requirements for the installation of Mylar, that Saudi approval would have been necessary, and other competing priorities. Also, either a full-scale application or the piecemeal approach would have taken months to implement. At this same time, there were discussions at higher command levels about vacating Khobar Towers and moving the Wing to Al Kharj I found Brigadier General Schwaliers decision reasonable under the circumstances.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 74) Captain McLane, the 4404th Wing (Provisional) Explosive Ordnance specialist recommended, at attachment 3 of the January 1996 AFOSI Vulnerability Assessment, a 300 foot (92.5 meter) perimeter to mitigate the effects of a 200 pound blast. There is no evidence that any action was taken regarding this aspect of the assessment by the Commander.
Comment: The referenced Attachment 3 to the January 1996 AFOSI Vulnerability Assessment is a background paper that considers the explosive effects of a car bomb with a main charge of 200 pounds of C-4, not a recommendation or directive. The paper lists various potential targets, such as windows, metal buildings, concrete block and personnel, with the damage that could be anticipated at a certain level of overpressure. The papers annotation that the standard security cordon for an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) is 92.5 meters apprises the reader that EOD or emergency response personnel routinely establish the security cordon at 92.5 meters regardless of the nature of the IED observed. These cordons are temporary, are usually adjusted based on the EOD Team assessment, and are removed as soon as the device is neutralized. It is not always appropriate to establish a perimeter that large around every potential target.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 74) Even if the bomb at Khobar Towers had been much smaller -- similar to that used at OPM/SANG on November 13, 1995 -- the casualties would have been significant. A Task Force explosives expert calculated that if a 200 pound bomb had exploded 80 feet from Building 131, severe window frame failure and spalling of reinforced concrete would have resulted. Injuries from glass fragments would have been extensive. Major structural damage would probably have caused the building to be condemned. The Task Force estimated between five and 11 deaths would have occurred from the 200 pound blast.
Comments: This estimate is not adequately substantiated. The DSWA believes that casualties would have been much lower. They concluded that the effects of a 200 pound bomb would be similar to the effects of the actual bomb on Building 133. Additionally, a smaller bomb would most likely be conveyed to the scene in a smaller vehicle, one closer to the ground than a large vehicle. Consequently, more of the blast effects would have been absorbed by the Jersey barriers. The Downing Task Force Report estimated that between five and 11 deaths would have occurred from even a 200 pound blast. The Report further stated that the deaths would have resulted from the effects of flying glass and not from blunt trauma. The implication is that Brigadier General Schwalier did not take sufficient action (install Mylar and/or increase the stand-off distance) to meet even the identified threat from a bomb blast of that size. In contrast, the DSWA determined that a 200 pound blast could theoretically take from one to five lives.. Based on the intelligence information available at the time and the recommendations made to him by his Civil Engineer, Lieutenant Colonel Schellhous, Brigadier General Schwalier took reasonable precautions to meet the identified threat. (See discussion of Mylar and Stand-off Distance in Part B, Section III.)
Task Force Assessment: (Page 74-75) The January 1996 Vulnerability Assessment indirectly mentioned movement of personnel to safer buildings. Alternative lodging of key personnel and distinguished visitors was briefed as being implemented; however, the Task Force could find no evidence supporting this assertion.
Comments: The January 1996 Vulnerability Assessment did not recommend moving personnel so they would be in "safer buildings" rather, it recommended dispersing mission essential personnel, such as aircrews throughout various facilities within the compound. The Wing leadership decided that it was preferable, instead, to maintain unit integrity. This later proved beneficial on the night of the bombing in accounting for personnel. Regarding alternative lodging for key personnel and distinguished visitors, the Wing Commander had initiated such a plan. For example, he had prepared different quarters for the follow-on Wing Commander in a different location and planned to relocate each group commanders living quarters upon the incumbents departure.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 75) Despite the risk to airmen identified in Findings #23 and #24 of the January 1996 Vulnerability Assessment, the rooms facing the vulnerable exterior perimeter of Khobar Towers remained occupied.
Comments: The inference in the Task Force Report results from the alleged testimony of Colonel Boyle that it would have adversely affected the quality of life at Khobar Towers had the Wing been forced to put two to three persons into each room of the interior buildings. The testimony attributed to Colonel Boyle was a response taken out of context. In his interview with the Downing Task Force, Colonel Boyle was asked for his recommendation "looking back on what happened hindsight Monday morning quarterback [W]hat are the lessons learned that you take away?" In that dialogue, he was asked the question, "You would take a less quality of life by going to a place like Jack and Jill Village?" Colonel Boyles affirmative response must be considered in the context of his discussing the advantages of having facilities located in a rural, rather than an urban, environment.
In discussing the issue of moving personnel from the exterior of the installation, Lieutenant General Jumper voiced a concern with densely packing the base population inside a compound when the threat assessment included the potential of a penetration. That is had a bomb penetrated to the interior of the compound, we would have seen many more casualties. The January 1996 Vulnerability Assessment conducted after the OPM-SANG bombing contained numerous observations and recommendations concerning the perimeter fence around Khobar Towers, to include securing gates with locks designed for external use, welding hinge pins on the gates to prevent removal, securing fence sections so that individuals could not crawl under, and removing or repositioning items near the perimeter fence.
