Air Force techs acted fast to save systems

Air Force techs acted fast to save systems

The quick thinking of systems workers at the Air Force Pentagon Communications Agency's command and control directorate may have saved computers in the National Military Command Center from crashing following the terrorist attack Sept. 11.

Soon after the jetliner hit the Pentagon, NMCC workers assessed the scene and knew they had to stop at least some of the smoke from pouring into the area, said Michael Bartos, the center's chief of facilities. NMCC is the 'primary nerve system for command and control within the Department of Defense,' Bartos said.

'Our first and primary concern was that we needed to eliminate some of the smoke,' he said. 'But we also noticed that the temperature was rising. And that's not good when you consider the number of computer systems that are maintained within the NMCC.'

Since the chilled-water system was not working in the center, workers used a smoke evacuation system to clear the hallways and to gain access to the pump room. Once workers got to the pump room, they turned off air handling units that were pushing smoke into the center, Bartos said.

Throughout the ordeal, work in NMCC's C2 systems maintenance division continued.

'Our main job is to ensure the red switch, a secure network system that gives the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the chief of staff of the Air Force a reliable real-time means of communicating with their commanders around the globe, is always ready for use at a moment's notice,' said Master Sgt. Ted Peters, superintendent of the C2 systems maintenance division. 'But after the crash, we also installed extra red phones for the Army and Navy Operations Centers. This was crucial since they were the hardest hit.'

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