Last night I arrived in Colorado Springs and met Ambassador Doer for a joint tour of NORAD which stands for North American Aerospace Defense Command. We started with a briefing from General Gene Renuart of the US Air Force, the Commander of NORAD and NORTHCOM and Lt. General Marcel Duval of the Canadian Forces and the Deputy Commander of NORAD.
For those of you who aren’t up to speed on NORAD, it is unique in the world. For the last 52 years, the United States and Canada have operated a joint command to defend the airspace of North America. There are four facilities, the headquarters in Colorado Springs, the Canadian Forces base in Winnipeg (which I visited in November), Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska, and Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida.
After our meeting with General Renuart, we had a series of briefings by the Canadian and US military and civilian advisors. I then got a tour of Cheyenne Mountain, the place in a hollowed out granite mountain which would serve as the control center in the event of a catastrophic attack on North America. (Ambassador Doer had gotten his tour the prior afternoon.) While it is a little chilling, it is interesting how US and Canadian forces work side-by-side in a truly joint operation. Throughout the facilities there were Canadian and American flags, pictures of the President and the Prime Minister, soldiers from both countries. It is an example of how integrated our militaries are in the very most sensitive of missions.
As Ambassador Doer said, it’s one to cross off our bucket list.