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Today's tidbit about Cheyenne Mountain...

They're standing down NORAD.

"...On Friday 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 mountain will be kept only as a backup, though fully operational and staffed with support personnel — a place of secure retreat should the need again arise, a military spokesman said."

Huh! Interesting.

I'm grateful to long-time friend m0usegrrl for the news and the link -- all these years I've known her, and I never knew that she had worked there! (I guess we had fallen out of touch right before my obsession with SG-1, and then since then it hasn't really come up.) Over in her LJ she has some neat reminiscences about going to work at the Mountain.

(Geekily, it makes me realize how few people who write SG fanfic know much actual detail about what the interior of Cheyenne Mountain is like. While SG fans internalize the whole "28 levels" thing, I think everyone fails to realize how *big* it is in there. I include myself in this, prior to reading an article about it a little while ago. I have to admit, I would love something like a book or a Nat'l Geo piece about the Mountain, complete with pics and maps and schematics, because -- it's just kind of *neat* and mind-bogglingly huge. And yet it occurs to me that, um... it's a military base and such a revelation of its physical form is pretty darned unlikely. And it ain't like they give tours. You notice how very limited they have always kept the stock scene-setting footage used on the show. In lieu of that, I'd love to see someone who'd actually worked there write a fictionalized account of what it would really look like for a character to get from their parked car all the way inside. Hmm.)

ETA: nangi_akki reminds me that it's the opening chapters of "Fast Food Nation" that contain a more detailed than you usually get description of the interior of Cheyenne Mountain!

ETA2: green_grrl has put some nifty links to descriptions of NORAD in comments! Thanks!

ETA3: Gateworld posts about it:


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 29th, 2006 02:28 pm (UTC)
it seems massive. astounding to think of building something like that. er, it seems to have held up better than the "big dig". ack.

Jul. 29th, 2006 02:47 pm (UTC)
Heh! So true! I bet it cost less to build, too... :P
Jul. 29th, 2006 04:18 pm (UTC)
and took less time.

there's 'sawdust on the set' at the statehouse these days. although, the hubris it took for them to think it was a pristine project boggles my mind. ;)
Jul. 29th, 2006 05:10 pm (UTC)
Well, I don't know about that... look at the Chunnel! You don't hear horror stories about it failing and leaking and dropping debris and killing people. And it's a much bigger and more difficult project. So I don't think MA should have thought that the Big Dig was going to be perfect, but I think it was reasonable to expect that after that much time and that much money, it would at the very least not leak, and NOT KILL PEOPLE within 2 years of being "completed".
Jul. 29th, 2006 05:39 pm (UTC)
good point. which makes me even more disgusted about what's gone on. gah. from what i've heard the greed and corruption was something to behold.

they should have contracted with siler and sam as well as rodney. ;)
Jul. 29th, 2006 02:44 pm (UTC)
wait, you mean the whole premise of "WarGames" was a lie? There are no tours where a 16 year old kid could end up in control of the US nuclear missile stash? ;)
Jul. 29th, 2006 02:49 pm (UTC)
Okay, I admit -- I'm not sure if I read that that was true, or not. Or whether I'm just assuming based on common sense that they don't give guided tours of the Secret Military Base. (Plus the fact that if they *did* give tours, you'd think that after 6 years in SG fandom, I would have heard about someone going on one!) But what do I know? o.O
Jul. 29th, 2006 07:41 pm (UTC)
Once upon a time, they DID give tours -- they certainly did when I was stationed there. ^_^ In fact, I think there were still tours going on up until the Sept. 11 attacks, though I'm not 100% sure.

As for parking, it was all down outside the mountain; I don't think anyone was allowed to park inside, because I don't remember seeing anything but Air Force vehicles in there. People either rode the shuttle buses in, or I guess if one was something like CINC NORAD [who when I was there was Gen. Chappie James, and yes, his office was in the Mountain] one would have a private AF vehicle take you inside.
Jul. 29th, 2006 03:34 pm (UTC)
the introduction to the book "Fast Food Nation" has a 2 page description of the Cheyenne Mountain complex.
i got such a geeky thrill to see it in such an unexpected place :)
Jul. 29th, 2006 04:55 pm (UTC)
Oooh! Yes! Thank you for the reminder -- that is exactly it! I was reading FFN a couple of months ago, and was surprised by that bonus, too! And I meant to post about it on LJ to tell people about it, then forgot...
Jul. 29th, 2006 03:45 pm (UTC)
I think this is quite possibly one of the dumbest decisions ever made by the government. Then again, NORAD's usefulness has always been somewhat limited; as soon as every nuclear power on Earth knew its location, it was doomed within minutes of the start of a true nuclear war. Ah, well.