Specifically concerning the north perimeter fence area, the January 1996 Vulnerability Assessment identified the adjacent public parking lot as a significant weak point for three reasons: (1) the size and relative remoteness of the parking lot, (2) the visual obstruction caused by vegetation that limits the ability of U.S. forces to identify an oncoming threat, and (3) access to the parking lot was uncontrolled and open to anyone. Recommended "fixes" included cutting back the vegetation, installing bollards (half buried steel pipes) connected by chain or cable along the easement on the Saudi side of the fence or along the sidewalk on the U.S. side of the fence, reinforcing the existing concrete barrier line with one-inch steel cable, and parking heavy vehicles along the fence to limit high speed penetration of the installation. The Vulnerability Assessment noted the increased cooperation between U.S. and local Saudi police, and noted that the Royal Saudi Air Force would coordinate with local civilian authorities to increase the uniformed police presence outside the northwest and northeast fence lines.
Likewise, the July 1995 AFOSI Vulnerability Assessment addressed security measures to be taken around the perimeter fence, including the proper placement of Jersey barriers, removing or repositioning objects near the vegetation on the north perimeter to increase visibility. The Vulnerability Assessment also commented on the successful efforts by the security police to establish liaison with the various local military and civilian police agencies, which had resulted in an increased willingness for cooperation between the Air Force and local police, e.g., Saudi patrol responses to check out suspicious activities or minor acts of violence or criminal activity.
Wing officials responded by improving security on the north perimeter of Khobar Towers through the implementation of 36 of 39 recommendations, some of which were discussed above, in the January 1996 Vulnerability Assessment.
This Downing Task Force Report statement assumes that there was only one "vulnerable" perimeter. The entire perimeter was vulnerable to the effects of the bomb that was actually used. Although there was a potential risk to airmen in rooms facing the northern perimeter, it represented only one of many risks military people faced. Crowding personnel into interior-facing rooms, versus dispersing them, would have increased the risks from a penetration attack or a man-pack bomb, which the known intelligence indicated were the more likely scenarios.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 75) The Security Police had no special training program on the threat they were facing, and terrorist response exercises were not conducted. Guards were on 12-hour shifts for six days or longer. Some worked on the same observation post for 12 hours at a time, exposed to 100 degree heat, with only meal and comfort breaks.
Comments: Security police are fully trained before they deploy and their basic skills training include terrorist act responses. Although there was no additional formal training program on the threats they were facing, Lieutenant Colonel Traister was aware of the nature of various threats and ensured all security policemen were kept up to date. Furthermore, the "Right Start" and guardmount briefings augmented their basic knowledge. For example, SrA Burgess briefed personnel on vehicle, ground safety, General Order #1 and weapons cleaning. Lieutenant Colonel Traister created a special response team to deal with terrorist threats. He also required his personnel to practice with sand-filled trucks positioned at the main gate to block or ram any vehicle attempting to penetrate the entrance checkpoint.
The shifts observed by the Task Force were those in place nearly a month after the bombing. There is no indication that security police work schedules before the bombing had any detrimental effect on their performance. The Wing Commander and his subordinate commanders took a keen interest in the well being of personnel exposed to these extreme conditions. Saudi Arabia is a harsh environment and, unfortunately, sentries must be outside to see and hear what is going on. Air conditioning was provided for those manning M-60 machine-gun positions inside the bunkers. During daily one-on-one conversations with security police or at the guardmounts he attended, Brigadier General Schwalier received no complaints regarding security police working conditions. Nor did he receive complaints from other sources. The security police performed admirably before, during, and after the bombing attack on Khobar Towers. In Part A, I recommended a study be performed to address working hours and conditions for deployed operations.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 76) Security Police personnel were issued weapons they had not maintained, zeroed, or fired. There was no in-country weapons training. Dirty weapons were found which may not have functioned if fired.
Comments: In my review, I was unable to find any independent evidence to support this statement by General Downing. Unlike the Army, Air Force security police, while qualified, did not deploy with their weapons; rather, they were issued weapons upon arrival. It is true that it is difficult to maintain clean weapons in a desert environment. Also, these weapons had been in Saudi Arabia since the Gulf War in 1991. There is no way to determine the condition of the weapons at the time of the arrival of the Wing leadership. We questioned Lieutenant Colonel Traister in-depth regarding this allegation. Lieutenant Colonel Traister stated he and others conducted weapons inspections at guardmount. He also made spot inspections of weapons in the armory. As this is a potential problem which would clearly impact the effectiveness of deployed Air Force security, I recommended in Part A that security police deploy as units with their assigned weapons fully-sighted and that weapons qualifications must be current and complete prior to deployment.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 76) The Security Police Squadron was not manned to sustain the security measures inherent in high Threat Conditions.
Comments: It is accurate to state that the Wing was not manned for a sustained THREATCON CHARLIE situation. No other Air Force unit is. Had there been a need to sustain THREATCON CHARLIE for an extended period of time, then more personnel would have been requested and obtained. Further, I found no evidence that manning levels degraded the performance of the security police at Khobar Towers.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 76) In April 1996, as the threat escalated, the decision not to go to THREATCON CHARLIE appeared to have been based on the availability of security forces and their ability to sustain operations for an extended period of time, rather than what was required by the threat.
