NORAD/NORTHCOM focus is presently on China, Russia, and other nations of concern. Motto: “We have the watch.” Became US Northern Command in 2002, in combination with Canada. Early focus was the Distance Early Warning line (DEW), with focus to the north. Northern Command view now is 360° – 24/7. Northern Command include Cheyenne Mountain, 800 fighter planes, 250,000 people, and 7000 missiles for defense. Mission is to “deter, deny, and defend air threats to the United States and Canada” and provide warning and control, as well as maritime warning. Northern Command area of responsibility now includes not only United States and Canada, but also Mexico.
Briefers provided review of history of US Northern Command and NORAD Command structure. Major concern is resurgent Russia, and particularly its capability to employ standoff weapons. Additional concern China, which is developing the same type of weapons and asserting that it owns the South China Sea. Additional focus includes the Arctic in which several countries, including Russia, claim ownership and control. Rogue actors include Iran and North Korea. Major non-warfighting focus includes national disasters, including hurricanes, forest fires, and earthquakes. Goal is to “tell the right person at the right time,” and make the process “as close to real time as possible” so that our national leaders have time to make the decision. Northern Command foundation continues to be its nuclear component.
Separate briefing regarding Arctic security matters. The Arctic is controlled by the Arctic Research and Policy Act of 1984 and the Arctic Council (which consists of eight nations: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia and the U.S). Control of the Arctic is all based on cooperation and consensus, very loose organization. Arctic has no strong treaty regime. The Arctic has fertile areas for resource extraction. Russia has long-standing claims to the Arctic; 25% of Russia’s GDP comes out of the Arctic. Russia has 50 facilities in the Arctic. Note that China is not one of the 8 Arctic nations but has declared itself as a near-Arctic power and wants to be part of the decision-making of the Arctic 8. Because the Arctic is now open for business, there is more potential for conflict. Key take away points: The Arctic is a region of growing strategic competition and an avenue of approach to North America, and our adversaries are seeking ways to make use of the Arctic.
Other Northern Command activities:
Operation Allies Welcome: Department of Homeland Security has taken the lead in providing 56,000 Afghan evacuees reception, temporary housing, sustainment, support, and medical care. 11,545 personnel are supporting this activity.
COVID Response Northern Command has provided over 5 million vaccinations in 23 states and is still providing COVID support; 17 teams presently out positioned at all 10 FEMA regions.
Southwest Border providing support since April 2018, primarily using aerial assets. Other Support Missions include hurricanes, wildland firefighting, and counter drug support.
HQ Space Operations Command
HQ Space Operations Command, Peterson SFB
“Space is now a war fighting domain.” Satellites by nation: United States 2505, China 431, Russia 168, other countries 980. GPS satellites controlled at Schriever Air Force Base. GPS satellites are considered critical infrastructure. “Space is vital to our way of life, and vital to the modern way of war.” Major concern is anti-satellite weapons. Additional concern number of objects in space is 30,000, 3000 of which are from one event in 2007. Description of areas of space, consisting of Low Earth Orbit (LEO), Near Earth Orbit (NEO), And Geo-Orbit (Geostationary).
Schriever Space Force Base
Overview of U. S. Space Force and Space Operations Command Missions include space operations, including GPS, satellite communications, and training. All persons assigned to Space Command Space Force volunteer to join Space Force. Demand is high: 3500 soldiers applied for 50 slots. They are organized by deltas, which includes operations, space command awareness, space electronic warfare, missile warning, command-and-control, cyberspace ops, intelligence surveillance and recon, satellite communication and navigation warfare, and orbital warfare.
One DOCA group was allowed to enter the GPS Operations Center and observe the master control station operating the GPS satellites. There are 37 satellites, 30 which are operational currently. There is an alternative master control station at Vandenberg AFB. The GPS operations center provides constant surveillance of all GPS satellites.
Fort Carson, 4th Infantry Division and Garrison
Overview of Fort Carson, with focus on 4th Infantry Division, known as “the fastest division in the Army.” Mission is to “accomplish all assigned missions, defeat any enemy, anytime, anywhere, in any conditions.” Present focus includes investing in our people, with new-soldier and family integration, community outreach, engage leadership. 70% of soldiers and families live off-post. Fort Carson has the fastest growing ZIP Code in the nation. Fort Carson has 26,000 soldiers, and if you include everyone it consists of 122,000 people: Soldiers 26,351, family members 31,122, civilians 5,694, contract employees 923. Veterans and family members consist of 60,901. Fort Carson has four different brigades, which is a logistical nightmare. Painted Canyon is 3 ½ hours from Fort Carson and consists of 132,000 acres.
U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson Command Brief: Motto: “Best hometown in the Army.” 70% of new growth is outside city limits, second only to Norfolk Virginia area as to percentage of military in area. Major concern: need affordable housing. Fire department has 20+ mutual aid contracts, 5 fire departments, 4 at Fort Carson, 1at Painted Canyon. Economic impact is $21.1 billion, mostly payroll. Fort Carson is the third largest employer in the state, with the landmass of 373,000 acres, making it the largest city in Colorado. Garrison has great relationship with outside community. The garrison has its own rail-head staging area of 125,000 square feet, with 13 rail-head spurs. Fort Carson has 4 fitness centers and is breaking ground on the 5th fitness center, demonstrating its major focus on its soldiers and personnel. Fort Carson has 4 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, and 1 high school. Number of retirees by state: Colorado 400,829, Utah 138,527, South Dakota 67,119, North Dakota 55,748, and Wyoming 49,323.
The 71st Explosive Ordnance Detachment includes chemical response and nuclear response, supporting all branches. In December 2023 the Pueblo Chemical Depot will be done destroying chemical munitions; it presently has 257,477 rounds to destroy.
U. S. Air Force Academy
Mission Briefings Every Cadet is an athlete. Air Force Academy has 4 educational priorities: 1) developing leaders of character for the nation 2) defeating COVID 3) thinking about the future fight, developing critical thinking skills (be inquisitive, connect the dots) and 4) demonstrating a culture of dignity and respect. There are two types of nominations to the Academy: Congressional nominations and military-affiliated nominations. Cannot be past 23rd third birthday on July 1, the year you enter. Pool of applicants is getting smaller: “we are in a fight for talent.” Looking for STEM, aviation, and diversity. Class of 2025: 11,000 applicants, 1115 brought in, including some foreign students. Attrition rate is 14-15%. Most students are lost due to academics. Required length of service after graduation is 5 years, although there are some areas where our time required such as pilots. The Academy has 600 faculty, 35-37% are civilians and 10 present long-term faculty that provide continuity. 60% of faculty have PhD’s. Students are required to complete 134-148 semester hours, 29 core courses consisting of 98 semester hours. The Academy is a true liberal arts college, focusing on specific outcomes, including critical thinking, clear communications, scientific reasoning and the principles of science, etc. There are 31 different majors and 14 different minors. Much of scholarship and research is conducted by undergraduate students. The Academy received 14 patents in calendar years 2019-2021. The Academy has 9 endowed chairs (“and yes you may feel free to fund another one of them.”) There is substantial coordination with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The Academy has its own Center for Character and Leadership Development, which believes its number 1 mission is developing leaders of character. The Center will be housed at Polaris Hall, a new building just now being built next to the chapel.
Annual Banquet: Guest Speaker Lt. Gen Clark, USAFA Superintendent
Presentation of the Colors by Fort Carson Color Guard team
Music by Ivy Winds band