Civil Defence and Microwave Facilities
- I have noticed a lot about Microwave Facilities and Civil Defence. How do
you find out if a Facility is or was a Civil Defence Facility? And are
there any CD facilities left in Operation? Were they for primary
communications or back-ups? Are there any of the old Civil Defence
organizations still in existence or were they done away with long ago?
Thanks in advance for all of your help.
Get the Internet just the way you want it.
Free software, free e-mail, and free Internet access for a month!
Try Juno Web: http://dl.www.juno.com/dynoget/tagj.
Sorry for taking such a long time to answer...
I'm not an expert on Civil Defense facilities, but my impression is that
the CD function has evolved and changed a lot since the days when a Soviet
attack was the main focus of planning. For example, FEMA now publically
emphasizes its preparedness and response efforts for natural disasters,
rather than for acts of war. It does, however, continue to operate
classified programs, and maintains secrecy about many aspects of its
installation at Mount Weather.
I think a lot of CD responsibilities have been taken over by state and
local emergency-management agencies, again reflecting the shift in focus
from national emergencies to more localized events such as severe storms.
For example, the Emergency Alert System, successor to the Emergency
Broadcast System, seems to be more under state control than federal.
As far as microwave facilities, AT&T was the major provider of
national-security communications during its monopoly years, and continued
to play an important role later in the Cold War years. Some of their
facilities were built exclusively for defense purposes; examples would be
the Autovon switching centers, and the microwave stations at Mount Weather,
Cheyenne Mountain, Site R, and other national-security installations.
Other AT&T facilities handled both civilian and military communications,
but were designed to resist the effects of a nuclear blast. For example,
as far as I know, the the "L-carrier" coaxial-cable network served both
types of traffic. It had underground main stations equipped with blast
doors, decontamination showers, air filters, and spring mounts for the
electronic equipment - efforts to ensure that long-distance communications
would be possible after an attack.
Some networks were built and operated by the federal government, but I
believe most defense communications were (and are) provided by private
FEMA is responsible for the remaining federal civil-defense infrastructure.
In addition to Mount Weather, they operate a number of regional centers.
Some of these are underground and hardened, though - like many such
facilities - they became vulnerable as the Soviets developed more accurate
missiles. One of these centers is in the Washington DC area, between Olney
and Laytonsille, MD. It is now called the Federal Support Center, and is
unique in that it also serves as the Alternate National Warning Center. I
believe the FEMA centers in Thomasville, GA and Bothell, WA are also
If you'd like to discuss any of these topics in more detail, please feel
free to post a message. There's a lot of expertise represented on this
list, and it's likely someone will have the information you want. Though
I'm interested in all aspects of Cold War-era communications, my most
active areas of research are DC-area facilities, and the AT&T microwave
>I have noticed a lot about Microwave Facilities and Civil Defence. How do
>you find out if a Facility is or was a Civil Defence Facility? And are
>there any CD facilities left in Operation? Were they for primary
>communications or back-ups? Are there any of the old Civil Defence
>organizations still in existence or were they done away with long ago?
>Thanks in advance for all of your help.