Speeches Archive


Remarks by General Charles H. Jacoby, Jr.

By Ottawa Conference on Defense and Security


That’s a tough act to follow. Two brilliant Chiefs of Defense just spoke and butted up right against lunch time. [Laughter]. To some extent after a year and a half of being your NORAD Commander, this feels like home to be here. So I don’t want to spend as much time on my introduction as I’d like to, but I will tell you as a boy growing up in Detroit I spent a lot of time trying to sneak across the river, so I want to thank you in advance for the new bridge. [Laughter]. I understand it’s okay to do that here.

Richard, a terrific introduction. Thank you. I started shivering as you gave the introduction. Walt Natynczyk, what a great friend. As my Chief, as I took over NORAD, he gave me great advice, taught me many lessons in a wonderful way which included acts of friendship like 35 below at Yellow Knife. [Laughter]. Shooting beer cans with a Lee-Enfield rifle. [Laughter]. Chuckwagon races at Calgary. But Walt, it’s great to see you, and thanks again for all you’ve done for both our countries.

Tom Lawson, we just lost him a few months ago. A tremendous partner down at NORAD. He taught us a lot about hockey, taught us a little bit about golf -- not that much. [Laughter]. I saw no evidence that he was an electrical engineer. [Laughter]. Sorry, I really didn’t. But I will tell you as the first Army commander of NORAD, I thought he was a superb fighter pilot, which someone thought it was a good idea to glue next to me, so I wouldn’t push any of the wrong buttons. But I’m so proud to call you my Chief now, and so very lucky to be working for you in that capacity.

Laurie Hawn, I want to say a shout out. I saw Laurie here earlier. The Honorable Laurie Hawn, Chair for the PJBD, the Permanent Joint Board of Defense, which I’ve had the honor actually to be associated with since the mid ‘90s. And never has it been more effective for a combatant commander, for the NORAD commander or for the relationship as it is now in its 231st -- As we prepare for its 231st meeting. So a terrific mechanism. It describes the wonder of our relationships.

Admiral Guillaud, a terrific speech, thank you. I was scribbling, rewriting mine as you went there, with some of your insights.

And ladies and gentlemen, bonjour Madame et Monsieur. [Applause] Tom worked on that.

As I said, it’s great to be here. It’s an absolute honor to join you all today. What a beautiful historic hotel along the banks of the world’s longest skating rink in this magnificent capital city. A spectacular view. I’m afraid I won’t get out there and skate any time soon, that would be quite ugly, but I’m going to practice and make sure that -- When I played on the Detroit River I was the guy that wore galoshes. But I’ll work on that.

I’m humbled to be part of a tremendous lineup. What a cast of stars that you’ve had here, both civilian and military as speakers.

As Commander of NORAD, I report to our leaders on both sides, so as I said, being back here is like being with friends. I also get to check in with my Canadian leadership, so a wonderful opportunity for me to speak with you today.

Before I really get rolling any further, this conference is tremendous and I know all of you appreciate the hard work that goes into this. The CDA Institute and the Conference of Defense Associations, what a tremendous opportunity. I appreciate and am honored to have been invited to speak here. So thank you.

As I begin I’d like to touch briefly on what NORAD and USNORTHERN Command do and are doing. I’ll describe the important missions that we’re charged with and the unique nature of the binational command that is truly a joy and a privilege to lead.

Second, I’ll discuss the emerging strategic situation in which we must operate and give you a sense of what keeps me up at night -- which are many things.

Finally, I’ll offer you my view on a way forward in what has already been described over the last two days as a dynamic and complex security environment.

First, NORAD and NORTHCOM missions. I’ve never enjoyed a job more than being the NORAD commander, I can tell you that, despite all the things that do keep me up at night and despite budget pressures. It is truly a wonderful job. After serving defense interests overseas for my entire career, it’s uplifting and quite satisfying to be focused on our homelands.

Leading NORAD, our unique binational command, while also serving as NORTHCOM commander can be kind of schizophrenic at times. Trying to figure out which hat to swing around. But in reality, after a year and a half of it, those two commands together are quite complementary and it gives me incredible flexibility to serve both the people of Canada and the United States.

