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Profile: Philip M. Breedlove
Philip M. Breedlove was a participant or observer in the following events:
Philip Breedlove. [Source: US Air Force]James Roche, the secretary of the Air Force, learns about the attacks on the World Trade Center in the middle of a meeting with several members of Congress in his office, on the fourth floor of the Pentagon. Among the members of Congress attending the breakfast meeting is Representative Sam Johnson (R-TX). The identities of the other congressmen are unknown. The subject being discussed is, ironically, Islamic fundamentalism. [IIT Magazine, 12/2003; McKinney Courier-Gazette, 9/11/2009; Air Force Magazine, 9/2011 ]
Senior Assistant Alerts Roche to First Crash - Colonel Philip Breedlove, Roche’s senior military assistant who is in his own office, located near Roche’s office, learns about the first attack on the WTC when a member of his staff runs in and says, “Sir, you’ve got to look at the TV.” Breedlove looks up at the television in his office and sees the news coverage of the burning North Tower. “I decided I’ve got to go interrupt the breakfast and tell the secretary that we’ve had a horrible accident,” he will later recall. He therefore goes into Roche’s office, kneels beside Roche, and tells him what has happened. Roche excuses himself from the meeting and follows Breedlove to Breedlove’s office, to get a glimpse of the TV coverage and get a feeling of what is going on. As soon as they are in Breedlove’s office, the two men see the live coverage of Flight 175 crashing into the South Tower at 9:03 a.m. (see 9:03 a.m. September 11, 2001).
Roche Realizes They Have a 'Big Problem' - Breedlove says to Roche, “Sir, this is not an accident.” Roche says, “My God, we’ve got a big problem here.” “It was real clear to us that our nation had been attacked,” Breedlove will comment. “It was real clear that this was deliberate. What was not clear immediately is the scope and scale. Were there other attacks under way?” The two men make arrangements for the members of Congress to return to their own offices, and then start planning what they and the Air Force headquarters at the Pentagon should do. What actions, if any, they take are unclear. At some point after the second crash at the WTC, General John Jumper, the Air Force chief of staff, will join Roche in his office, but the two men will only head to the Air Force Operations Center in the basement of the Pentagon after 9:37 a.m., when the building is attacked (see Shortly After 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Air Force Print News, 9/11/2003; Air Force Magazine, 9/2011 ; Airman, 9/15/2011]
James Roche. [Source: United States Air Force]General John Jumper, the Air Force chief of staff, and James Roche, the secretary of the Air Force, head to the Air Force Operations Center in the basement of the Pentagon, where they will assist the Air Force’s response to the terrorist attacks. [CNN, 10/10/2001; Air Force Print News, 9/11/2003; Air Force Magazine, 9/2011 ] Roche learned about the attacks on the World Trade Center while he was holding a breakfast meeting with several members of Congress in his office on the fourth floor of the Pentagon. He then arranged for the members of Congress to return to their offices, but stayed in his own office (see (Shortly After 8:48 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Air Force Magazine, 9/2011 ] Jumper learned about the attacks during a staff meeting he was chairing, but initially continued the meeting (see (9:00 a.m.-9:20 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 136] He adjourned it at 9:20 a.m., according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal. [Daytona Beach News-Journal, 9/7/2004 ] He then headed up to Roche’s office. [Airman, 9/15/2011]
Roche and Jumper Possibly Unaware of Plane Approaching Washington - In the office now with Roche and Jumper are Colonel Philip Breedlove, Roche’s senior military assistant, and Colonel Jack Egginton, executive officer to the Air Force chief of staff. [Air Force Magazine, 9/2011 ] It is unclear whether the men in Roche’s office realized a suspicious aircraft was approaching Washington, DC, before the Pentagon was hit, at 9:37 a.m. (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). Lieutenant General Lance Lord, assistant vice chief of staff of the Air Force, will later say that those who attended Jumper’s staff meeting “heard there was another plane inbound to Washington” as they were heading to their offices after the meeting. [Air Force Space Command News Service, 9/5/2002] And Egginton will say that a few minutes before the Pentagon was hit, “We received word that another aircraft was headed toward Washington.” [Air Force Print News, 9/11/2003] But according to the Midland Reporter-Telegram, Jumper’s staff had “no idea that they [i.e. the Pentagon] would be the next target for terrorists.” [Midland Reporter-Telegram, 4/2/2002]
