Thursday, December 20, 2007

Fighting the Good Fight

Mark Udall is using his position on the Armed Services Committee to try to prevent Northern Command from moving out of Cheyenne Mountain without Congressional approval. That is a good thing.

In an unusual juxtaposition, Wayne Allard is asleep while Ken Salazar and Mark Udall are protecting the national interest, and Colorado's interest. Normally, it is the other way around.

Once the Cheyenne Mountain Complex is abandoned, it will never be reoccupied. It will become a relic as system upgrades bypass it for a more vulnerable site a few miles away.

Further, once it is accepted that the site can be in a building, a new building can be built anywhere, and the function moved. Peterson AFB is so small that the next argument, and it will be a reasonable argument, will be that the building must be located to a more secure facility, not necessarily in Colorado.

History has a way of repeating itself. Schriver AFB was built on that justification. The "blue cube" satellite control facility in Sunnyvale, California was thought vulnerable because a freeway passed near it.

The Independent reports:

As the defense authorization was passed last week, U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., who is on the Armed Services Committee and critical of the NORAD relocation plan, said he would continue to monitor progress closely. Udall's office noted NorthCom's plan was initiated more than a year ago without Congress' approval.

Udall's trepidation was underscored by the findings of the Government Accountability Office in May. Inspectors located no documentation to support claims by NorthCom/NORAD's former commander, Navy Adm. Timothy Keating, that the transition would save millions of dollars annually.

The GAO probe also uncovered no paperwork showing how the mountain's operations would be affected. Moreover, security assessments were still ongoing — even though the move was well underway.

The defense authorization would bring the GAO back into the picture, requiring Gates to cooperate in order to obtain the $5 million.

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