I recently had the good fortune of joining a virtual mission update briefing by Gen. Terrance O’Shaughnessy, commander of NORAD & U.S. Northern Command (N/NC).
From that experience it dawned on me that few of us as citizens of Colorado, and Pikes Peak region in particular, truly understand and appreciate the critical work that the people of N/NC and other military commands do daily on behalf of our nation.
During the past year while the nation was shutting down, N/NC was ramping up. Their scope of responsibility includes protecting our borders from adversaries and intrusions.
It includes protecting our nation’s capital region, organizing and supporting civil authorities in times of natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, and now COVID-19. The command has deployed hundreds of men and women to COVID hot spots to assist health care workers by providing facilities and logistical support, including the two Naval Hospital ships, the USNS Mercy and the USNS Comfort.
Typical civil support work includes collaboration with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 2 of their 10 regions, but the COVID response now involves all 10 FEMA regions adding tremendous logistical challenges for N/NC.
Add to all of this, working alongside the US Cyber Command is increasingly critical as N/NC works to achieve its mission of protecting North America. Working as a binational command with our Canadian neighbors, N/NC also has the responsibility of defending the Arctic. No other military command has the scope of responsibilities equal to NORAD/U.S. Northern Command. As they proudly and rightly say, “We have the watch.”
Added to the N/NC missions, our community is now blessed to have equally talented and dedicated men and women working on challenges now presented to us in the space domain.
As provisional home of U.S. Space Command, we now have two critical commands in our hometown.
Highly talented men and women at Peterson and Schriever Air Force bases work around the clock protecting North America from threats in space. Among other things, they manage and operate the satellite constellations that bring us GPS. Can you imagine life without that? God forbid, our economy and way of life as we have come to enjoy it would be shattered.
What’s my point?
I am concerned that as citizens we don’t have sufficient awareness or sufficient appreciation of the critical nature of the work being done right here in our backyard by these incredibly talented and dedicated people who are also our neighbors.
They don’t seek awareness or accolades, but they deserve them. We should be and I think most of us are deeply grateful for having these two vital military operations in our midst. And I haven’t even mentioned the 20,000+ men and women at Fort Carson or at Space & Missile Defense Command.
Gen. O’Shaughnessy will be retiring soon. His tireless work on behalf of our nation has been remarkable. He has provided inspiring leadership to the thousands of men and women who serve us all.
We owe him and them our profound thanks. I wish him a long healthy life with his family. He has earned it.
I encourage you to learn more by visiting their respective websites:
Don Addy is a board member of the Colorado Thirty Group and an ex-officio of the Chamber & EDC Board.