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American Forces Press Service

Renuart Discusses Haiti Support, Olympic Aid

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2010 – The commander of U.S. Northern Command discussed Northcom’s support for the earthquake relief effort in Haiti and the upcoming Winter Olympics in Canada during an interview this week.

Air Force Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr. said Northcom offered personnel skilled in disaster remediation to U.S. Southern Command as soon as news of the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti reached the United States.

“Our components practice and train and are certified in the functions that are necessary for large-scale disaster response,” he said during a Jan. 27 interview with the Pentagon Channel, noting that Northcom personnel are now assisting Southcom in Miami and in Haiti. “While they are trained to focus that in the homeland, it is very easy for them, because of the interagency nature of our team, to plug in anywhere.”

Renuart also commands the binational North American Aerospace Defense Command, which, like Northcom, is based at Colorado Springs, Colo. The United States and Canada, he said, are cooperating in the effort to provide security for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, next month.

“Our role is to be a great partner, friend and neighbor to Canada,” he said. “The Canadians have the opportunity to demonstrate to the world what a great sporting environment they have in the west.”

The Canadians do not want an overwhelming security presence, the general said. “We want it to be a sporting event that is secure, not a security event where there are athletes,” he explained. NORAD will help with coordinating airspace use. “We want to make sure the airspace is safe, secure and controlled, so NORAD will have a role to monitor that space,” Renuart said. “We’ll have Canadian fighters north of the border and U.S. fighters south, and if needed, they can respond to an event that you are uncertain of.”

Scrambling fighters gives commanders a set of eyes on a situation, and often is a prudent step, the general said.

Northcom will stand by to be of assistance to Canada Command in the event of a contingency. “We have been asked by the Canadian government to provide some key enablers to be available to them,” he said. “We can deploy those if necessary.”

But Renuart’s missions go beyond disaster response and airspace. They also include air and space warning and maritime tracking.

Also, he said, Northcom has a homeland defense mission in operating the missile defense system, and it provides support to civilian law enforcement and other government agencies.

Northcom has had an interagency focus from the start, Renuart noted. Most of the general and flag officers at the headquarters, for example, are National Guard or reserve-component members.

“Our coalition is about 120 strong, and we count in that nations like Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas, but also the states,” Renuart said.

Fifty-two different federal and state agencies work in the headquarters alongside the command’s military members. This is important inside the United States, the general explained, because each organization has different authorities.

“None of us are in charge of any one event by ourselves, and we all have to work together to be successful,” he said. “It really is a very complex environment.”

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