Cheyenne Mountain unveils renovated Missile Warning Center

(U.S. Air Force photo/Craig Denton) Lt. Gen. Susan Helms, 14th Air Force commander, (center) cuts a ribbon commemorating the completion of a $2.9 million renovation at the JFCC SPACE Missile Warning Center, Aug. 5, 2011, at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station. Navy Capt. David Kiehl, MWC director (right), Navy Senior Chief Phil Fix, MWC senior enlisted advisor (second from left), and Col. Joe Turk (left), 721st Mission Support Group commander, assist Helms during the ceremony.

By Lea Johnson

21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN AIR FORCE STATION, Colo. — “You need to get this place up to the 21st century.”

That’s what former 14th Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Larry James said on a visit to the Missile Warning Center at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station during his command.

With the support of United States Strategic Command and Joint Functional Component Command for Space, that’s exactly what the 721st Mission Support Group did.

The $2.9 million project, funded by USSTRATCOM, began in January 2010 and was completed June 30, 2011. A ribbon cutting for the new MWC was held Aug. 5.

Lt. Gen. Susan J. Helms, 14th Air Force commander, attended the ceremony and had the honor of cutting the ribbon.

“From new workstations with enhanced computer systems to the knowledge wall displaying a common operating picture, this renovation has provided all the modern features to bring a 1960s facility into the 21st century,” Helms said.

With the help and knowledge of Bryon Gohl, 721st MSG mechanical engineer, and Alfonso Duran, 721st Communication Squadron project manager, USSTRATCOM saved more than $3 million during the renovations.

Renovating a work center that is functional 24/7 provided a challenge for Lt. Col. Jerome Shay, MWC operations officer, who orchestrated the construction, and the 721st Civil Engineer Squadron, the 721st Communications Squadron, and the 721st Security Forces Squadron, who completed the renovations.

“The most important thing was to not degrade the mission, the mission always comes first. The second thing was to make sure that those mission operators in there have a fully functional work center,” said Rusty Mullins, 721st CS deputy director.

Before renovations could begin a temporary operation center had to be set up for crew members, which involved making small renovations to another room.

Renovations to the new MWC included making a more open floor plan so crew members can communicate and fulfill the mission more efficiently. Lt. Col. Guillermo Gonzales, Plans and Programs chief, said that before, crew commanders had to leave their own work stations to look at another member’s monitor. Now, the commanders are able to track everything from their own work center.

Work stations were also ergonomically designed, increasing crew reaction time and decreasing stress on the body during a crew’s 12 hour shift. “It eases the way you look at the screens,” Gonzales said.

While designing the first ever renovations to the center, Mullins said the CE and communications squadrons had to consider what might be needed in the future. “You’re trying to second guess what these future requirements that you don’t yet have in hand are and at the same time give them a mission work center that’s fully functional to current requirements,” Mullins said.

Other improvements to the center include enhanced subscriber terminal network terminal capability for the crew commander, new joint worldwide intelligence communication system’s capability, new knowledge visual display wall and a new electronic procedural checklist.

One of the biggest initiatives crew members pushed for was a new kitchen facility. Before, when crew members wanted to get something to eat, they had to leave the work center.

“Now with a built in refrigerator and sink in the break room they are much more likely to stay with that mission on the spot and meet their morale needs of having a good lunch or dinner,” Mullins said.

Mullins said from gathering the funding to designing the work center to not allowing any missions degradation, the 721st CE and communications squadrons were 100 percent successful.

“The feedback we got from JFCC-Space is that they love the room. It’s fully functional, it’s ready for any future requirements, it meets current requirements and they can do their mission now in a lot better environment than they could,” he said.

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