NORAD and NORTHCOM together are tasked with three very important, and as I said, complementary missions

First, homeland defense. That includes fundamentally the NORAD missions of aerospace warning and control, and maritime warning for both our nations. And homeland defense, despite a pivot, a shift, a rebalance, homeland defense is still our number one priority mission, and it’s a no-fail mission. Our people expect it, and deservedly so. There’s been plenty to keep us busy and we can see plenty to keep us busy in the future.

The second mission is defense support to civil authority, a mission I spend a great deal of my time on at NORTHCOM and in my NORTHCOM hat specifically. Mother Nature has provided us plenty to deal with during my watch. Three major hurricanes, a number of massive wildfires, and recently the mother of all snow storms, at least by American standards. [Laughter]. No-notice events keep me up at night as well, and we’re due for a couple, as you know, on our West Coast.

I hope we have some questions for Sandy, because Sandy was a really important lesson learned for us. It wasn’t what we would call a complex catastrophe, but we felt like in the end we could see that complex catastrophe from there, and I think we learned some important lessons.

We have formed an incredible relationship with Stu Beare and the CJOC, new CJOC. Seamless transition for us from Canada Command to CJOC. To ensure we are ready to respond across the border when situations dictate in accordance with the recently updated CAN-US Civil Assistance Plan.

Finally, the third mission, security cooperation. Another critical mission of NORTHCOM in which we work with the CJOC and our many U.S. interagency partners to build increased capacity and capabilities with our hemispheric neighbors to contribute to our safety, security and defense as equal partners with shared responsibilities.

These are indeed important missions and in executing them we really operate within a very unique construct. Why unique? It’s because we’re tasked with operating in and defending our homelands. And when you come down to it, the homeland is our families, our neighbors, and friends, our businesses and schools. And our citizens have high expectations concerning their safety and security. We are obligated to meet those expectations every day. It is our most fundamental duty.

Of equal importance, we must respect our laws, traditions, policies, customs and respective national sovereignties which rightfully limit the extent of military authorities in the homeland, a construct that fits who we are as societies.

With my NORTHCOM hat on I’m somewhat limited in that we don’t have many assigned forces. So at NORAD and NORTHCOM we both partner with a diverse and expansive team of agencies on both sides of our border to get all of our jobs done. It’s a delicate balance. Posturing forward to support while respecting the sovereign rights and responsibilities of many partners. But in the end, when we’re needed, we simply can’t be late.

I want to focus on this idea of partnering. When I took command we reviewed our vision and mission statements, and after really analyzing them we added partnering as an essential task. I placed the expansion and strengthening of partnership as my number one priority, including the strengthening and sustaining of our binational defense relationship, NORAD. It is simply that important to me. It’s our center of gravity.

The Navy folks in the room will like this. I closed the vision with the motto, “We have the watch” because that pretty much sums up my feelings on our important missions and the vision of vigilance I believe best describes our mission set.

Now a wide variety of threats with perhaps low probability occurrence, but unacceptable consequences make vigilance our watch word. That is our risk equation. It is a fundamentally different risk equation than any other commands outside of the homeland. When it comes to partnership there is none better than NORAD. Canada and the United States have shared the watch for over 54 years. We have Canadians and Americans working side by side not only in my headquarters Colorado Springs, but our regions and sectors located throughout the United States and Canada. The synergy of this binational command is such that our captains and majors who work together can literally finish each other’s sentences. It’s quite remarkable. I’ve never seen anything like it in 35 years of service.

I’ve also never seen anything like the impact of the National Hockey League strike on the morale of our group of Canadians. I’m sure glad the strike is over and they’ve finally stopped pouting. [Laughter]. Tom, I wanted to report that to you.

As such, NORAD has served as a model for cooperative defense, and through NORAD we’ve achieved a level of cooperation and interdependence unlike any other in the history of the world. My mission explicitly calls for the defense of the homeland in depth, and we achieve it through our trusted partnerships. In so doing, we have done an exceptional job in meeting threats away, so that we don’t have to meet every threat at home. That’s the essence of deterrence.

But that construct is now weakening. The future is a bit more troubling. We cannot be satisfied with the old paradigm because the environment we operate within continues to evolve and we are seeing new and emerging threats to the homeland. Threats that have steadily eroded the sanctuary here in North America, the sanctuary that perhaps we take for granted. And increased the vulnerability of our homelands and intimately connected the away game and the home game.

