By Sgt. 1st Class Gail Braymen
NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command unveiled their new integrated command center in a ceremony today attended by dignitaries from both Canada and the United States.
The command center opening coincided with NORAD’s 50-year anniversary of the partnership between Canada and the United States in defending North America from air and space threats. Attendees included U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Canadian Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay, Members of the Parliament of Canada Rick Casson and Anthony Rota, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Americas’ Security Affairs Paul McHale, U.S. Fleet Forces Command Commander Adm. Jonathan Greenert, Canada Command Commander Lt.-Gen. M.J. Dumais and Canadian Air Force Commander Lt.-Gen. Angus Watt.
“This is really the culmination of a lot of great effort,” said NORAD and USNORTHCOM Commander Gen. Gene Renuart, “by people who have taken this idea of unity of effort, of integration of capabilities, and brought them together in this room as a symbol of a true integrated approach to both warning and defense of our homelands.”
NORAD and USNORTHCOM have shared a commander and a headquarters building since 2002, when USNORTHCOM was established. Sharing a command center with integrated land, air, space, missile warning, maritime and cyber domains brings the commands’ missions together in a way “that creates great synergy,” Renuart said.
“Our command center will be a huge improvement in our ability to integrate situational awareness, to begin to respond to a major event in either of our countries, and then to take the national capabilities that respond to disasters, both man-made and natural, and bring relief to our citizens in our communities,” Renuart continued. “So this is really a weapons system for the future.”
Canadians greatly value their defense partnership with the United States, said MacKay. “In fact, we’re constantly revisiting and constantly upgrading our participation – our ability – to continue this strong relationship that we have enjoyed now for 50 years. The opening of NORAD and NORTHCOM’s new command and control center, especially now in the context of this ongoing 50-year anniversary celebration, is truly something that we value.
“NORAD remains the cornerstone of Canadian-American continental defense partnership,” MacKay added. “This new command and control center is certainly evidence of that. It will maintain constant links with Canada Command, Canada’s domestic military operations command, and it will help NORAD meet the challenges of the future by allowing for effective, efficient communications between Canada Command, NORAD and USNORTHCOM. These links, and the work of the personnel who staff the command center, contribute to the defense of the continent every day.”
The new command center, Gates said, “enhances the collaboration between Canada and the United States [and has] a key role in defending the United States and Canada in the near and far future.
“It embodies our nations’ shared commitment to protecting the North American continent from any and all threats,” he said. “Additionally, this center will be able to connect and coordinate with other command centers around the nation with improved communication processes, thus allowing us to respond more quickly to any threat.”
NORAD is the bi-national Canadian and American command responsible for the air defense of North America and maritime warning for Canada and the United States.
U.S. Northern Command was established on Oct. 1, 2002, to anticipate and conduct homeland defense and civil support operations within the assigned area of responsibility to defend, protect, and secure the United States and its interests.