July 13, 2016 – Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colorado, is the eyes and ears of the United States and her allies. In the event of major threats like nuclear attack it becomes the alternate command center for the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the United States Northern Command. Up to date technology and cybersystems are critical for the 24/7 operation of this critical facility.
On July 8, 2016, the personnel of the 721st Communications Squadron honored Rear Adm. Dwight Shepherd, NORAD/USNORTHCOM director of cyberspace operations for his instrumental role in bolstering command and control capabilities at The Mountain.
A sign featuring a quote from Shepherd was placed inside the Cheyenne Mountain complex. The quote featured on the three-foot square sign says “Peterson is the practice field and Cheyenne Mountain is the home field.” The quote was used as a rallying cry to challenge Shepherd’s team in their task of relocating command and control systems to CMAFS and make them survive and endure through any wartime scenario, said Capt. Mica Myers, 721st CS director of operations.
“He used it to energize and motivate his staff to understand how critical command and control systems are and to keep their focus on CMAFS as the home field in war time,” Myers said. “These projects – command and control, and network capabilities – are what NORAD/USNORTHCOM requires to operate through wartime or in exercises.”
Col. Gary Cornn, CMAFS installation commander, said the sign is intended to honor Shepherd for efforts he made over the past two years as the key integrator in improving NORAD/USNORTHCOM command, control, communication, and compute capabilities inside Cheyenne Mountain.
“Sir, we thank you for your partnership, your advocacy, and the support to the mission here at CMAFS,” Cornn said. “It has made a difference in the mission here.”
Shepherd is honored to be recognized for his efforts, but said it is really an honor for the Department of Defense.
“I’ve just been tasked with assuring The Mountain is fully mission capable to operate under today’s threat,” Shepherd said. “So it’s a DoD kind of thing.”
The projects Shepherd’s team is working on are slated for completion in 2017. After 9/11, most of the technology was placed in the NORAD/USNORTHCOM building on Peterson AFB. The challenge is to get those same technology upgrades up and running in the limited space inside the granite confines of Cheyenne Mountain and provide mission assurance, Shepherd said.
“Our requirement is to be self-sustaining, so it gets back to mission assurance and the ability to operate around the clock,” Shepherd said. “(CMAFS) is probably the most secure electromagnetic pulse site on earth, so it’s the best fit for today’s (global threat) situation.”