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NORAD celebrates 49th birthday

by Army Sgt. 1st Class Gail Braymen
NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs

5/14/2007 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFPN) -- North American Aerospace Defense Command officials celebrated its 49th anniversary May 12 with cake and reflected on the importance of its mission.

"Today we celebrate 49 years of tradition and of history of defending both the nations of the United States and Canada," said Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., commander of NORAD and U.S. Northern Command.

At a NORAD birthday celebration at command headquarters, General Renuart said May 12 is a day not just to remember the command's birthday, but also the relationship between Canada and the United States. General Renuart's first official trip as NORAD and USNORTHCOM commander was to Canada, where he met with the chief of defense staff, visited Canada Command, and met with senior government leaders

"The sentiment, the bond, the strength of this relationship is alive and well, from the prime minister down through the ministers and certainly the defense staff and the military members," the general said. "It's something that's really important that we continue to grow and strengthen and take advantage of."

After World War II, the United States and Canada recognized they were vulnerable to enemy attack, especially by long-range Russian bombers, and decided to integrate their defense planning and strategies into a bi-national military command.

The two countries signed the NORAD Agreement on May 12, 1958.
"Basically, it outlined 11 specific principles on how they were going to organize the command, what kind of operations it would undertake, mutual planning, control of mutual aircraft in Canada and the United States and defense plans against any possible attack," said Dr. Thomas Fuller, the NORAD and USNORTHCOM historian.

The NORAD agreement has been renewed 10 times since 1958. The latest renewal was signed in 2006 and, for the first time, the agreement doesn't have an expiration date.

"It was decided; however, that they should get together and review the particular details (and) the dimensions of any changes sometime within a four-year period after the signing of the (agreement)," Dr. Fuller said. "But, in reality, it meant that you didn't have an expiration date. You just had a review process going on, which then would allow you to make changes as each country decided and agreed to."

NORAD is staffed by both American and Canadian military and civilian members. The command is charged with the missions of aerospace warning and aerospace control for North America.

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