NORAD's alternate command center illustrated

During Road Trip 2009, CNET News reporter Daniel Terdiman visited Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, but didn't get to see NORAD's alternate command center there. This is what it looks like.

Daniel Terdiman Former Senior Writer / News
Daniel Terdiman is a senior writer at CNET News covering Twitter, Net culture, and everything in between.
Daniel Terdiman
2 min read
NORAD's alternate command center, at the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, near Colorado Springs, Colo. While NORAD's main operations recently moved to the nearby Peterson Air Force Base, it still maintains the ACC at Cheyenne Mountain. U.S. Air Force

During my recently completed Road Trip 2009 project, one of the biggest highlights was my visit inside the Cheyenne Mountain Complex at the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station. Recognizable from the movie, "War Games," and the "Stargate" TV series, the complex was long popularly known as NORAD, or the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

Photos: Inside Cheyenne Mountain, America's Fortress

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But in 2008, NORAD officially moved to the nearby Peterson Air Force Base. Still, even to this day, it maintains an alternate command center at Cheyenne Mountain that it shares with U.S. Northern Command, or USNORTHCOM.

When I visited, I was allowed the rare privilege of bringing a camera with me, and I took a lot of pictures. But the pictures were mainly of the infrastructure of Cheyenne Mountain, and I wasn't able to see the alternate command center (ACC).

Now, the Air Force has provided me with this photo, of the ACC, which, since my very first step when planning Road Trip 2009 was to see about arranging a visit to Cheyenne Mountain, is a fitting way to formally close the book on the project.

The ACC, as seen in this photo, has certainly been "scrubbed," meaning that personnel in the room were very careful to ensure that nothing sensitive was visible in the shot. Still, you can get a sense for what goes on in the room today. To be sure, it looks very little like the giant command center that was made so famous in "War Games." Yet in today's world, where everything is smaller, more compact, and more efficient than back in the early 1980s, it's no wonder that a facility like this would have the feel of an office full of cubicles.

Either way, you can tell that the ACC is a place that has the ability to run serious exercises, and, in the case of a real emergency, is capable of being used as NORAD's main nerve center. Let's hope that's never necessary.