Wed March 13, 2013
National Security

As North Korean Rhetoric Escalates, Greeley's 137th Keeps An Eye On The Skies

This week North Korea invalidated the 1953 armistice ending the Korean War and cut off a hotline with South Korea. 

That news means the Colorado Air National Guard’s 137th Space Warning Squadron based in Greeley could soon see more activity.

Thomas McKenna, commander of the 137th, says while many people no longer fear a nuclear missile strike as much as they did during the Cold War, emerging threats keep the squadron relevant in an ever-changing world. “The threat is changing, and we have to be more responsive as a military to be able to respond to any threat.”

"We're constantly vigilant hoping that we don't see anything, but always making sure that we are of the eyes and ears of warning."

McKenna says recent saber rattling by North Korea as well as a continued buildup of arms by the Soviet Union and China are also concerning. “There are still those issues out there, so I think the basis of what we do is deterrence,” said McKenna. “We’re constantly vigilant hoping that we don’t see anything, but always making sure that we are of the eyes and ears of warning.”

The 137th is unique among all other squadrons. They are the only 100 percent mobile Space Warning Squadron with the sole mission of watching the skies for nuclear and ICBM launches. Being fully mobile, it can move clear of an enemy attack, and even transfer its monitoring equipment anywhere it’s needed in the world.

The system used by the 137th is one of a kind and looks like a large semi truck. However, inside sophisticated technology allows the squadron to process satellite data and analyze if and when missile strikes occur anywhere in the world.

A satellite truck used by the 137th Space Warning Squadron.
Credit Colorado Air National Guard

On Saturday, March 13th the squadron was re-organized under the new 233rd space group. The new 233rd Space Group, still based in Greeley, will include the 137th as well as other specialized squadrons.

The new command structure will make it easier for the base to function, and possibly accept additional Federal Space Warning missions in the future.