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NORTHCOM commander shares joint, interagency experience

by Staff Sgt. Jason Lake
Air University Public Affairs

9/21/2007 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AFPN) -- No service or nation can operate independently in (today's) global environment. 

Said the Northern Command's top official Sept. 20 during a visit to Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.

"We've got to find ways to take advantage of our sister services and benefit from what other nations bring to the fight," said Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., the North American Aerospace Defense Command and NORTHCOM commander.

The general shared his command experience with field grade officers attending Air Command and Staff College and flag officers attending the Joint Flag Officer Warfighting Course at Air University. 

"Understanding how this comes to fruition is important for the students here to understand, especially at this point in their careers," said the pilot who flew combat missions during operations Desert Storm, Southern Watch and Northern Watch. 

The general's visit comes on the hinges of NORTHCOM's fifth anniversary Oct. 1. 

"We're no longer a new command," General Renuart said. "The command grew out of the ashes of 9/11 ... and we've made huge progress in the past five years." 

On a typical day, General Renuart said he interacts with all five military services, including the Coast Guard, as well as total force contributors in the National Guard and Reserve. In addition, NORTHCOM also coordinates homeland defense efforts with more than 45 government agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that tracks hurricanes and tornados. 

"We're completely integrated in our planning efforts," he said. "This is a capability that is not replicated in any other command. While we're not primary responders in most circumstances, it's still important that we learn how to be facilitators and gain the experience of planning and executing complex operations with joint, coalition and governmental agencies." 

The former Officer Training School graduate applauded his two predecessors, Gen. Ralph E. "Ed" Eberhart and Navy Adm. Timothy J. Keating, for laying the groundwork before he took over last March. As the third NORTHCOM commander, General Renuart said his role is to project the command's emergency response capabilities into the future based on lessons learned from various real world events such as Sept. 11, Hurricane Katrina and the recent Minnesota interstate bridge collapse. 

"We've focused our mission requirements to anticipate scenarios rather than responding to situations as they occur," he said. "That way, we have emergency response capabilities in-place before a disaster instead of three days after the incident." 

General Renuart said it's crucial for ACSC students and field grade officers to experience both the joint and operational environments so they know how to respond at higher levels when a plan starts to "break down in execution." 

"They will have to think and respond quickly and appropriately and make the right judgments when the time comes to deviate from the plan," he said. 

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