“Our Continent Indivisible”
July 20, 2012
Dear Members and Friends,
Where the skies are blue and the Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains in front of Cheyenne Mountain is the command and headquarters of Northern Command (NORTHCOM) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). NORTHCOM and NORAD, who defend and control the North American continent, are Headquartered at 6,200 feet and located 16 miles from Cheyenne Mountain at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This duel command is always commanded by a four-star U.S. flag officer and a deputy three-star U.S. National Guard General. Today’s commanders are U.S. Army General Charles Jacoby and U.S. National Guard Lt. General Tom Lawson.
Using their fellow Combatant Commanders around the world and assets within North America, which include U.S. Fleet Forces Command out of Norfolk, Virginia and the U.S. Pacific Fleet out of Hawaii; they protect and defend the United States of America.
Any threat from the air space and the maritime seas surrounding the North American continent is the responsibility of NORAD. On average, two to seven unauthorized intrusions occur amongst the 7,000 aircraft that are identified in this airspace daily.
Established in 1958, NORAD is a shared resource provider that is joint staffed with our Northern neighbor, Canada. The deputy commander of NORAD is always a three-star Canadian military flag officer. Today that officer is Canadian Lt. General Tom Lawson.
Their mission is to defend North America through deterrence and detection by warning of intrusion to and control of the air space. Shared warning assets of land fixed and mobile radars, tethered aerostat radar systems, airborne early warning planes, space satellites, and sea based platforms make up a vast and layered capability that validates and advises on incoming threats.
Those threats from around the globe are categorized as space launches, strategic and tactical ballistic missile launches, atmospheric re-entries, nuclear detonations, and a variety of air breathing threats. NORAD’s capabilities to defeat those threats include fighter jets, both land and sea based, naval surface and airborne assets as well as ground based air defense assets. However, NORAD does not have the capability to defeat incoming strategic and tactical ballistic missiles and thereby transfers that responsibility to NORTHCOM after validation of detection and warning of the incoming missiles.
NORTHCOM owns and commands the only U.S. military brigade that has the capability to defeat and shoot down strategic ballistic missiles coming into North America and the United States homeland. That brigade is the 100th Missile Defense Brigade. Established in 2002, the Brigade is manned completely by the United States Army National Guard. The 100th Missile Defense Brigade commands and trains crews that are on duty twenty-four hours, seven days a week, and 365 days a year operating the ground based missile defense system that protects our nation from within the states of Alaska, California and Colorado.
For close to fifty years, North America and the United States were helpless and could not protect their citizens from long range ballistic missiles. Currently, after billions of dollars, spent by the U.S. taxpayer and authorized by consecutive U.S. Congresses and U.S. Presidents, the United States now has a missile defense system that can receive warning, from NORAD, and make a command decision to engage by NORTHCOM, to defeat and destroy a long range ballistic missile that threatens North America by the soldiers of the 100th Missile Defense Brigade.
This capability is and continues to be put on high alert with NORAD, NORTHCOM, and the 100th Missile Defense Brigade each time an Inter Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) is launched from anywhere around the world.
The system will and must continue to develop and evolve so that it may be more capable to protect our nation and continent again against long range ballistic missiles carrying nuclear weapons.
On behalf of our mission and members, MDAA had the honor to meet with the commander of NORTHCOM and NORAD, General Charles Jacoby as well as attend the change of command from Colonel Greg Bowen to Colonel Ed Hildreth III for the 100th Missile Defense Brigade here in Colorado Springs.
It is also of awareness on this tragic day in Colorado, that our prayers and condolences go to those victims in Aurora, Colorado and to the family, friends, and fellow soldiers of 2nd Lt. Christina Cornejo from the 100th Missile Defense Brigade of the Defense Brigade of the Colorado Army National Guard.