NORAD Is Evolving to Meet New Threats to North America

Airmen work in the Global Strategic Warning and Space Surveillance System Center at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colo., Sept. 2, 2014. The 721st CS ensures constant dataflow of information to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Krystal Ardrey)
Airmen work in the Global Strategic Warning and Space Surveillance System Center at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colo., Sept. 2, 2014. The 721st CS ensures constant dataflow of information to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Krystal Ardrey)

Gen. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy is the head of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command.

Last week, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) intercepted Russian bombers and fighter jets off the coast of Alaska on consecutive days. We also conducted a bomber intercept exercise with U.S. Strategic Command B-52s over Alberta, Canada, and responded to a derelict aircraft flying toward Florida before it crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.

This is nothing new. NORAD, headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, is responsible for the defense of the United States and Canada, protecting them every day from air threats and providing tracking and warning of dangers from sea to space.

What is new is our adversaries' re-emergence as great power competitors, threatening North America in ways we have not seen since the Cold War.

Over the past decade, our adversaries have been analyzing our capabilities, investigating our perceived vulnerabilities and methodically developing doctrine, capabilities and capacity to erode our competitive military advantage. Their intent is clear: They seek to threaten our nations by undercutting the position of strength on which our diplomats depend and putting at risk our ability to project power.

NORAD is responding to the threat by transforming how we defend our nations, sharpening our focus on a single priority -- the defense of North America.

We are defending our nations, our citizens and our way of life by leading a globally integrated defense strategy that seeks to deter aggression through the credible ability to detect and defeat attacks.

We are transforming NORAD by developing and driving requirements across the defense enterprise to meet current and future defense needs.

Concurrently, we are integrating North American defense into the global planning and decision-making processes, ensuring Canadian and U.S. defense departments are incorporating North American defense into every decision. Working with our other combatant commands enhances our collaborative efforts to function as a global force with a unified purpose -- to deter, detect and, if necessary, defeat any threat to North America.

Additionally, we are accelerating the scale and urgency of change, both within NORAD and across defense departments and agency partners as we respond to these modern challenges.

As we are transforming, know that we remain focused on our most sacred mission of homeland defense. Every Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine and civilian of NORAD is fully committed to defending our nations and our way of life.

We have the watch!

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