USNORTHCOM hosts senior Air Force leader

By Sgt. 1st Class Gail Braymen NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs


PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Sometimes, to get to know someone better, you just have to meet face-to-face. This week, the Air Force general in charge of an organization that provides critical information to U.S. Northern Command's homeland defense and civil support missions came to Colorado to get to know USNORTHCOM better.

Lt. Gen. Robert J. Elder Jr., U.S. Strategic Command's Joint Functional Component Commander for Global Strike and Integration and also commander of 8th Air Force and Air Force Network, visited USNORTHCOM headquarters Aug. 30-31 to "get a better understanding of the NORTHCOM mission."

Thanks to USNORTHCOM's involvement in heavily publicized missions such as hurricane disaster relief efforts and wildland firefighting, Elder is familiar with the command's defense support to civil authorities. But this personal visit to the command gave him a better feel for USNORTHCOM's requirements for space and integrated missile defense, he said.

"For the most part, [U.S. Strategic Command] is a supporting command. We see ourselves as an enabler," Elder said. "We have these capabilities that can be useful, but if we don't go out and try to understand what the other commands need, we can't really present those capabilities in a good manner.

"In some cases, we may find there are capabilities we could develop that we just didn't realize there was a need for."

USNORTHCOM, created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, is charged with conducting operations to deter, prevent, and defeat threats and aggression aimed at the United States, its territories, and interests. The command also provides defense support of civil authorities, including consequence management operations, as directed by the President or Secretary of Defense.

Getting to know USNORTHCOM better meant meeting a lot of people, and it was "impressive" to see representatives not only from every U.S. military service, but also from the Canadian Forces, Elder said.

"We've noticed that the people we've met [at USNORTHCOM] all enjoy their jobs," Elder said. "They're committed to what they do, and there's no doubt that the people here at NORTHCOM are what make NORTHCOM what it is and give it the great reputation it has. It's definitely a first-class operation.