Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Winter at Camp David

Camp David in the winter - 1961

Located at an altitude of 1800 feet up in the Catoctin Mountains, Camp David is always cold and often snowy in the winter. The Aspen Lodge has a large stone fireplace in the living room along with a fireplace in each of the four bedrooms. Winter activities include sledding, skiing, ice skating, and snowmobiling.  President Ford used to enjoy going swimming in the middle of winter in the outdoor super-heated pool.

President Eisenhower watching grandchildren - March 1960 

David Eisenhower, grandson of President Eisenhower, recalls Camp David in the winter:
"In winter, before helicopters, access up the winding Catoctin roads was difficult, so wintertime visits were less frequent. But I do remember making my first ski run ever on the hill behind Aspen."
1961 photo of the former Laurel Lodge - now called Holly Cabin

Witch Hazel cabin in 1961

Ice Skating in 1962

Aspen pool in February 1971

President Ford riding a snowmobile in February 1975

President Carter sledding at Camp David

President Carter and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat - February 1978

President Reagan writing the State of the Union Address at Camp David - 1985

President Bush sledding with daughter Doro - January 1991

The Clintons cross-country skiing in 1994

President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair

Sources:  Eisenhower Presidential LibraryJohn F. Kennedy Presidential Library; Ronald Reagan Presidential Library; Gerald R Ford LibraryJimmy Carter Library; George Bush LibraryThe President is at Camp David; Time; People

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Camp David Marines Reunion

President Eisenhower and his wife Mamie in front of Aspen Lodge - 1960

Camp David has been guarded by a marine company from Marine Barracks Washington 8th & I  ever since the time of  Franklin D. Roosevelt, when it was known as Shangri-La. There is an active reunion group for marines who served at the 8th & I Marine Barracks. The marines share their photos and memories on the 8th & I Reunion Association website and have a section dedicated to those who served at Camp David.

The reunion website contains an interesting collection of first-hand accounts of duty at Camp David by marines who served there.  One account describes the underground Command Center back in 1956:
"Under the President's lodge there was a Command Center, which he could enter by elevator from several locations within the lodge, including his bedroom. From the command Center, his image could be televised to any location in the world to assure people that he was alive and the government was functioning. There was a War Room from which a global war could be directed. There was a heavy security door leading into this area from the side of the President's lodge. A Marine, armed with a loaded M-l rifle, was always stationed at this door during a presidential visit."
The reunion website also includes many old photos of Camp David from back in the 1950s along with some more recent photos of marines serving there.

One of many images uploaded by former Camp David marines to their reunion website

Sources: 8th & I Reunion Association; Marine Barracks Washington

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Video - Home Movies of LBJ and others at Camp David

The LBJ Library uploaded some of Lady Bird Johnson's home movies to You Tube. Two of the movies contain some interesting scenes shot at Camp David.

The first movie was shot in the summer of 1965. It opens with various scenes at Camp David including the golf hole, the area around the Aspen Lodge, the helicopter landing zone and the swimming pool.  David Brinkley, Eugene McCarthy, Billy Graham and Jack Valenti appear in this film along with President Johnson and his family and friends. At approximately 3 minutes into the film, the scene switches to Joseph Hirshhorn's house in Greenwich, Connecticut.  The movie returns to Camp David at the 7 minute mark.

The second home movie was shot by Lady Bird Johnson around 1967. It features President Johnson and his family and friends enjoying Camp David. Scenes from the movie include the following locations/activities at Camp David: swimming pool, trampoline, shuffleboard, and bowling alley.

Source:  Lyndon Baines Johnson Library (via YouTube)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Golf Carts

Golf Cart One - the President's golf cart at Camp David

At a ceremony honoring NASCAR drivers, President Obama said  "I'm not allowed to drive much these days. Basically just my golf cart at Camp David -- which is called Golf Cart One."  President George W. Bush was the first president to name the presidential electric golf cart "Golf Cart One".

The golf carts at Camp David provide a fun and convenient way of getting around the sprawling presidential retreat. There are usually golf carts nearby the helicopter landing area for dignitaries to use to get to their cabins upon arrival.  President Nixon had the gravel paths around the camp paved over so he could use the golf carts to get around.

Mrs. Carter and Mrs. Begin ride around Camp David during the Middle East summit there in 1978

President Carter and President Sadat at Camp David in 1978
                   Walter Mondale and Cyrus Vance                                 Zbigniew Brzezinski and Cyrus Vance - September 1978

In his memoir, Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote that his daughter Mika, and Amy Carter "narrowily escaped ramming into Prime Minister Begin while out driving. Only the quick action of Amy's Secret Service guard saved the Prime Minister from injury and the Carter and Brzezinski families from embarrassment."

Although Newsmax describes the Mika incident:  "As a kid tooling around Camp David in a golf cart, she once drove smack into Menachem Begin’s shins."

President Reagan and Nancy Reagan in their golf cart at Camp David in 1981

President Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher riding golf carts at Camp David in 1984

The photo above shows President Reagan picking up Prime Minister Thatcher after her arrival at Camp David. Check out the video of him described as "President Reagan erratically drives golf buggy" shot in 1986 for her return visit.

