Since I cannot contribute much (other than blood and money) to New York from where I sit in Boston, I thought perhaps I would offer E2 what insights and knowledge that I am able. These are purely my own interpretation; I will quote sources for facts where possible. I will add to this node as new events warrant.

Last Updated: 9/13 1657 EST

An analysis of U.S. Military actions in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001

September 13, 2001

Not much today. Some tidbits:
  • Apparently, during an address to U.S. forces, Donald Rumsfeld (SecDef) told them that 'more, much more, will be asked of them in the near future.'
  • Unconfirmed report that a carrier returning from the Indian Ocean was told to halt and await orders, perhaps to join another in the Persian Gulf. My take: Well, they wouldn't go into the Gulf. They'd stay in the Indian Ocean perhaps a couple hundred klicks south of the Gulf. According the U.S. Navy's September 10th update, the U.S.S. Enterprise is on station in the Arabian gulf, and the U.S.S. Carl Vinson is in the Indian Ocean. Likely, then, the Carl Vinson was told to hold off on returning, in case her forces are needed in the region. In addition, should they be needed, the U.S.S. Constellation and the U.S.S. John C. Stennis are in the Pacific Ocean; the Stennis, however, may be east of Hawaii. The Constellation is homeported in Yokusuka, Japan (it's conventional, and Japan won't allow nuclear ships to dock), so it's probably somewhere in WESTPAC.

September 12, 2001

  • 1328 EST: - CNN reports that the carrier U.S.S. George Washington has entered New York Harbor. This indicates that the GW is to provide logistical assistance (medical, evac, recovery) since it cannot perform flight operations while in the harbor. I don't know where its' air wing is; it likely has been flown off to a shore base where it will stage from while the GW is in harbor. The GW may not have sailed with its air wing on board; if anyone has information, please let me know.
  • 1300 EST: - The Pentagon states that CAP in the skies over NYC and Washington, DC will remain for "several days."

September 11, 2001

This is the opening of the node. So far, the only factual information on military actions relevant are, as I have gathered, as follows.
  • 1344 EST: - CNN and ABC News reported that the U.S. Navy is deploying the aircraft carriers U.S.S. John F. Kennedy and the U.S.S. George Washington as well as five smaller vessels from Newport News. The carriers will deploy to the New York City coast area, where they will offer both quick-response fighters, relief air traffic control and perhaps medical assistance. The five other ships are headed further out to sea.
  • Starting around 1030 EST:Air Force and Air National Guard fighters patrolling U.S. Airspace, with special attention on major metropolitan areas. A colleague's mother witnessed airliners being escorted into SFO around 3pm by pairs of F-16 fighters. There was an audible and visible fighter presence over New York City starting perhaps an hour after the first incident; I have no information on aircraft or units but it sounds like USAF or ANG F-16s as well, possibly F-15s also. Reports (unreliable) also indicate at least a pair of F-15s with accompanying tanker support on station above Chicago's O'Hare Airport.

My take: This is of course simply immediate response, all of which is quite reasonable. Given the means of attack, and the FAA's consequent clearing of U.S. airspace, the task of any fighters on CAP should be quite clear-cut. The aircraft carriers (the JFK is conventional, the GW nuclear) will provide several types of capabilities to military and civil authorities in the New York area. For one thing, each is manned by a crew of several thousand, all of whom are trained to cope with disastrous events on board; including collapse, explosion, and fire. Nonessential personnel may find themselves on the streets of New York.

The fighter aircraft on board the carriers (F-14 Tomcats and F/A-18 Hornets) will be available to intercept any detected incoming aircraft to verify their intentions and identity, and if necessary, warn them off and destroy them. It is a sad day when this sort of action is necessary on our coasts, but be assured the U.S. military is going to take this job personally and seriously. In addition to the fighters, the carriers also provide extra air-traffic control resources. Although military ATC units (called RAPCON in militarese, at least on land) are not directly able to perform the same job as professional civil ATCs, they can be used to monitor offshore airspace and to track aircraft that civil ATC cannot handle. In addition, they will be able to coordinate all military flights around the area. Finally, the carriers can extend the coastal aircraft detection system by deploying their on-board E2-C Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning aircraft; these machines have radars which afford them a detection and tracking radius of perhaps two hundred miles.

It should be noted that civil air traffic radar typically requires that aircraft carry an active transponder in order to accurately track them; this allows much longer coverage with much less power transmitted, always a concern over populated areas. Military radars, such as is carried on board the carriers, however, is designed to find targets trying to hide down near open ocean.

In addition to the carriers, 'five smaller ships' were deployed. At a guess, I would say that these are all AEGIS class ships of varying types, and that they have been deployed to form an air defense barrier some few hundred miles out from the carriers. The AEGIS system is capable of tracking and engaging multiple air targets at some obscene ranges (like two or three hundred miles) due to its extremely powerful SPY-1 series phased-array radars and vertical-launch STANDARD SM-2/SM-2ER SAMs. With five ships, a barrier could be effectively placed from Newfoundland to the coast of Florida, assuming a four-hundred-mile separation.

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