Keystone visits NORAD, USNORTHCOM

By Petty Officer 1st Class Joaquin Juatai NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs


North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command hosted senior enlisted leaders from all the services July 12-14 as part of the Keystone command senior enlisted leader course.

Keystone gives senior enlisted leaders the opportunity to broaden their horizons as they visit many joint and combatant commands, learning about the issues facing the military personnel serving there, and about the missions those commands conduct.

According to NORAD and USNORTHCOM Senior Enlisted Leader, Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Wood, not only do Keystone Fellows learn about the commands, but about the partnerships commands such as NORAD and USNORTHCOM form to succeed in their missions.

“They are able to actually see these commands in action and to get briefed on what’s going on today,” said Wood.  “The exposure level is probably the biggest benefit as far as the (Keystone) curriculum.”

Command Master Chief Kurt Rugenius of U.S. Coast Guard District 7 said that the exposure helped him, a Coast Guard member, get the “big picture.” Keystone gives leaders the “ability to move from the tactical level up into the operational and even the strategic level of leadership,” he said. “It has given me a greater appreciation of the unified command approach.”

“It gives us a much broader, joint perspective on how we can work together with our partners across the commands,” said Chief Master Sgt. Stephen Ludwig of Los Angeles Air Force Base. 
According to Wood, the scope of Keystone has broadened.

“It was initially created for only those senior NCOs that were currently in joint billets working for flag officers or general officers, but there’s only so many of them,” Wood said.  Keystone runs twice annually, which enables the course to open up to “those senior enlisted leaders that are working at the O-6 level to come to the course so that they’ll have that exposure, they’ll get a grasp of the larger picture of what our military is doing throughout the world.”

Command Sgt. Maj. Brian Brackemeyer, senior enlisted leader of the Illinois National Guard, said the opportunity for exposure to NORAD’s and, especially, USNORTHCOM’s missions helped him learn how his state could work with USNORTHCOM should the need arise in the command’s Defense Support of Civil Authorities role.

“It has given me a better understanding of how NORTHCOM and the National Guard can work together more effectively,” Brackemeyer said.

“(Keystone) gives (senior enlisted leaders) the opportunity to be exposed to what the rest of the services are doing, where the joint task forces are across the world and what they’re doing, and the challenges they have in executing their mission as a joint entity,” said Wood.

Keystone leaders visiting NORAD and USNORTHCOM received briefs on each of the commands explaining the commands’ missions and ongoing operations and the personnel who make up the NORAD and USNORTHCOM team.

NORAD, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, is the bi-national partnership between the United States and Canada charged with aerospace early warning and defense of  North America and maritime detection and warning.

USNORTHCOM, formed after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, is responsible for homeland defense and defense support of civil authorities.

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