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Super security starts at NORAD/Northcom - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Super security starts at NORAD/Northcom

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COLORADO SPRINGS -


We are just days away now from Super Bowl LII, and while you'll probably take a few hours to get your party plans together, one of the most important missions in the run up to the NFL's biggest game, has been in the planning stages for months now. And the epicenter of security for this international event is at NORAD, Northern Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs.

The command center is a joint U.S.-Canadian operation, housed in the bowels of a huge structure on the grounds of Peterson. Inside are dozens of the most experienced men and women,  keeping an eye out, commanding our air, missile and space, ground and sea, from their perch in Colorado Springs.

While this collection of impressive intelligence gathering is rather small, comparatively speaking, it has a thumbprint of enormous national and international scope. Access to the facility is the highest level of security clearance you can find, in fact, just to go inside and view the operation, took several days, massive security clearance and background checks, accompanied by an entourage of security personnel.

Their mission is deadly serious and massive in scope.

"Folks here in the command center provide direction to the forces in the field in order to take action and that's done under the supervision, if not direct interaction with the commander." said Colonel Andrew Lyons with Northern Command.

To give you an idea of how the operation works in football terms, the Department of Homeland Security calls the play and NORAD/Northern Command execute it.

Colonel Lyons told us, "Department of Homeland Security is the lead federal agency. They determine the requirements based on information they have, and the NORAD and Northcom basically step up to meet those requirements and decide what kind of forces that need postured in order to take whatever action is required."

The Super Bowl is one of many national events that this team provides security for, and it's something they've done many times before. However, they must practice, just like any other precision team, and conduct a full blown exercise in advance of the game to simulate a full operational response.

Their primary focus is controlling the air space around the game, a 30 mile perimeter, no one in, no one out, without proper clearance.  Colonel Lyons said they "Basically sanitize that airspace and ensure that we've got a positive control over all the air traffic in and out of that air space in order to provide security for the event".

Nonetheless, pilots have been known to violate the airspace. In fact, commanders told me it happens all the time, so fighter jets are scrambled to escort them out of the area.

So, while you are sitting at home, focusing on the game, NORAD, Northern Command is watching everything else, serving as the conduit between federal, state and local law enforcement. Those agencies have additional assets on the ground in Minneapolis, but commanders here in Colorado Springs direct strategy to those in the field.

With memories of those who have successfully attacked this country, and those who look for ways to inflict damage on what is essentially a national holiday, the mantra here, "We Have The Watch", is deadly serious.

Commanders told us it's an evolving security strategy, as they have to stay one step ahead of those who want to inflict harm, and be able to respond to it.

When the game is over, their job is not done. The team comes together for what they call a "hot wash", reviewing their strategy, their response, any mistakes that might have been made, are corrected.

They are always planning for the next event, to make sure the process always improves.

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