USNORTHCOM and National Guard leaders discuss homeland security issues

By NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs


PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. –The Homeland Security Committee of the Adjutants General Association of the United States (AGAUS) met July 18 with the leadership of United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) to discuss homeland security collaborative efforts and support of civil authorities after a man-made or natural disaster.

“This conference is absolutely essential to the workings of the National Guard and Northern Command,” said Maj. Gen. Craig Campbell, The Adjutant General of Alaska. “NORTHCOM provides a critical service to America in emergency response in conjunction with civilian agencies, emergency management agencies, as well as the National Guard. This type of conference allows us to communicate so that the response is integrated and that’s absolutely important for us to be able to respond as America expects us to.”

Adm. Timothy J. Keating, USNORTHCOM commander, and Lt. Gen. Joseph R. Inge, USNORTHCOM deputy commander, welcomed committee members, including Maj. Gen. Roger Lempke, The Adjutant General of Nebraska and AGAUS president; Maj. Gen. Tim Lowenberg, The Adjutant General of Washington and chairman of the AGAUS Homeland Security Committee; Maj. Gen. Fred Rees, The Adjutant General of Oregon; Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, The Adjutant General of Utah; Maj. Gen. Bill Libby, The Adjutant General of Maine; Maj. Gen. Craig Campbell, The Adjutant General of Alaska; and Brig. Gen. Eddy Charles, The Adjutant General of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Also attending were Lt. Gen. Robert Clark, U.S. Army North commander; Col. Chas Campbell, U.S. Air Force North chief of staff; Maj. Gen. Bruce Davis, Joint Task Force Civil Support commander; and Maj. Gen. Terry Scherling, National Guard Bureau director of the Joint Staff.

“Anytime we talk it’s a helpful process,” said Tarbet. “It’s important that we learn how to play team ball together. Ultimately it’s the citizens that benefit. We work the state and federal and civilian interface and that’s just what we need to be doing.”

The conference was described as an “eye-opener” by Charles, who traveled from the U.S. Virgin Islands to attend the conference. “We’re working to get a clear understanding with NORTHCOM as to how the Guard as well as the Emergency Management Assistance Compact flows as far as supporting and responding to emergencies within the various states and territories,” he said. “We want to ensure there is an immediate response. We’re all engaged in supporting our governors and commander-in-chief.”

Committee members and USNORTHCOM representatives engaged in discussions on Emergency Management Assistance Compacts; placement of Defense Coordinating Officers and Defense Coordinating Elements during emergency situations; and pandemic influenza.

“As the operational commander responsible for CBRNE [chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive ] consequence management response and the command and control piece of it, and also the eyes and ears of the commander of NORTHCOM to develop the initial assessment, this forum offers me tremendous opportunities to not only completely understand how I can accomplish that but also what changes have been made or are in the process of being made as a result of the last catastrophic incident this nation responded to with Katrina,” said Davis.

Other discussions addressed public affairs operations; the USNORTHCOM collaborative information environment; a report on Exercise Ardent Sentry 06, a homeland defense and civil support exercise involving USNORTHCOM and the National Guard; and future USNORTHCOM exercises, to include USNORTHCOM support of the National Guard Exercise Vigilant Guard.

“It’s important for NORTHCOM and the Adjutants General to have an opportunity to exchange and to gain knowledge and perspective,” remarked Scherling. “I hope to take away a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the National Guard and NORTHCOM and how we can work collaboratively to provide homeland defense and civil support.