Comments: This decision was not based on lack of manning but on the lack of an imminent threat. Had there been a requirement to go into THREATCON CHARLIE, manning would have been requested. Such decisions were made in consultation with the ARCENT Commander.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 77) The 4404th Security Police Squadron had no formal training program.
Comments: The security police were trained at guardmounts and, along with all other personnel, were advised of specific threat information in the "Right Start" briefing, and also received information through regular Wing newspaper articles, the closed circuit cable television Commander's Access Channel and through information provided by their commander as it was passed to him via Battle Staff Directives.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 77) Antiterrorism measures adopted by the 4404th Wing (Provisional) focused on Khobar Towers and did not extend beyond the perimeter of the compound.
Comments: Antiterrorism measures adopted by the Wing were not only focused on Khobar Towers but also extended beyond the perimeter of the compound. For example, sentries not only watched for possible penetrations, they also watched for any threat to Khobar Towers from outside the perimeter. As noted elsewhere, sentries were the first to observe the suspicious truck on the night of the bombing. Regarding individual off-base activities, a variety of measures were used depending on the threat level and/or the terrorist events that transpired in the immediate region. At times, personnel were required to remain on the installation or restricted from visiting certain off-base locations. When off-base travel was permitted, personnel were directed to avoid agitated crowds or large groups of Westerners and to travel in groups not to exceed four persons. Personnel were frequently restricted from Bahrain where security incidents were not uncommon. The Wing dress and appearance instruction directed appropriate off-base attire. Wing personnel were instructed, through various means such as the Wing Newspaper and briefings by commanders, to maintain a low profile outside the compound. Brigadier General Schwalier required unit commanders to brief and account for their personnel traveling off base. For senior personnel and distinguished visitors, who were most at risk for kidnapping or ambush, personal security officers were used, plus travel and lodging plans were designed to minimize the risk.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 77) Overall, the orientation and training of personnel was inadequate for the environment in which they were operating.
Comments: Brigadier General Schwalier emphasized the need for security awareness. For example, he personally briefed incoming personnel in the Wings weekly "Right Start" newcomers orientation briefing program, emphasizing the nature of the Saudi environment, known threats, and the need for vigilance and security consciousness. He commissioned security awareness and antiterrorism articles for the Wing newspaper and features for the closed circuit television Commanders Access Channel. He instructed his subordinate commanders, in staff meetings and Force Protection meetings, to brief their personnel about security and safety concerns. The actions of Wing personnel on the night of the bombing suggest that the Wings orientation and training efforts were more than adequate. Nevertheless, in my teams review in (Part A), we recommended further Air Force-wide improvements for theater specific and enhanced training regarding Force Protection.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 77) Although warned by Special Agent Reddecliff of the threat posed by Third Country National workers to the operational security of Khobar Towers, the 4404th Wing commander continued to employ them extensively.
Comments: The Wing implemented a number of specific measures regarding potential threats posed by Third Country Nationals (TCNs) who worked at Khobar Towers. The number of TCNs living in the compound was reduced and movement restrictions within the compound were imposed. Color-coded identification badges were required to be displayed based on the individuals job location. Wing personnel were briefed on the need to increase scrutiny of TCN activities. Efforts to improve TCN living and working conditions were initiated to increase their loyalty.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 77-78) The 4404th Wing (Provisional) and subordinate groups and squadrons did not practice evacuation procedures.
Comments: The 4404th Wing (Provisional) did not conduct formal evacuation exercises of buildings. Some Wing personnel interviewed by the Downing Task Force stated that they were not aware of any building evacuations prior to the June 25th bombing. Building 131, the building in front of which the bomb exploded, was in fact evacuated on May 9, 1996 because of a reported suspicious package, which turned out to be a tool box. There were other building evacuations around that period of time also, e.g., Buildings 127 and 133. The buildings were evacuated in five minutes or less, an interval which the Support Group Commander and the Wing Fire Chief, who were in charge of the evacuation scenes, considered to be as fast as possible. The testimony suggesting no evacuations may be attributable to the fact that Wing personnel worked in shifts around-the-clock. Some personnel also stated that they were not aware of any warning devices or evacuation plans, but the vast majority interviewed were. The January 1996 Vulnerability Assessment found that:
An active fire prevention program is in effect. Articles are routinely published in the base paper to remind everyone of fire safety procedures and all personnel are briefed on emergency evacuation procedures, extinguishers, smoke detectors, and emergency phone numbers at the mandatory "Right Start" briefing attended by all incoming personnel.
In addition, evacuation procedures were posted on the doors and walls of the rooms in Khobar Towers.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 79) Procedures to test the evacuation system and the emergency warning system at Khobar Towers were never exercised. The Giant Voice procedures were elaborate, unwieldy, and did not work.
Comments: Although there was an operational Giant Voice public announcement and warning system, which was tested weekly, it was not used on the night of June 25, 1996. Up until that time, the Wing Operations Center (WOC) had the sole authority to activate the Giant Voice, and it was intended for use for SCUD missile alerts. Not all systems are appropriate for all emergencies. The Giant Voice system required a small period of time in order for a person in authority, armed with available information appropriate to make an informed decision on whether or not to make an announcement and what to say. It would be dangerous for directions to be issued without properly evaluated information.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 79) Brigadier General Schwalier was advised that a viable terrorist threat existed and was kept informed that his facility was a terrorist target. Knowing that some vulnerabilities were beyond his capability to correct, he failed to coordinate with his host nation counterpart to address these areas. He accepted the adequacy of host nation security measures in the area outside the fence. Additionally, he failed to raise any force protection issues to his superiors.
