Hagel, Dempsey kept apprised during Boston bombing

The mood in the Pentagon remained calm Monday as news broke of the Boston Marathon bombing, but in a sign that even the Defense Department took the threat seriously, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey were regularly briefed by the Pentagon’s emergency command center as the event ...

Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The mood in the Pentagon remained calm Monday as news broke of the Boston Marathon bombing, but in a sign that even the Defense Department took the threat seriously, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey were regularly briefed by the Pentagon's emergency command center as the event unfolded.
 
“The secretary was informed shortly after the tragic events in Boston,” a senior defense official told FP National Security. “He asked for updates, including during an unrelated briefing to prepare him for upcoming congressional testimony. Chairman Dempsey and others in the meeting provided the latest update at the time.”
 
Dempsey received updates from the Joint Staff’s National Military Command Center (NMCC), according to his spokesman, Col. David Lapan. The NMCC “provided [Dempsey] and senior Joint Staff leaders with regular e-mail updates throughout the late afternoon and evening.”
 
Such updates are considered normal for major events, Lapan said.

President Obama addressed the nation in the afternoon but did not identify the bombing as terrorism. Later, according to the Boston Globe, a White House official said, “Any event with multiple explosive devices - as this appears to be - is clearly an act of terror, and will be approached as an act of terror."
 
Televisions in the Pentagon showing live footage from Boston stopped military officers and visitors in their tracks. But there was no official heightening of security in the building by late afternoon. Later, following reports that the White House had expelled tour groups and closed off portions of the West Wing, several Pentagon Force Protection Agency officers said they had received no orders for any change of status.
 
The NMCC, located inside the Pentagon, is run by the J-3, the operations directorate of the Joint Staff. The J3, commanded by Vice Adm. Kurt Tidd, is responsible for coordinating communications between the secretary of defense, the president, and the chain of command.

The mood in the Pentagon remained calm Monday as news broke of the Boston Marathon bombing, but in a sign that even the Defense Department took the threat seriously, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey were regularly briefed by the Pentagon’s emergency command center as the event unfolded.
 
“The secretary was informed shortly after the tragic events in Boston,” a senior defense official told FP National Security. “He asked for updates, including during an unrelated briefing to prepare him for upcoming congressional testimony. Chairman Dempsey and others in the meeting provided the latest update at the time.”
 
Dempsey received updates from the Joint Staff’s National Military Command Center (NMCC), according to his spokesman, Col. David Lapan. The NMCC “provided [Dempsey] and senior Joint Staff leaders with regular e-mail updates throughout the late afternoon and evening.”
 
Such updates are considered normal for major events, Lapan said.

President Obama addressed the nation in the afternoon but did not identify the bombing as terrorism. Later, according to the Boston Globe, a White House official said, “Any event with multiple explosive devices – as this appears to be – is clearly an act of terror, and will be approached as an act of terror."
 
Televisions in the Pentagon showing live footage from Boston stopped military officers and visitors in their tracks. But there was no official heightening of security in the building by late afternoon. Later, following reports that the White House had expelled tour groups and closed off portions of the West Wing, several Pentagon Force Protection Agency officers said they had received no orders for any change of status.
 
The NMCC, located inside the Pentagon, is run by the J-3, the operations directorate of the Joint Staff. The J3, commanded by Vice Adm. Kurt Tidd, is responsible for coordinating communications between the secretary of defense, the president, and the chain of command.

Kevin Baron is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy, covering defense and military issues in Washington. He is also vice president of the Pentagon Press Association. Baron previously was a national security staff writer for National Journal, covering the "business of war." Prior to that, Baron worked in the resident daily Pentagon press corps as a reporter/photographer for Stars and Stripes. For three years with Stripes, Baron covered the building and traveled overseas extensively with the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, covering official visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Middle East and Europe, China, Japan and South Korea, in more than a dozen countries. From 2004 to 2009, Baron was the Boston Globe Washington bureau's investigative projects reporter, covering defense, international affairs, lobbying and other issues. Before that, he muckraked at the Center for Public Integrity. Baron has reported on assignment from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the South Pacific. He was won two Polk Awards, among other honors. He has a B.A. in international studies from the University of Richmond and M.A. in media and public affairs from George Washington University. Originally from Orlando, Fla., Baron has lived in the Washington area since 1998 and currently resides in Northern Virginia with his wife, three sons, and the family dog, The Edge. Twitter: @FPBaron

Gordon Lubold is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He is also the author of FP's Situation Report, an e-mailed newsletter that is blasted out to more than 70,000 national security and foreign affairs subscribers each morning that includes the top nat-sec news, breaking news, tidbits, nuggets and what he likes to call "candy." Before arriving at FP, he was a senior advisor at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, where he wrote on national security and foreign policy. Prior to his arrival at USIP, he was a defense reporter for Politico, where he launched the popular Morning Defense early morning blog and tip-sheet. Prior to that, he was the Pentagon and national security correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, and before that he was the Pentagon correspondent for the Army Times chain of newspapers. He has covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in South Asia, and has reported on military matters in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and Latin America as well as at American military bases across the country. He has spoken frequently on the sometimes-contentious relationship between the military and the media as a guest on numerous panels. He also appears on radio and television, including on CNN, public radio's Diane Rehm and To the Point, and C-SPAN's Washington Journal. He lives in Alexandria with his wife and two children. Twitter: @glubold

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