April 24, 2008 —
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Integrating Reserve component and active-duty personnel in the staffs of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command is a critical component in the commands’ success, said the chairman of the Reserve Forces Policy Board during a visit to the commands’ headquarters last week.
The Reserve Forces Policy Board is responsible for advising the Secretary of Defense on matters relating to the National Guard and military Reserve components. Chairman G. Kim Wincup and other board members came to NORAD and USNORTHCOM to learn more about the commands’ homeland defense mission.
The board is currently concentrating on providing a more future-oriented perspective to Secretary Gates, said Wincup. “We started by kind of looking at all the Reserve components, benchmarking where they are at this point in time,” then investigated probable world scenarios in about the year 2025 and what threats the United States may face at that time.
“What seemed to come out of that, among lots of things, was this area of homeland defense/homeland security,” Wincup said. Homeland defense, he continued, is a “really unpredictable requirement the country has to face, [and] much of it is nothing you can anticipate.”
After discussing homeland defense with other organizations at the federal, state and local levels, Wincup said, members of the Board next wanted to learn how NORAD and USNORTHCOM accomplish their “extraordinarily complicated” homeland defense mission. What is vital to the successful accomplishment of both commands’ missions, he said, is having a staff comprised of both Reserve and active-duty troops.
“In my view, we don’t educate active-duty personnel to face the kinds of problems that are presented in the homeland,” Wincup explained. “So we don’t have a force that we’ve invested in to learn the skills that you need to know to deal with working with the sheriff, the mayor, the governor, the [Adjutant General], all the kinds of things that … the National Guard, particularly, and, to a lesser degree, … Reservists deal with as a regular part of their duties.
“I think the skills that [Reserve component personnel] bring are pretty uniquely applicable to the problem[s faced by the commands].”
The relationship between the commands and the Reserve components will continue to develop, Wincup said.
“The public is not going to accept a Department of Defense that’s not effective in responding to significant threats or disasters inside the homeland,” he said. “I think everybody recognizes that it doesn’t really matter the source of your commission or the type of serviceperson you are. We’re going to need to take advantage of all the skills that are out there.”
NORAD, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in May, is the bi-national Canadian and American command responsible for the air defense of North America and maritime warning for Canada and the United States.
U.S. Northern Command was established on Oct. 1, 2002, to anticipate and conduct homeland defense and civil support operations within the assigned area of responsibility to defend, protect, and secure the United States and its interests.