NORAD, NorthCom Open Integrated Command Center
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Gail Braymen
Special to American Forces Press Service
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo., May 14, 2008 North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command unveiled their new integrated command center in a ceremony attended by Canadian and U.S. dignitaries here yesterday.
American and Canadian personnel monitor activity in the North American maritime and air domains in the new North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command command center. NORAD and NorthCom unveiled their new integrated command center in a May 13, 2008, ceremony at the commands’ headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. NORAD/U.S. Northern Command photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Gail Braymen
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The command center opening coincided with NORAD’s observance of the 50-year mark in the partnership between Canada and the United States in defending North America from air and space threats.
Attendees included U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates; Canadian National Defense Minister Peter MacKay; Rick Casson and Anthony Rota, members of Canada’s Parliament; Paul McHale, U.S. assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and Americas’ security affairs; Navy Adm. Jonathan Greenert, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command; Lt. Gen. M.J. Dumais, commander of Canada Command; and Lt. Gen. Angus Watt, Canadian air force commander.
U.S. Air Force Gen. Victor E. Renuart, who wears two hats as commander of NORAD and NorthCom, praised the cooperative spirit the new command center represents.
“This is really the culmination of a lot of great effort by people who have taken this idea of unity of effort, of integration of capabilities, and brought them together in this room as a symbol of a true integrated approach to both warning and defense of our homelands,” he said.
NORAD and NorthCom have shared a commander and a headquarters building since 2002, when NorthCom was established. Sharing a command center with integrated land, air, space, missile warning, maritime and cyber domains brings the commands’ missions together in a way “that creates great synergy,” Renuart said.
“Our command center will be a huge improvement in our ability to integrate situational awareness, to begin to respond to a major event in either of our countries, and then to take the national capabilities that respond to disasters, both man-made and natural, and bring relief to our citizens in our communities,” the general continued. “So this is really a weapons system for the future.”
Canadians greatly value their defense partnership with the United States, MacKay said. “In fact, we’re constantly revisiting and constantly upgrading our participation --– our ability --– to continue this strong relationship that we have enjoyed now for 50 years. The opening of NORAD and NorthCom’s new command and control center, especially now in the context of this ongoing 50-year anniversary celebration, is truly something that we value.
“NORAD remains the cornerstone of Canadian-American continental defense partnership,” MacKay added. “This new command and control center is certainly evidence of that. It will maintain constant links with Canada Command, Canada’s domestic military operations command, and it will help NORAD meet the challenges of the future by allowing for effective, efficient communications between Canada Command, NORAD and U.S. NorthCom. These links, and the work of the personnel who staff the command center, contribute to the defense of the continent every day.”
The new command center, Gates said, “enhances the collaboration between Canada and the United States [and has] a key role in defending the United States and Canada in the near and far future.”
“It embodies our nations’ shared commitment to protecting the North American continent from any and all threats,” he said. “Additionally, this center will be able to connect and coordinate with other command centers around the nation with improved communication processes, thus allowing us to respond more quickly to any threat.”
NORAD is the binational Canadian and American command responsible for the air defense of North America and maritime warning for Canada and the United States. U.S. Northern Command was established on Oct. 1, 2002, to anticipate and conduct homeland defense and civil support operations within the assigned area of responsibility to defend, protect, and secure the United States and its interests.
(Army Sgt. 1st Class Gail Braymen serves in Public Affairs with North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command.)