WASHINGTON — The Defense Department today unveiled a corridor in the Pentagon bedecked with photos, quotes and historical passages centering on the foundation of the U.S.-Canadian defense relationship: the North American Aerospace Defense Command, better known as NORAD.
For more than half a century, this bilateral command has been responsible for keeping the skies over the two countries –- and, increasingly, the waters surrounding them –- safe from a myriad of potential enemies, from the Cold War Soviet threat to present-day terrorists.
“The chronology brings you up through the creation of NORAD and the adaptations made as our security environment has evolved through the decades,” Air Force Gen. Victor E. Renuart said of the dozen chronologically arranged glass panel palettes on which the history of the command is displayed. “As the 20th commander of NORAD, I’m proud to dedicate this corridor to the selfless service of the men and women of NORAD, past, present and future.”
The exhibit depicts the command’s missions in the air and space domains that began in 1957 — and the recent additions of the maritime and missile warning systems that bolster the command’s ability to safeguard North America.
Speaking from a hallway housed in a building that hijackers struck less than a decade ago during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Renuart underscored the importance of having a robust NORAD defense.
“The ongoing adaptation of NORAD’s mission and capabilities to meet the challenges posed by ever-changing threats testifies to the strength of the NORAD agreement and the solid relationship between Canada and the U.S.,” he said. “The strength of the NORAD relationship has enabled it to serve as an extremely flexible framework, one that adapts to an evolving security environment.”
Canadian Ambassador to the United States Gary Doer, who joined defense officials in the ribbon-cutting ceremony, said the exhibit is emblematic of the strong partnership between the two nations and it also serves as a reminder of the dedicated personnel at NORAD.
“It is an honor for all of us Canadians having this display here at the Pentagon,” Doer told the audience of Canadian and American military personnel and civilians. “The great bi-national coordination will evolve in the future.” In a military headquarters that serves as office space to tens of thousands of employees — many of whom always seem to be pressed for time — this new Pentagon corridor should give them reason to pause and its tributes should inspire reflection, the Pentagon’s top policy official said.
“All of us who work in the Pentagon, including myself, get caught up in the work we do day to day, and we run from meeting to meeting, and we often speed through these hallways like we’re running a race,” Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy said. “But this corridor should be a reminder to us all to, on occasion, slow down.”
The ceremony today comes a month after Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay met at the Pentagon with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to discuss bilateral defense topics.
Officials from both countries have touted the recent Olympic Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, as a highlight of the bilateral cooperation between the United States and Canada. They also noted the two nations will work together on security issues related to the G-8 and G-20 summits to be hosted in Canada.
The NORAD corridor is located at the “A” ring on the Pentagon’s third floor between corridors 10 and 1.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)