Monday, May 29, 2006

But Then No One Will Understand "Wargames"

Somewhat dated, but apparently NORAD's famed facility at Cheyenne Mountain may be closed.

Today, the very existence of the NORAD mountain command post is up in the air.

U.S. Navy Adm. Timothy Keating, commander of Northcom and NORAD, says he recently launched "an internal study" of whether to keep it.

Built in the 1960s for $142 million, the command post inside a 4 1/2-acre excavated grid of chambers and tunnels consists of 15 multistory buildings mounted on springs. Personnel at workstations inside, wired into data networks, were to survive and win a nuclear war.

U.S. and Canadian forces here number 200 to 300 on a shift, about 800 overall.

But today, with the emergence of Northern Command, a separate, newer command post carries out much of the same surveillance, with access to all the same data. That post lies northeast of Cheyenne Mountain at Peterson Air Force Base, where the Central Intelligence Agency, FBI, National Security Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency and others have offices.

"It would be logical for you to think: Could there be some economies and efficiencies by combining functions? And we are looking at that," Keating said in an interview.

U.S. officials estimated that NORAD operations cost $350 million a year.

Turn your key, sir.

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