Comments: The evidence indicated that Khobar Towers was identified as a potential target, as were all other U.S. facilities in Saudi Arabia and the Region. As detailed elsewhere in this report, the Wing took many wide-ranging and appropriate security measures based upon the known threat information. As also discussed above, Brigadier General Schwalier coordinated with his counterparts as he reasonably deemed appropriate, and frequently discussed Force Protection issues in person or by telephone. In addition, USCENTAF and USCENTCOM responded to the requests of the 4404th Wing (Provisional) for assistance; for example by supporting and complementing a recommended increase in tour lengths for key personnel and providing additional bomb detection dogs for the security police.
I found that the Wing leadership did take reasonable actions to mitigate vulnerabilities based upon the known threat. In my opinion, their actions may well have saved hundreds of lives by preventing the terrorists from exploding such a bomb within the compound.
Additional Task Force Assessments
There are other findings and conclusions in the Report which may relate to accountability. I will now address them in the order in which they appear in the Report.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 1) The terrorist truck bomb estimated to contain the equivalent of 3,000 to 8,000 pounds of TNT (most likely 5,000).
Comments: The Downing Task Force estimated the bomb contained the equivalent of from 3,000 to 8,000 pounds of TNT, "...most likely about 5,000 pounds." The Defense Special Weapons Agency (DSWA) Report, estimated that the bomb was much larger, that its likely yield was from 20,000 to 30,000 pounds of TNT-equivalent. General Downing testified he and his Task Force experts arrived at the 5,000 pound estimate based upon a number of factors. The first factor cited was their interview of an airman "...who was in an unprotected position, 80 feet away from the bomb when it detonated, survived, and was on his feet the day after the bombing." This and other evidence cited by General Downing, such as "...foliage still on trees and bushes in the vicinity of the blast..." is discussed by the DSWA in their report, including where they describe blast asymmetry. The DSWA found, in tests related to their findings about the Khobar Towers explosive device, that lower pressures existed at various angles from the explosion. For example, the pressure at a 45-degree angle from the truck bomb to the Humvee parked at the northwest corner of Building 131, was three times lower than the pressure experienced by Building 131 directly to the rear of the truck bomb, and over seven times lower than pressure emanating from the sides of the truck bomb. The DSWA estimate was conducted in conjunction with the Army Corps of Engineers Waterways Experiment Station. DSWA compared physical attributes of the Khobar Towers crater and blast with physical attributes of craters formed by vehicle bomb tests conducted under terrain conditions similar to those at Dhahran. DSWA determined that the "best estimate for the Dhahran yield would be 11.5 tons or 23,000 pounds of TNT-equivalent explosive." DSWA compared the 5,000-pound TNT-equivalent yield estimate against the physical information known about the Khobar Towers crater and the crater information generated by the vehicle bomb tests, but found no correlation between the 5,000-pound estimate and this known information. Instead, DSWA found that the 5,000-pound value is implausible because it "implies a cratering efficiency greater than that produced by any known conventional explosive." DSWAs analysis of glass breakage from the Khobar Towers bombing resulted in an even larger estimated TNT-equivalent yield of 31,000 pounds. This figure was derived by plotting the actual number of windows broken at Khobar Towers on a computer-generated graph that depicts the number of glass patio doors that would be broken by the blast pressures generated by various TNT-equivalent yields. "A peer review by a panel of outside experts concluded the DSWA analysis credibly supports the conclusion that the explosive power of the bomb was in the 20,000 pounds of TNT equivalent class and probably larger." The DSWA also noted that Building 133, located some 400 feet from the blast (much farther than the trees with remaining foliage) sustained major structural damage. As discussed in detail in Part B, the weight of the evidence supports the DSWA estimate.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 23) Air Force Office of Special Investigations agents are all assigned on 90-day tours of duty.
Comments: AFOSI detachment commanders served for 179 days, not 90 days.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 23) The frequency of individual rotations into the Security Police Squadron means that the squadron always has a wide mix of experience and knowledge. It never stabilizes long enough to conduct training and develop unit cohesion.
Comments: While longer tour lengths may be desirable, I found no evidence that short tour lengths degraded the performance of the security police, before, during, or after the bombing. Nevertheless, we recommended in Part A of this Report assigning teams of security police, versus individuals, in the future to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of these units.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 23) Frequent rotations of intelligence and counterintelligence personnel in the region have had adverse impacts on both intelligence collection and force protection. The typical Air Force 90-day temporary duty rotation does not support effective liaison with host nation counterparts and force protection teams.
Comments: As mentioned above, AFOSI detachment commanders served for longer periods, 179 days, not 90 days. The evidence based on interviews indicates that Special Agent Reddecliff and Lieutenant Colonel Traister had effective liaison with their Saudi counterparts. Further, as noted in the AFOSI Vulnerability Assessments, this was also documented While longer tour lengths might well enhance relationships, I found that local relationships with the 4404th Wing (Provisional) were adequate. Contacts with local officials were frequent and effective. In fact, it was Special Agent Reddecliff who was first notified about the imminent beheading of the four perpetrators of the OPM-SANG bombing.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 28) Major General Anderson assumed command of Joint Task Force-Southwest Asia on April 22, 1996, but was not briefed by the Commander in Chief, U.S. Central Command on force protection issues prior to assuming his post.