President Bush prepares to jog with George Strait - January 1993

President Bush reacts to Mikhail Gorbachev's driving skills in 1990 

President Bush and South Korean President Lee ride Golf Cart One at Camp David - April 2008

First Lady Laura Bush holds on as President George W. Bush gives Afghan President Hamid Karzai a ride in August 2007

G8 leaders Angela Merkel and Barroso ride in golf carts at Camp David G8 Summit
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso board their golf carts after arriving at Camp David for the G8 Summit in May 2012

President Obama outside Aspen Lodge at Camp David - with golf carts
Golf carts lined up outside the Aspen Lodge following President Obama's closing remarks at the G8 Summit

Sources: The White House; USA Today; New York Magazine; The Reagans: Portrait of a Marriage;  Jimmy Carter Library; ibiblio.org; Newsmax; AP; Ronald Reagan Presidential Library; George Bush Presidential Library; UPI; Getty; European Commission

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Raven Rock Mountain Complex

Last updated: 4/26/2019                   

Raven Rock Mountain complex logo - Site R logo seal
If you search for Camp David on the internet, you are bound to stumble across information about the Raven Rock Mountain Complex, also known as Site R.  A popular theory floating around is that there is a secret tunnel between Camp David and Site R.  I had never heard of the RRMC, so I decided to look into it.

Site R is a deep underground relocation facility for the Department of Defense located in Pennsylvania about six miles from Camp David. It is a nationally critical communications facility and serves as the Alternate National Military Command Center (ANMCC). It is also known as the "underground Pentagon".


The best source of information I found about Site R came from the Department of Defense in response to a 1999 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted to the Joint Staff. The FOIA documents released included the following information about Site R:

President Truman approved the secret project in 1950 and one half million cubic yards of superhard greenstone granite rock was blasted out and hauled away in ten months. Three underground buildings A, B, and C (each 3-stories tall) were completed in 1953. Ten years later, buildings D and E were added.  

In 1989, work began on a $13.5 million dollar project to improve the cooling systems for the computers in the command center. A new tunnel was built for access to a second underground reservoir. Additional water cooling towers were added along with structural bracing and a fire detection/sprinkling system. A 1990 article in the Gettysburg Times provides additional information about this project.

Site R cutaway released by the Department of Defense in response to a 1999 FOIA request

Raven Rock Mountain Complex Layout  (from the Department of Defense in response to a 1999 FOIA request)


If you have spent any time on this blog, you will know that I like to reference old newspaper articles. The Raven Rock Mountain Complex was built during the cold war and I find it interesting to read articles about it that were written during that time period. Some of my favorites:

Click here to read the entire article

Click here to read the entire article


Bing Maps has a feature called Birds-eye that displays aerial images of a location that were shot from low-flying airplanes overhead. Here are some screenshots from the Birds-eye view of the Raven Rock Mountain Complex map:

Site R:  A Portal (on right) and B Portal.  (Bing Maps)

Site R portal and Security Building
Close-up view of A Portal with Security Building on the right (Bing Maps)

Site R - portal and pedestrian entrance
Close-up view of B Portal and what looks like a pedestrian access adit at lower right  (Bing Maps)

Site R:  C Portal and D Portal   (Bing Maps)

Site RT - antenna site located on top of the Raven Rock Mountain Complex   (Bing Maps)

Site R :   A, B, C, and D Portals  and Site RT   (Google Maps)

Site R diagram overlay on Google Maps

Raven Rock helipad and fire station
Raven Rock Mountain Complex helipad and fire station (Bing Maps)

RRMC satellite communications facility at Site C   (21st Signal Brigade netcom.army.mil - full-size photo)

View more Raven Rock photos on my other blog: About Site R


The FY 2013 DOD Base Structure Report lists the Raven Rock site in Pennsylvania as having 69 buildings totaling  almost 640,000 square feet on 716 acres. For FY 2012, the numbers were 66 buildings totaling around 615,000.  In 2001, there were 59 buildings with a total of 452,000 square feet on the same number of acres.

There are several different areas that make up Site R.  The glossary page in the unclassified 1994 Army Regulation 190-15 Physical Security of the Alternate Joint Communications Center (AJCC) defines these three locations:
  • Site R - the Alternate Joint Communications Center 
  • Site RT - the limited area at Site R where antennas are located (Read more about Site RT)
  • Site Creed - the limited area on the west side of the AJCC with an underground building complex 
In addition, there is also Site C, which is a satellite communications facility located atop Quirauk Mountain in Washington County in Maryland supported by the 302nd Signal Battalion. Someone living nearby captured the nighttime glow from Site C in this Flickr photo. The Raven Rock Mountain Complex received approval in August 2012 to construct two additional generators at this location.

website about America's Cold War Infrastructure  describes Site Creed as a microwave radio tower that was part of a Presidential emergency communication network built in the late 1950s - early 1960s.  The tower consisted of nine floors below ground and two floors above ground that housed the microwave/antennas equipment. The Creed tower is located a short distance away from the main complex and access is via a separate entrance tunnel.  According to that same website, the tower is no longer in use.  Read more about the Creed Tower and view the diagram at full-resolution.

Site Creed (tower at lower right) on  Bing Maps                                  Cross Section view of the Creed Tower               

In 1991, the "mayor of Raven Rock", Lt. Col Art Maxwell, described the underground facility in an unclassified briefing. Site R has four portals going 650 feet below the 1,529 foot summit of the Raven Rock Mountain.  It has living quarters, a fitness center, a medical facility, the Granite Cove dining facility, a barbershop, a chapel, legal services, and a convenience store. The underground reservoirs hold millions of gallons of water. There are 35 miles of cables on 180 telephone poles. The inside of Site R looks like a typical office building except that there are no windows. Site R also has a wastewater treatment plant.

There are two underground power plants - East and West plants.  A fully redundant system is required to power the HVAC and emergency generators in the event of an extended lockdown. The "Recent Changes to Site R" section below describes some major upgrades to the West power plant. In January 1990, an explosion occurred at RRMC due to a soot build-up in the exhaust system which blew the top off of the vent house located at the top of the mountain. The Pennsylvania Bureau of Mines made a recommendation related to some antiquated equipment in the power plants to prevent this from recurring.

declassified document from the Nuclear Vault of the National Security Archive described the underground buildings at Site R:
"The ANMCC and Presidential quarters were in Building D. Buildings A, B, and C provided quarters, administrative space, and the operational facilities that the services planned to use as primary emergency centers. The ANMCC was designed to accommodate 3,000 persons in an emergency and could operate at least 30 days in a "buttoned up" position."
A Baltimore Sun article describes Site R's five 3-story underground buildings: "The five buildings at the site are separated by thick rock walls because each was erected inside its own mountain cavern." A 2012 employment ad described the facility as operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The Site R Security building was built in 1994 outside the A Portal


The location of the Raven Rock Mountain Complex is unclassified and the Pennsylvania address of the underground facility often appears in public solicitations on the FedBizOps website. The various areas of Site R can be viewed interactively by clicking and dragging the Bing map below. For a more detailed view, click on "View Bird's Eye" and then zoom in and rotate the map.


Main entrance gate at Site R

Close-up of main gate and Visitor Control Center/Remote Delivery Facility (Schungel Bldg)

Signs posted outside the gates at Site R


Site R is a secure facility and  personnel must follow the security procedures outlined in USAG Raven Rock Regulation 380-1.

The RRMC Security & Intelligence Office is responsible for validating requests for entry to the installation. Entry is controlled by an exchange badge system consisting of an external pass and internal badge.  The external pass must be worn whenever someone is on the installation.  Upon entering the Security Building, a person must exchange the external pass  for an internal badge.  The internal badge must then be returned to the entry control point in the Security Building upon exiting.

The Security Building serves as the entry control point for the Raven Rock Mountain Complex

Entry to the roof, cavities, and wells is limited to persons having a strict operational requirement.  The Special Access authorization for these areas is controlled programmatically by the Visitor Access Security System (VASS).

Family members are allowed access to the facility for holiday meals and special award ceremonies. Guest tours of the site are not permitted. The only approved areas for family members are:
  • Granite Cove Dining Facility
  • Building F
  • Pavilion  
Site R is a Continuity of Operations relocation facility for the Department of Defense.  Current rosters of relocation personnel are provided to the Military Police for granting access to the site. During an actual relocation or a relocation exercise, special "Hasty Access" procedures are followed to expedite entry.   Large groups traveling by bus will enter through the main entrance gate and proceed to the Security Building upon validation by the guards.  Relocating personnel arriving via helicopter will follow Blue Light and Iron Gate procedures.

The entry procedures are documented in the following USAG-RR Reg 380-1.

Reg 380-1 Personnel Entry Control Procedures for Raven Rock Mountain Complex Site R
USAG-RR Reg 380-1  Personnel Entry Control Procedures for the Raven Rock Mountain Complex - Site R


The people who work at Site R come from multiple areas. The basic day-to-day support for the facility is staffed by the Washington Headquarters Services (WHS).  The FY 2013 WHS budget report listed 135 FTE positions at RRMC funded by the Pentagon Reservation Maintenance Revolving Fund.

The Pentagon Force Protection Agency provides security for the installation. An online resume of a Supervisory Police Officer at Raven Rock put the military police force there at around 148 as of 2007.

A 2010 Fort Detrick Defense Technology & Intelligence Career Fair ad describing the composition of the workforce at Ft. Detrick refers to "support services being provided to an additional 739 at Raven Rock Mountain Complex."

This blog and my other RRMC-related website have received visits from over 325 different IP addresses assigned to the Raven Rock Mountain Complex. While many of them are assigned to a generic RRMC hostname, the ones belonging to the "Alternate Joint Communications Center - Emergency Relocation Group" are quite specific: DAMI (Army Intelligence), SADCINT (Sector Air Defense Commander - Intelligence), DCSPER (Deputy Chief of Staff - Personnel), OTJAG (Office of the Judge Advocate General), OTSG (Office of the Surgeon General), ASAIE (Assistant Secretary of the Army Installations and Environment), ODA (Operations Duty Officer), IG (Inspector General), PAO (Public Affairs Officer), XO (Executive Officer), LOCSUR (Logistics Operations Center Army Surplus), LOCSUPMAINT (Logistics Operations Center Supervisor Maintenance), ASACW (Assistant Secretary of the Army Civil Works), ASAMRA (Assistant Secretary of the Army Manpower & Reserve Affairs), VCSA (Vice Chief of Staff of the Army), MOSOSOD (Special Operations Division) and many others.


A 2012 press release about a newly minted 114th Signal Battalion coin refers to the "more than 30 federal, civilian, and military agencies that occupy" Site R. The following partial list of Site R tenants were included in the 1999 FOIA documents: Naval Operations Support Activity, Joint Staff Support Center, Air Force Manpower Readiness Flight, National Military Command Center, Air Force Operations Group, Air Force Emergency Operations Center, Defense Intelligence Agency, 1111th Signal Battalion (now the 114th), Department of the Navy, and Office of the Secretary of Defense. A current list of DOD components (many if not all are tenants) are listed on the Pentagon's website.

In addition, a DOD Directive defines RRMC tenant units as including both the above DOD components and "other Executive Departments and Agencies located at the AJCC by agreement."  The financing of Site R operations is shared by tenants via the Defense Working Capital Fund.


Raven Rock Mountain Complex Fire Station

The RRMC Fire Station was built in 2005. The E-One website has a photo of a commercial pumper truck delivered there. For more information, visit Raven Rock Fire and Emergency Services on my related blog About Site R.

The FY 2011 budget provided for the reconfiguration and consolidation of the Emergency Operations Center.

Power Plant Modernization Project

A multi-year effort is currently underway to modernize the power plants and double their generating capacity to support future facility mission loads and the Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP) for the U.S. Government, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Staff. The four-phase effort began several years ago with the construction of a temporary power plant outside the facility and the installation of larger fuel storage tanks.

Phase 3 involves the complete replacement of the West Power Plant. According to an IBEW contractor website, the construction is scheduled to begin in Spring 2013. The $45 million project will install new generators, larger chillers, pumps, air handling units, and miscellaneous supporting infrastructure upgrades including the construction of a new control room and the excavation and enlargement of the cavern. Upon completion of the new West Power Plant, the diesel generators and all of the associated infrastructure from the temporary power plant will be relocated as part of the East Power Plant renovation. The West Power Plant modernization contract was awarded to Grunley Construction Co., Inc located in Rockville, MD for $44,854,000. The scheduled completion date is May 2016.

View the MILCON Project Status Report March 2013 - RRMC Power Plant Modernization


The Department of Defense uses a 4-digit Program Project Activity (PPA) code to track approved funding for programs and activities within various departments. Below is a list of projects related to RRMC that are being tracked by the Washington Headquarters Services (WHS). The source of information for this list was found here.  You can view the complete PPA report here.


The 2014 Military Construction budget for the Washington Headquarters Services includes a new $32 million "Administrative Facility" renovation project to provide additional space for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and mission partners in direct support for Continuity of Government and Continuity of Operations. The additional tenant space requirements are defined in a memo from the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and America's Security Affairs (HD&ASA) written in January 2011 titled “Raven Rock Mountain Complex Tenant Requirements.”

According to the budget document, the additional space is located within the existing underground facility but will require infrastructure upgrades including HVAC, lightning, voice and data cabling, power, plumbing, intrusion detection, and fire alarm systems. The renovated facility will house an accredited Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) within the new 24-hour operational space. Although the details of this new facility are classified, the budget document states that the proposed site will be located within 1,000 feet of existing RRMC telephone service.

There is an old underground tower at Site R that housed microwave equipment during the Cold War. The Creed tower had nine floors underground including living quarters and office space. It was deactivated in 1977 and lacking power, it flooded. There is no indication whatsoever that the old Site Creed is being renovated for this project, but I included this theory as a nod to the old-timers and Cold War history buffs that occasionally visit this blog.

The detailed requirements statement within the budget document states: "This project supports RRMC mission readiness established in DoDI 5110.11 Raven Rock Mountain Complex and DoD S-5100.44 Defense and National Leadership Command Capacity." Construction is scheduled to begin in July 2014 and be completed by July 2016.


The DOD Washington Headquarters Services (WHS) website describes RRMC as: "The Nation's Premier Secure Strategic Battle Command Platform – assuring senior leader's ability to execute their mission essential functions.  RRMC's elite workforce provides a unique capability to meet requirements of a nation at war."

A 2012 WHS employment ad contains the following mission statement:
"The Raven Rock Mountain Complex (RRMC) is a unique hardened, survivable, deep underground command center and relocation site with rigorous redundancy, reliability, and security standards charged with a mission to support the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, select DoD components, and as appropriate, non-DoD agencies of the Federal Government to enable the execution of DoD mission-essential functions in support of the National Defense. The Installation includes Site C and encompasses at least 25 distinct tenant activities with varied mission peculiar requirements and representing OSD, JCS, and all branches of the military services with specialized infrastructure and buildings spread out over a 700-acre campus and several distinct and remote sites." 
According to the DoDI 5110.11, the mission of RRMC is to support the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, select DOD Components and, as appropriate, non-DOD agencies of the Federal Government, and to enable the execution of DOD mission-essential functions (MEFs) in accordance with DoDD S-5100.44 Defense and National Leadership Command Capability (DNLCC) and Continuity of Operations plans and operational orders.

The 2013 Department of Defense Budget documents state, "The RRMC" provides the DOD Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff and Senior DOD Leadership".