Also, I think many Stargate writers don't even conceptualize the fact that the fictional Stargate program is below the levels where NORAD functions, or even what NORAD is all about. That's because the whole show has this claustrophobic feel when it's in the mountain, what with the limited sets and so forth. But the Cheyenne Mountain complex is, as you say, HUGE.

I have a relative who worked at Cheyenne Mountain, and when I asked her for details about the parking, she wouldn't tell me. *g*
Jul. 29th, 2006 05:01 pm (UTC)
Yeah; it seems a somewhat odd decision, especially if they're going to keep the Mountain fully staffed and all...

I've run across a few -- very few -- fanfic stories over the years that have tried to reflect NORAD's existence and what it means to the SGC to be underneath it. And you're right about the show's claustrophobic feel (but then, I bet once you got under there, that'd be a pretty accurate reflection of how it feels), and its sort of lack of contextualization of how the SGC fits into the entire complex.

But then, the show has always struggled (with budget, limited sets, limited time, and probably some security concerns regarding Cheyenne Mountain too) with giving a sense of the SGC being this bigger operation, in the background; let alone, showing that it's just one part of other things contained within the complex.

I've mini-ranted about this before, since on the one hand I can appreciate some of the reasons why the show can't or doesn't do more with this... but on the other hand, I thought that they've had some notable successes in giving us a sense of a larger SGC, and that over time, they have done less and less of that, for whatever reason, and I miss it. (For example: you used to see more people going about their business in the background; there used to be more SG teams besides 1 and 3 for which we had names and faces; etc.)
Jul. 29th, 2006 05:05 pm (UTC)
but on the other hand, I thought that they've had some notable successes in giving us a sense of a larger SGC, and that over time, they have done less and less of that, for whatever reason, and I miss it.

*nod* The example that stands out clearly for me was from A Matter of Time, when Hammond went up to NORAD to call the president, and I remember thinking -- oh, yeah, NORAD's there, too! *g*
Jul. 29th, 2006 05:24 pm (UTC)
Ooh, yes, good reminder! I can't remember other instances, unfortunately; maybe I should try to look it up.

Off the top of my head I can only remember a few fanfic instances where NORAD was mentioned very much.

One involved Jack fulfilling some service requirement by going up there and performing some other duty for them.... but ugh, the memory of this is so vague that I don't even recall the details, let alone the title or author!

And I recall Anais using it to humorous effect in her "Dr. Jackson's Diary" series -- wacky stuff, like footholds or quarantines, would be happening down in the SGC, and there'd be mention of how annoyed NORAD was above them, or something.

Makes me realize that that one story I recall that's about Jack using an Olympic-length swimming-pool inside the Mountain, and giving Daniel swimming lessons (was that by dirty_diana? god, the memory really is the first thing to go!), which seemed somewhat dubious at the time, was probably no more than simply accurate! I understand they have entire gyms in there; why not an Olympic-sized pool?
Jul. 29th, 2006 07:47 pm (UTC)
I think this is quite possibly one of the dumbest decisions ever made by the government. Then again, NORAD's usefulness has always been somewhat limited; as soon as every nuclear power on Earth knew its location, it was doomed within minutes of the start of a true nuclear war. Ah, well.

I admit I was more than a little dumbstruck when I read the article, and not just because I was stationed there; one only has to look to North Korea to see that the threat that Cheyenne Mountain was built for has not completely gone away. That said, I agree, it only really ever had limited usefulness, apart from its role to basically call SAC and the Prez and go "yup, here they come..."

As an aside on the "doomed" comment, the AF conducted an exercise while I was there [this was like 1975-1978], a mock full-scale Soviet nuclear attack. Within the first five minutes of the "attack", the entire Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, from Denver down to Pueblo, was levelled -- including the CMC. ^_^ It was rather sobering for those in charge...
Jul. 29th, 2006 04:50 pm (UTC)
I knew someone who worked at NORAD, but I never asked much about it.

