PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) partnered with other military and civilian organizations to create a safe, secure environment for Tuesday’s State of the Union address, said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Richard Rowe, USNORTHCOM chief of operations.
The men and women of NORAD and USNORTHCOM supported the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security during President George W. Bush’s nationally televised address, designated a National Special Security Event (NSSE) by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. This was the fifth State of the Union address to have been designated an NSSE.
“NORAD and USNORTHCOM are only part of a multi-layered, local, state, federal and military effort to protect the homeland,” noted Rowe, crediting the seamless security effort to “coordination, cooperation -- a comprehensive interagency approach” that reaped the experience of the previous year’s security effort. Some of the participating organizations included the National Guard, the U.S. Capitol Police, the Federal Aviation Administration, the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“We know who all the players are,” said U.S. Navy Fire Controlman 1st Class David Leonard, who served as duty non-commissioned officer in the USNORTHCOM Joint Operations Center during the event. “We know all these people, by face or phone or email or reputation.” He described the domestic interagency effort as resembling “an international coalition.”
U.S. Army National Guard Col. Bob Felderman, USNORTHCOM Joint Operations Center chief for the event, brought his particular knowledge of the local level to the military support operation. A commercial real estate broker and appraiser in civilian life, he knows first-hand how small businesses and communities are impacted by national events.
“I help bring the local perspective to our operations here,” Felderman said, “and I will take an understanding of the strategic level back to the National Guard.”
The Department of Defense has traditionally provided support to significant national events such as the State of the Union address, presidential inaugurations and the G-8 Summit. Historically, military organizations have provided medical support, aviation support, consequence management planning and other specialized capabilities in response to a request from the lead federal agency.
NORAD and USNORTHCOM elements supporting the State of the Union Address included Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region, Washington, D.C., commanded by U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Guy Swan III; the Continental United States North American Aerospace Defense Command Region, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., commanded by U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Marvin “Scott” Mayes; and Joint Task Force Civil Support, Hampton, Va., commanded by U.S. Army National Guard Maj. Gen. Bruce Davis.
NORAD is a bi-national Canadian and American command responsible for the air defense of North America. Since Sept. 11, 2001, NORAD has scrambled fighters or diverted air patrols more than 2,000 times to respond to possible air threats and have combined with Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft, or AWACS, and air-to-air-refueling tankers to fly more than 40,000 sorties.
Established as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, USNORTHCOM provides for homeland defense, including defense support of civil authorities, in accordance with U.S. laws and as directed by the President or Secretary of Defense. Military assistance is always in support of a lead federal agency.