NORAD was evacuated after five suspicious packages were found on Thursday. Employees became suspicious at NORAD’s Colorado headquarters when something about the packages looked out of place.
The evacuation took place at Peterson Air Force Base, though the organization’s control room team was operating at a backup site in Cheyenne Mountain at the time.
The control team was at its backup site, because renovations are currently underway at their main building. NORAD is short for North American Aerospace Defense Command.
The group is a joint US-Canadian command whose goal is to defend the skies above both nations. They also monitor any sea approaches.
Cheyenne Mountain was originally NORAD’s primary control room. It was carved out in the 1960s and can withstand a nuclear attack. NORAD moved to Peterson Air Force Base in 2006.
Because the organization’s control team was operating at a backup site, the NORAD evacuation did not affect any critical operations. Jeff Bohn, a spokesman at the Air Force base, stated that the employees became suspicious, because the packages looked “out of place.”
Tests on the suspicious packages have ruled out biological, chemical, or radiological agents, though other tests are still under way. The packages were removed following the initial tests The entire evacuation took about four and 1/2 hours.
NORAD moved from Cheyenne Mountain after they said that the change would save money and also consolidate personnel. Despite the move, the mountain location is kept on standby for backup use. The group now shares its headquarters building with the US Northern Command.
The command is responsible for both defending US territories from attack and helping civilian authorities. Essential Northern Command and NORAD operations were not interrupted by the evacuation.
It is not yet clear what was suspicious about the packages to cause the evacuation at NORAD. A spokesman declined to give more information.