OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. − U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) senior leaders hosted Royal Canadian Air Force Maj. Gen. Christopher J. Coates, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) director of operations, at USSTRATCOM Headquarters, June 13, as part the command’s ongoing effort to build, sustain and support partnerships with ally nations and other combatant commands.
“Canada is one of our closest allies and a vital defense partner,” said U.S. Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney, USSTRATCOM commander. “Having the opportunity to host Maj. Gen. Coates at my headquarters provides mutual benefit to our nations, as does the Canadian liaison officer who serves within the command.”
Coates’ visit follows Haney’s meeting last week with U.S. Air Force Gen. Lori J. Robinson, NORAD and U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) commander, during his visit to Colorado.
“I had a great discussion with Gen. Robinson,” Haney said. “Opportunities like that enable us to build upon the close working relationship we share with NORAD and USNORTHCOM, and other combatant commands, as we work together to ensure regional and global security and stability.”
Coates echoed Haney’s comments on the importance of developing close working relationships and said his visit was driven by the opportunity to interact and engage with USSTRATCOM leaders.
“The challenges that we’re going to face in the future require us to work together,” he said. “What we’ll build out of this, I’m hoping, is increased trust and confidence in one another in what we’re doing; and that only comes through face-to-face interaction.”
While here, Coates received briefings on USSTRATCOM’s missions, participated in a roundtable discussion with senior leaders and delivered a NORAD overview and evolution briefing to members of the command. He also met with U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Stephen W. Wilson, USSTRATCOM deputy commander, whom he worked with at a previous assignment.
“He was the deputy commander of Canadian NORAD region many years ago, and I was the Combined Air Operations Center director − so he was my direct boss at the time,” Coates said. “I’ve known some of the people and a bit of the [USSTRATCOM] mission for quite some time. I think this is an opportunity to deepen [my] understanding in some areas.”
He also discussed the future security environment, saying it will require a “global approach,” and highlighted a key collaborative effort between USSTRATCOM and NORAD.
“[It’s] unlikely that problems of the future, military problems, will remain restricted to one part of the world [or] one region. It’s going to effect, in different ways, all parts of the world or many parts of the world at the same time,” he said. “There’s one area that [US]STRATCOM and NORAD work side by side on, and that’s Integrated Tactical Warning and Attack Assessment, or ITWAA.”
Haney agreed that ITWAA is an important area of mutual interest between USSTRATCOM and NORAD. In February, he and leaders from NORAD/USNORTHCOM, Air Force Materiel Command, Air Force Space Command and other DoD organizations met to discuss ITWAA-related issues at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. The goal of the forum was to focus on assessment of the strategic warning mission executed by USSTRATCOM and NORAD.
In addition to the collaboration between USSTRATCOM and NORAD, Haney pointed out that Coates’ visit to the command illustrates the close working relationship between the U.S. and Canada. Both leaders noted the long history of combined efforts of the two nations in regard to continental defense and other areas of mutual interest.
“The U.S. and Canada work very closely, and have for a long time, in a variety of efforts, to include regional and global security, trade and academic endeavors,” said Haney. “It is important that we continue to engage with our Canadian allies to enhance international interoperability and joint capabilities in support of achieving strategic deterrence and confronting a broad range of challenges.”
“When you think back to the formation of NORAD, it really grew out of the [World War II] era, when our leaders at the time realized that continental defense [of Canada and the United States] was best done together,” added Coates. “They started with what was called the Permanent Joint Board of Defense in 1940 as a mechanism for two nations to work together for the defense of North America. NORAD grew out of that; the 235th meeting just took place [last week]. Our nations continue to see that the defense of North America is important [and must be done] together.”
In addition to ITWAA and continental defense, USSTRATCOM conducts training and real-world activities with Canadian military forces, academic institutions and government agencies through the on-site efforts of the Canadian Liaison Officer at USSTRATCOM, Col. Kevin Bryski. Recent examples of the collaboration include:
- In March, USSTRATCOM senior leaders hosted Mr. Jamshed Merchant, Consul General for Canada in the upper Midwest, at USSTRATCOM Headquarters for discussions on security, commerce and other issues. “Security is a key part of our relationship,” Merchant said during his visit. “We want to make sure that not only is North America safe from threats, in terms of keeping our perimeters safe, but we also realize that North America is part of the global world and we continue to hold our values.”
- In February, U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Stephen W. Wilson, USSTRATCOM deputy commander, delivered a keynote address at the Conference of Defence Associations Institute (CDAI) 2016 Ottawa Conference on Security and Defence in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. In his remarks, Wilson discussed the close partnership between the United States and Canada, and the interoperability between U.S. and Canadian armed forces as they work together to address the many evolving challenges around the globe. During his trip to Ottawa, he also engaged Canadian Armed Forces and Department of National Defence leadership on the topics of strategic deterrence and mutual defense cooperation.
- During USSTRATCOM’s Global Thunder 16 command and control exercise in November 2015, Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Brig. Gen. Michel Lalumiere’s, Director General Space, contributions to the Joint Space Operations Center at USSTRATCOM’s Joint Functional Component Command for Space Headquarters, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, were highlighted to demonstrate how allied participation in exercises strengthens relationships between international partners and provides additional levels of resiliency in our combined forces.
- In October 2015, Haney attended the Combined Space Operations (CSpO) initiative meeting, which enabled discussion between New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada on space sharing activities. Canadian Army Lt. Gen. Guy Thibault, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff; and Ms. Isabelle Desmartis, Director General, Policy Planning; also attended the meeting. The initiative gave participating nations an understanding of existing and future space environments, an awareness of space capabilities to support global operations and military-to-military relationships, and a forum to address challenges and ensure the peaceful use of space.
- Also in October 2015, USSTRATCOM B-52 Stratofortress bombers based at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, and Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, conducted training in and around Goose Bay, Canada, with Royal Canadian Air Force units. The mission allowed bomber crews to gain experience in executing flexible long-range global strike capabilities while working alongside Canadian and North American Aerospace Defense forces.
Before meeting with USSTRATCOM leaders, Coates provided the keynote speech during a World Affairs Council event in Omaha, during which he discussed NORAD and the future of continental defense.
“It was a very engaged and informed group of people from a variety of backgrounds,” he said. “They were very broad in their interest and their understanding, so it was a great set of questions.”
NORAD is a U.S. and Canada bi-national organization charged with the missions of aerospace warning, aerospace control and maritime warning for North America. Aerospace warning includes the detection, validation, and warning of attack against North America; aerospace control includes air sovereignty and air defense of North America's airspace; and maritime warning entails shared awareness and understanding of activities conducted in maritime approaches, areas and internal waterways.