Canada’s Minister of Defence visits NORAD, USNORTHCOM

By Petty Officer 1st Class Joaquin Juatai | NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs | April 14, 2008

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – The Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, Canada's Minister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, visited North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command headquarters here April 11 and acknowledged the critical role NORAD plays in preserving the relationship between the U.S. and Canadian militaries.

“The relationship between Canada and the United States is one that cannot be replicated," said MacKay. "It cannot be imitated anywhere in the world. All the men and women in uniform from both the Canadian and American Forces demonstrate the very best of our citizenry. This unique organization really provides North Americans with the ability to sleep at night, knowing that you have them covered."

MacKay said the close cooperation between the U.S. and Canada as demonstrated by NORAD, a bi-national command, is in part responsible for leadership and shared policies between the two sovereign nations.

MacKay greeted the men and women of the Canadian Forces stationed here, as well as their American counterparts in a “town hall” style meeting.

MacKay also opened the floor to questions from the personnel assembled in the headquarters atrium, and answered one question on the concerns raised about the role of NORAD in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, B.C. The location of this major west coast city poses unique security challenges for civil authorities and military forces on both sides of the border.

“There is a tremendous role for NORAD to play leading up to and during the Games,” MacKay said. “There is going to be a need for huge human resources and technological support (to ensure security during the Winter Olympic Games). Much of that is going to come from the interoperability between Canadian and U.S. forces, particularly on the maritime approaches and the airspace . NORAD and this joint operability are going to be an integral part of the success in the security piece (of the Games).”

NORAD is the bi-national command responsible for aerospace warning and defense as well as maritime detection and warning for the United States and Canada. NORAD is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

USNORTHCOM is the U.S. command responsible for homeland defense and defense support of civil authorities in time of natural or manmade disasters.