By Air Force Master Sgt. Chuck Marsh
NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs
Army Gen. Charles ‘Chuck’ Jacoby, North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command commander, speaks to a crowd of command members in the atrium of the headquarters building on Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. The crowd gathered to celebrate NORAD’s 56 birthday. Photo by Air Force Master Sgt. Andy Bellamy/Released.
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The
year was 1958, the cost of a new home was roughly $30,000, a gallon of gas was
about $.24 and Elvis Presley was blaring from the radio as boys and girls
swooned over the newly invented Hula Hoop. Also that year, a new way of
protecting the North American continent from cold-war rival threats was born.
Today, the North American Aerospace Defense Command turned the big 5 – 6 with a
birthday celebration complete with speeches and cake in the auditorium of the Eberhart-Findley
Headquarters Building on Peterson Air
Force Base, Colo.
of the proudest things I’ve done in my career is be the NORAD commander and all
of you, I hope, feel the same way about your service in NORAD,” said Army Gen. Charles Jacoby, commander of NORAD and U.S. Northern
Command since Aug. 3, 2011. “It’s special, it’s different, and it’s unique.
does it mean?” he continued. “It means that two countries are so confident in
their own sovereignty and comfortable with each other’s that we’ve decided to
do this very important thing and share our sovereign interests together and do
it the most meaningful way – with willingness to fight for each other. It’s a
unique, competitive advantage in the world that our two countries have.”
After World War II, the United
States and Canada recognized vulnerabilities to enemy attack and decided to
integrate their defense planning and strategies into a bi-national military
command. NORAD, staffed by American and Canadian military and civilian
personnel, is charged with the missions of aerospace warning, aerospace control
and maritime warning in the defense of North America.
The two countries signed the NORAD
Agreement on May 12, 1958, a document which has been renewed 10 times since
1958. The latest renewal was signed in 2006 and, for the first time, the
agreement doesn't have an expiration date.
56 years we’ve had this meaningful way of describing how important it is to us
that we will fight for our two countries and we will defend them,” said Jacoby.
“And this is not a task that’s going to be done in year 58 or 60 or 65 or 80.
We are two countries – one continent – who will always defend ourselves and our
our challenge here at NORAD, which we’ve shouldered and advanced in the last
three years (that Jacoby has been the commander) is to make sure that our
command, under our watch, is forever relevant and forever ready.”
So, while a stamp no longer costs
$.04 and the average income is much greater than the $4,650 average income in
1958, the mission of NORAD to defending North America.