Roche and Jumper Possibly Initially Unaware that the Pentagon Had Been Attacked - Breedlove will recall that shortly before the Pentagon was hit, while Roche and Jumper had their backs to the window, he and Egginton “saw an airplane go by really close to the building.” People who work at the Pentagon or visit it regularly are used to seeing planes flying by, near the building. “But that one seemed closer than any other,” Breedlove will comment. [Air Force Magazine, 9/2011 ] However, it is unclear whether the men in Roche’s office immediately realized the Pentagon had been attacked when it was hit. The office is on the opposite side of the building to where the attack occurred and so, according to some accounts, Roche and Jumper did not feel the impact. They only realized something was wrong when they saw “people running down the halls and trying to evacuate the premises,” according to the Midland Reporter-Telegram. Roche will say that all he initially knew was that “the building was putting out the alert that something had gone wrong.” “It was amazing, from inside the building, how little we knew about what actually went on,” Tim Green, assistant executive to the Air Force chief of staff, who is with Jumper, will comment. “People outside of the building… probably knew more about what happened from the news than I did.” [CNN, 10/10/2001; Midland Reporter-Telegram, 4/2/2002] Egginton and Breedlove, however, will contradict these accounts. “I felt the building shake upon impact,” Egginton will say. Breedlove will recall, “We felt a tremor in the building and then alarms start flashing.”
Roche and Jumper Taken to Operations Center - Breedlove will say that, in response to the attack on the Pentagon, he promptly arranges for Jumper and Roche to be escorted to the Air Force Operations Center, in the basement of the Pentagon’s C Ring. He will recall that he hits the “duress button” and then security officers enter Roche’s office almost immediately. “We said, ‘We need to get to the bunker; we need to get down to our operations area,’” he will say. [Air Force Print News, 9/11/2003; Air Force Magazine, 9/2011 ] Roche, though, will give a different account. He will say that his office had been “on the phone to our Operations Center” and then “we were called down,” presumably by whoever they were talking to in the Operations Center. [CNN, 10/10/2001] Roche and Jumper are escorted to the Operations Center through “smoke, alarms, and throngs of people heading for the exits,” Egginton will recall. [Air Force Print News, 9/11/2003]
Roche and Jumper Learn a Plane Hit the Pentagon - In the Operations Center, members of the Air Force Crisis Action Team have already begun to assemble so as to help provide assistance to civil authorities in New York (see (9:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 136] When Roche and Jumper reach the center, they will learn that the Pentagon has been hit by an aircraft (see After 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). [CNN, 10/10/2001] Other Air Force officials, including Lord, also head to the Operations Center after the Pentagon is hit. [Lompoc Record, 9/11/2003]
Harry Brosofsky. [Source: Syracuse University]General John Jumper, the Air Force chief of staff, and James Roche, the secretary of the Air Force, as well as other senior Air Force officials, arrive at the Air Force Operations Center in the basement of the Pentagon’s C Ring, where they assist the Air Force’s response to the terrorist attacks. [CNN, 10/10/2001; Lompoc Record, 9/11/2003; Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 136]
Operations Center Personnel Did Not Realize a Plane Had Hit the Pentagon - Jumper and Roche were in Roche’s office on the fourth floor of the Pentagon when the Pentagon was hit, at 9:37 a.m. (see 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001), and were then promptly escorted down to the Operations Center (see Shortly After 9:37 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Air Force Print News, 9/11/2003; Air Force Magazine, 9/2011 ] They were unclear what had happened when the Pentagon was attacked, but when they arrive at the Operations Center, they find out that an aircraft hit the building. [CNN, 10/10/2001; Midland Reporter-Telegram, 4/2/2002] Those in the Operations Center had not initially realized a plane had hit the Pentagon either. The center is deep underground on the opposite site of the building to where it was hit and so they did not feel the impact when the attack occurred. But, according to the Dover Post, “Suddenly, sirens started to go off,” and “[r]eports from the television news and from outside the building confirmed the worst.” [Dover Post, 9/19/2001; Prospectus, 9/2006, pp. 3-6 ]
Operations Center Is Quickly Going from 'Zero to Crisis Mode' - When Roche and Jumper arrive at the Operations Center, they find Air Force personnel there are “already starting to try to get the intel picture together; they were trying to get the air picture up on the walls,” according to Colonel Philip Breedlove, Roche’s senior military assistant, who has come down to the center with the two men. The center is “going from zero to crisis mode very quickly and very smoothly,” Breedlove will add. [Air Force Magazine, 9/2011 ] Personnel in the center have been answering calls coming in on multiple lines. “We didn’t know who was still out there or what their hostile intention might be,” Major Harry Brosofsky, who arrived at the center shortly after the Pentagon was hit, will later recall. However, Brosofsky will say, “at times we had information overload and had to decide quickly what to do with all the information that was pouring in.” But the atmosphere is still noticeably professional, according to Major Donna Nicholas, who arrived at the center before the Pentagon was hit. “I was amazed at the calm,” she will comment.
