Commander expresses concerns, acknowledges improvements

By Petty Officer 1st Class Joaquin Juatai | NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs | July 25, 2007

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Gen. Gene Renuart, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, identified possible sources of terrorist attacks within the United States during a recent interview with the Associated Press.

In the interview, Renuart expressed his concerns over potential attackers within the borders of the United States.

“I believe that there are cells in the United States or at least people who would aspire to create cells in the United States,” Renuart said.

“We've found them,” he added, citing the arrests of individuals allegedly planning to attack Fort Dix in New Jersey earlier this year. “I think to assume that there are not those cells is naive, and so we have to … take that threat seriously.

“If there's not a formal cell, they'd like to form one, and we have to continue to work to reduce or eliminate that threat as well.”

Key to reducing or eliminating the threat of terrorism in the homeland is the sharing of information and intelligence among U.S. agencies and state and local law enforcement, as well as Department of Defense agencies such as NORAD and USNORTHCOM, Renuart said.

“I think it's important for the American people to understand that they should be confident that the interagency in this aspect is working very closely together.”

At USNORTHCOM, Renuart said, more than 45 different agencies are “working day-in and day-out” to ensure the sharing of information and intelligence regarding potential terrorist threat within our borders is effective.

“Now, is that a guarantee?” Renuart asked. “Absolutely not. But our job every day when we walk into work is to ask ourselves, what are we not doing or not thinking about with respect to a threat, terrorist or nation state, against the homeland?”

NORAD is the bi-national command responsible for aerospace detection and warning, as well as maritime warning, of the United States and Canada.

USNORTHCOM is responsible for defending the homeland and providing defense support of civil authorities. In USNORTHCOM’s defense role, the sharing of information and intelligence both within and without U.S. borders is essential, Renuart said.

“I have to also look outside our borders. Threats from a nuclear North Korea or a nuclear Iran are a concern to our homeland,” he said. “I need to continue to ask the tough questions of my NORAD and my NORTHCOM staff about things like air and space warning, the health of our sensor systems out there, our ability to tell us that we're being attacked and then our ability to respond.”

Although the chance of a terrorist attack from within or outside U.S. borders is increasing, Renuart said, USNORTHCOM’s readiness to defend against such is also at increasing levels.

“The state that we are in today is substantially better than the state we were in on 9/11.”