NORAD helps secure Olympic Airspace
By: Lieutenant (Navy) Desmond James, NORAD PAO
“It’s the sound of security.” This is how one reporter recently described the somewhat unusual presence of North American Aerospace Defense Command frontline CF-18 fighter jets in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.
NORAD is providing aerospace warning and aerospace control during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. It is a role with which NORAD is very familiar, having conducted aerospace warning and aerospace control missions for events such at the Presidential Inauguration, space shuttle launches and sporting events, including the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics.
“This is an operation we are well prepared to carry out,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Rob “Waldo” Martin, NORAD Deputy Chief for Current Operations. “We have conducted extensive training with the RCMP’s Integrated Security Unit to make sure we carry out our duties in full support of the greater security operation for these Olympics.”
LCol Martin is quick to point out that NORAD’s presence is not meant to hinder the public’s enjoyment of the Olympics but rather to make sure no one can threaten the Games from the air.
“We don’t want spectators to focus on fighter jets in the air. We want them to focus on the games and the athletes, however, we realize CF-18s are hard to ignore,” said LCol Martin. “For those who may want to disrupt the games, I would say that NORAD is watching and we are very well prepared to do our part to ensure the Games are safe and secure.”
NORAD personnel have been training for a long time for these Olympic Games and have gone through a rigorous exercise program to be prepared as best they can.
“This is easily the largest security operation for a Canadian event in which NORAD has been involved,” said LCol Martin. “We are ready to demonstrate that when it comes to air security, NORAD is the standard.”
NORAD has been carrying out the missions of aerospace warning and aerospace control for Canada and the United States since 1958 and added maritime warning as a third mission in 2006. Since 2001, NORAD has responded to more than 3,300 possible threats to Canada and the United States. In addition, NORAD carries out extensive exercises year-round to make certain its personnel are well trained for any situation or operation in which they could be involved.