The exercise broke down into multiple phases, which began on September 5, 2001. Each phase was to determine the preparedness of the NRO to various emergencies.  The first phase included a NRO employee going into the workplace with a handgun and shooting his supervisor, and another co-worker before dropping the gun and leaving the building.

Simulation personnel along with local police officers overlooked how the NRO structure responded to the scenario.  They looked for response times of security officers, how fast a cordoned off area could be established, and they focused on multiple other key details to help the NRO become a more secure workplace.

Each step of the process was carefully timed out… from the time the gunmen shot his supervisor… to the time he exited the building.  But the next phase of the exercise, which spanned 9 days total, began on September 11th, 2001, and it was nothing short of eerie.

This phase of the simulation, which began on the morning of September 11, 2001, simulated an aircraft plowing into two of their buildings at NRO headquarters.  The simulation had the complete story of the pilots, right down to drinking a “free cup of coffee” before they boarded their flight.

But as this hypothetical tale goes, their flight didn’t end so well.  Although it wasn’t a story of terrorism, but rather bad luck, it invokes many questions as to why months earlier – the NRO was beginning to plan a scenario of a plane flying into their buildings to test their response.

Although The Black Vault makes no assertions as to what it really means – it poses some interesting questions that have remained unanswered.  Did we really know of a plot similar to this simulation?  Did we know when or even how it might be achieved?  And maybe the biggest one of all – how did the NRO simulation end up on the very day that 9-11 redefined it’s meaning?

Document Archive

Documents from the NRO detailing the simulation [61 Pages, 1.7MB]

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