So let me talk about my second point, strategic environment and emerging threats.

As you all know, NORTHCOM was born ten years ago out of the tragedy of 9/11 and NORAD has evolved as a result too. No longer looking solely to the horizon, but rather evolving to meet the emerging security challenges from within our borders. I think that’s something we should acknowledge and be proud of, how NORAD adapted to that change.

9/11 was not only a body blow for our nations, it was a transformative event as well. Gone forever were the days when we could posture solely in defense of threats by nation-state adversaries over there. We faced new adversaries: determined, borderless, adaptive, global, and hybrid. And as we hunted down those responsible for 9/11 we became embroiled in a grinding war in theaters overseas. Yet the terror threat as adapted and continues to evolve today. I’m sure you’ll hear from Admiral McRaven about the threat networks that matter most, and the ones that matter most to me are the ones that impact our homeland.

We’ve come to realize that while we strive to fight the fight in the away game, the nature of the emerging threats we face requires that we take seriously the need to be prepared to meet them here at home as well. Again, through our partnerships, particularly with law enforcement and public safety organizations.

And it’s not just the terror threat that has evolved. We are witness to an unprecedented acceleration in the proliferation of technologies including WMD, ballistic and cruise missiles, which are causing us concern and complicating our responses. We’re seeing many security challenges take on a hybrid nature, as I mentioned earlier. A deeply troubling blend of a broad spectrum of activities from traditional symmetric warfare to irregular asymmetric warfare with the goal of causing disruptive to even catastrophic effects. State actors are beginning to embrace this hybrid approach, often using surrogates to conduct irregular warfare activities such as cyber attacks. This is complicating our ability to apply traditional means of deterrence and measured responses.

Symmetric and attributable actions are straightforward and can be deterred, corresponded to, but our challenges lie now in these unattributed asymmetric and hybrid types of activities. And just to keep us on our toes we still have some concerns on a few of the traditional state actors.

As an example, we’ve seen an increase in the frequency of Russian military activities and the substantial modernization of their capability such as long range aviation capable of carrying a new generation of precision cruise missiles patrolling near our air space.

Now we’re not looking for a renewal of tensions of the past. That’s not our way. In fact most of our problems can be solved if they would file a flight plan. [Laughter]. In fact, through venues like Exercise Vigilant Eagle in which Canada participates, we seek to advance our relationship with Russia to increase cooperation and avoid the misunderstandings that can lead to conflict. So while we strive for increased cooperation, because that’s what will best promote security and economic prosperity, we must continue to be prepared to demonstrate the intent and the capability to defend our interests, the time-honored deterrence equation which I believe on my watch will still need to be maintained.

And of course now we face a troubling threat from North Korea. Their recent provocative and dangerous missile and nuclear activity has been in defiance of the United Nations with threats aimed directly at the U.S., at our homelands.

Just as importantly, their activities are creating instability in a region where both Canada, the United States and indeed the world have vital security and economic partners. I believe we’re at the point where we must take seriously the North Korean threat to our homelands. This is no longer a relatively primitive threat, but rather they are progressing towards troubling new capabilities.

That stresses NORAD’s detection and warning capabilities as well as strategies to deal with North Korea. As such, the threat validates the past and future U.S. investments in developing credible missile defenses against such potential threats.

Now let’s talk about cyber. The cyber domain issues are another one of the things that keep me awake at night. I know you’ve heard it from my friend Keith Alexander in some great detail on this.

In the Army we describe critical landscape such as the high ground on a battlefield as “key terrain.” It’s my view that cyberspace is becoming our new key terrain.

We are witnessing an accelerating pace of intrusive and worrisome cyber activities across cyber infrastructures that were barely conceived of as critical infrastructure prior to 9/11. Cyber infrastructures that link our financial sector, e-commerce, power plants, air traffic control systems and the like. And as Secretary Panetta suggested, I worry of the potential of a cyber 9/11. It would certainly be disruptive. It could potentially be catastrophic.

Now as the NORAD commander I must ensure critical command and control nets are defended, and as the NORTHCOM commander I must be prepared to respond in support of civil authorities to the consequences of a large-scale cyber attack.

