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News | May 1, 2012

National Guard Adjutants General gather at NORAD, USNORTHCOM

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

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - National Guard adjutants general from states with Aerospace Control Alert missions gathered at the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command headquarters May 1 to meet with NORAD and USNORTHCOM leaders.

The general officers, representing all of the states with the ACA mission, met with NORAD and USNORTHCOM commander, Army Gen. Charles Jacoby, to discuss the ACA mission, the NORAD campaign plan and emerging U.S. defense strategy.

Air National Guard Maj. Gen. Scott Schofield, Mobilization Assistant to the NORAD commander on National Guard matters, said the main purpose of the visit was to discuss issues concerning the ACA mission but also to express the NORAD commander’s gratitude.

“The commander of NORAD and USNORTHCOM has made it a point to have different engagements with the state adjutants general of the National Guard,” he said. “We invited 15 TAGs to come in to discuss issues with the commander, and it’s also a way for the commander to turn around and say ‘thank you for your service, and for supporting NORAD in its mission.’ Up close, up front personal communication is always better than email or phone calls.”

Units conducting the ACA mission are responsible for launching and intercepting Tracks of Interest when ordered by NORAD. Missions conducted by ACA units include intercepting temporary flight restriction violators, investigating aircraft that are out of radio contact and scrambling against unknown aircraft. The majority of ACA mission are carried out by the National Guard, with 16 alert sites manned by National Guard members.

“Within the lower 48, all the primary sites are manned by the Air National Guard,” Schofield said.

Army Maj. Gen. David Baldwin, Adjutant General of the California National Guard, said the relationship between the National Guard and NORAD has evolved over the years, thanks in part to continuous outreach efforts between the commands and Guard.

“Gen. Jacoby is creating a seamless partnership amongst all of us that are charged with homeland defense and responding to disasters in the homeland,” Baldwin said. “He has taken great strides to continue outreach to the adjutants general from several states. He has the goal to do it for every state, and that’s critically important for continuing to build that partnership, because together we defend our country, and that’s a no-fail mission.”

The meeting comes as the National Guard and active duty force face challenges. Schofield and Baldwin, however, said the relationship between NORAD and the National Guard continues to strengthen despite these challenges.

“The biggest challenge that the National Guard as a whole is facing is continuing to maintain our operational experience and readiness as the conflicts overseas draw down,” Baldwin explained. “And the way we can continue to keep that up throughout the DoD is to keep the Guard engaged, keep us as an operational reserve and don’t let us fall back into the old Strategic Reserve notions of the Cold War.”

“I think the relationship is good and continues to grow as we find more commonality in the mission,” Schofield added. “These events are important to making sure that continues.”

Baldwin said he agreed and that the future of the ACA mission will depend on Air National Guard units holding the line.

“The Air Guard is homeland defense,” he said firmly. “It has been defending our skies since the Air Force’s inception in 1947. In California we’ve been doing the mission for 50 years. We have more experience than anyone else doing it, and we intend to continue doing that mission.”