General Victor Renuart’s testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee is a fun read — as it ties together all aspects of “continental security” and puts them into perspective. He oversees both the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) which has been in existence since the Cold War to protect against airborne threats (missiles, airplanes, etc) and the US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) which was created in 2002 after the 9/11 attacks for all aspects of homeland security and incident repsonse. Some bits of trivia from the testimony… NORAD and USNORTHCOM monitor 12-20 potentially dangerous incidents everyday and there are over 17,000 manmade objects orbiting the earth in space and thousands more they cannot track.
Three important trends for homeland security emerge from his testimony:
Building up capability and preparation for WMD incident response is the #1 priority for USNORTHCOM – note this is not prevention. They prepare to deal with the 15 National Planning Scenarios.
There is a long list of domestic incidents that USNORTHCOM has responded last year (Katrina, California wildfires, drug smuggling, etc.
Working in conjunction with both state/local governments and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the USNORTHCOM will be relied upon for delivering and coordinating all domestic disaster response for major natural incidents, man-made accidents, and hostile attacks – they are in charge of the national guard and will call on the Army/Marines as necessary. This includes Army’s CBRNE. (The letters CBRNE stand for the five mission elements of the 20th Support Command: chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosives.)