Photo by Tech. Sgt. Lawrence Holmes
|Admiral Keating and General Lord cut the ceremonial ribbon signifying the opening of the "New Command Center" inside the Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center.
New Command Center Opens at Cheyenne Mountain
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -
Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center (CMOC)
held a ribbon cutting ceremony March 4 to commemorate the official opening of the "new command center" at the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station in Colorado Springs, Colo.
U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Duane Deal, commander, Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center, and Canadian Air Force Brig. Gen. James D. Hunter, vice commander, Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center, officiated at the ceremony.
The renovation project enlarged the physical dimensions of the command center to accommodate additional personnel supporting the expanding missions of homeland defense and ground-based midcourse missile defense. Construction started Aug 11, 2003.
Deal and Hunter provided a brief history of the command center before the ribbon cutting. Deal introduced the Cheyenne Mountain complex as "a bi-national treasure we call the '8th wonder of the world.' "
"The concept for such an installation was born in the mid-1950s," Deal continued. "At that time, the Soviet nuclear bomber threat was growing ominous, and it was predicted that an intercontinental ballistic missile capability would arrive by the late 1950s."
Deal said that excavation began with the first blast in 1961. Construction progressed under the Army Corps of Engineers on a rapid pace as the tunnels were created and completed in only 367 days.
"The Operations Center then became activated in April of 1966 . . . and has continuously and proudly served the United States and Canada since then," Deal said.
Hunter added, "As the mountain was hollowed out, the tunnels equated to 5.1 acres of space, with more than 700,000 tons of granite removed. In the process, the construction created elements now closely associated with the mountain, to include the portal entry, the blast doors, the reservoirs and the powerful diesel generators."
Those familiar with the mountain are aware that it functions not just as a command center but also as a city within a city. The Cheyenne Mountain complex has its own police and fire departments, a convenience store, barber, medical and dental clinic, cafeteria, chapel and recreation facilities.
Before the ribbon-cutting, Adm. Timothy Keating, the commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, said "The eighth wonder of the world and state of the art command center is not much good without the dedicated professionals from both nations who populate the various watch posts, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year."
Then Keating and Gen. Lance Lord, the commander of Air Force Space Command, performed the ceremonial ribbon cutting at the window to the command center. They were assisted by Airman Brittany Hartkorn, junior U. S. enlisted member, and Cpl. Tracy Lynch, junior non-commissioned member of the Canadian Air Force.
Deal said, "Ladies and gentlemen, it's our pleasure to announce . . ." His sentence was completed by Hunter who said, ". . .we are now officially open for business!" Deal and Hunter led the way into the new command center.
The completed construction project enlarged the command center to accommodate the expanding homeland defense mission as well as improve the NORAD-USNORTHCOM headquarters facilities in order to provide better situational awareness for the NORAD-USNORTHCOM commander. All of these spaces reside within Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station. These renovations included demolition and reconstruction of rooms, leveling of floors and extensive rewiring. The end result of the construction yielded fully finished spaces ready to occupy. These spaces are outfitted with large-screen display systems and modernized, state-of-the-art, operator workstations.
The command center renovation project was completed in two stages. The first stage was a demolition and construction of the existing physical space of the command center and "battle cab" (a meeting room used by the commander and his senior staff), and its associated conference room. John Bowman, Inc. accomplished this work. During this phase, operations were relocated within Cheyenne Mountain into a contingency relocation center, where the command center functioned for 17 months. The second stage of the project dealt with the design, purchase and installation of display systems and operator workstations. Lockheed Martin was the prime contractor for this "systems" part.
CMOC is one of the most unique installations in the world. Apart from the fact that it is housed more than 2,400 feet underground, CMOC is also a joint and bi-national military organization comprised of over 200 professional men and women from the Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force, and Canadian Forces. Operations are conducted in eight centers manned 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The centers are the Air Warning Center, Missile Correlation Center, Domestic Warning Center, Space Control Center, Operational Intelligence Watch, Systems Center, Weather Center, and the Command Center. Additionally, CMOC is linked with 22 Federal Aviation Administration centers nationwide which provide an internal air picture of the United States.
Supporting the NORAD mission of aerospace warning and aerospace control, CMOC provides warning of ballistic missile or air attacks against North America, provides command and control for the air sovereignty mission for the U.S. and Canada, and if necessary, serves as the focal point for air defense operations to counter enemy bombers or cruise missiles. CMOC supports USNORTHCOM's homeland defense mission to deter, prevent and defeat threats and aggression aimed at the United States, its territories and interests within the assigned area of responsibility. It also serves as the command and control node for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense portion of the United States missile defense program.
CMOC also supports U.S. Strategic Command by providing a day-to-day picture of precisely what is in space and where it is located. Space control operations include protection, prevention and negation functions supported by the surveillance of space.