American Defender Online

NORAD turns the big 4-0

Bi-national command a successful alliance
NORAD file photo

From staff and wire reports

urning 40 is a birthday some are reluctant to celebrate, but for 1st Air Force's operational command, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, it is a time to reflect on a remarkable history.

"The governments of Canada and the U.S. saw a common threat and developed a common defense," said Gen. Howell M. Estes III, NORAD commander-in-chief.

"They knew mutual cooperation through an organization like NORAD would protect each nation better than either nation could do alone."

The roots of the NORAD agreement can be traced to the 1941 Ogdensburg Declaration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King which called for close military cooperation between Canada and the United States.

Although formally established on May 12, 1958, actual NORAD military operations started on Sept. 12, 1957, barely three weeks prior to the launch of Sputnik 1 on Oct. 4, 1957.

In response, NORAD worked hard to provide warning of a missile attack. Quote

Born of the Cold War, NORAD evolved and adapted over the years to meet new security challenges.

In the 1950s, an extensive radar network was built across Canada and Alaska to detect intruders entering North American airspace.

In 1966, a new complex deep inside Cheyenne Mountain, Colo., became home to the NORAD Operations Center.

Because of its expanding use of space-based sensors, NORAD dropped "air" from its name in 1981 and replaced it with "aerospace" to become the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

With advanced technology and sensors, NORAD "weighed-in" on the war on drugs in 1989 and now works hand-in-hand with law enforcement agencies by detecting and tracking airborne drug smugglers.

"NORAD's success and longevity have come as a result of its ability to evolve and meet ever-changing threats," Estes said.

"Our citizens have been well-served by NORAD during the past 40 years, they should expect nothing less in the future."