Crisis Team Is at Work in Operations Center - Furthermore, the Air Force’s Crisis Action Team (CAT), which, according to the Dover Post, “coordinates Air Force reaction to anything that might be a threat to the United States,” was activated earlier on and is now carrying out its activities in the Operations Center (see (9:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Dover Post, 9/19/2001; Syracuse University Magazine, 12/2001] Members of the CAT have also begun to assemble in the center for a 10:00 a.m. briefing, due to the fact that one of their responsibilities is to work with the Army to provide assistance to civil authorities in New York, in response to the attacks on the World Trade Center. [Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 136]
Roche and Jumper Try to Contact NORAD - The first thing Roche and Jumper do when they reach the Operations Center is try and locate Air Force personnel, to make sure they are safe, and safely out of the Pentagon. [CNN, 10/10/2001] CAT members work to obtain a head count of Air Force personnel who have evacuated from the building. [Syracuse University Magazine, 12/2001] Roche and Jumper then try to contact NORAD. [CNN, 10/10/2001] The Air Force leaders are “not the command authority” at the moment, according to Air Force Magazine, and, instead, NORAD is primarily responsible for operational control of the situation. Air Force officials, however, still need to “do what they could to inform and support the operational units.” [Air Force Magazine, 9/2011 ] The CAT also coordinates with NORAD to put fighter jets on alert in Alaska and Hawaii. [Syracuse University Magazine, 12/2001] Roche will recall that after contacting NORAD, he and Jumper “stand by and start to think of how we, the Air Force, could support any casualties or any other things that might develop during the day.” [CNN, 10/10/2001] The CAT also works with the FAA to monitor flight activity over the continental United States. [Syracuse University Magazine, 12/2001] And CAT members activate a team to focus on “continuity of operations,” which is the effort to ensure that the Air Force is able to continue its essential functions in an emergency. [US Department of Defense, 5/26/1995; Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 136; US Air Force, 10/16/2013 ]
Air Force Personnel Affected by Communication Problems - The ability of those in the Operations Center to respond to the crisis, however, is impaired when, at some point after Jumper and Roche arrive, communications go down. “There was a short period where literally the only [communications] we had was the BlackBerry device, because it communicates differently across the lines,” Breedlove will recall. The reason for the problem, according to Air Force Magazine, is that networks have become overloaded by people at the Pentagon and around Washington, DC, all trying to call their relatives to let them know they are okay. As the morning goes on, Air Force officials also begin experiencing problems with smoke from the burning building coming into the center. The decision will therefore be made to establish a temporary Air Force Operations Center at Bolling Air Force Base, just across the Potomac River from the Pentagon. At 12:20 p.m., Air Force leaders and assistants will be flown by helicopter to the base. The new Operations Center there will be up and functioning by 1:00 p.m. (see 1:00 p.m. September 11, 2001). [Prospectus, 9/2006, pp. 3-6 ; Goldberg et al., 2007, pp. 136; Air Force Magazine, 9/2011 ]
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