Aug. 21, 2009
Indiana TAG Tours NORAD AND USNORTHCOM
NORAD and U.S. NORTHCOM, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.-- The head of the Indiana National Guard was here August 17 thorugh 21 to tour the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U. S. Northern Command to gain insight into the roles and responsibilities of NORAD and USNORTHCOM in preparation for Indiana’s upcoming stand-up of a Chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high yield explosive Consequence Management Response Force (CCMRF).
In addition, Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger said he hoped to gain appreciation of the Commands’ unique missions, capabilities, and requirements in support of today’s challenging security environment, including traditional or homeland defense missions as well as irregular defense and homeland security related missions.
“Northcom is the combatant command for defending the homeland and the National Guard is a big part of that,” said Umbarger. “Both the land and air components of defending the homeland have a strong Guard piece.
“And more so, with our 76th Infantry Brigade, headquarted in Indiana, scheduled to begin its 12-month train-up to become one of the nation’s CCMRFs, it was important for me to get an update on the validation exercise at Camp Atterbury in November,” he said.
Umbarger said he wanted to make sure Indiana was on track to accept the CCMRF mission in October of 2010.
Though hurricane and wildfire response get the majority of the headlines dealing with NORTHCOM defense support ofcivil authority, Umbarger sees other events driving the relationship in Indiana.
“Being in the heartland, and not one of the hurricane states, one of the biggest threats are tornados,” said Umbarger. “But usually that wouldn’t turn into the need for a (Federal) response because support would come from the home state or through (an Emergency Management Assistance Compact).”
And though winter snow and ice storms in the Midwest can be tremendous - like the one that Kentucky recently had - could shut down the whole state, according to Umbarger, more than likely the need for NORTHCOM support in Indiana would be driven by man.
“That’s where Muscatatuck (National Urban Training Center) and the CCMRF comes in,” said Umbarger. “When the governor might need to ask for federal help, there’s already is a force that’s trained and ready to respond right down the road.”
After seeing for himself how NORTHCOM does business with state and local officials, Umbarger said that though he wasn’t in this position before the command’s inception, he can see how this streamlines the coordinated response to any multi-agency response.
“The coordination wasn’t there (before NORTHCOM), as I understand it, as far as knowing how everyone fits into the response and what the specific role for each organization coming in might be,” Umbarger said. “It’s much more effective (since the standup of NORTHCOM) with a tremendously quicker response during that important first 24 or 48 hours.”
As the general sees it, that streamlined response adds to the total force concept of homeland defense and homeland security.
“I really see a huge interagency involvement more than any (combatant command) I’ve ever visited and finally our nation has determined (homeland security) is the highest priority we have after decades and decades of feeling isolated and safe with friends to the north and to the south and wide spanning oceans that gave us that feeling of not being able to be attacked,” Umbarger said. “Well now we know that’s not the case and thank goodness we now have a COCOM focusing on the homeland.
“And being a Guardsman, it’s always been a big priority for us,” said the general. “You can go into nearly any small town or community and find an armory and we are forward deployed in our state so who better to defend the homeland than the Guard? But it does take all services and all components: Active Duty, National Guard and Reserve to be successful; and NORTHCOM is a big player in that success.”