US Northern Command takes over -- "Joint Defence" planning established

(1 October 2002) -- On October 1, the US Northern Command (Northcom) comes into effect, operating out of the headquarters of the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) in Colorado. Even though officially Canada is not integrated into Northcom, CP reported that Canadian and US military officials met in Washington on September 17 to discuss emergency protocols that would allow Canadian or American forces to cross the border in the event of a crisis. They discussed establishing a team of between 50 to 100 senior military planners who would work together "to protect North America from global terrorists and respond to natural disasters." Capt. Daryl Morell of the Defence Department told CP that the planning group is focusing on both land and sea security, while "security of the skies is already maintained by the Colorado-based North American Aerospace Defence Command," CP reports.

The planning group was established soon after the September 11 attacks but according to Alain Pellerin of the Conference of Defence Associations, "the problem is that they're still working in a policy vacuum. The government has not seen fit to do a foreign policy review and a defence policy review where the issue of continental defence would be addressed," CP reports. According to Pellerin such a policy review would have to address the issue of missile defence and so-called Star Wars technology, and "that is something that our government is not ready to address." "In the minds of the Americans, homeland defence is an issue that includes also missile defence," he said.

Capt. Morell insisted that having US troops crossing the border in times of crisis "is not an issue." "No idea, suggestion, protocol, measure, exchange whatsoever that erode or could erode our sovereignty will be considered, period. We're going to ensure that Canadian sovereignty is protected." According to the Prime Minister, so long as decision-making remains Canadian, Canadian sovereignty is not in jeopardy. However, according to the CP report, "it's been reported that NORAD headquarters in Colorado is being considered" as a base for the planning team, alongside the new US Northern Command. "Initially the planning group would be manned by Canadian officers who would participate with US military personnel in studying contingency plans that Canada could participate in. It's possible, however, that the group could be expanded within a couple of years to include a standing force of Canadian and US military personnel," CP reports.

For more information on Northcom, see the May 10, 2002 issue of TML Daily.

TML Daily, October 1, 2002 - No. 150

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