In 2006, officials from North American Aerospace Command (NORAD) closed the Cheyenne Mountain Complex after determining that “Russia was no longer a threat.” However, this week, the Pentagon announced that the military compound would reopen with $700 million worth of improvements. So what has changed? Is Russia now considered a big enough threat that the Cheyenne Complex, which is built to withstand a 30 megaton nuclear bomb, is being utilized by U.S. military once again?
The Daily Mail reports that the Cheyenne Mountain Complex is a military compound built deep within the Rocky Mountains. The complex consists of 15 three-story buildings and is buried 2,000 feet below the granite rocks of the mountain. The complex was designed to withstand the impact of a 30 megaton nuclear bomb as well as potential electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attacks.
The military began construction on the Cold War stronghold in 1961. The Cheyenne Complex was home of NORAD where military personnel could watch the skies for incoming nuclear attacks or missiles. It was possible for those within the complex to communicate with the outside world and launch U.S. nuclear weapons if needed. It was designed to be the center of the United States in the event of WWIII.
In 2006, the complex was shutdown for full-time use after the U.S. military determined there was no threat of nuclear attacks from China or Russia. However, as Defense One points out, the military is quickly moving in new communication gear and upgrading the facility. Admiral William Gortney, commander of U.S. Northern Command and NORAD, says the move is designed to safe guard the command center’s computers and sensors from an EMP attack.
“The shift to the Cheyenne Mountain base in Colorado is designed to safeguard the command’s sensitive sensors and servers from a potential electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack. Because of the very nature of the way that Cheyenne Mountain is built, it’s EMP-hardened. It wasn’t really designed to be that way, but the way it was constructed makes it that way.”
Therefore, it seems that the U.S. may be concerned about a potential electromagnetic pulse attack which can occur from natural causes or from a nuclear weapon being detonated in high altitudes. In addition to being nuclear bomb proof, the site is also designed to sustain everyone within for months with a full supply of fresh water, food, sleeping quarters and a power station that would be used during an attack.
What do you think about the Pentagon re-opening the Cold War stronghold in the Rocky Mountains? What purpose do you think NORAD has for bringing the Cheyenne Mountain Complex back to full-time operating status? Is this a sign that Russia could be considered a “real threat” once again?
[Image Credit: NORAD]