OXFORD, Miss. – On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Lt. Col. Robert J. Darling was the only military officer serving as a liaison between the Situation Room, the vice president and the National Military Command Center.
Darling wrote “24 Hours inside the President’s Bunker: 9-11-01 The White House” (iUniverse, 2010), which details his experiences with the nation’s top leaders immediate response to the terrorist attacks. On Tuesday (March 5), Darling shares his firsthand accounts of the crisis leadership decisions made on that infamous day in a free public lecture at the University of Mississippi.The 7 p.m. discussion, “A Crisis Leadership Presentation,” is slated for the Turner Center Auditorium. Darling plans to describe what he witnessed while working with the nation’s top officials in the president’s underground chamber beneath the White House.
Darling is an “expert in military affairs, leadership and service,” said Carl Jensen, director of the UM Center for Intelligence and Security Studies.
“Lt. Col. Darling was a witness to our government’s early reaction to the 9/11 attacks,” said Jensen, also a senior behavioral scientist for the RAND Corporation. “His historical perspective is unique and fascinating,”
Darling descrives “24 Hours inside the President’s Bunker” as a “personal account of what took place at the top of the U.S. chain of command on Sept. 11, 2001, as the United States government struggled to respond to the sudden terrorist strike launched against our nation.”
“I’ve always felt that this unique insider account of history needed to be told … and I attempted to provide an honest and clear assessment of various successes and failures that took place within the presidential chain of command,” he said. “As in any crisis, not everything went as planned, and both the strengths and weaknesses in the U.S. command and control structure were revealed.”
Darling retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 2007 with more than 20 years of active duty service. He flew attack helicopters in Desert Shield and Desert Storm during the first Gulf War and in Somalia in support of Operation Restore Hope. In 2000, Darling was handpicked to work for the White House Military Office, Airlift Operations Department. It was in this role that he was able to support the country’s top leaders on 9/11.
Besides being an author, Darling is the president and CEO of Quantitative Analytics LLC, an aviation operations and logistics services company in Stafford, Va.