U.S. Northern Command reflects on fourth birthday

By Chief Petty Officer Susan Hammond NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs


PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – U.S. Northern Command observed its fourth birthday Monday with a cake-cutting ceremony as headquarters personnel gathered to reflect on the events from which the command was born.

“From time to time you ought to go look at that wall,” said Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Inge, USNORTHCOM deputy commander, referring to the photo display in the headquarters building depicting the events of Sept. 11, “to remind yourself of why you come to work every day.”

USNORTHCOM was officially created Oct. 1, 2002, and became fully operationally capable Sept. 11, 2003. Starting with about 150 personnel, the command has grown to more than 1,200, including American and Canadian military personnel and civilians. USNORTHCOM and the North American Aerospace Defense Command share headquarters facilities and many command components.

USNORTHCOM’s mission is to conduct operations to deter, prevent and defeat threats and aggression aimed at the United States, its territories and interests within its area of responsibility and, as directed by the president or secretary of defense, to provide defense support of civil authorities.

“It’s important work,” Inge said. “It’s fitting this morning that we take a few minutes to think about who we are, what we stand for, and the privileges we have that others around the world don’t.”

USNORTHCOM was created as a result of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The establishment of the new combatant command was part of the greatest transformation of the Unified Command Plan since its inception in 1947, said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld when he announced the establishment of USNORTHCOM April 17, 2002.

USNORTHCOM’s area of responsibility includes air, land and sea approaches and encompasses the continental United States, Alaska, Canada, Mexico and surrounding water out to approximately 500 nautical miles, as well as the Gulf of Mexico and the Straits of Florida. The defense of Hawaii and U.S. territories and possessions in the Pacific is the responsibility of U.S. Pacific Command. The defense of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands is the responsibility of U.S. Southern Command. The commander of USNORTHCOM is responsible for theater security cooperation with Canada and Mexico.