By DoD News
By Jim Garmone
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canadian Minister of National Defense Anita Anand at the command that symbolizes the close bond between the two countries — the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
This is the first time a Canadian prime minister has visited the binational command since Pierre Trudeau visited in December 1977. The Canadian leaders stopped at NORAD on their way to the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.
Trudeau and Austin met at the headquarters of NORAD and U.S. Northern Command at Peterson Space Force Base and then journeyed to Cheyenne Mountain — a facility literally built under a mountain in the Front Range of the Rockies.
Air Force Gen. Glen D. VanHerck, NORAD-Northcom commander, gave Trudeau a piece of the rock from the mountain.
According to a DOD release, the two leaders talked about the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine and Canada’s significant contributions to Ukraine’s defense.
An official speaking on background said the mission of the command has changed since it was established in the 1950s to defend against nuclear strikes from the Soviet Union.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, the mission shifted to defense against terror attacks on North America. “In the years since then, what we’ve seen on the part of both peer level competitors, but also rogue state actors, is the increased capability to be able to put North America at risk,” the official said.
Hypersonic missiles, cyber-attacks, new non-nuclear capabilities and more are threats. NORAD-Northcom work together to counter these threats and deter nations from launching those attacks.
New radars, new defenses against hypersonic technologies and more are under consideration in both the United States and Canada. The two nations are also discussing modernizing detection capabilities including new radars and new uses of command-and-control capabilities. This would give political leaders in both countries more time to gauge threats and develop appropriate responses, the official said.
Austin took advantage of the trip to Peterson Space Force Base to meet with members of America’s newest service, the Space Force. “You’ve been going through the hard work of standing up a new branch of the service, and that’s historic. It’s important,” the defense secretary told the Guardians. “I just want to say thanks to you and your families for the sacrifices that you made, the energy that you bring to your job, the professionalism that you exhibit and the commitment that you’ve given.”