A fighter and bomber pilot with 33 years in uniform will be the next leader of U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command at Peterson Air Force Base, the Pentagon announced Monday.
Air Force Lt. Gen. Glen D. VanHerck will get the fourth star on his collar that comes with the new job where he'll replace Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy.
Northern Command is responsible for protecting the continent from attack and providing Defense Department support to civilian authorities. NORAD pairs Canadian and American military efforts to patrol the skies and maritime approaches to the U.S. and Canada.
Before VanHerck takes his new post, he's need to go through Senate hearings and confirmation vote. A date for when he'll assume command hasn't been announced.
VanHerck, who now is director of the Pentagon's joint staff, began his career flying F-15 fighters and has since mastered the controls of B-1 and B-2 bombers along with the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter during more than 3,200 hours in the cockpit. He'll take over Northern Command in the coming months from O'Shaughnessy, who has had one of the busiest tenures in recent memory.
Northern Command has deployed troops from New York to Seattle this year to help battle coronavirus. The command also led a mission to support American efforts to seal the southern border during a Trump administration push to curb illegal immigration.
NORAD has been intercepting Russian military planes off Alaska at a brisk clip as Russia and China flex their military muscle in the Arctic.
O'Shaughnessy came to the command in 2018 with one unprecedented qualification. Born in Canada, O'Shaughnessy is a naturalized U.S. citizen, making him the first binational commander of the binational command.
Earlier this year, O'Shaughnessy warned the Senate Armed Services Committee that America's rivals have made technological strides that could make the U.S. an easier target in the future.
"Eroding military advantage is undermining our ability to detect threats, defeat attacks, and therefore deter aggression against the homeland," he said. "This is emboldening competitors and adversaries to challenge us at home, holding at risk our people, our critical infrastructure, and our ability to project power forward."
A graduate of the University of Missouri, VanHerck obtained his commission through ROTC. He's held top posts with Air Force Global Strike Command and has led a pair of bomb wings. He's earned the Distinguished Service Medal, the Air Force's top award for service outside combat.