Comments: Major General Anderson stated that before assuming command he was briefed by General Peay on four major priorities, one of which was Force Protection. Major General Anderson said they spent the majority of their time together discussing this priority.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 38) Overall, the intelligence provided commanders warning that the terrorist threat to U.S. service members and facilities was increasing. As a result, those responsible for force protection at Khobar Towers and other U.S. Government facilities in Saudi Arabia had time and motivation to reduce vulnerabilities.
Comments: This statement implies that commanders did not properly use their time, lacked motivation to reduce vulnerabilities, and did not reduce them. I found the opposite to be the case. For example, in the case of the 4404th Wing (Provisional) alone, they implemented over 130 security enhancements following the OPM-SANG bombing which significantly reduced vulnerabilities.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 44) The Security Police unit at Khobar Towers depended upon periodic vulnerability assessments performed by "ad hoc" composite assessment teams to determine vulnerabilities. The Security Police commander essentially served as his own intelligence officer for base defense with assistance from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations Detachment. Given the scope of his responsibilities and austere manning levels, he had little opportunity to conduct base defense-related intelligence assessments.
Comments: The AFOSI Vulnerability Assessments were conducted regularly and in accordance with Air Force directives. In the Air Force, the AFOSI is responsible for providing the same kind of intelligence support to the security police commander as military intelligence specialists do for the military police commander in the Army. Although structured differently from the Army, the relationship between the local AFOSI personnel and the security police commander was excellent. Moreover, the Wing Commander established a weekly "Threat" meeting where AFOSI, security police, and wing intelligence discussed the full spectrum of threats with the wings senior leadership. The Report evaluated the Wings intelligence structure by comparing it to the Army Military Police Battalion model. I found no evidence that such a structure, in this case, would have worked any better in predicting or preventing the attack.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 57) As at all U.S. overseas facilities, the host nation exercised sovereignty over its territory outside of U.S. installations and assumed responsibility for the overall security and safety of U.S. servicemen and women.
Comments: Saudi Arabia, the host nation, exercises sovereignty both inside and outside Khobar Towers, which belonged to the Government of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia did permit the U.S. latitude in its activities within the installation. Internal security was a shared responsibility between the U.S., coalition forces and the Saudi Arabian military police.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 57) The security infrastructure and systems at Khobar Towers proved inadequate to deter and defend against the June 25, 1996 terrorist bomb attack. This was despite significant efforts by the United States and Saudi Arabia to enhance security of the facility.
Comments: The relevant issue for accountability is not whether the security infrastructure and systems were adequate or inadequate to deter and defend against this particular terrorist bomb attack, but whether the actions taken by the chain of command were reasonable under the circumstances.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 57) The 4404th Wing (Provisional) initiated extensive force protection measures beginning in November 1995. These initiatives focused on the threat from a bomb penetrating to the interior of Khobar Towers. The Wing did not take adequate protective measures to meet other viable terrorist threats to service members and facilities in the Dhahran area. These threats included attacks by stand-off weapons, assassination and/or kidnapping of individuals, ambush of vehicles, and stand-off bombs.
Comments: Intelligence did not indicate that there was an imminent threat from stand-off weapons, assassination or kidnapping, or ambush of vehicles. Despite the lack of a known threat, Brigadier General Schwalier implemented Force Protection measures that extended beyond the perimeter. For example, he posted roof top sentries. They were positioned to observe any threat to Khobar Towers from outside the perimeter. In fact, this Force Protection measure saved lives since such sentries were the first to observe the suspicious truck in the parking lot outside the compound, to notify their control center, and to begin the evacuation of Building 131. Regarding individual off-base activities, a variety of measures was used depending on the threat level and/or the terrorist events that transpired in the immediate region. At times, personnel were restricted to base or restricted from visiting certain locations. When off-base travel was permitted, personnel were directed to avoid agitated crowds or large groups of Westerners, they could not travel alone or in groups larger than four, and frequently they were restricted from Bahrain where security incidents were not uncommon. The Wing dress and appearance instruction directed appropriate off-base attire. Wing personnel were instructed, through various means such as the Wing newspaper and briefings by commanders, to maintain a low profile outside the compound. Brigadier General Schwalier required unit commanders to brief and account for their personnel traveling off-base. For senior personnel and distinguished visitors, who were most at risk for kidnapping or ambush, personal security officers were used, plus travel and lodging plans were designed to minimize the risk.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 60) In April and May 1996, several incidents occurred which, while individually insignificant, indicated possible reconnaissance and surveillance of the Khobar Towers complex. None of these incidents have yet been linked to the actual attack.
Comments: While it may appear that these incidents represented a increase in potentially suspicious incidents, it should be noted that, due to the wing's increased emphasis on security (especially during the period of the Hajj), airmen were being much more vigilant and much more likely to report suspicious incidents. There is no way of knowing how often such incidents had been occurring or would have been reported if this level of vigilance had been in effect during the previous years.
