U.S. Northern Command

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U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, was established in 2002 by the Department of Defense to consolidate under a single unified command existing missions that were previously executed by other military organizations.

"The new command was given responsibility for the continental United States, Canada, Mexico, portions of the Caribbean and the contiguous waters in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans up to 500 miles off the North American coastline. NorthCom's mandate is to 'provide a necessary focus for [continental] aerospace, land and sea defenses, and critical support for [the] nation’s civil authorities in times of national need.'" [1]



Current Command

First Command

"On November 5, 2004, Admiral Timothy J. Keating became the first Navy admiral and the 2nd combatant commander of U.S. Northern Command. He is also the commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)."


The mission of the U.S. Northern Command [2] is "homeland defense and civil support, specifically: Conduct operations to deter, prevent, and defeat threats and aggression aimed at the United States, its territories, and interests within the assigned area of responsibility; and, as directed by the President or Secretary of Defense, provide military assistance to civil authorities including consequence management operations."

"U.S. Northern Command plans, organizes, and executes homeland defense and civil support missions, but has few permanently assigned forces. The command will be assigned forces whenever necessary to execute missions as ordered by the President. Approximately 500 civil service employees and uniformed personnel representing all service branches provide this essential unity of command."[3]

In a March 13, 2003, briefing General Ralph E. Eberhart, commander of U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, described to members of the House Armed Services Committee "how USNORTHCOM and other organizations counter threats to homeland security ... [and] how the organization provides 'unity of command' for U.S. military actions to counter threats against homeland security."

"Besides conducting operations to deter, prevent and defeat threats and aggression aimed at the United States, its territories and interests, USNORTHCOM also provides military assistance to civil authorities as directed, ... 'When we work with civil authorities, we will most likely be in a support role to the lead federal agency, providing one-stop shopping for federal military assistance,' Eberhart said."

Homeland Security vs Homeland Defense

According to the USNORTHCOM web site:

"Homeland security (HLS) is not the same as homeland defense (HLD). Homeland security is the prevention, preemption, and deterrence of, and defense against, aggression targeted at U.S. territory, sovereignty, domestic population, and infrastructure as well as the management of the consequences of such aggression and other domestic emergencies.

"Homeland security is a national team effort that begins with local, state and federal organizations. DoD and NORTHCOM's HLS roles include homeland defense and civil support.

"Homeland defense is the protection of U.S. territory, domestic population and critical infrastructure against military attacks emanating from outside the United States. In understanding the difference between HLS and HLD, it is important to understand that NORTHCOM is a military organization whose operations within the United States are governed by law, including the Posse Comitatus Act[4] that prohibits direct military involvement in law enforcement activities. Thus, NORTHCOM's missions are limited to military homeland defense and civil support to lead federal agencies."

Op Plans

Contact details

Website: U.S. Northern Command: http://www.northcom.mil/

Resources and articles

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