As search for missing continues, Pentagon mobilizes for war

Search and rescue teams worked around the clock over the weekend to recover bodies of the 188 people believed to have died last week when terrorists commandeered American Airlines Flight 77 and crashed it into the Pentagon.

The estimate includes 124 military, civilian and contractor employees who were working in the Pentagon at the time of the crash and 64 passengers aboard the aircraft, including five hijackers.

Among those employees believed to have perished in the attack, 74 were affiliated with the Army, 42 with the Navy, and eight were employed by Defense agencies. Two other Defense agency employees were also presumed dead--one was aboard the jet that crashed into the Pentagon and the other was aboard United Flight 175, one of two hijacked flights that crashed into the World Trade Center twin towers in lower Manhattan the same morning.

While the recovery operation continues, Defense officials are gearing up for what senior Bush administration officials are calling a prolonged war against terrorism.

In an interview with reporters Sunday morning, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said, "It will take a broad, sustained effort that will [require] our diplomatic, our political, our economic, our financial strength as well as our military strength, and unquestionably unconventional techniques. And it will take time. It's not a matter of days or weeks. It's years."

Rumsfeld said fighter aircraft at some 26 bases around the country are on "strip alert," meaning they can be mobilized on 10 to 15 minutes notice. Military forces are also on a very high state of alert.

"The reality is that a terrorist can attack at any time in any place using any technique, and it is physically impossible for a free people to try to defend in every place at every time against every technique," Rumsfeld said. "What does that mean? It means that the President is exactly right, that we have to take this battle, this war, to the terrorists, where they are. And the best defense is an effective offense, in this case. And that means they have to be rooted out."

On Friday, Bush authorized the call-up of as many as 50,000 National Guard and Reserve personnel to active duty. The call-up would augment thousands of reservists who already have returned to active duty voluntarily since Tuesday, Defense officials said.

Service officials are estimating they will need about 35,000 reservists very soon: 10,000 soldiers, 13,000 airmen, 3,000 sailors, 7,500 Marines and 2,000 Coast Guardsmen. Individual reservists and reserve units could be called up involuntarily at any time, said Craig Duehring, assistant secretary of Defense for reserve affairs.

"The kind of units that might be called up include air defense, airlift, intelligence support, military police, medical, logistics, engineers, search and rescue, civil affairs, chaplains and so forth," said Duehring.

The last time the ready reserve underwent a partial mobilization, as this call-up represents, was in January 1991, before the Persian Gulf War.

While many of the reservists called up are expected to be deployed in support of recovery operations in New York City, many others will be employed in more typical warfighting missions, such as defending the air space around major metropolitan areas and filling in for active-duty personnel who may deploy overseas, Defense officials said.

In an interview with the PBS "Newshour" on Friday, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said the administration assumes that more terrorists remain in the country.

"We have to operate on the assumption that we haven't seen the end of this kind of terrorism. But we also have [to] understand that what we saw on Tuesday completely transforms the problem. We've got to think anew about this," Wolfowitz said.

"The policies of the last 20 years--whether you think they were carried out effectively or ineffectively--obviously don't work. This is not going to be a problem solved by locking somebody up and putting them in jail. It's not going to be solved by some limited military action. It's going to take…a broad and sustained campaign against the terrorist networks and the states that support those terrorist networks," he said.

Wolfowitz added, "Given some of the weapons … these terrorists are after, what we saw on Sept. 11 could be just the beginning."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.