2nd Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

"I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians."
- George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Operation Noble Eagle...ten years later.

There was a minor milestone reached last month that I had planned on posting about but simply forgot....the 10 year anniversary of Operation Noble Eagle (ONE).  Operation what?  Yeah, I know...its not like that is a household name or anything.  I have spoken of it before, ONE was the mobilization of US reserve component military personnel in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks for the purpose of providing homeland security.  I am proud to say that I and my unit at the time, the 1st Battalion 148th Infantry, were one of the first units called into service at this time.  It was strange, almost surreal at the time.  We knew very little of our enemy or their plans at that point and it was anyone's guess whether 9/11 had been a one time deal or simply the beginning of a series of attacks.  Fortunately, it was more of the former than later.  Even though there have been subsequent attack attempts (shoe and underwear bombers for example) the 9/11 attacks were the only major effort on US soil to have been accomplished to their end as part of a larger plan.  I would like to think that the actions of the thousands and thousands of soliders, sailors, coast guardmen, marines and airmen who contributed to ONE made this partially possible. 

Like I said, we did not have any reliable intel on our enemy and the missions detailed to ONE were as varied as any security missions that could be thought of at the time....

Airport security (for obvious reasons)...

 Port security...

Installation security...


Air space security....

Heck, ONE even provided air defense systems to guard the capital and other areas in case of another 9/11 style hijacking attack.

I can tell you some stuff that Operation Noble Eagle did do for the reserve components...it got them ready for OIF and OEF deployments.  Volumes of regulations and SOP's that had been written and left untested for years in actual mobilizations were finally put through their paces....and in many cases found wanting.

  • In our case, we were mobilized so quickly after 9/11 that nobody had cared to think how meals and lodging would be paid for for troops reporting to their home stations (armories) that would be required to stay there. Normal budgets for unit training assemblies normally only accounted for a single meal and no lodging expenses.  We actually bought our own meals and stayed in local motels at our own expense for a night or two before someone could get authorization to pay for that stuff...this has since been fixed.  
  • Personnel regulations did not allow us to demobilize troops because our mission requirements had changed prior to the end of our mobilization orders or at the discretion of the commander.  We had folks that we ended up not needing that we could not release from Active duty orders simply for that reason.  Medical condition?  family hardship? homosexuality? sure! Those were all valid reasons but "we brought too many people" wasn't a good reason...now changed.
  • Equipment was quickly modernized for units across the board, no longer did the Guard look like the Active Army of 25 years previous, we had the personnel and after 9/11 we quickly had the gear to equip them as well.  
  • Speaking of personnel...the mobilizations quickly make a whole bunch of "ghost soldiers" that were on the books to boost numbers quickly "dismiss"...he he he....

And those are just a few quick ones that I was involved with.  By the time the large scale mobilization orders came for OEF and OIF the guard and reserve were better prepared for the large flux of support actions that was required to move that many people and equipment onto active duty...largely due to lessons learned from ONE mistakes.

In the grand scheme of things this will not be an operation that will be remembered in the long run by the history books or American public.  Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) have taken center stage for both the civilian and military populace.  Much like the service of those soldiers that served in "The Cold War", ONE veterans will gradually see there accomplishments and efforts minimized over time and overshadowed by other "hot" combat operations that occurred during overlapping periods of time.
Its cool, no big deal. Although many of us served in these homeland security missions after mobilization as involuntarily separated from our families as soldiers serving overseas and sometimes under as austere conditions as those found in a "real" combat zone (try living in a dirty warehouse on bunks with cold showers and bathrooms a quarter mile away....all the time with TONS of nerve gas and chemical weapons all around you - that was one of our company's mission sites) you don't hear many people complaining about being "forgotten".  I mean think about it...ONE is largely unknown and forgotten now because it may have just WORKED!  If the presence of US troops protecting the country had NOT protected the citizenry from attacks from terrorists everyone would have remembered ONE as a failure!  If the Titanic had not sunk nobody would recognize or remember it today. 

We did get a medal cast for our service and that of anyone in the military that served on active duty in an action either directly combating terrorism via conventional or security related operations or in support of said operations, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.  Yeah, you guessed it, pretty much everyone in the military and reserves got it.  I know folks in the AGR program that have never served a single day of mobilized service since 9/11 and have them.  Oh yeah and the National Defense Service Medal was authorized too for active duty service in ONE....and we gave out a crap load of non-combat type medals for participation too....damn, no wonder my Class A's looked so impressive when I retired.

So anyway, here's to Operation Noble Eagle...a job well done 10 years later!

No comments: