NORAD, USNORTHCOM hosts TAG conference

By Staff Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher | NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs | October 08, 2010

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – In an effort to foster relationships and further collaboration, the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command hosted adjutants general from 54 U.S. states and territories in the NORAD and USNORTHCOM and National Guard Bureau Senior Leader Conference Oct. 3 – 5.

The conference, held at the Antlers Hilton in Colorado Springs and Peterson AFB, focused on improving understanding between the different organizations as well as cooperative efforts such as Defense Support of Civil Authorities and homeland defense.

Although the National Guard Bureau chief meets with the TAGs four to six times a year, this is the first time that NORAD and USNORTHCOM have been involved in the meeting.

Gen. Craig McKinley, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, called the commands’ involvement in the conference a historic event.

“It’s the first time the adjutants general of the states, territories and district have been in Colorado Springs to hear the commander of U.S. Northern Command and talk about the things we have in common and the things we need to work on,” McKinley said. “We are bringing our nation, our states, territories and district much closer by doing this.”

Along with the state and territorial TAGs, 15 NGB senior leaders, including Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt, Director of the Air National Guard and Maj. Gen. Raymond Carpenter, acting director of the Army National Guard were in attendance. Dr. Paul Stockton, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Americas’ Security Affairs, also addressed the TAGs, focusing on unresolved challenges in terror prevention.

“The threat is diversifying,” Stockton said. “Yes, Osama bin Laden and the franchisees would love to be able to carry out another large, complex attack for which planning- preparations - would be extensive. We’re doing what we can to disrupt their ability to prepare for such a large-scale attack, and in part because of our success in doing so, we need to prepare for other kinds of attacks.”

One of the risks Stockton spoke on and urged preparation for was that of small, commando-like attacks in urban centers like those that took place in Mumbai, India, in November 2008. He offered the TAGs a chilling scenario they may one day be faced with.

“One of your cities has been attacked by a commando team,” he told them. “There’s credible evidence that a city in a neighboring state is going to be attacked. What does that look like, and above all what does that look like for the role of the National Guard in prevention and the demands on the Department of Defense as a whole for support to civil authorities?”

McKinley said he’d like to see the two commands participate in future conferences and that the cooperation and trust built between the commands and the states could pay huge dividends in the long run.

“This isn’t a one-time deal,” he said. “We need to continue to foster good relations, communications, build trust, because the American public deserves that.”