DHS Director of Operations to USNORTHCOM: We’re with you

By Tech. Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher | NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs | February 10, 2012

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - The Department of Homeland Security’s Director of the Office of Operations Coordination and Planning, Richard Chávez, toured U.S. Northern Command headquarters Feb. 7 and had a message to the men and women of USNORTHCOM.

“We’re with you,” he said. “And you’re with us” in regards to our joint efforts to provide for the safety, security, and resilience of the Homeland and the American people.  

Chávez, one of the principal advisors to the Secretary of Homeland Security, was at Peterson Air Force Base to update USNORTHCOM leadership on DHS operational and planning issues and tour the command center. During the visit he took time to talk about the relationship between DHS and USNORTHCOM.

“The relationship DHS has with USNORTHCOM is unique in that we are both inside the area of responsibility of the 48 contiguous states,” Chávez said. “We’re neighbors, if you will. Integration is good across the board with the Department of Defense and the other combatant commands, but I think we have a kinship with USNORTHCOM because of our proximity geographically.”

Describing homeland security as an “enterprise” in which everyone has a role, Chávez said USNORTHCOM’s role in the homeland security mission is valuable and necessary.

“We have operations that are ongoing that are supported by components of Northern Command like Joint Task Force North on the southwest border or Joint Task Force Civil Support in case we have a CBRNE event,” Chávez said. “It’s going to take all hands on deck to respond to a catastrophic event of that type...”

“Integration would be the greatest challenge we have,” he continued. “We’re maturing as organizations. We’re building that trust in each other’s organizational capabilities and looking at common missions and common mission sets and how our authorities and responsibilities best fit together to execute these missions efficiently and effectively.”

Chávez said no matter what challenges the two organizations may face, they’re both part of the same team, complementary in supporting the same effort.

“We’re all one team,” he said. “We’re all working together toward the same goal: the safety, security, and resiliency of the American people. As I tell my folks, there have been many people in the same place in the history of the United States. This is our watch, and this is what we owe the people, to do the job as efficiently and effectively as we can to protect the homeland.”