WASHINGTON, July 28, 2011 — The job of commanding the U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command will require building confidence and trust among the many partners involved in both missions, Army Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr. said today.
Jacoby, now director for strategic plans and policy for the Joint Staff, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee here during a confirmation hearing for his nomination to receive his fourth star and become the next Northcom and NORAD commander.
If confirmed, Jacoby will succeed Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., who is nominated to become the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“As I look across the portfolio of the Northcom commander, it consists of three groupings,” Jacoby told the senators. “Defense support for civil authorities in case of natural and manmade disasters, defense of the homeland, and security cooperation with our neighbors.”
In all those mission areas, he said, “complex relationships are the key to effectiveness.”
Building such partnerships ahead of a problem “will allow Northcom to play its critical supporting role in most of those activities,” the general said.
As commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command, Jacoby would be responsible for homeland defense, military support to civil authorities for domestic emergencies, and aerospace warning and control for North America. As commander of U.S. Northern Command, he would be responsible for the ground-based midcourse missile defense system, an element of the ballistic missile defense system that allows combatant commanders to engage and destroy limited intermediate- and long-range ballistic missiles.
“As a leader who has devoted much of his service life to combating threats outside of the United States,” Jacoby said, “I can think of no greater responsibility now than leading our military in defense of the homeland, while providing support to our citizens at the federal, state and local levels in times of their greatest needs.”
The general added, “I view the Northcom and NORAD missions simply as a sacred trust.”
The senators outlined challenges that Jacoby will face in his responsibilities to both missions. These include working with the Mexican military to help it defeat transnational criminal organizations that are causing high levels of violence in Mexico and that pose a threat within Mexico and to the security of the U.S. southern border.
As part of the mission of providing defense support to civil authorities, Northern Command must work closely with other federal agencies and with all states on plans for emergency response to domestic disasters.
Jacoby must also work with state governors and National Guard and Reserve forces, the senators observed, to improve the capabilities of state and federal military forces to work together to support states’ disaster-assistance needs.
In response to questions from the senators, Jacoby characterized some aspects of U.S. relations with one of its closest neighbors, Mexico, and with the Russian Federation.
“The Mexican government and security forces have made courageous political, moral and physical commitments to countering the transnational criminal organizations,” the general said.
“I know that we have made progress, [and] I know there’s much more work to do,” he said, noting that on July 25, President Barack Obama signed an executive order declaring a national emergency regarding the threat of transnational criminal organizations.
The order highlighted such organizations, Jacoby said, as an unusual and extraordinary threat to U.S. foreign policy, the economy and national security.
“I think that that accurately describes the seriousness of the threat,” he added.
In 2010, NORAD conducted the first annual exercise with the Russian Federation.
During exercise Vigilant Eagle, both countries practiced passing control of monitoring and escorting a simulated hijacked aircraft into each other’s airspace.
Jacoby said such practical cooperative exercises enhance U.S. security and promote understanding in the area of missile defense with Russia.
“With the Russian Federation, of course, we work with our eyes wide open, but there are areas of cooperation that are mutually beneficial,” the general said.
“Finding places and venues and capabilities where we can cooperate with the Russian Federation,” he added, “can contribute not just to both nations’ mutual security needs but regional security needs as well.”
If Jacoby is confirmed in his new role, having responsibility for defense of the homeland will make the issue of cybersecurity an important concern.
“Like members of this committee and senior leaders across the military,” the general said, “we are recognizing the cyber domain as critical to our national security.”
In the Defense Department, he added, “we rely heavily on the cyber domain for something as significant and fundamental as command and control but also for the … infrastructure that makes the department run in support of our national security interests.”
The Pentagon has an “absolute requirement” to become effective in that domain, he said, with the right strategies, policies and authorities “to conduct the full range of activities required in the cyber domain for now and in the future.”
The technical side of the cybersecurity issue is a comprehensive issue with the Department of Homeland Security in the lead and working in partnership with U.S. Cyber Command and U.S. Strategic Command, the general said.
Northcom cyber-related responsibilities reside primarily in the physical domain, Jacoby said, protecting physical critical infrastructure inside and outside the Defense Department if so requested by local and state authorities.
“In event of an incident that would certainly have physical consequences,” he said, Northcom would act as a supporting element providing Defense Department resources in support of civil authorities.
“I think that all of us can imagine pretty significant consequences as a result of a deliberate cyber attack,” Jacoby said.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)