There was a show on tv, probably the Discovery Channel, that showed a lot of the interior of Cheyenne Mountain. Things like the water resevoirs, the big big doors, and other things. I think it was a show about colossal human endeavors or something like that.
Jul. 29th, 2006 05:02 pm (UTC)
Oooh! I will have to keep an eye out for that Discovery Channel show. I think I know the series you're talking about, I think I have caught other episodes of it about other things, and didn't know there was an ep about Cheyenne Mountain.
Jul. 29th, 2006 05:04 pm (UTC)
There is a shortish description of NORAD here: http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1021191.

There's a longer, more detailed description of a tour, specifically for nuclear freeze activists, here: http://archive.cpsr.net/publications/newsletters/old/1980s/Spring1988.txt. I found it especially interesting that NORAD has a 4-star general on site -- we never really see the SGC interacting with NORAD at all.
Jul. 29th, 2006 05:13 pm (UTC)
Oooh! Thank you for the links! So cool!

Destina reminds us that they mentioned interaction with NORAD at least once, in "A Matter of Time".

But yeah, a lot of the time the show focuses on the SGC so much that you can forget that there is anything else inside the Mountain -- let alone multiple *buildings* and resevoirs so big that you can take rowboats out on them! I think that for a lot of fans, there's this mental image that the tunnel we get in the establishing shots leads directly to the check-in/security desk (which we saw once, in "In the Line of Duty"), and behind that the elevator doors, and that's it.
Jul. 29th, 2006 05:20 pm (UTC)
You know... looking at the Gateworld article, even MORE interesting that NORAD is commanded by an *Admiral*. That's another thing we have seen far too little of over the years on "Stargate" -- inter-service rivalries and collaboration. With the exception of the Marines, of course. But I always thought it was silly that we didn't see more Navy and Army at the SGC -- because surely the SGC is a plum opportunity and the commanders of the other branches would want their guys in on it, too. There ought to have been political jockeying over that.

(Not to mention, I remain convinced that USAF commanders should account for no more than 1/3rd of the commands of the big ships. It would have been nifty if they'd been commanded by Navy officers from the start, but oh well. NASA shuttle missions over time have been fairly evenly split between Navy, Marine, and USAF commanders, so at the very least the SGC spaceships should have exhibited that same cooperative arrangement. *shrug* But that's a rant for another day!)
Jul. 29th, 2006 05:56 pm (UTC)
That's interesting -- I knew that the USAF had Space Command, but I didn't realize that the space shuttle has been multi-service.

The one time i would have really expected to see something was when they had Jack and Teal'c on the Russian submarine (presumably at a Navy facility in San Diego). But it was just our USAF guys.
Jul. 29th, 2006 06:05 pm (UTC)
Well, in addition to having a team of Marines, (and a team of Russians that we NEVER SEE), the SGC really ought to have teams of Rangers and SEALs. And before anyone says, what would the latter do?, first, they do a *lot* that isn't very different from what the other services' Spec Ops branches do, including lots of stuff that isn't specifically water-related, and second, "WaterGate"? "Small Victories"? Two in-canon examples of water-related missions that a SEAL team should have been doing rather than a USAF team, even SG-1.

When "Prometheus" first launched in S6 and it became clear that a USAF guy was in command of it, I actually (for a meta discussion at the time) went and looked up who the commanders had been for every Shuttle mission flown to date. (There's a list on the web somewhere. Of course.) Every Shuttle mission has two commanders. (No, I don't really know why.) And over the years, they have been split pretty much evenly between USAF, Navy, and Marines. IIRC what I found out at the time, I think that usually, the two commanders are from 2 of the 3 branches (rather than a mission with 2 Navy commanders, for example).

Finding that out made it seem even more likely to me that we should have seen the Navy/Marines pushing hard with the Joint Chiefs for some of their guys to get a crack at the spaceships.

I don't mind that the Prometheus had a USAF commander. As I found out, certainly there are USAF commanders in charge of shuttle missions too. The military political infighting over who got command of the Prometheus must have been *fascinating*, and you'd think that the Navy/Marines could have plausibly argued that the USAF had been hogging the space-toys long enough... but whatever.

Where it really started wearing thin for me was when we started getting multiple ships and commanders. Daedalus and Odyssey's commanders really should be Navy or Marine, and that's that.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )