Loring Air Force Base, Maine

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GLOBECOM Communications Annex #2

GLOBECOM Communication Annex #2 was located 16 miles southwest of Loring AFB off Mouse Island Road, Perham. This small complex tucked in a wooded area was part of a worldwide communications system during the late 1950s and early 1960s.

If you have any information about Annex #2 or was stationed at this site please contact mikemakar@aol.com.

PHOTOS of the site taken by David McPherson, kimdave7@nbnet.nb.ca. October 2007.

Site was questioned in Loring Legends

2005 site visit: Loring is very visible from this elevated location. Lifelong local resident indicated the site has been heavily vandalized and the city did not want anyone poking around on the site.

Mouse Island Road isn't exactly the end of the world but for this person, possibly searching for Annex #2, it was the end of the line and the "Gray Bar Hotel".

Description of GLOBECOM Extracted from "AACs - Air Communication" By AACS Alumni Association, Turner Publishing Company 1938-2004

Long-Line Communications

During the 1950s, AACS (Airways & Air Communications Service) was retailored to meet the growth of Air Force responsibilities. Operations needed to be centrally coordinated for strategic control. Air Force personnel were deployed in 73 foreign geographic areas. The increase in Air Force strength, revised war planning, the vast increase in the number of aircraft flights, and the greater amount of intelligence and weather information required all served to overload the existing point-to-point and air/ground communications systems.

Air Force missions and operations, particularly after Korea shifted away from the theater commander concept where joint operations and functions were centralized under a single commander. Instead, they now were under functional commands which exercised vertical control. The result was that each of the majors commands, such as Strategic Air Command, had their own communication networks tying their command headquarters in the United States to their activities around the world. This allowed them complete and instantaneous control of their components in the precise time frame, whether it was scheduling in-flight refueling, providing weather information, or conducting airlift operations. This was to change somewhat during the 1950s with the establishment of the Global Communications Systems (GLOBECOM). This systems, which was to play a critical and important part in the Air Force Communications Network, was a project in which AACS played a key role..

Until 1947, AACS's pattern of operations for point-to-point communications was based upon the World War II - organized Army Command and Administrative Network. This system, called ACAN, utilized single channel voice, teletype links, and torn tape relays which were carried over both low and high frequency radio as well as wire. This system, outdated by its slowness and low volume of traffic it could carry, was replaced by GLOBECOM in 1951.

GLOBECOM was originally a modest program calling for the installation of a globe-encircling system of high power trunk circuits and modernization of the major AACS point-to-point circuits. Planning, which began in 1946, continued into 1950. The Korean War led to the expansion of the plan and caused Congress to free the monies needed for construction.

Construction began in 1951 with no agreement on the proper organization or management of the system. Nor was such an agreement reached even after GLOBECOM's completion. AACE wanted it operated as a system under centralized control of one command to satisfy the long-line communications needs of all Air Force commands and activities. This could not be realized if the relay stations were operated by several different agencies. The fixed, or relay, stations were not to served, by themselves, any specific airbase or command headquarters.

AACS was made responsible for the installing, and maintaining, and operating GLOBECOM, thereby fixing responsibility and ensuring uniformity in methods and procedures. It operation the system in the same manner as American Telephone and Telegraph's Long Lines Department serviced the entire Bell System. Therefore, it did not infringe upon the prerogatives of the various commands.

GLOBECOM was basically a radio system and was the first integrated communications system to span the world. It was an extension of the Air Force Communications Network which was primarily a continental wire system. Larger than any commercial system in the world, its cost of a quarter of a billion dollars by 1953 made it already about eight times the worth of the Radio Corporation of America and slightly more than that of Western Union. It came to represent one-half of AACS's effort and one-third of the Air Force's entire communication manpower resources.

It was an integrated and engineered system of interconnected Air Force radio stations, together with out leased commercial or allocated Army and Navy long-haul wire and radio channels, the necessary terminal equipment, relay facilities, communication centers, and cryptographic facilities. The facilities were all permanent and similar to civilian commercial systems. Internal, tactical, and special purpose communications systems of the various commands used to accomplish specific missions within their organization were excluded.

Its central nervous system consisted of seven main or "beltline" stations, which were interconnected by high-power, multi-channel radio circuits. Each station had spare multi-channel transmitting equipment to ensure reliability. Voice, teletype, and facsimile circuits, along with torn tape relay and off-line encryption, were used on four-channel low and high frequency radio and landline circuits that employed semiautomatic switching. Linear amplifiers, boosting transmitter power to 50-kilowatts, were installed on special circuits to offset the effect of jamming and overcome adverse atmospheric conditions prevalent of the Atlantic Ocean. These beltline stations served 36 other stations.

Each GLOBECOM station had four separate facilities; a relay or message center and a technical control facility serviced by remotely located transmitter and receiver plants. The last two were place far apart to avoid being affected by local noise or transmitters. Microwave connected them all because cable was expensive and difficult to protect in overseas areas.

AACS was designated as the responsible agency for engineering and the installation of all GLOBECOM facilities, except for those portions done under civilian contract. It operated all stations with the exception of several key stations in Europe and some in the United States, which were operated jointly with other agencies. Those major commands that used the system were responsible for organizational and field level maintenance.

Each major command wanted individual ownership of all its own communications and support. But the quantum jump in the volume of communications and the sheer size of the networks they required, plus the skyrocketing costs, served to curb independent ownership of all command-needed communications.

Air-to-ground capability, added in 1952, allowed commander to talk to aircraft up to 3,000 miles away. The system was renamed AIRCOM, which stood for the Air Force Communications Complex, in 1955. Under this system, both 16-channel single side-band facilities and 36 -channel ionospheric and tropospheric scatter systems were added. Four channel multiplex circuits for high frequency radio and landlines became standard. Microwave relay systems with 24-voice channels, each channel capable of carrying 16 teletype channels, became common. The first fully automatic switching equipment was added in 1957. Operated by Western Union for AACS, these automated switches saved millions of dollars annually by eliminating the need for hundreds of operators. One operator could do the work formerly done by eight.

In 1956, AIRCOM was renamed Strategic Communications System or STRATCOM. It integrated the important military and civilian circuits and terminals, operated until then by other commands with the GLOBECOM system. These included the Air Force Communications Network, the Air Fore Operations Network, the Air Force Global Air-to-Ground Communications System, the Air Force Weather Teletype and Weather Facsimile Networks, the Air Force Global Weather Broadcasts and Intercept System, and the Strategic Air Command Communications Network. STRATCOM was a $350 million investment which handled a monthly average of 3.5 million messages and 232,000 aircraft contract.

The terms GLOBECOM and STRATCOM were dropped in 1959 to return to the term AIRCOM. By 1960, the system consisted of 33 major and many minor stations, all of which were compatible with the Army and Navy portions of the Armed Forces integrated communications network. Messages were handled via speech, teletype, facsimile, Morse code, and data.

A new network was added to the AIRCOM system in 1960. Called the Combat Logistics Network, its purpose was to furnish the communications needed for the Air Force electronic data processing equipment programs. AACS was given full operational control and responsibility for the new network.

The Air Force Communication Network and the Air Force Operations Network were the busiest subsystems in the AACS-operating Air Force communications complex, known as AIRCOM. During the second half of 1960, relay stations of the Air Force Communications Network handled 33 million messages, while those of the Air Force Operations Network handled another 7.5 million. Altogether, AACS operated approximately 1,350 channels of communications that connected its major relay stations alone.


Website Contact: Michael Makar, Bradenton, FL Email: mikemakar@aol.com

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