The Army's 114th Signal Battalion runs the communication and computer systems at Site R. Their 2011 employment ad states: "The 114th Signal Battalion assists our nation by planning, installing, operating, maintaining and defending Information Services to enable Command and Control for the National Military Command Center (NMCC) Raven Rock Mountain Complex (RRMC), Combatant Commanders, DoD, other Federal agencies and the RRMC during daily and COOP operations."

The mission statement also proclaims "114th Signal Battalion members are proud to be 'Signal Masters of the Rock'" and according to their Facebook page, "Rock Steady Hooah!"

114th Signal Battalion mission statement from www.netcom.army.mil

Prior to the 114th Signal Battalion, the 1111th Signal Battalion was responsible for the communication support at Site R. The 1111th Signal Battalion's old website provides a detailed history of the unit at Site R. Their mission statement also proclaimed them proud to be "Signal Masters of the Rock".

1111th Signal Battalion mission statement from asc.army.mil


The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) supports the computer operations at Site R for the Joint Staff Support Center (JSSC), which has a primary location at the Pentagon and an alternate one at Site R.  Employees of the DISA JC6 division of the JSSC were called the "Guardians of the Rock".  An excerpt from their rather lengthy 2003 JC6 mission statement:

Provides operation, administration, maintenance, and direct customer support of Information Systems to satisfy the C3 and analytical requirements of the Joint Staff at the Alternate Joint Communications Center - Site R. 
GCCS screen
Installs, maintains, and supports hardware and software for Global Command and Control System (GCCS), GCCS-Top Secret (GCCS-T), Global Management Center (GMC), National Command and Control System (NCCS), Nuclear Planning and Execution System (NPES), Communications Support Processor (CSP), and Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Network systems at Site R. 
Manages JSSC Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) to include COOP facility management and relocation reception. Serves as on-site liaison to Headquarters DISA and the Global Network Operations Support Center for their COOP plans.


The Air Force Instruction 10-208 released in December 2011 describes the Air Force's Continuity of Operations Program and includes information about COOP planning policies, requirements and responsibilities.

Responsibilities include providing "weather support" to RRMC; acting as a tenant representative on RRMC boards; and providing a "slate of nominees for the position of Commander of Raven Rock Mountain Complex".

The FAS Secrecy News blog noted that previous releases of this document made no direct mention of Raven Rock. However, a previous version of this document lists one of the Emergency Planning Coordinator's responsibilities as "Schedule and coordinate orientation visits to Site R and Site M for all staff members assigned primary or alternate positions" and refers to the AFEOC (Air Force Emergency Operations Center) facility management at Site R.

The FY 2010 Air Force budget included $267,000 in funding for Site R "hardware, computers, storage, local and long-haul communications, infrastructure, data replications, and other networking equipment to improve/expand both the classified and unclassified AF C4 systems" there along with the development of a "Continuity of Operations (COOP) web portal, designed to track personnel in route to alternative sites, their training status and pertinent COOP documents".

A 2010 FedBizOps solicitation sought microphone bids for 28 workstations for members of the Air Force Crisis Action Team (AFCAT) at the Raven Rock Mountain Complex.

Site R -  2011 DOD nuclear handbook

The 2011 Nuclear Matters Handbook published by DOD lists the Alternate National Military Command Center at Site R as one of three fixed-location facilities for the NC3 (nuclear command, control and communications system).

The other fixed command centers are located in the Pentagon and underneath the U.S. Strategic Command Headquarters (USSTRATCOM) at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.

The mobile nuclear C3 facilities include the tractor trailer-mounted Mobile Consolidated Command Center (MCCC) and the airborne Boeing 747 E-4B National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC) and Boeing 707 E-6B Take Charge and Move Out (TACAMO)/Airborne Command Post (ABNCP).


The Washington Headquarters Services Organization Chart shows the management structure at Site R:

From the Washington Headquarters Services Organization Chart as of May 2011


There was a change of command for Site R in July 2018 (Col. Larry Niedringhaus). The previous Commander of the Raven Rock Mountain Complex was Col. Kolin V. Bernardoni  who assumed command in July 2015. He replaced Col. Ramona Plemmons who assumed command in July 2012. She replaced Col. Jeffrey Brlecic who had been in charge since July 2010. According to a story in the Washington Post, Col. Brlecic retired in 2012. Previous commanders were Col. Daniel S. Roper. (2005 - 2007) and Col Sherry L. Carpenter (2001? - 2004).

If the current Commander listed above has changed, please share it in the comment section below or email me.

For more information about the responsibilities of the Installation Commander, read the Commander of the Raven Rock Mountain Complex post on my related blog About Site R.


The FedBizOpps.gov website displays federal procurement opportunities over $25,000.  Users can search by agency, location, and keyword.  No login is required; the information on this website is unclassified and is open to vendors and citizens.  Here are some recent solicitations related to operations and projects at the Raven Rock Mountain Complex:


A former soldier gave this description of Site R in an interview with a local PA television station:

"You just drove into a tunnel and then eventually you come into a point that's hollowed out. And there's a couple of buildings in there. I was awed. I couldn't believe it. It was something -- the engineering." He went on to say that Site R looked like the inside of a giant igloo with office buildings inside. The hollowed out area inside the mountain was big enough that buses and even big rigs could be driven in and parked.
Truck entering the D Portal at Site R

