NORAD, USNORTHCOM plan for 'borderless threats' with Vision 2020
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — "The world we see today and the world we saw yesterday will not be the world we see 10 to 15 years from now," said the commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, explaining why the commands recently created a document called NORAD and USNORTHCOM Vision 2020.
Vision 2020 provides strategic guidance and direction for the commands as they move further into the first quarter of the 21st century. NORAD and USNORTHCOM commander, Gen. Gene Renuart, and other key personnel in the commands developed the Vision to help NORAD and USNORTHCOM in anticipating and preparing for future threats to the Canadian and American homelands.
"What this does," Renuart said, "is to ensure that each member of our team acknowledges that the world tomorrow is going to be very different, and they need to be prepared to adapt in that changing environment and that there are common threats that both of the countries of the United States and Canada will have to face.
"And so we want to create an apparatus that will work for both of those nations as we move forward."
The threats posed to Canada and the United States have changed significantly since NORAD was created 50 years ago, Renuart said, and even in the five years since USNORTHCOM was created.
"The world is very, very different. It is not symmetrical. It is not a world of borders, but it's a world of borderless threats, a world of cyber threats, a world of natural disasters on a fairly large scale that can cause substantial damage to our citizens and to their property."
NORAD and USNORTHCOM share Vision 2020 because both commands are charged with defense of the homeland, Renuart said; in NORAD's case, the command is charged with the defense of two homelands: the United States and Canada.
Both commands will use Vision 2020 to adapt to new threats by, first, acknowledging the fact that the threat environment is changing, according to Renuart. Second, the commands will partner with civilian agencies, the military Reserve components and the National Guard even more than they have in the past. And, third, the commands will use a "red-teaming" process of asking hypothetical questions about potential threats and the commands' responses to those threats.
"It is looking out to say, 'How can a terrorist organization affect our computer systems, our banking systems, our air traffic systems? And what should we, as the Department of Defense's principal combatant command responsible to respond to those (threats), be asking of the Department of Defense? How should we be interacting with (interagency partners)? And how should we be preparing for the bad things that might happen if the terrorists or some other rogue element gets an upper hand?'" Renuart said.
NORAD and USNORTHCOM leaders designed Vision 2020 not to be permanent and fixed, but to flex and adapt to the commands' evolving missions.
"The vision is only good today," Renuart said. "Tomorrow, that vision may have to change. In other words, this is a living document. It's something that's designed to look at on a routine basis and make sure that the conditions that you saw when you began are the same conditions that you see at some point down the road."
NORAD is the bi-national Canadian and American command that is responsible for the air defense of North America and maritime warning. USNORTHCOM is the unified combatant command responsible for defending the homeland and providing defense support of civil authorities.