But the real challenge is how do we deter such activities when it is difficult if not impossible to unambiguously assign attribution and demonstrate our capabilities and intent to an adversary who hides in the anonymity of cyberspace. The military certainly has a supporting role in cyber defense, but cyberspace is not principally the domain of the military.

While there are legal and policy issues we need to sort through, we must further refine the military roles, missions and capabilities needed specifically in the homeland, and this is a work in progress.

So as some look at this strategy and say our focus is now to the West, our new U.S. strategy that is, perhaps a pivot, perhaps a shift. As the NORAD NORTHCOM commander I focus east, west, north, and south. And as I now talk about the Arctic I’ll shift my gaze to the north.

Although most traditionalists would not call the Arctic a separate domain, I’ve operated there and I think of it in that way because of the unique requirements and capabilities the Arctic demands. I’m not a scientist. As I said, I’m an infantryman, so I won’t call this global warming, but the reality is the Arctic is melting. As the ice recedes, vast new areas in this domain are becoming more accessible and we are seeing increased human activity, creating new economic opportunities and challenges for our continental safety and security.

I note with great satisfaction that Canada’s Arctic foreign policy statements specifically reference the United States as Canada’s privileged partner in the Arctic and the Arctic represents part of the approaches to our homelands. So Alaska and the Canadian far north for your NORAD commander will remain key terrain as we must be prepared to operate in that harsh environment whether to conduct civil support activities like search and rescue or disaster relief operations.

While the Arctic is important, I must also focus to the south. What I see when I look south to Mexico is a partner, and more importantly, I see a close friend and a neighbor. Together we share a common heritage and history. We share values and interests and increasing economic integration. And as such, our futures are inextricably linked. So it is our moral imperative to work closer with Mexico and other partners as together we deal with the difficult issues of violent transnational criminal organizations or TCOs.

The TCOs represent a complex network with global reach, and as such they pose a threat not only along the U.S. southwest border, but across our entire hemisphere. They are not just about drug trafficking, but so much more. Their elicit activities span from drugs to money laundering, from extortion to kidnapping to human trafficking and murder, and they’ve developed an intricate global network to fund, resource and control these illicit activities. They are violent. They are dangerous. And they are not afraid. They challenge the ability of law enforcement organizations to defeat their efforts, and we’re seeing an increase in TCO and violent extremist organization activities in our homelands.

It will take a system of dedicated and trusted partners across the whole of government to take on this network. It is in all of our interest to work together as trusted partners to address this challenge. The military is clearly in a supporting role to law enforcement in this struggle, but we should not shy away from that role, and I’m speaking specifically in the NORTHCOM role.

Mexico recently transitioned to a new administration and under President Enrique Peña Nieto we are seeing fresh ideas and new perspectives on how to approach the TCO challenge. I just visited Mexico and had a chance to meet the new Mexican military leadership and I walked away energized and positive at the prospect of deepening our mil-to-mil relationships.

I hope all of this now gives you a glimpse of the various elements that comprise the changing strategic environment from my foxhole as your NORAD commander and the U.S. Northern Command commander, the emerging threats which are complicating our security challenges and the things which cause me the greatest concern.

Going forward. The final section. How do we go forward in this time of uncertainty and ensure that on our watch our people remain secure and prosperous? The only way we will effectively navigate the turbulent waters of the future is through a cooperative approach to our U.S., Canadian and Mexican security challenges. The unique nature of the trusted partnerships on our North American continent and the competitive strategic advantage we enjoy will provide the chart by which we navigate. We will certainly leverage with success our common values, history and relationships. Our unique North American characteristics will strengthen us, make us more cohesive, integrated, and resilient. The strength in the CAN-US partnership as exemplified through NORAD will continue to serve as the foundation for our hopeful future.

Through the strength of our partnership we can positively shape the safety, security and defense paradigm for North America and continue to enjoy our competitive strategic advantage in this global, multi-nodal world. Canada plays a critical role in this, much as it has through NORAD’s 54 years of history. Canada and the U.S. are equal partners, each with unique strengths, and I can’t thank you enough as an American for Canada’s punching well above its weight in many of the activities that we’ve participated in together recently in Afghanistan and Libya.