In 2004, a former soldier stationed at Fort Ritchie in the early days of Site R published a detailed description of his experience in an essay in a Canadian literary magazine.  An excerpt from the essay was published on the Sadly, No! blog. Several others who were stationed at Site R over the years also described their Raven Rock experience in the comment section that followed the blog post:

  • "My tour consisted of 4 days in, 7 days off, 3 days in, 7 days off. My watch was 12 hours on, 12 hours off. Handkerchiefs were almost pitch black after 4 days of breathing dirty air."
  • "A readiness posture was ALWAYS expected, and I was there for a few “Slam Door” and “Button Up” events, Three Mile Island, the Chinese invasion of Vietnam, and two Norad computer errors indicating a Soviet missile attack."
  • "The presidential suite was located above our computer room. Lots of stories about each president, Nixon supposedly had the suite done for his daughter completely in pink."
  • "I liked the faux windows in the mess hall, it did my heart good to see “outside” whilst Happy Jack dished up food…"
  • " Does anyone recall the “submarine drills” conducted at the reservoir for the newbies?"
  • "Boy what memories of things like the dome area, nine and three shifts, submarine watch and blowing the valves."

On another message board, a guy who worked "in the crypto section" described Site R as having a complete war room, a room for the President, bunk rooms for several hundred, enough food to last six months, and complete medical units.

Pedestrian adit (next to B Portal)

A blogger overheard a conversation between two guys where one of them described his "interesting" experience gaining access into Site R as a civilian contractor:

 "That meant a long elevator ride with an armed escort in an elevator car with only two buttons, and he's the only one allowed to push them. I keep thinking we're almost there but it keeps going and going!  When it finally does stop... read more"

Another person who visited Site R while stationed at Fort Detrick wrote an interesting article about the inside of the facility:
"As we walked into the tunnel I felt like I was passing into another world. The tunnel walls and ceiling were rough-hewn rock. There was a pedestrian sidewalk on both sides of the roadway that sloped gently downward. The roadway angled to the left before making a sharp turn back to the right and another sharp left turn back to our original direction."
He went on to describe passing through steel blast doors and an airlock into an office building with low ceilings and narrow hallways. He passed by fire trucks and an ambulance and got to see one of the generators. His tour also included one of the underground reservoirs:
"We climbed a steel ladder to a catwalk over an enormous, deep, greenish-blue pool of water that stretched back into a black distance. Underwater lights showed the same rough-hewn rock walls as the rest of the cavern. It was one of the most unusual sights I have ever seen."

Site R challenge coin

Job notices for RRMC are frequently posted online.  They often come with warnings such as:
"Work is performed in an office in a deep underground hardened command and control facility with no daylight and with breathing air subject to the successful operation of mechanical air intake devices.  Daily ingress and egress from office requires walking through industrial and storage areas via concrete roadways and hallways up to a mile in length."
"Going to and from work on a daily basis requires exposure to exhaust fumes created by diesel engines as well as other industrial irritants such as loud noises and dust.  Because of the great likelihood of a major smoke event and total darkness during  a fire, selectee must maintain a flashlight and also be issued and trained to use an emergency escape breathing apparatus."
"May be required to stay for longer than duration of workday and multiple days due to emergency lockdowns."

Like most organizations, the Raven Rock Mountain Complex sponsors some recreational events for their employees like the Commander's golf tournament and the RRMC Tunnel to the Top 5k run/walk.

RRMC event listing on Metropolitan Washington USO calendar


Employment ads are frequently posted online for the Raven Rock Mountain Complex and provide a good insight into some of the activities and areas of responsibility within the facility. Likewise, former employees sometimes post resumes detailing their Site R work experience on job search websites.

Some RRMC-related experience posted on job search sites:
  • Supervised the monitoring on over 700 circuits and 34 network systems
  • Responsible for monitoring and control of 300 communications security cryptographic keying materials and devices 
  • Responsible for end-users for more than 500 computer workstations
  • Directed integration of hundreds of relocating DIA personnel into operating routine of ANMCC during Joint Chiefs of Staff exercises
  • Supported the RRMC - Emergency Installation Operations Center during activation
This 2011 employment ad is looking for someone to serve as an agency representative at the RRMC to provide support for the Defense Message System (DMS) and the National Gateway Center-RRMC which supports messaging for DOD users, DOD Nuclear Command Control and Communications (NC3) organizations, intelligence activities, and the DOD national gateway to non-DOD and U.S. Allies.

This 2012 employment ad  is looking for someone to provide telecommunications support for the Emergency Actions Operations Center. A quick check on the Civilian Personnel OnLine system describes the skill set required for this important position: "Accurate analysis and diagnosis is of the utmost importance due to the limited redundancy in circuits and equipment and high level users served by this control i.e., National Military Command Center, Joint Chiefs of Staff, White House Communications Agency, USA/USSR Direct Communications Link, and many others".


Helipad at Site R - Bing Maps
Shortly before 10AM on September 11, 2001, counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke activated the Continuity of Government (COG) plan and told the Pentagon: "We are initiating COG. Please activate your alternate command centers and move staff to them immediately".

Although the plan called for the Secretary of Defense to relocate, Donald Rumsfeld sent his deputy Paul Wolfowitz citing concerns about being out of touch during the time it would take to fly to Site R. Wolfowitz reported that "the computer and communication systems there functioned poorly or not at all". 

