Part of the U.S. Army’s Northern Command in charge of homeland security is isolating at the Cheyenne Mountain bunker in Colorado as the coronavirus spreads across the country.
The bunker is a command and control site which was built inside the mountain of the same name, located near Colorado Springs.
‘To ensure that we can defend the homeland despite this pandemic, our command and control watch teams here in the headquarters split into multiple shifts and portions of our watch team began working from Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, creating a third team at an alternate location as well,’ Air Force General Terrence O’Shaughnessy, head of U.S. Northern Command and NORAD, said during a Facebook Live town hall with those under his command.
‘Our dedicated professionals of the NORAD and NORTHCOM command and control watch have left their homes, said goodbye to their families and are isolated from everyone to ensure that they can stand the watch each and every day to defend our homeland.
‘It’s certainly not optimal, but it’s absolutely necessary and appropriate given the situation.’
The command took such steps to ensure personnel can monitor the COVID-19 pandemic around the clock as the disease spreads around the world and across the country, including within the military.
‘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,’ O’Shaughnessy added.
NORTHCOM and NORAD take up 30 percent of the complex’s space according to The Drive.
COVID-19 appears to be spreading rapidly as it can often be passed onto others despite the carrier not showing symptoms which only increases the chance the disease will be passed on.
Should the staff working at the bunker become ill, there is in fact a third team of high-ranking military officials working another ‘secret’ location
General O’Shaughnessy has not specified where the third command and control watch team is based.
NORTHCOM and NORAD’s personnel are now in isolation and those working there will likely not see the families again for some time with COVID-19 expected to be around for months, if not years.
‘This is a marathon, not a sprint,’ General O’Shaughnessy said during the town hall.
Despite being isolated in location, the Pentagon have said that other military members will not be permitted to enter the Cheyenne mountain bunker for fear of COVID-19 penetrating the complex where it could rapidly spread.
It would doubtless lead to a both inconvenient and costly period of time where the entire site would have to be decontaminated.
The NORAD base lies behind 23-ton blast doors and is arguably the most secure place on earth. A warren of tunnels was blasted out of Colorado granite in the 1960s and is now teeming with high-tech surveillance and monitoring equipment.
The bi-national organization was created by the US and Canada to protect the skies over both nations.
The Cheyenne Mountain facility was completed on February 8, 1966, and serves as NORAD’s secondary headquarters after the Peterson Air Force Base in El Paso County.
The bunker lies 2,000 feet under Cheyenne Mountain outside Colorado Springs. It can be sealed off by two giant blast doors made of concrete and steel, each 3½ feet thick.
The heart of the complex is a grid of six tunnels up to 40 feet wide and three stories high. They hold 15 connected buildings made of steel plates, riding on massive coil springs to absorb the shock of a nuclear blast or earthquake.
The granite and steel also protect electronics from destructive pulses of electro-magnetic energy that nuclear explosions produce.
Cheyenne Mountain is an alluring setting for science fiction. It was depicted in the 1983 WarGames movie, among others, and in the Stargate TV series.
It takes 45 seconds for built-in hydraulic machinery to close the blast doors. If the hydraulics fail, two people can close them by hand.