Former NORAD and US Northern Command commander, retired USAF Gen. Victor Renuart (center) discusses NORAD at the Canadian Embassy in Washington. Also on stage are former deputy NORAD commander, retired Royal Canadian Air Force Gen. Thomas Lawson, and Laura Dawson, director of the Wilson Center's Canada Institute. Embassy of Canada Photo.
American Aerospace Defense Command will be an evolutionary rather than
revolutionary organization, it will have to deal with revolutionary changes to
the threat environment, the former commander of NORAD and the US Northern
Command told a Washington audience Thursday.
Retired Gen. Victor Renuart made the comments at the
Canadian Embassy during a breakfast held as the US-Canadian organization marks
its 60th anniversary.
While he said he did not think NORAD is likely to
fundamentally change its “relational structure” because both the US and Canada
have a strong opinion on its value, “below the level of the water, the duck’s
going to have to pedal really fast to figure out how does adjust to those
revolutionary changes that could occur in cyber, and space, and in some
He pointed to hypersonic glide vehicles as one example of
such a challenge.
“Today we don’t have the perfect warning system to be able
to detect and determine their intent, or even how do we respond to them, so
there’s an investment that needs to occur in that warning structure,” he said.
He said he sees NORAD as central to the detection and determination
of a threat, as well as warning on that threat.
“I think that is continued in space. I think cyber becomes a
lot harder because it’s pervasive, it’s in everything we do, to a degree, and
so that one will take some time to evolve in a way that NORAD may have a role,
so I think there’s still work to be done there,” he said.
On peer competition, in which US officials point
particularly to the threat from Russia and China, he said, “I think we have some interesting frenemies out
The US, he said, trades with China and, to some extent, Russia,
but US NATO allies trade heavily with Russia, particularly depending on Russia
for energy, meaning “while they are a potential threat, they are also someone
we have to deal with in a more conventional way.”
It “becomes NORAD’s role,” he said, “to understand how does
it continue to detect, to provide deterrent information,” and then give national
leaders a decision to make on how to respond.
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