The Office of Army Reserve History wrote about the role of Site R on 9/11:
"Despite the attack, command and control of the nation’s armed forces never lapsed. The Chief of the Army Reserve, Lieutenant General Thomas J. Plewes, was working in his office in the Pentagon when the attack occurred. Key defense leaders, including General Plewes, participated in the building’s evacuation before they were whisked away to Site R, also known as the Alternate Joint Communications Center, a secure location on the Maryland-Pennsylvania border. For a time, General Plewes was the ranking military official at the site, considered to be the “back up” command and control center for the Pentagon."

The Army's medical response included sending surgical teams from Ft. Meade to Site R where they had equipment available to operate a 25-bed hospital.

 According to this story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, local residents spotted helicopters and convoys of SUVs along with a "truck hauling furniture to accommodate the influx of bureaucrats".

In 2004, Time Magazine reviewed a book by James Bamford that revealed Site R as the "undisclosed location" of Dick Cheney following the events of 9/11. Shortly thereafter, The Drudge Report reported that a White House official fumed: "TIME magazine would have revealed the secret location of Anne Frank, if they knew it." However, in his recent memoir "In My Time", Cheney says his undisclosed location was at the VP Residence, his home in Wyoming, and "most often, Camp David".

The Patriot-News released a video called "9/11 Memories: The Neighbor to Site R" which described what it  was like to live near Site R during the 9/11 time frame. 

Patriot-News video - "9/11 Memories: The Neighbor to Site R"


Relocation exercises are held periodically. A 2011 employment ad for a Senior Operations Officer in the RRMC Emergency Operations Center wanted someone to "assist relocating personnel and facilitate their Joint Reception, Staging, Onward movement and Integration (JRSO&I) to their designated workspace". The position description for a Management Analyst (COOP) seeks applicants that "possess tact and forcefulness to ensure COOP and emergency preparedness programs are understood". It references RRMC as an alternate duty location along with the mysterious Site Zulu.

The Raven Rock Mountain Complex has specific helicopter evacuation procedures, code-named Blue Light and Iron Gate, that they follow during Continuity of Government (COG) events. Pentagon badges with a "3" on them are "coop badges" and allow free movement on the Pentagon Reservation (which includes Site R) during a crisis.

The Relocation Procedures and Support Handbook provides advice on what to pack for a relocation stint at Site R: two complete changes of clothes, laundry detergent, combination lock, two towels and a flashlight. The handbook advises that the Granite Cove Dining Facility there closes at 5PM and the sleeping accommodations consist of three-tier bunk beds assigned in 12-hour shifts. And leave your radio, alcohol and knives at home.


The American Doomsday documentary has a segment about Site R that starts around 34 minutes into the program. Site R is introduced as being one of Dick Cheney's undisclosed locations following 9/11. An Air Force colonel at the Cheyenne Mountain Complex who had been to Site R said it was a similar structure. "It's really an austere environment; it's essentially an office building."

The documentary describes the problems encountered with Site R on 9/11:  The relocating officials found a "cold-war relic that was far behind the times" with computers unable to connect with modern government databases, too few phone lines and no secure video or audio links. In 2002, the Pentagon requested $80 million for communication and electrical upgrades to Site R.


Site R was recently featured in a History Channel documentary on the Pentagon. The introduction was a little dramatic considering the amount of information that has been publicly released about the facility:
 "Some believe there is a secret facility built into the side of a mountain in Raven Rock Pennsylvania known as Site R. Might this in fact be a top secret location of a second Pentagon?" 
The documentary describes Site R as having all of the communication systems needed to give orders to the military including the ability to launch the strategic nuclear arsenal. Below are two screenshots from the video containing stock footage from the Cheyenne Mountain Complex (NORAD) rather than from Raven Rock.  You can view the full episode on the History Channel. The Site R portion is near the end.

Screen shots from the Site R portion of the History Channel's documentary about the Pentagon


The Raven Rock Mountain Complex won an honorable mention for the 2012 Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards for "Natural Resources Conservation". The RRMC narrative submitted for the award contains this description: "The site is 90% forested, enclosed within a fence, and comprises a magnificent forest of towering chestnut oak, tulip poplar, black oak, northern red oak, and pignut hickory trees."

        RRMC herbicide application using a modified skidder                                       Rocks used for erosion control

Some of their accomplishments cited include herbicide application for the management of the RRMC forest area and storm water management and erosion control. The narrative states that the erosion control measures are critical for maintaining site access and "help to ensure that the command is READY ALWAYS PERIOD."

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) provides information to the public about licensed facilities in the state. The information available online includes facility operating permits, fuel storage tank permits, wastewater/sewage  and other miscellaneous permits.  The PADEP also provides a Facility Emissions Report generator which ranks the facilities by their level of emissions.

From 1999 through 2007, the Raven Rock Mountain Complex produced the highest level of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) emissions in Adams County, PA.  The highest level was recorded in 2003 with 376 tons of NOx emitted.  The diesel power plant generators  at Site R are the main source of the NOx emissions.

2003 Emissions Report for Adams County for NOx

A 2007 notification in the PA Bulletin referenced an expected decrease in emissions with the construction of four diesel generator sets to replace older units. By 2010, RRMC dropped to fourth place in NOx emissions with 9.7 tons.