The ten incidents included four of possible surveillance. They were reported by Wing personnel in April, May, and June 1996. Many were during the period of the Hajj. These incidents were investigated by the AFOSI, the Saudi military and local Police. None indicated an attack on Khobar Towers was imminent. These suspicious incidents near the Khobar Towers in the Spring of 1996 were thoroughly evaluated by the entire chain of command, to include USCENTCOM. These incidents included one possible threat indicator -- the suspected ramming of a Jersey barrier on the east perimeter. It was reported to Saudi authorities, who permitted the Wing to secure the barriers by staking them into the ground. There were four incidents of possible surveillance, which were taken seriously and reported to local Saudi authorities for further investigation. These occurred on April 1, 4, 17 and 25, 1996, and all involved reports by Wing personnel of Middle Eastern men driving by or parked and observing the compound. Of the five remaining incidents, two were inconclusive and three were completely discounted.
These incidents were discussed with the Saudis, who did not view them as threatening. They attributed the incidents of possible surveillance to natural curiosity on the part of the Saudi populace about the activities of Americans inside the perimeter. Just outside the northern perimeter of Khobar Towers is a parking lot which was used by people visiting a nearby mosque. It also serviced a recreational area. During the month-long period of Hajj, a religious celebration, it was not unusual for many people to congregate in this area in the evenings. Most of the reported incidents took place during this time, and this may have caused the police to dismiss them as non-threatening. The Saudis said they had undercover security personnel in the area.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 61) Brigadier General Schwalier was not well served by an "ad hoc" intelligence structure. The combination of frequent rotations, inconsistency in the professional qualifications of officers assigned to counterintelligence duties, and their lack of area expertise degraded the support provided to the Wing Commander.
Comments: The Wing Commander improved the existing intelligence structure by adding weekly threat meetings. I found no evidence any member of the Wings counterintelligence structure was lacking in "professional qualifications" or that the Wing Commander would have been served better by a different intelligence structure. The Wing leadership did not rely only upon themselves but sought help from others. They asked coalition members and sister service leaders, as well as a National Intelligence Support Team official in-country, to critique their security efforts and to make constructive security enhancement recommendations. They found the Wings efforts to be extensive and recommended no substantive changes. When asked about Force Protection at Khobar Towers after the OPM-SANG bombing, Colonel James R. Ward (U.S. Army), Commander, USARCENT, who had several hundred troops living at Khobar Towers, said: "there was a real sense of urgency;" "[w]e were worried about a car bomb;" "[g]iven what we had done, we thought we had done a good job of presenting a hardened area that was not accessible."
Task Force Assessment: (Page 80) FINDING 21: Funding for force protection requirements was not given a high priority by the 4404th Wing (Provisional) Prior to the bomb attack on June 25, there were no significant budget requests from the 4404th Wing (Provisional) for force protection. This implies that the relatively minor force protection measures adopted during the 1996 fiscal year budget period were sufficient.
Comments: Brigadier General Schwalier established the first 4404th Wing (Provisional) Five-Year Facilities Improvement Plan which included several measures intended to enhance personal and physical security. These measures were Mylar window film, perimeter fence improvements, surveillance equipment for the perimeter, and a vehicle entry control facility. (see previous discussion on Mylar)
Task Force Assessment: (Page 80) The Wing submitted a fiscal year 1996 unfunded budget request (UFR) for $6.5 million to U.S. Air Forces Central Command on May 15, 1996. It identified only five items related to force protection: Bitburg barriers, video cameras for closed-circuit recording of incidents at the dormitories, computers to operate the badge system for entry of Third Country National workers onto Khobar Towers, land mobile radios for security forces, and door alarms which cumulatively totaled approximately $450,000.
Comments: The budget process requires a reasonable approach to prioritization and requires substantiation. Funds are not unlimited. The Wing Commander established the Wings first five-year plan. It was based on the perceived threat.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 80) A comparison of the command budgets for U.S. Army Forces Central Command-Saudi Arabia and the 4404th Wing (Provisional) reveals a significant difference in command emphasis. In the budget for U.S. Army Forces Central Command-Saudi Arabia, force protection measures were prioritized just behind mission readiness, In fact, preliminary budgets submitted by the staff were changed by the commander, Colonel James Ward, to reflect the force protection priority.
Comments: While the Task Force may have perceived a difference in prioritization in budgetary matters, this did not prevent the Wing from taking reasonable steps to enhance the security of Khobar Towers. When asked about Force Protection at Khobar Towers after the OPM-SANG bombing, Colonel James R. Ward (U.S. Army), Commander, USARCENT, who had several hundred troops living at Khobar Towers, said, "There was a real sense of urgency. We were worried about a car bomb. Given what we had done, we thought we had done a good job of presenting a hardened area that was not accessible." The former Consul General to Dhahran, Mr. David Winn, a 25-year State Department veteran of the Middle East and a frequent visitor to Khobar Towers, observed that Brigadier General Schwaliers efforts " were so stringent, so draconian, so professional that I thought he almost had overreacted." Mr. Winn also stated that the security measures at Khobar Towers were so impressive that Khobar Towers was "in a league by itself" in comparison to other facilities in the region.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 81) FINDING 22: (a) The division of responsibility for the protection of Khobar Towers was clearly understood by both U.S. and Saudi officials.(b) Saudi security forces were unable to detect, deter, and prevent the truck bomb attack outside the perimeter fence at Khobar Towers.
