Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Gail Braymen
|During Gen. Rick Hillier's first visit to Colorado Springs as Chief of Defence Staff, he takes a few minutes to talk with Tech. Sgt. Devin Fisher of NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs about Canada-U.S. Relations
Canada's new Chief of Defence Staff visits NORAD, USNORTHCOM
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - Today the United States and Canada enjoy a strong relationship dating back to World War II, but it "must become even stronger" as the two countries continue the Global War on Terror, according to Canada's top military official.
"We share the continent, an enormous border, a history, tradition, culture and we share values. Unfortunately, we also share threats," said Chief of the Defence Staff Canadian Army Gen. Rick Hillier, during his April 12-13 visit to the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The general noted that Canada and the United States share a unique relationship. "Two countries coming together as equals in a bi-national institution simply does not
exist anywhere else in the world," Hillier said. "Homeland security and international operations, that very real need to take stability to places in the world that are unstable before they bring instability to us, now binds us more than ever before, and that will continue to improve over the next years."
Hillier, who assumed command of the Canadian Forces Feb. 4, said it was important for him to visit with NORAD and USNORTHCOM Commander Adm. Timothy Keating and his staff.
"(It's important) to establish those relationships - get to know the people and get them to know me - and learn first-hand the challenges (we're facing) and how we can meet those challenges and do the job Canadians and Americans expect us to do," Hillier said.
Thousands of U.S. and Canadian military members assigned to NORAD have worked side-by-side in both countries monitoring and defending North American airspace for nearly 50 years.
Now, the general foresees Canada also working closely with the United States, particularly U.S. Northern Command, as it stands up Canada Command later this year. Canada Command will parallel USNORTHCOM by focusing on homeland defense. USNORTHCOM was established in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks to conduct operations to deter, prevent and defeat threats and aggression aimed at the United States, its territories and interests and provide defense support of civil authorities, including consequence management operations, as directed by the president or secretary of defense.
According to Hillier, a major player is already in place.
The Bi-National Planning Group was established in December 2002 to develop bi-national maritime, land and civil support contingency plans and decision-making arrangements to respond to threats, attacks, incidents or emergencies requiring bi-national military or civil and military response.
Following the group's success during its initial two-year term, the Canadian and American governments have extended the BPG?s mandate through May 2006. But Hillier sees the BPG evolving into a joint planning group focused on continental issues for both USNORTHCOM and Canada Command.
"The BPG has established without any question the value of having one group, representing both of our countries, looking at all the issues for continental security, particularly the ones that transcend our borders and the approaches to our countries," he said. "(The BPG) will allow us to focus more efficiently on domestic security - and I see (the BPG) becoming an excellent common continental planning staff for USNORTHCOM and Canada Command."
During the two-day visit, Hillier received mission briefings and a tour of NORAD's state-of-the-art command center at nearby Cheyenne Mountain.
But what impressed the general the most was the people. "Their commitment, dedication and focus are absolutely inspiring," Hillier said.