New NORAD deputy commander takes office
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Canadian Forces Lt.-Gen. Charlie Bouchard took over as deputy commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command in a change of office ceremony today at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.
Bouchard replaced Canadian Forces Lt.-Gen. Eric Findley, who is retiring after 39 years of military service and was awarded the American Legion of Merit for his NORAD tenure. Bouchard last served as commander of the Canadian NORAD Region; at the same time, he was the One Canadian Air Division commander and the Combined Forces Air Component commander for operations in Canada.
"Can he command? And then some. He is a great commander," Findley said. "Can he lead? And then some. Has he got interpersonal skills and communication skills? You betcha. Does he look after his people? Probably even better than I do."
The new NORAD second-in-command also previously served as deputy commander of the Continental NORAD Region, where he was on duty in the CONR air operations center at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., on Sept. 11, 2001.
"What a great job he did on 9-11 in the Continental NORAD Region and thereafter, as Continental NORAD Region transformed itself in very rapid-fire terms," Findley said. "He knows air defense backwards and forwards, and he's proven it again in the last three years."
Instead of passing a flag from the outgoing to the incoming officer in this change of office ceremony, as is the American custom, Canadian protocol calls for the participating officers to sign orders changing the appointment to office of one person to another.
"It is a great picture of a bi-national relationship, because you have a U.S. officer signing an appointment order for a Canadian officer to take on a role where that Canadian officer will have a very key role defending our U.S. airspace," said NORAD and U.S. Northern Command commander, Gen. Gene Renuart. "Similarly, ... it reminds us all that, as a U.S. officer, I report to Chief of Defence Staff in Canada with regards to airspace sovereignty and defense of Canadian airspace. That's unique anywhere in this world.
"It shows the level of trust that our two nations have in each other. It shows the level of teamwork that has existed for many, many years."
NORAD represents a significant bi-national agreement, agreed Bouchard.
"It's about the security of our two nations during interesting and challenging times, and much more," Bouchard said. "It's about a relationship between two great allies who share a desire for liberty, peace and harmony. My commitment to ... NORAD will be to serve to the best of my abilities and to foster growth in every aspect of this relationship.
"I look forward to the next few years as an opportunity to give back to both the United States and Canada and to serve Canada, the United States and NORAD with pride and to fight with excellence."
Among the attendees at today's ceremony were Canadian Chief of the Defence Staff, General Rick Hillier; former NORAD and USNORTHCOM commander, Gen. (Retired) Ed Eberhardt; and several other current and former American and Canadian military and civic leaders.
NORAD is the bi-national American and Canadian command that is responsible for the air defense of North America and maritime warning. The command has three subordinate regional headquarters: the Alaskan NORAD Region at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska; the Canadian NORAD Region at Winnepeg, Manitoba; and the Continental NORAD Region at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.