Now Prime Minister Harper has made the Americas a key Canadian foreign policy priority. Canada’s role in hemispheric activities such as the Conference of the Defense Ministers of the America has been beneficial to all. I’m very excited about the development of Canadian partnerships throughout the Western Hemisphere which will only further strengthen efforts to lift our aim point and ensure we realize the destiny we hope for.

The fiscal environment. I have to take that on. We can’t talk about our destiny without a mention of the fiscal environment we in the U.S. must contend with as we navigate to the future. We are emerging from a decade of war, and as we wind down that war we need to reset the force. Yet we are facing a troubling fiscal future. As I look at the budget situation, I am a short term pessimist. I think we’re going to have real difficulties for the next two years. But I’m a long term optimist. I’ve been through three drawdowns in my career. Yes, that’s how old I am. Three of them. [Laughter]. The ironic thing about each one of those drawdowns is we’ve come out the other end a better force, in every way. So I don’t think this is out of our historical pattern. And I don’t think our peoples will fail to instruct us to defend them. So I remain an optimist for the mid to longer term. The key now is to ensure we don’t break things that aren’t reversible, and to that end our people are not reversible and our trusted partnerships, if broken are not reversible. So we will tend to both as we go through this fiscal challenge that we have.

We’ve built trust through working together, training together, and exercising together, so we’ve got to keep that going. We also continue to work closely with our interagency partners. We can’t back slide and lose the trust we’ve worked so hard to gain over the last decade of working together both at home and overseas. So I’m concerned not only about my own budget, but those of my partners as well because they bring incredible capability to the security of our nations. If the FAA or the Drug Enforcement Agency or CBP or our Canadian Forces brothers or RCMP budgets are slashed to the point where they lose effectiveness, that impacts on all of our security as well. It affects our ability to work together and train together and continue to solidify the trust that is essential to all of our mission accomplishment.

It will be critical as we look forward to a future of diminished defense budgets and resources to find ways to achieve improved readiness through smarter partnering. Collective security has always been a bargain. And while we deal with these fiscal challenges, we must also continue to make investments to keep NORAD forever relevant and ever evolving, and that’s my responsibility, just as the 2006 NORAD agreement challenged us to do. We must do so to outpace the emerging threats that challenge our nations, and in so doing we should consider what’s next for NORAD. How does NORAD continue to evolve to meet emerging challenges and outpace threats as we are, as I said, challenged to do in our agreement? And as Admiral Guillaud, just mentioned, how do we do things differently?

I believe part of what’s next for NORAD is to take a good hard look at better aligning our binational planning, programming and reporting processes and in so doing, specifically address NORAD readiness and requirements. We’ll look to posture our readiness to respond to emerging challenges such as a new generation of air and submarine-launched cruise missiles, low-slow airborne threats, and other non-traditional asymmetric threats -- all to strengthen our deterrence of those threats.

We’ll increase our partnerships through efforts such as Beyond the Border to address seams between security and defense, and we’ll respond to the opening of the Arctic in a way that preserves our two nations’ sovereignty yet leads to strengthened international cooperation while sustaining NORAD’s traditional and well understood roles.

We will keep NORAD forever relevant and ever evolving and we’ll commit to moving NORAD forward in practical ways.

So whether it’s fighters or radars or satellites or a means to ensure our security in a rapidly changing security environment, I’ll advocate for capabilities, not specific platforms, and I’ll continue to press for capabilities that enable us to build the best continental defense enterprise for our two nations.

In closing, and I know you’re grateful for that, while we face an uncertain, fluid, complex and ever-changing security environment, I’m certain we will rise to the many challenges and many opportunities that remain to be seized. We will accomplish our mission.

Through our trusted partners we will navigate the difficult terrain of this complex, multi-nodal world and build a future of peace, security and prosperity. Our CANUS partnership and our collective and coordinated efforts will be instrumental in our ability to provide for the safety, security and defense of our citizens, just as they so rightfully expect.

We all have a tremendous amount at stake. I’m proud of the work we’ve done in the past and the efforts we are collaborating on today, and I look forward with great confidence and excitement as we strengthen our already strong partnerships across agencies, domains, and across the continent.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your time this morning. It’s been an absolute privilege to address such a distinguished gathering. Now I’m the only thing standing between you and lunch, so we can get to the questions. Once again, it’s a privilege to be your NORAD commander. Thank you.