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Old 10-07-2003, 04:56 PM   #1
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Military Practicing Airliner Shoot-Downs

sorry i am not sure if this has been posted already. but when i saw this on the news a few nights ago, it really freaked me a bit.

[q]Military Practicing Airliner Shoot-Downs
7:20 am PST, 3 October 2003

The U.S. military twice a week practices shooting down commercial airliners hijacked by terrorists, the commander of North American forces claimed Thursday.

Gen. Ralph E. Eberhart, head of U.S. Northern Command, said multiple safeguards are in place to prevent accidentally shooting down an airliner that has not been hijacked. He said commanders, air defense crews and fighter pilots are drilled at least four times per week on those procedures.

Under the rules adopted by the Pentagon, a commercial plane would be downed only if another Sept. 11-style attack was imminent and could not be prevented any other way.

Authentication procedures are in place for such orders, so "someone can't just get on the radio and say, 'This is the president, I order you to shoot down that plane,'" Gen. Eberhart said.

U.S. fighters were in the air Sept. 11, 2001 during the terrorist attacks but were too far away to prevent the hijacked airliners from slamming into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center towers.

On a few occasions since the attacks, air defense missile batteries have been set up around Washington, D.C. Also, fighter planes have regularly patrolled the skies over the nation's capital and New York City.

Gen. Eberhart assured Americans commercial airliners won't be shot down accidentally.

"I would take issue with anyone who would say the men and women in our armed forces are trigger happy," he told reporters. "I'm more worried that they would be trigger hesitant than trigger happy. We have long discussions with people to see if they're ready to do this."

The commander of North American forces said he's never heard of a single incident where missile batteries or pilots failed to shoot down a hijacked airliner.

Anyone involved in such an assignment has undergone repeated psychological testing and evaluation, he said.

The Pentagon created Northern Command in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks to coordinate military defense of the United States and response to attacks or natural disasters. [/q]

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Old 10-08-2003, 03:33 PM   #2
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Yeah, I read about that as I was boarding a flight to DC. Next time I'll wear my bulls eye shirt.
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