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The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is a bi-national military organization formally established in 1958 by Canada and the United States to monitor and defend North American airspace.

Using data from satellites and ground base radar, NORAD monitors, validates and warns of attack against North America by aircraft, missiles or space vehicles. NORAD also provides surveillance and control of the airspace of Canada and the United States.

Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center

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The operational unit at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station (CMAFS) is commonly referred to as the Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center (CMOC). The installation contains elements from the American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), U.S. Strategic Command and Air Force Space Command.

CMOC is one of the most unique installations in the world. Apart from the fact that it is housed more than 2,400 feet underground, CMOC is also a joint and bi-national military organization comprised of over 200 professional men and women from the Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force, and Canadian Forces. Operations are conducted in eight centers manned 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The centers are the Air Warning Center, Missile Correlation Center, Domestic Warning Center, Space Control Center, Operational Intelligence Watch, Systems Center, Weather Center, and the Command Center. Additionally, CMOC is linked with 22 Federal Aviation Administration centers nationwide which provide an internal air picture of the United States.

The Cheyenne Mountain Complex became completely operational April 20, 1966. The Army Corps of Engineers supervised the excavation and construction, using 1.5 million pounds of dynamite to excavate approximately 700,000 tons of granite. The actual operations complex is a series of 15 buildings, 12 of which are three stories tall. The entire operations complex is mounted on 1,319 springs, each weighing 1,000 pounds, that allow the complex to sway up to 12 inches horizontally in any direction. The tunnel structure is reinforced by 110,000 rock bolts six to 32 feet in length that function like molly bolts, pushing outward on the walls to prevent implosion or cave-in. The two main blast doors are 25 tons, 3½-feet-thick baffled steel. The often-seen shot of the entrance to the Cheyenne Mountain Complex is, in fact, the entrance to the Cheyenne Mountain Complex!

In July 2006, military officials in Colorado announced that Norad’s day-to-day operations would be consolidated, for purposes of efficiency, in an ordinary building at Peterson Air Force Base in nearby Colorado Springs. The Cheyenne Mountain Complex will be kept only as a backup, though fully operational and staffed with support personnel — a place of secure retreat should the need arise.

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--Helen 14:08, 2 July 2006 (PDT)