By NORAD and U.S. Northern Command Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - North American Aerospace Defense Command officials expressed their gratitude for the effort of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States, culminating in the release of today's report.
"The terrorist attacks on Sept.11 were a call to arms. Thousands of innocent men, women and children lost their lives while many others were injured," said Gen. Ralph E. "Ed" Eberhart, NORAD/USNORTHCOM Commander. "We must not let that happen again."
Since 9-11, NORAD has implemented numerous changes and improvements along with DoD and other government agencies to improve our ability to respond to threats and defend U.S. airspace.
"Improvements include increased air patrols over the United States and Canada looking both inside and outside our borders at potential threats," said Michael B. Perini, director of Public Affairs for NORAD and U.S. Northern Command. "This also includes a greater number of fighter aircraft response locations around the U.S. and Canada; Rules of Engagement for response to domestic airborne threats; and enhanced communications with U.S. government interagency partners to ensure rapid response during real-world situations."
In addition, the Department of Defense established U.S. Northern Command in 2002 to consolidate under a single unified command existing missions that were previously executed by other military organizations.
The command's mission is homeland defense and civil support, specifically:
· Conduct operations to deter, prevent, and defeat threats and aggression aimed at the United States, its territories, and interests within the assigned area of responsibility; and
· As directed by the President or Secretary of Defense, provide military assistance to civil authorities including consequence management operations.
To that end, NORAD has strengthened its ability to detect, assess, warn and defend against threats to North America. "Surveillance and control of U.S. and Canadian airspace remain critical components of our national security strategy," Perini said. "If NORAD interceptors are called to action, the men and women of NORAD are prepared to employ this last line of defense in defense of North America."
Since Sept. 11, 2001, NORAD fighters scrambled or diverted from air patrols more than 1,500 times to respond to possible air threats, and combined with Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft, or AWACS, and air-to-air-refueling tankers, to fly more than 35,000 sorties.