Submitted by: Veronica Coffin
Pentagon to spend nearly $1b shielding War Games mountain bunker from nuclear EMP attack but denies it is moving NORAD back in
- Pentagon will spend $700million renovating the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, the former headquarters of NORAD
- High tech communications being installed that are impervious to electromagnetic pulses
- The bunker is build under 2,000 feet of the Rocky Mountains and is able to withstand a hit by a 30 megaton nuclear blast
- Decommissioned ten years ago because ‘Russians were no longer a threat’
The Pentagon has announced that it is spending approximately $700million to refurbish the Cheyenne Mountain Complex and make it less vulnerable to a massive electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack.
This comes just weeks after it was announce announced that the complex, former home of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), will once again be home to the most advanced tracking and communications equipment in the U.S. military.
An EMP attack consists of a deliberate burst of energy that could disrupt the electrical grid across the United States and block NORAD from defending the nation, events which the organization is looking for ways to protect itself from.
Secret: The Cheyenne Mountain Complex in Colorado was built for NORAD to direct the American response to a nuclear war with the USSR during the Cold War
Protection: There are 15 three story building inside the military complex and each is buffered by a 25-ton blast door
The high-tech base, which shut down ten years ago, is one of the icons of the Cold War – a self-contained and sufficient town buried under the Rockies meant to be impervious to a Soviet nuclear barrage.
During it’s time as an active base NORAD scanned the skies for Russian missiles and the military command and control center of the United States in the event of World War Three.
The $700million contract with Raytheon Corporation to oversee the work for North American Aerospace Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command, however, could shed light into the facility’s future.
With the nation’s electrical grid and infrastructure increasingly becoming more vulnerable to a foreign attack, the Colorado mountain could act as a shield, according to FOX News.
Small town: The Cheyenne Mountain Complex is home to more than 1,000 personnel and is able to operate as an underground town for months with fresh water and food
‘What it could do, these various threats, is black out the U.S. electric grid for a protracted period of months or years,’ Peter Pry, executive director of the EMP Task Force, a bipartisan congressional commission, told FOX.
He added: ‘Nine out of ten Americans could die from starvation, disease and societal collapse, if the blackout lasted a year.’
Pry said that a missile fired into space from a southerly route could destroy the nation’s EMP. Or, a naturally-occurring geomagnetic storm could affect the grid.
‘The grid is utterly unprotected from an EMP attack. It’s not adequately protected from cyber or physical sabotage,’ Pry told FOX. ‘It’s why North Korea and Iran want the bomb, have the bomb. North Korea has actually practiced this against the United States.’
He added that the Obama Administration has not followed recommendations from the task force to protect the grid at a cost of $2billion.
‘Two billion dollars is what we give in foreign aid to Pakistan,’ Pry said. ‘If we suspended that for one year and put it toward hardening the electrical grid, we could protect the American people from this threat.’
Admiral William Gortney, head of NORAD and Northern Command, said that ‘because of the very nature of the way that Cheyenne Mountain’s built, it’s EMP-hardened.’
‘And so, there’s a lot of movement to put capability into Cheyenne Mountain and to be able to communicate in there,’ Gortney told reporters.
Power: At its height Cheyenne was home to NORAD who watched 7,000 aircraft per day as part of their surveillance operations
Headquarters: The US and Canadian military jointly operated NORAD from within Cheyenne and soldiers from north of the border made up 15 percent of the personnel at the base
‘My primary concern was… are we going to have the space inside the mountain for everybody who wants to move in there, and I’m not at liberty to discuss who’s moving in there,’ he said.
The House of Representatives have unanimously passed several pieces of legislation that would protect the U.S. power grid, including the GRID Act, the Shield Act and the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act.
All of the legislations that had been passed died in the Senate.
The Cheyenne mountain bunker is a half-acre cavern carved into a mountain in the 1960s that was designed to withstand a Soviet nuclear attack. From inside the massive complex, airmen were poised to send warnings that could trigger the launch of nuclear missiles.
But in 2006, officials decided to move the headquarters of NORAD and US Northern Command from Cheyenne to Petersen Air Force base in Colorado Springs. The Cheyenne bunker was designated as an alternative command center if needed.
Around-the-clock crews monitor U.S. skies from the command center of the Northern Command located deep within Cheyenne Mountain at the foot of the Rocky Mountains near Colorado Springs, Colorado in 2002
Hollywood: Sci-fi movie Stargate (1994) was set inside the Cheyenne Mountain Complex while 1983’s War Games also imagine a nuclear standoff operated from inside the nuclear bunker
That move was touted a more efficient use of resources but had followed hundreds of millions of dollars worth of modernization work at Cheyenne carried out after the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Now the Pentagon is looking at shifting communications gear to the Cheyenne bunker, officials said.
‘A lot of the back office communications is being moved there,’ said one defense official.
Officials said the military’s dependence on computer networks and digital communications makes it much more vulnerable to an electromagnetic pulse, which can occur naturally or result from a high-altitude nuclear explosion.
Under the ten-year contract, Raytheon is supposed to deliver ‘sustainment’ services to help the military perform ‘accurate, timely and unambiguous warning and attack assessment of air, missile and space threats’ at the Cheyenne and Petersen bases.
Raytheon’s contract also involves unspecified work at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.
COLD WAR RELIC? CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN COMPLEX CLOSED IN 2006
Almost 10 years ago, the military closed the secretive defense complex carved into Cheyenne Mountain that for decades monitored American skies for threats.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command operations center was moved to nearby Peterson Air Force Base, which is home to the U.S. Northern Command created after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Cheyenne Mountain Complex is 2,000 feet below the granite rocks and made up of 15 three-story buildings protected from nuclear blasts and seismic movement by a system of 1,000 giant springs.
The entire complex is designed to withstand a direct hit by a 30 megaton nuclear explosion and has 25-ton blast doors surrounding the complex.
NORAD, a joint U.S. and Canadian command, was set up in the 1960s to monitor the skies for threats like missiles, aircraft and space objects.
In 2006, Adm. Tim Keating, who commanded both NORAD and the U.S. Northern Command, said the government’s best intelligence ‘led them to believe a missile attack from China or Russia was very unlikely.’
Cold War heroes: The Cheyenne mountain bunker is a half-acre cavern carved into a mountain in the 1960s that was designed to withstand a Soviet nuclear attack
That, along with the emergence of varied terrorist threats such as suicide bombers, ‘was why we recommended that we don’t need to maintain Cheyenne Mountain in a 24/7 status. We can put it on `warm standby,’ said Keating.
About 1,100 people work in the mountain, long a symbol of the Cold War. Buildings inside it are mounted on springs to absorb the shock from a nuclear blast, while the entrance is guarded by a vault-like door several feet thick.
The complex includes banks of batteries and its own water supply. Excavation on the site began in 1961.
Canadian crews stationed at Cheyenne Mountain will also made the move to Peterson, Keating said.