Comments: I concur with Finding 22. The division of responsibility for protection of Khobar Towers was clearly understood by both U.S. and Saudi officials. I also agree with the Reports conclusion that Saudi forces were unable to detect, deter, and prevent the truck bomb from an attack outside the perimeter of Khobar Towers.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 81) Brigadier General Schwalier never requested to move the fence nor did he request additional force protection support from Saudi officials for the security of Khobar Towers.
Comments: As discussed previously, because they were concerned about increasing visibility on the perimeter, Colonel Gary Boyle, Support Group Commander, and Lieutenant Colonel James Traister, Security Police Squadron Commander, testified they had asked their Saudi military counterparts to move the concrete barriers a short distance outside the east, west and north fences and to clear out vegetation growing on the north perimeter. Colonel Boyle made his request in November 1995 after the OPM-SANG bombing while on a perimeter tour of the fence line with the Royal Saudi Air Force liaison officer. Lieutenant Colonel Traister made his request in April 1996. The request regarding the east and west perimeters was granted and concrete barriers were placed approximately five feet outside the fence. The request to cut down vegetation and to place barriers outside the vegetation on the north perimeter was not granted because the Saudis did not want their people easily to see activities inside the compound, such as jogging in shorts, and because they believed it was not necessary for security.
Brigadier General Schwalier did not raise with his counterparts the request regarding the vegetation and barrier outside the fence on the north perimeter, given the alternative cooperation received from the Saudis (e.g., increased Saudi patrols), other security measures taken, including measures to improve visibility (e.g., posting of rooftop sentries), the then-known threat, the nature of the property involved (a public parking area, used as a recreational area, next to a public park and a mosque), and the overall dynamics.
Task Force Assessment: (Page 82) Despite the coordination with local civilian police officials and the increased patrols of the north parking lot by the local civilian police, the terrorists exploited a vulnerability. The security of the north parking lot was clearly the responsibility of Saudi seurity forces.
Comments: While I concur with this assessment, it highlights the difficult circumstances under which the Wing operated with regard to extending Force Protection measures beyond its perimeter.
REVIEW TEAM BIOGRAPHIES
Lieutenant Gen James F. Record is the Commander, 12th Air Force and U.S. Southern Command Air Forces. The command is comprised of eight active wings, a communications group, a heavy engineering squadron, and an air support group with more than 35,000 active duty and civilian personnel and 450 aircraft. The command also consists of over 21,000 people and 360 aircraft in units of the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. His responsibilities also include the air component command USAF assets provided to U.S. Southern Command.
He has commanded three fighter wings (to include Kunsan, ROK,) and an air division, served as J-3 for U.S. Central Command, served as the first deputy of Joint Task Force Middle East operating in South West Asia (SWA) area, served as Air Component and Joint Force Air Component Commander of Operation Uphold Democracy, and senior U.S. member to the United Nations Command at Panmunjom, ROK, and as Commander, Joint Task Force Southwest Asia.
Colonel Robert H. Baskett is the Chief, Contingency and Joint Matters Division, Directorate of Military Personnel Policy, Deputy Chief of Staff, Personnel, HQ USAF. He has held that position since August, 1993. Colonel Baskett was commissioned in 1968 and has served on active duty since 1970. He is a command pilot with more than 3600 flying hours, has flown four different aircraft, but logged most of his time in C-130s. While stationed in the Philippines, he flew missions in the Pacific, Thailand, North and South Vietnam, including the Saigon Evacuation in April, 1975. He has flown in Europe, the Middle East; served as Operations Officer in the C-130 CCTS and the Tactical Airlift Instructor School, as well as Commander of the C-130 RTU Squadron. Additional tours include Assistant Professor of Aeronautical Engineering at USAFA, Senior Airlift Controller in the Military Airlift Command (MAC) Command Center, Director of Personnel Plans, Systems, and Readiness in the MAC Crisis Action Team (CAT) during OPERATIONS DESERT SHIELD/STORM, and Chief of Assignments for Air Mobility Command.
Colonel William H. Booth is the Chief, Manpower Program Development Division, Directorate of Programs and Evaluation, HQ USAF/PE. Colonel Booth has over 22 years experience in a wide variety of Manpower Management positions at all echelons within the Air Force command structure. Early in his career he was a base level management engineering officer and management engineering detachment commander. His four most recent positions before his current assignment were as Chief, Manpower Resources Branch, HQ TAC/XP; Chief, Manpower Budget Development Team, HQ USAF/PE, Chief, Manpower Requirements Division, HQ SAC/XP, and Chief, Manpower and Organization Division and Deputy Director of Manpower and Personnel, United States Strategic Command/J1.
Colonel Thomas Leo Cropper is the Chief of Public Health, AF Medical Operations Agency. He has twenty-three years experience in disease prevention and control, medical readiness, training, plans, and exercise evaluation. He was stationed at RAF Upper Heyford, UK from 1978-1981. His overseas TDYs include Germany, Portugal, and Korea. He served as director of Battlefield Medical Operations, School of Aerospace Medicine from 1986-1990. He was responsible for the Brooks AFB exercise evaluation team from 1986-1992. He served on numerous AF and DoD panels to improve medical readiness and plans, disease and injury prevention, and operational medical support from 1985-1996. He has special training and expertise in nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare defense.
