Air Force Gen. Glen D. VanHerck took command of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) from Air Force Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy during a ceremony held today at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper and Canadian Armed Forces Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan H. Vance presided over the change of commands. Also in attendance were U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, and Canadian Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan, via live television feed.
Esper praised O’Shaughnessy for a lifetime of exceptional service and leadership and welcomed VanHerck to his new assignment.
“Throughout his tenure, Gen. O’Shaughnessy’s steadfast commitment to the National Defense Strategy has made our nation safer at a time when our homeland is at risk in ways never before seen,” Esper said. “[He] has expertly led NORTHCOM and NORAD in executing a no-fail mission, despite countless other challenges demanding his attention. In doing so, he has prepared the men and women in these commands to deter and defeat the threats of tomorrow.”
NORAD is a bi-national command between the U.S. and Canada charged with the missions of aerospace warning and aerospace control for North America, while USNORTHCOM partners to conduct homeland defense, civil support and security cooperation to defend and secure the U.S. and its interests. The two commands have complementary missions and are co-located together on Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs.
“I’m confident that Gen. VanHerck will build upon Gen. O’Shaughnessy’s successes to advance the homeland defense mission,” Esper added.
Sajjan echoed Esper’s remarks, discussing Canada’s long-standing partnership with the U.S. and the ongoing integration and cooperation between the two nations at NORAD.
“Nowhere is our cooperation more evident than in the decades that we have kept a watchful eye across North America protecting both Americans and Canadians against threats.” Sajjan said. “NORAD has served as the foundation for the defense of North America and is a clear symbol of the unbreakable bond between the United States and Canada.
“I look forward to working together [with VanHerck] and building on the excellent work that Gen. O’Shaughnessy has overseen over the last two years,” Sajjan said. “Under your leadership, NORAD will continue to evolve into the organization it needs to be to meet the challenges of the modern security environment.”
VanHerck takes command of thousands of men and women, American and Canadian, who work tirelessly to defend North America.
“While I stand here today with this incredible opportunity to lead the men and women of NORTHCOM and NORAD, I know it is an even greater responsibility to be entrusted with our nation’s most sacred mission, defense of the homeland, and entrusted with the most precious resource – the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, and space professionals, civilians, and their families,” VanHerck said.
VanHerck most recently served as Director of the Joint Staff, the Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia.
The ceremony also celebrated Gen. O’Shaughnessy’s 34-year military career, in which he received the Defense Distinguished Service Medal upon his retirement, the nation’s third highest military honor. He was also presented with the Canadian Meritorious Service Cross.
“I’ve worn a uniform for almost four decades since I arrived at the [Air Force] Academy. I have quite literally been all over the globe and on every continent -- but no mission is more sacred than the one we have here, at the Homeland Defense Commands, and what a perfect way to culminate my career right where it started.”
Photos from the ceremony can be viewed and downloaded at https://dvidshub.net/r/z2gcfl and https://dvidshub.net/r/jifay2.