Northern Command Chief Explains Key Mission Areas
Northern Command Chief
Explains Key Mission Areas
By Jim Garamone, DoD News, Defense
Washington D.C. – (DOD
News) – July 27, 2014 – U.S. Northern Command epitomizes the changes over
the past decades in defending the United States of America, Army Gen. Charles H.
Jacoby Jr., the commander of U.S. Northern Command and the North American
Aerospace Defense Command, said yesterday.
Jacoby told attendees at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado
that he spent his first 34 years as a soldier “out there” -- meaning
concentrating on overseas threats -- defending the United States. “The
distinction between the home game and the away game is really changed and really
less significant than it’s been in the past,” he said. The mission of U.S.
Northern Command falls into three groups, Jacoby said.
Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr.,
commander of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command
The command’s bedrock is the defense of the homeland, he said.
This is more than just defending the shores from an invasion, and includes
missile defense, cruise missile defense, maritime defense and cyberdefense.
“The second basket of things … is defense support to civil
authorities,” he said. “That’s a mission set we have always performed, but I
will tell you the first half of my career we wouldn’t have said that support to
civil authorities was a core military task. It was something that we would do --
But after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, DoD understood that the
American people had a legitimate expectation that the military would be there
and be an effective partner to civilian authorities. “We would deliver at times
of our citizens’ greatest needs,” the general said.
This second basket includes defense support to law
enforcement and to the Department of Homeland Security. The final group is
working with North American partners -- Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas, he said.
Civil support is the mission that most people are familiar
with. The command aids civil authorities during natural or man-made disasters.
The command works with partners across the United States to
develop and maintain relationships with other federal agencies and with state
and local authorities. The command also works with intelligence agencies to spot
and hopefully interdict threats to the homeland. Jacoby’s command “resists
taking control” of a situation unless ordered by the president or unless local
and state authorities ask. And the command is always planning for the “what ifs”
and seeking to make improvements. Since 2011, the command has restructured the
chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear enterprise. “This was done with
some view of what happened to the Japanese at Fukushima [nuclear power plant],”
Today there are about 18,000 service members available to the
command to respond within 24 to 96 hours to a chemical, biological or
The command was tested during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. “I
look back on it and we could have expected that a major hurricane slamming into
the borough of Manhattan was not going to be just a Manhattan issue,” he said.
The effect of a major hurricane hitting the nation’s largest city, he added, was
going to be felt across the country and worldwide.
An example of that, Jacoby said, was when the first person to
speak at a meeting on Hurricane Sandy was Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
He said it was imperative to get the markets running or the economic recovery
would stall. The command has to be prepared to bring huge industrial response to
the problem, the general said. For Sandy, this meant providing pumps that
drained the subways and tunnels. It meant deploying a Marine unit ashore. It
meant airlifting electric company trucks aboard Air Force C-17s to fix the power
“We have to be prepared to lean forward without leaning into
or crowding,” Jacoby said. “It’s a bit of a balancing act.”
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @garamoneDoDNews) :
Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr.
U.S. Northern Command
Special Report: U.S. Northern Command
North American Aerospace Defense Command
Special Report: Aspen Security Forum
The Defense Department on Facebook
The Defense Department on Twitter
DoD News on Facebook
DoD News on Twitter
DoD News Broadcast Page