Threatcon Delta Declared in Bahrain, Qatar
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2000 U.S. Central Command officials have declared Threat Condition Delta, the highest threat level, in Bahrain and Qatar, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. Craig Quigley said here Oct. 24.
The entire Central Command area of responsibility went to Threat Condition Charlie immediately after the Oct. 12 attack on the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen. Based on the most recent threat assessment, Quigley said, military leaders raised the threat level in Bahrain, where about 1,100 U.S. service members are stationed, and in Qatar, where fewer than 50 U.S. service members tend pre-positioned equipment.
While the credibility of threat information provided by intelligence sources was unknown, he said, "given the circumstances, the recent attack on the Cole and the generally higher level of threat throughout the region, we thought it was simply the prudent thing to do to go to that higher threat condition in those two specific areas."
"Vessels in the U.S. Fifth Fleet will remain at sea for the foreseeable future," he said. The threat condition throughout the rest of Central Command, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Turkey, remains at Threat Condition Charlie. The last time CENTCOM went to Threat Condition Delta, he noted, was following the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, Africa.
Overall, Quigley said, the threat against U.S. interests overseas has increased over the past 10 to 20 years. "We are not universally welcomed in a lot of places overseas, and forces there have shown their objections to U.S. military presence in a variety of ways, unfortunately, some of them very violent," he said.
The attack on the Cole has heightened awareness throughout the armed forces, he said. "I would suggest that probably every installation's security manager, commanding officer (and) their security force is taking a good, hard look at the procedures they have in place, and saying, 'Are we still OK?' ... Is (there) something we should perhaps change?'" Quigley said.
The military's four threat levels, Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta, each bear a set of increasingly restrictive security precautions. Considerations include the movement of people, visitor identification, vehicle checks, and the offset of allowed parking next to facilities and buildings, he said.
Threat Condition Delta is normally declared as a localized warning when a terrorist attack has occurred or intelligence indicates likely terrorist action against a specific location. It requires commanders to implement mandatory security measures tailored to the local scenario, and it authorizes and encourages them to supplement the mandatory measures as they see fit, based on their knowledge of the local area, Quigley said.
The explosion aboard the Cole tore a 40-by-40 foot waterline hole in the destroyer's portside hull amidships. Seventeen sailors died in the explosion and more than 35 were injured. The ship is still in Aden, stable and operating on her own power, Quigley noted.
Six other U.S. ships are nearby. The amphibious assault ship USS Tarawa, the amphibious transport USS Duluth and dock landing ship USS Anchorage are off the coast of Yemen to provide additional berthing for the U.S. teams on the scene. The frigate USS Hawes, combat support ship USS Camden, destroyer USS Donald Cook and the ocean tug USS Catawba are also in the area to provide in support.
The Catawba will tow the Cole to deep water for loading aboard the Blue Marlin, a privately owned heavy-lift salvage ship that will carry the damaged ship piggyback to Norfolk, Va. Blue Marlin is due to arrive in Aden by about Oct. 28.
The FBI investigation into the Cole attack is ongoing, Quiqley said, and the Navy's Judge Advocate General Manual Investigation will look at ship operations prior to the attack to ensure all Navy procedures were followed.
A commission co-chaired by retired Army Gen. William Crouch and Navy Adm. Harold Gehman, is gearing up to formulate lessons learned to improve force protection. "Secretary (William) Cohen did not set a deadline for the work, but said he hoped that they would complete their review as soon as possible," Quigley remarked.