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News   Defense News

Austin Meets Prime Minister Trudeau at Joint U.S.-Canada Command

June 8, 2022 | BY Jim Garamone , DOD News

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canadian Minister of National Defense Anita Anand at the command that symbolizes the close bond between the two countries — the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 

A man in a business suit wearing shakes hands with another man in a business suit while his wife looks on.
Leader Meeting
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III greets Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie at Peterson Space Force Base, Colo., June 7, 2022. Austin visited U.S. Northern Command/North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), and the Cheyenne Mountain Complex with Trudeau and Canadian Minister of Defense Anita Anand.
Photo By: Chad J. McNeeley, DOD
VIRIN: 220607-D-TT977-0380

This is the first time a Canadian prime minister has visited the binational command since Pierre Trudeau visited in December 1977. The Canadian leaders stopped at NORAD on their way to the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles. 

Trudeau and Austin met at the headquarters of NORAD and U.S. Northern Command at Peterson Space Force Base and then journeyed to Cheyenne Mountain — a facility literally built under a mountain in the Front Range of the Rockies. 

Air Force Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, NORAD-Northcom commander, gave Trudeau a piece of the rock from the mountain.  

According to a DOD release, the two leaders talked about the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine and Canada's significant contributions to Ukraine's defense.  

Three people and one service member stand shoulder to shoulder while paying respect to their national anthem.
Headquarters Visit
Canadian Minister of Defense Anita Anand, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and U.S. Air Force Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, Commander, U.S. Northern Command/North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) render honors during the playing of their national anthems during a visit to U.S. Northern Command Headquarters, June 7, 2022. They also toured Cheyenne Mountain Complex during their visit to Colorado.
Photo By: Chad J. McNeeley, DOD
VIRIN: 220607-D-TT977-0528

They also spoke about the future of the joint Canadian, U.S. command and the need to invest in defense against newer threats. 

An official speaking on background said the mission of the command has changed since it was established in the 1950s to defend against nuclear strikes from the Soviet Union.  

When the Soviet Union collapsed, the mission shifted to defense against terror attacks on North America. "In the years since then, what we've seen on the part of both peer level competitors, but also rogue state actors, is the increased capability to be able to put North America at risk," the official said. 

Hypersonic missiles, cyber-attacks, new non-nuclear capabilities and more are threats. NORAD-Northcom work together to counter these threats and deter nations from launching those attacks. 

A man in a business suit wearing a face mask shakes hands with a uniformed service member, who is also wearing a face mask.
Visiting Service Members
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III visits with service members at Peterson Space Force Base, Colo., June 7, 2022. Austin visited U.S. Northern Command/North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), and the Cheyenne Mountain Complex with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Defense Anita Anand.
Photo By: Chad J. McNeeley, DOD
VIRIN: 220607-D-TT977-0217

New radars, new defenses against hypersonic technologies and more are under consideration in both the United States and Canada. The two nations are also discussing modernizing detection capabilities including new radars and new uses of command-and-control capabilities. This would give political leaders in both countries more time to gauge threats and develop appropriate responses, the official said. 

Austin took advantage of the trip to Peterson Space Force Base to meet with members of America's newest service, the Space Force. "You've been going through the hard work of standing up a new branch of the service, and that's historic. It's important," the defense secretary told the Guardians. "I just want to say thanks to you and your families for the sacrifices that you made, the energy that you bring to your job, the professionalism that you exhibit and the commitment that you've given."