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News | Sept. 20, 2010

NSBA conference attendees visit NORAD, USNORTHCOM

By Staff Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Members of the National School Boards Association attending the NSBA Western Region Conference toured North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command facilities Sept. 17.

The school board members saw the commands' headquarters as well as the alternate command center at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station to learn how the Colorado Association of School Boards as well as the NSBA could better assist in educating future leaders in homeland defense.

Every September, the nine western region states of the NSBA hold a conference, said Ken DeLay, CASB executive director, and since 2010's conference was going to be held in Colorado it was thought to be the perfect time to educate the attendees on NORAD and USNORTHCOM.

"It turned out to be a popular choice," DeLay said. "People have always been tremendously interested in what's being done to defend the homeland. The other piece is that they're doing cutting edge kind of stuff."

DeLay said some of the things they've learned, particularly about the work NORAD does with the Canadians, surprised them.

"I did not realize the degree to which our national military has been integrated with the civil institutions for purposes of building a better defense of the homeland," he said. "I thought the question asked near the end of how things were different now than before 9-11, and what the briefer said was illustrative. There's so much more cooperation that goes on now."

DeLay said schools can help grow future leaders in the homeland defense realm, but they need to understand what those future leaders need. He said this tour helped them understand that.

"I think if there were a way to build a better understanding and awareness of the kinds of education that our young people have to have just to serve in the military, that would be an interesting thing to try to talk about," he said. "Just some of the things we learned here today, I think, is tremendously valuable."

The executive director said he came away with a greater appreciation of the work NORAD and USNORTHCOM members do, an appreciation he will take back with him to the schoolboard.

"I think it’s so impressive that the services have responded to a national catastrophe and thought about what didn't work and why it didn’t work and readjusted what they do in a way so that it does work," he said. "Even how there's a continuing effort to not just do training but to think about and anticipate where the next threat might come from."