NORAD deputy visits CONR, Canadians

By Mary McHale | AFNORTH Public Affairs | October 04, 2010

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – The last time he was here, he was the Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region deputy commander, construction of the Killey Center for Homeland Operations was still on the drawing board, and Hurricane Katrina relief operations were in full swing.

How time and circumstances change in a few short years.

Returning for a visit to CONR as the NORAD’s deputy commander, Lt. Gen. Marcel Duval saw the changes first hand.

The general said when he was appointed to NORAD in 2009, he established priorities about visiting each NORAD Region – Alaskan, Canadian, and the Continental U.S. Region. He visited Alaskan Command – or ANR – first because he hadn’t been there in “years and years and years.” He put Canada on his list to visit last since that was his posting prior to his present one. Also, he’d heard about some significant changes CONR had undergone since his departure and wanted to see them as soon as possible.

“I had not seen the new headquarters until this visit,” he said. “There was so much talk about it when I was here before, and to see it come into being is so rewarding. So much effort went into making this facility a showcase for NORAD and U.S. Northern Command. The facilities are very impressive.”

During his visit, the general received operational update briefings, toured the 601st Air & Space Operations Center and again witnessed changes that have taken place in ‘America’s AOC.’

“I wanted to go back to the AOC to see the changes because it opened just before I left Tyndall,” he said, adding he was again impressed, both with the layout and the new technologies in use.

He also held an informal town-hall style meeting with the Canadian contingent here, updating the officers and enlisted members on current issues. After his formal presentation, he hosted a question-and-answer session with his native forces, subsequently assessing the questions pitched as, “Excellent.”

“I had some great exchanges with them,” he said. “The bottom line of my visit was to meet the leadership and talk about the relationship between CONR and NORAD headquarters. Obviously, my focus is on the NORAD mission, so I talked about the recent changes in NORAD, the new commander, his approach and other NORAD-related issues.”

He said he did find the briefings about Haiti and Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill response especially informative and noted several of the lessons applied to those operations emanated from previous Hurricane Katrina lessons learned.

“From the air defense role we are most accustomed to, we were suddenly catapulted to a Defense Support for Civil Authorities mission – and it was a real eye opener,” he said. “But now, it’s a very pleasant feeling to see the experience produced some significant results still very much in place here – results and lessons learned that were able to be applied to the operations this year.”.

“It was a pleasure to host General Duval,” said Brig. Gen. Christopher Coates, CONR deputy commander and fellow Canadian. “He provided that valuable headquarters perspective and feedback that is instrumental for CONR to perform its day to day mission successfully.”