NORTHCOM Nominee Regards Command Position as ‘Sacred Honor’
By Carmen L. Gleason
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 9, 2007 The nominee to lead U.S. Northern Command and North America Aerospace Defense Command told the Senate Armed Services Committee here yesterday that he realizes the missions of both organizations are demanding and challenging, but that he would consider leading them to be a “sacred honor.”
Air Force Lt. Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr. said he would not let the country down if confirmed into the top position for the two commands focusing on homeland defense.
NORTHCOM was established following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to provide for the defense of the United States and to provide military support to civil authorities when requested by the president or secretary of defense.
NORTHCOM also is responsible for overseeing military responses to natural and man-made disasters, such as hurricanes and incidents involving weapons of mass destruction within the United States.
Renuart told the Senators that his service both in the Joint Staff at the Pentagon and within the Office of the Secretary of Defense has reinforced the value of close working relationships among combatant commands, military services, defense agencies and Congress, in addition to governors and adjutants general across the nation.
“If confirmed, I’ll join the men and women of NORAD and NORTHCOM in dedicating ourselves to the defense of the homeland,” he said. “We’ll work closely with our federal and state partners, our interagency partners, the National Guard, and the countries of Canada and Mexico, with whom we maintain a close relationship.”
The general also told the members that he views intelligence sharing among relevant agencies as being vitally important.
Re-equipping National Guard troops and reservists also will be one of Renuart’s focuses if confirmed for the position. “It will be one of my principal priorities to not only establish a better understanding on my behalf of the requirements for the Guard and Reserve,” he said, “but to continue to be the strong advocate in the process for those requirements and to work towards getting them funded and resupplied.”
The nominee assured the senators that one of his high priorities would be funding, training and equipping emergency response teams designated to work with local citizens and state first responders in the case of chemical or biological threats, in additional to natural disasters.
“It is important to have good visibility as the principal combatant commander on the readiness of potential forces,” he said, “and to also understand carefully how the individual states view their capabilities to respond to a disaster or an emergency.”
NORTHCOM will continue to work to deal with the effects of natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina. He said the command’s current leadership has created pre-scripted mission orders and pre-positioned equipment in key areas for short-notice use.
“I’m completely committed to continuing that effort,” he said, “with a special effort on the communications (so) that they’re interoperable not just among the Guard and the active force, but among the various federal agencies who would respond.”