Dec. 8, 2006 —
PETERSON AIR FORCE, Colo. – North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command are exercising their homeland defense skills during Vigilant Shield ‘07, an annual training event that began Monday and will continue through Dec. 14.
"There's an old saying that says you're going to fight like you train and, in this case, we're training hard," said Army Maj. Gen. William G. Webster, director of USNORTHCOM Operations.
"Exercises like Vigilant Shield '07 are absolutely vital to any military unit that's going to be required to conduct operations in times of crisis," Webster said. "The exercise scenario includes a number of incidents that we will have to deal with, either simultaneously or almost simultaneously. These represent some of the things that we have to be prepared to do to defend the homeland and to provide defense support of civilian authorities."
So far in Vigilant Shield '07, the crash of a U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft resulted in a nuclear-weapons accident in the United States, terrorists attacked a U.S. military installation, a civilian plane crashed in Canada, and two U.S. airliners reported "distress" situations. Still ongoing in the exercise are situations involving potential limited ballistic missile attack and a maritime domain threat.
"An exercise like this allows us to stretch ourselves a bit as a staff and to learn about where we need to do additional training," Webster said. "The men and women of NORAD and USNORTHCOM do a magnificent job every day. They're performing those jobs under stress, probably stressed in a near-worst-case scenario for this operation, so that we can be sure that we can meet the tasks at hand when a crisis comes."
During Vigilant Shield '07, NORAD and USNORTHCOM personnel are working with the same interagency partners with which they work during actual crises.
"The National Guard, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and a host of local and state organizations that we would work with in wartime, are working with us in this exercise," Webster said. "It's providing a great workout.