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News | Oct. 1, 2012

USNORTHCOM commemorates 10th anniversary, names headquarters

By Tech. Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher and Ms. Stacey Knott NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - Members of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command celebrated the 10th anniversary of USNORTHCOM in a special ceremony here Oct. 1.

USNORTHCOM was established Oct. 1, 2002, to provide command and control of Department of Defense homeland defense efforts, and to coordinate defense support to civil authorities. The command was created in response to the terror attacks Sept. 11, 2001.

“Out of the ashes of the Pentagon, and the World Trade Center and a field of heroes in Pennsylvania, and in the shadow of the iconic image of Cheyenne Mountain, the headquarters of the new United States Northern Command was built, together with the rapidly–transforming NORAD,” said Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby, Jr., NORAD and USNORTHCOM commander. “And, 10 years later, this building represents the next generation of doing what it takes.”

As part of the ceremony, the commands’ headquarters building was named in honor of the two men instrumental in standing up NORTHCOM and reengineering NORAD to meet a new type of threat after the 9/11 attacks.

The NORAD and USNORTHCOM headquarters building will henceforth be known as the Eberhart-Findley Building in honor of retired Air Force Gen. Ralph E. Eberhart and retired Royal Canadian Air Force Lt.-Gen. Eric A. Findley. Eberhart was NORAD commander on 9/11 and the first USNORTHCOM commander, while Findley was the NORAD Director of Operations on 9/11. This is the first time the name of a U.S. military combatant command headquarters includes a Canadian military officer’s name.

During the commemoration ceremony, Eberhart and Findley also laid a wreath at the commands’ 9/11 memorial. Although both men briefly reflected on the events of that day, they chose instead to talk more about the commands’ mission partners and the men and women they worked with who made the commands successful.

“It’s an honor, it’s wonderful to have your name on a building, and yet it’s just a reflection of the efforts and hard work of so many other people that we worked with,” said Findley. “I sincerely hope no one believes that Eberhart and Findley did this alone. Canadians and great Americans, who put in tremendous effort, made and shaped this success. They all deserve to have their names on this plaque, but I guess it’s not that practical. But I’m truly touched that we can represent their accomplishments, their dedication and their commitment to the defense of the great nations of Canada and the United States.”

Eberhart, who was responsible for refining the initial concept of a combatant command for homeland defense, which became USNORTHCOM, talked about the challenges of standing up the new command.

“It was a challenge technically from a resource perspective, but probably most difficult were the bureaucratic and cultural issues we faced,” said Eberhart. “One establishing a mission, providing resources, responsibilities, authorities that often resided in other commands. In some cases these were missions, responsibilities and authorities that did not exist in the active duty military. They existed in our [National] Guard and we learned so much from our Guardsmen.”

Jacoby recognized Eberhart and Findley for their leadership and vision.

“These two men were the visionaries who had the courage to lead change, who set the new course for all of us in this, our most sacred trust: to defend our homelands and our people,” Jacoby said of Eberhart and Findley.

USNORTHCOM’s mission is to partner to conduct homeland defense, civil support and security cooperation to defend and secure the United States and its interests. Its area of operations includes air, land and sea approaches and encompasses the continental United States, Alaska, Canada, Mexico and the surrounding water out to approximately 500 nautical miles. It also includes the Gulf of Mexico, the Straits of Florida, portions of the Caribbean region to include The Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The commander of USNORTHCOM is responsible for theater security cooperation with Canada, Mexico, and The Bahamas.

NORAD's mission – in close collaboration with homeland defense, security, and law enforcement partners – is to prevent air attacks against North America, safeguard the sovereign airspaces of the United States and Canada by responding to unknown, unwanted and unauthorized air activity approaching and operating within these airspaces, and provide aerospace and maritime warning for North America. NORAD may be required to monitor, shadow, divert from flight path, direct to land and/or destroy platforms deemed a potential threat to North America.

NORAD is the bi-national Canadian and American 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 Winnipeg, Manitoba; and the Continental NORAD Region at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. The command is poised both tactically and strategically in our nation’s capital to provide a multilayered defense to detect, deter and prevent potential threats flying over the airspace of the United States and Canada.