Aerospace forces such as the Alaskan NORAD Region Control Center (installed in 1961) were built up in the 1950s and 1960s in response to a long range bomber threat. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, concern shifted to the strategic ballistic missile threat and active air defenses were reduced.
The appearance of a strategic cruise missile threat once again prompted a build up of air defense capabilities. The ANR Region Operations Control Center, operated by U.S. and Canadian personnel, became operational in 1983 and minimally attended radars were installed between 1984 and 1985. Elements of the 1985 North American Air Defense Modernization program followed. Flexible and graduated alert concepts were introduced in the 1990s.
With its headquarters located at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, ANR provides an ongoing capability to detect, validate, and warn of any aircraft and/or cruise missile threat in its area of operations that could threaten North American security. By maintaining surveillance of Canadian and U.S. airspace, ANR is able to determine what goes on in and near North American airspace 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Aerospace control requires capabilities to intercept, shadow, escort, divert, direct landings, and if necessary, use force up to and including the destruction of airborne objects.
The region maintains readiness to conduct a continuum of aerospace control missions. They include daily air sovereignty in peacetime, contingency and/or deterrence in times of tension, and active air defense against manned and unmanned air-breathing airborne vehicles in times of crisis. Aircraft assigned under operational control of ANR contribute to the daily air sovereignty mission and could be used for deterrence and/or air defense missions as required.
ANR is supported by both active duty and Air National Guard units. Both 11th AF and the Canadian Forces provide active duty forces to the Alaskan Air and Space Operations Center. National Guard forces provide manning for the Alaskan Air Defense Sector to maintain continuous surveillance of Alaskan airspace with Alaskan Radar System long and short-range radars.
ANR is one of three North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) regions. The other two subordinate regional headquarters are located at Canadian Forces Base, Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. NORAD is the bi-national Canada- U.S. command that continuously provides worldwide detection, validation and warning of a ballistic missile attack on North America and maintains continental detection, validation, warning and aerospace control of air-breathing threats to North America, to include peacetime alert levels and appropriate aerospace defense measures to respond to hostile actions against North America.