Renuart Assumes Command of NORTHCOM, NORAD
By Sgt. 1st Class Gail Braymen, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo., March 23, 2007 Air Force Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr. became the 20th commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and the third commander of U.S. Northern Command in a ceremony here today.
Air Force Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr. talks with reporters for the first time as commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command at a news conference March 23 at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Gail Braymen
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Defending the homeland and providing defense support of civil authorities are top priorities for NORAD and NORTHCOM, the new commander said.
"We're engaged in a long struggle against violent extremists that seek to exploit any seams in our armor," Renuart said. "Our job … is to mend those seams, to strengthen the shield."
Renuart assumed command from Navy Adm. Timothy J. Keating, who is scheduled to assume command of U.S. Pacific Command on March 26 in Hawaii.
NORAD and NORTHCOM “have quietly and professionally conducted a mission that, by its nature, cannot fail," Renuart said. "It also has to be something that is invisible and transparent to our nation."
Renuart credited the close partnership of the United States and Canada with making NORAD effective.
"We consider our shared and peaceful border a perfect metaphor for the relationship of two distinct, yet joined, partners," he said, adding that NORAD and NORTHCOM share an "ever-progressive" and "continually evolving" relationship with Mexico.
"The collaboration … with both these nations really does reinforce the security of our homeland," Renuart said.
Before presiding over the NORAD change of command, Canadian Chief of Defense Staff Gen. Rick Hillier awarded Keating the Canadian Meritorious Service Cross.
"No two sovereign nations in the world, except for Canada and the United States, have such a unique command structure," Hillier said. NORAD's and NORTHCOM's partnership with and assistance in standing up Canada Command "has enhanced the security of both our countries," he added.
During Keating's tenure, NORAD and NORTHCOM began the process of integrating into a single command center "to serve two nations better," Hillier said. "We fully support that, … and our shoulder is behind anything that gives us efficacy and efficiency whilst continuing to give us a powerful and positive effect."
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates awarded Keating the Defense Distinguished Service Medal before presiding over the NORTHCOM change of command.
"NORTHCOM has come a long way in just a few years," Gates said. Fewer than 15 years ago, he said, the command didn't even exist and "few people were thinking seriously about the types of threats we face today."
Keating took charge of the commands two and a half years ago.
"I thought I had a reasonable idea what it would be like at NORAD and at USNORTHCOM," Keating said. "I missed the mark by a wide margin. The complexity of the mission, the challenge for each and every one of the men and women who come to work here every day is massive."
NORAD is a binational command that includes both American and Canadian forces and is charged with aerospace and maritime warning for North America. NORTHCOM is responsible for homeland defense and defense support of civil authorities.
"This is a sacred mission," Renuart said, "and it's one that … (my wife) Jill and I look forward to continuing to carry."
(Army Sgt. 1st Class Gail Braymen is assigned to NORTHCOM and NORAD Public Affairs.)