Downing Report

Downing Assessment Task Force
NMCC Room 2C890, The Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310

August 30, l996


SUBJECT. Report of the Assessment of the Khobar Towers Bombing

I have enclosed the Report of the Task Force on the facts and circumstances surrounding the bomb attack on Khobar Towers, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on June 25, 1996, and other areas of concern addressed in your Charter and Supplemental Guidance.

After visiting Khobar Towers and other sites in the U.S. Central Command theater and interviewing people at all levels of the chain of command, I believe that the Department of Defense can more effectively protect our men and women around the world. I am concerned that insufficient attention is being given to a antiterrorism measures and force protection. Specifically, the attack with a stand-off bomb was only one of many vulnerabilities which existed at Khobar Towers and other locations visited in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region.

Force protection is a mission for every member of the Armed Forces from the newest recruit to our most senior commanders. Terrorists have the luxury of searching for a single vulnerability. Only a coordinated, dedicated effort will deter them. For those cases where they will not be deterred, we must do all in our power to lesson our exposure and mitigate the effects of an. attack.

There was general warning of an attack on Khobar Towers, but the information was not sufficiently precise to determine its exact timing or method. This can and must be improved through closer coordination with the host nation and other agencies and a more intense emphasis on human intelligence.

Certainly our level of awareness of the terrorist threat has been heightened after this attack. However, much remains to be accomplished to ensure that our units stationed overseas make this heightened awareness part of their daily routine. The designation of a single element in DoD to oversee an integrated system approach to force protection efforts, manage resources, and assist commanders in the field should have a high priority.

During our visits to the units in the region, the Task Force was deeply impressed with the quality and dedication of Americans, serving there. Soldiers, marines, sailors, airmen, State Department officials, civilians from every agency, and U.S. firms are accomplishing the very difficult task of carrying out U.S. foreign policy under very challenging circumstances. This Nation owes them the best protection we can provide.

I believe that the findings and recommendations contained in this report will assist You in providing direction and focus to DoD force protection measures for these great people.

Wayne A. Downing
General, U.S. Army (Retired)
Director Task Force