A new facility operating permit was required in 2011 to reflect the new fuel storage facility along with multiple 2012 permits for the related increased number of storage tanks.

Detailed information about the hazardous waste permits for the Raven Rock Mountain Complex can be found on the Raven Rock page on the Right to Know Network.

A recent posting on a German forum about bunkers includes a link to the Site R imagery on Google Earth highlighting the area of the west vent. The person observed that the Google image appears to show smoke coming out of the vent. The PADEP facility information for Raven Rock lists the west vent as a point of air emission.

Google image of west vent labeled in German ("Site R exhaust");      Bing Maps closeup view of west vent (without smoke)           


Parody photo of Raven Rock entrance sign
There are no public tours of RRMC except for the fictional Raven Rock Mountain Complex Site R Tour offered up on a parody website.

According to the Brookings Institution, Colonel Mark Scuerman, a former Site R commandant, proposed opening the facility in 1992 for public tours.  That idea was rejected by officials at the Department of Defense.

However, tours are available if you happen to be a White House Fellow.

The lack of an official tour does not stop the curious from driving through the area and taking photos and posting them on Flickr.  Here's a guy who even shot a  video (although it was of Site C, not Site R as he stated). Sometimes people who live near Site R discuss strange events they see on internet message boards or what they hear on local radio forums. One person wrote about the "alarming" amount of military trucks going into Site R and coming out empty in 2008 but was reassured by someone with a friend who worked for the government and said they were "in the process of linking all branches of the military and pentagon into one communication system". This same friend also claimed she had to go down in an elevator for almost 10 minutes and then had get into another one and go sideways for 5...

Wired Magazine's blog "Danger Room" wrote the post "How to Visit a Secret Nuclear Bunker", which was about an announcement they saw on the Defense Threat Reduction Agency's (DTRA) website about the Raven Rock Hardened Facilities Managers Conference that DTRA was sponsoring at Site R. The Wired bloggers sent an email to DTRA asking for information about the conference.

Some of the items on the agenda included:

  • RRMC mission briefing by the Installation Commander
  • How RRMC works - Life Support Division
  • Logistics - clothing, rations, supply, and berthing
  • Security / Blast door designs
  • Tour of the RRMC health facility
  • Engineering terrain walk

Agenda items that might make you glad you missed this particular conference included: "Emergency Escape Mask Demonstration" and "Tunnel Collapse Briefing". The Danger Room blog noted that the Raven Rock Mountain Complex location is unclassified and posted the address and the driving directions to Site R along with other conference information.

This video was created using the tour feature from Google Earth


I wrote this blog post because I wanted to see if I could find any information on the internet that supports the theory of a tunnel running between Camp David and Site R. As you can see from the length of this post, the Department of Defense has published a lot of public information over the years about the Raven Rock Mountain Complex including the construction history, tenants, facility layout, photos, mission, budget, organization chart, job information, procurement solicitations and activities.

However, nowhere in this wealth of information did I come across anything about a tunnel to Camp David.  In fact, in a newspaper article cited above, the "mayor of Raven Rock" officially denied the existence of the tunnel. As I wrote in my "About" page, I do not have any connection to Camp David.  The same goes for Site R. I have never been there and don't know anyone who has.

12/22/2011 UPDATE:  Like most bloggers, I periodically review the visitor log stats for my blog. Today I received a visit from the Army Operations Center at the Pentagon via a Google search: "tunnel between camp david site r".  So clearly my work here is not done...

6/8/2012:  Here's one for the conspiracy buffs out there: Today I received three possibly related (?) visits: An AOL visitor googled: "white house staff to camp david".  A White House Military Office visitor googled: "directions to camp david". And then (get this...) an "Executive Office of the President" visitor googled: "tunnel to raven rock".  And so it continues...

white house tunnel raven rock mountain complex
Taken from this blog's StatCounter report - IP address partially redacted

8/10/2012:  Apparently, I'm not the only one looking for information about this subject. Below is a partial screen print from my Google Analytics report showing a Google search by the Department of Homeland Security using the keywords "tunnel between raven rock and camp david".

Sources:  The Black Vault;  FY 2009 Defense Budget - Military Construction; FY 2012 Defense Budget - Justification; 2008 Pentagon Renovation Report; WHS PPA Codes; 114th Signal Battalion; 1111th Signal Battalionwhs.mil; Bing Maps; cryptome.orgGoogle Maps; Danger Room - wired.com; Brookings Institution; Federation of American Scientists; coldwar-c4i.net; Gettysburg Times; Pittsburgh Press; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; coldwarcommsSpill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plan; Federal Register; wikimapia; fbo.gov; 21st Signal Brigade; Urban Exploration Resource; Godlike Productions; Radio Reference; WGAL; Sadly, No!; 572nd Military Police - Site R; National Security Archive; AFCEA2012 Joint Staff Budget Estimates; Daily Mail; Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror; The Pentagon; Time Magazine; Code NamesThe Role of the Army Reserve in the 11 September Attacks; Global SecurityBaltimore Sun; LATimes; Marshall IndependentAdventures of Roberta X; FY2013 DOD Revolving Funds; History Channel; USOPennlive.com; National Geographic Channel; DASD Nuclear MattersKishwaukee College; White House; Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; US Army Medical Department; Public Intelligence