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NORAD-NORTHCOM Command Center Ribbon Cutting Ceremony (Colorado Springs, CO)
As Prepared for Delivery by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, CO, Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Minister MacKay, thank you for that introduction.

The occasion of the 50th anniversary of NORAD – which we celebrated last night – is but one reminder of America’s strong and enduring relationship with Canada.  It is a friendship that has in decades past seen our men and women stand side-by-side on faraway battlefields in defense of the free world.  We gather today in another time of war, and last night’s celebration reminded us that our relationship is sustained by shared values and a willingness to defend, at all cost, that which we hold most dear:  our liberties, our loved ones, and our homelands.

The bond between the United States and Canada is on full display in this new, integrated NORAD and NORTHCOM command center.  It embodies our nations’ shared commitment to protecting the North American continent from any and all threats.  This center represents key elements of the NORAD and NORTHCOM commands, and further enhances the collaboration between our two countries.  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.

In a minute, we will see the command center brought to life.  Each domain of this center – whether cyber, land, air, or maritime – is critical in detecting, deterring, and defeating threats to the people of North America.  And let there be no doubt that there are serious threats to our people and to our way of life that have evolved over time – but so too has the NORAD and NORTHCOM command.

With this ceremony, we honor the men and women who have dedicated their lives to protecting North America and recognize the new command center’s key role in defending the United States and Canada in the near and far future.

Thank you.