March 30, 2004 —
NORFOLK, Va. (March 26, 2004) – In a recognition ceremony held here today at the Joint Forces Staff College, Standing Joint Force Headquarters-Homeland Security (SJFHQ-HLS), a component command of United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), was awarded the Joint Meritorious Unit Award and Global War on Terrorism Medal for their accomplishments and contributions to Operation Noble Eagle and the overall security of the United States.
Awarded by Air Force Gen. Ralph E. Eberhart, commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and commander, USNORTHCOM, the honors were the first garnered by the command.
“I think your leadership has it exactly right, ‘see first, understand first, and act first,’” said Eberhart, referring to the command’s motto. “Directly after 9-11, we concentrated on the investigation, and the clean-up after the disaster. Yet, when the smoke clears, we all know that the real goal should be to deter, prevent and defeat further threats to the homeland.”
SJFHQ-HLS serves as a homeland security component of USNORTHCOM, coordinating the land and maritime defense of the continental United States while planning and integrating the full spectrum of military support to lead federal agencies.
“A big part of this job that we all share is that it’s not a job, it’s a passion,” said SJFHQ-HLS Commander, Army Maj. Gen. Russel L. Honor during his remarks. “This is all about what we signed up for, when we spoke those words, ‘I will support and defend the constitution of the United States, against all enemies foreign and domestic, and I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and those officers appointed over me.’ This is what we swore to, and when the American people need us at home – this is what we do. We live our oath.”
The award of the Joint Meritorious Unit Award is the culmination of dedicated mission support and proactive vigilance, which included contributions to the transformation of the Department of Defense by coordinating and executing the stand-up of USNORTHCOM; direct contributions to Operations Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom; two Presidential State of the Union Addresses; contributions to the Washington, D.C. Sniper Attack mission; the Space Shuttle Columbia recovery mission; various national special security plans and events; national critical infrastructure security plans; natural disaster and wildfire support; and counter-drug operations and training.
The newly approved Global War on Terrorism Medal represents the command’s participation in support of global war on terrorism operations after Sept.11, 2001 within the continental United States. Because SJFHQ-HLS serves as a homeland security component of U.S. Northern Command, charged with conducting operations to deter, prevent, and defeat threats and aggression aimed at the United States, its territories, and interests within the assigned area of responsibility, the command was in the unique position to make direct contributions to the ongoing success of Operation Noble Eagle.
Originally born as a homeland security directorate under U.S. Joint Forces Command in response to the events of Sept. 11, 2001 and established as a command in February 2002, SJFHQ-HLS ultimately realigned under USNORTHCOM following the Secretary of Defense-directed Unified Command Plan changes of April 2002.
“There is no doubt among the armed services, among our partners in homeland security and our other federal partners – all the way down to the first responders – who the ‘pros’ are in terms of homeland security, where the expertise resides and what organization paved the way and was the pioneer of homeland security in the early days after 9-11,” said Eberhart.
In his remarks, SJFHQ-HLS Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Lamon praised the work that the military and civilian members of the command have done in support of the defense of the homeland.
“The men and women of the command, both military and civilian, are without a doubt the champions of our success,” said Lamon. “They know what it is like to stand guard in the middle of the night while others sleep. They understand the meaning of hardship; standing watch – for some, far from loved ones. Yet they endure, and it is this devotion to duty that gives us strength. It inspires today’s military men and women to serve, while inspiring others to contribute in some way to make a difference.”
“I believe that we have not had another attack on America since 9-11, because of the actions that we took in its aftermath, and the actions we continue to take today,” said Eberhart. “Standing Joint Force Headquarters-Homeland Security has been the centerpiece of this nation’s effort to ensure our safety, and we thank you.”