Colonel Robert A. Ferguson, USAF, BSC, is the Associate Director, Medical Readiness Doctrine and Training, Office of the Surgeon General, HQ USAF, Bolling AFB, DC. He has over nineteen years military service, the last nine of which have been as a medical readiness officer, serving at HQ TAC, USCENTAF, Joint Staff, and Air Staff. His experience includes serving as deliberate planner, crisis action planner, and SWA theater planner during OPERATIONS DESERT SHIELD/STORM, focusing on operational and strategic levels of war. In his current billet he is responsible for managing Air Force medical readiness, organization, training, and equipping as the Medical Service re-engineers its medical capabilities.
Colonel James M. Holt has been assigned to HQ USAF/XOFC to work special projects for XOF since 6 Aug 96. A command pilot with over 3000 flying hours, he entered the AF in Feb 1970. He has extensive experience in operations and command relations both as a commander and as a war planner. He was Support Group Commander, 354th Fighter Wing, Eielson AFB, AK from Aug 94 to Jul 96, 673rd Air Base Group Commander, Eareckson AFS, AK from Sep 93 to Aug 94 and Squadron commander of the 25th Tactical Air Support Squadron, Eielson AFB, AK from May 88 to Oct 89. He served as a plans officer from Jul 85 to May 88 at Headquarters Alaskan Air Command.
Colonel David W. Madsen is the Chief, Appellate Defense Division, Air Force Legal Services Agency. He is a judge advocate with over 22 years experience in military justice. While assigned to the HQ USAF Military Justice Division, he was the Air Force representative on the working group of the Joint Services Committee on Military Justice. This committee is responsible for recommending changes to the Manual for Courts-Martial and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. He served as staff judge advocate at Mountain Home AFB, ID and served on the headquarters staffs at 17 AF, TAC, SAC and USAFE, where he served as the deputy MAJCOM staff judge advocate.
Colonel Thomas J. McDonald is the Director of Operations for the Directorate of The Civil Engineer. Colonel McDonald has over 23 years of experience in a variety of Civil Engineer assignments at all levels of command. Prior to that he was the Chief of Programs for the Civil Engineer directorate at HQ AETC, Randolph AFB, TX. He also served as the commander of the 375 Civil Engineer Squadron at Griffiss AFB, New York. He was the Chief of the Programs Requirements branch for the Civil Engineer directorate at HQ PACAF and was an evaluator on the HQ USAFE Inspector General team.
Colonel Gerald E. Reynolds is the Director of Plans, Policy and Evaluation, Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence, Headquarters, United States Air Force, Washington, DC. Colonel Reynolds has 29 years experience in intelligence operations as a photo interpreter, targeting officer, nuclear and conventional weapons, regional and counterterrorism analyst, financial programmer, special security officer and trainer. He commanded an imagery and electronic intelligence exploitation squadron at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska (SAC, 16 months) and the 3480th Technical Training Wing at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas (ATC, 26 months), where he provided basic and advanced intelligence training to over 8000 students per year from all four United States military services. He was the senior United States intelligence officer at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), Belgium, and the Director of Intelligence at Air Combat Command, the Air Forces largest major command.
Colonel James R. Silliman is the Vice Commander, Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Bolling AFB, Washington, DC. He was commissioned in April 1967 and has spent his entire career in AFOSI, serving in command and staff positions at all echelons within AFOSI. His various tours of duty have included base level counterintelligence collections, theater-wide responsibility for USAF counterintelligence in Europe, counterintelligence input to security police for air base ground defense in the United Kingdom, and oversight of the Air Force counterespionage double agent program.
Colonel Frank M. Willingham is the Deputy Chief of Security Police for the Air Force. Colonel Willingham has over 20 years experience in security and law enforcement and has a diverse range of experience which is unique among Air Force security policemen. He directed security operations at Ramstein Air Base in the aftermath of a terrorist attack on HQ USAFE. In a follow-on assignment, Colonel Willingham directed security operations in protecting air crews after the Libyan air strikes at RAF Lakenheath. While there, Colonel Willingham pioneered the use of thermal imagery technology in security which was later used in the Philippines and Panama. His field experience was followed by assignments to the USAFE IG Team and the Air Staff where he managed the AF Air Base Ground Defense program. In a Joint Service capacity, he managed research and development of new nuclear security systems while assigned to the Defense Nuclear Weapons Agency. After his tour in Washington, Colonel Willlingham was sent to HQ USEUCOM in Germany where he oversaw the largest shipment of nuclear weapons back to the United States from an overseas location.
Lieutenant Colonel Robert L. Woods is presently the Chief of the Air Force Central Labor law Office (CLLO), Civil Law and Litigation Directorate, Air Force Legal Service Agency. He has served as Assistant Staff Judge Advocate, McGuire AFB, NJ; Staff Judge Advocate, San Antonio Real Property Maintenance Agency, San Antonio, TX; Trial Attorney, CLLO, Washington DC; and Staff Judge Advocate, RAF Alconbury, UK. Lt Col Woods attended law school under the sponsorship of the Air Force Funded Legal Education Program and has 13 years of litigation experience.