USA — Winnefeld Takes NORAD, Northcom Reins

WASHINGTON, May 19, 2010 — Navy Adm. James Win­nefeld accept­ed com­mand of U.S. North­ern Com­mand and the North Amer­i­can Aero­space Defense Com­mand from Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates at Peter­son Air Force Base, Colo., today, suc­ceed­ing retir­ing Air Force Gen. Vic­tor E. Ren­uart Jr.

U.S. Northern Command
Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates pass­es com­mand of U.S. North­ern Com­mand to Navy Adm. James A. Win­nefeld Jr. at Peter­son Air Force Base, Colo., May 19, 2010. Win­nefeld suc­ceed­ed retir­ing Air Force Gen. Vic­tor E. Ren­uart Jr. as com­man­der of North­com and North Amer­i­can Aero­space Defense Com­mand.
Bildquelle: DoD pho­to by Cherie Cullen
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Ren­uart has served almost 40 years in uni­form. Win­nefeld, a naval avi­a­tor, comes to the job from ser­vice as the direc­tor of strate­gic plans and pol­i­cy on the Joint Staff.

Win­nefeld not­ed he served with Cana­di­an forces in Afghanistan and said he looks for­ward to serv­ing with them again at NORAD.

Gates described Ren­uart as a dec­o­rat­ed avi­a­tor, suc­cess­ful com­man­der and proven strate­gic vision­ary. The gen­er­al served as the secretary’s senior mil­i­tary assis­tant when Gates took office in Decem­ber 2006, and the sec­re­tary called Ren­uart the log­i­cal choice to lead the men and women of North­com.

“Real­iz­ing that his mis­sion was to pro­vide robust, com­plex and swift sup­port to civ­il and mil­i­tary author­i­ties with lit­tle to no notice, he used ‘antic­i­pate’ as the watch word for the com­mand,” Gates said dur­ing the cer­e­mo­ny. “By doing so, he cre­at­ed an inno­v­a­tive envi­ron­ment that seeks to iden­ti­fy and counter threats before they come to pass. His for­ward think­ing has per­me­at­ed this com­mand, as evi­denced by its win­ning the 2009 Joint Mer­i­to­ri­ous Unit Award.”

Dur­ing Renuart’s com­mand tour, North­ern Com­mand flew more than 55,000 Noble Eagle sor­ties in defense of the home­land. The com­mand over­saw evac­u­a­tion of 12,000 per­sons and direct­ly saved more than 400 dur­ing hur­ri­canes Ike and Gus­tav and sup­port­ed oth­er fed­er­al agen­cies to pre­pare for Cal­i­for­nia wild­fires, two nation­al polit­i­cal con­ven­tions, and three hur­ri­canes – all with­in a two-week peri­od.

The com­mand also is part­ner­ing with Mex­i­can mil­i­tary and civ­il lead­ers to assist them in bat­tling the drug car­tels under the aus­pices of the Meri­da Ini­tia­tive. The com­mand also worked with U.S. South­ern Com­mand to pro­vide an aer­i­al life­line to Haiti in the wake of the hor­rif­ic earth­quake in Jan­u­ary.

Ren­uart thanked the sec­re­tary for his sup­port. He thanked the Cana­di­an allies for their help and coop­er­a­tion, and he thanked Mex­i­can author­i­ties for their response to a shared threat, not­ing that rela­tion­ships are at the core of the command’s suc­cess­es.

Gates said the nation is for­tu­nate to have in Win­nefeld “anoth­er proven leader and war­rior ready to lead this vital orga­ni­za­tion.”

Win­nefeld served in two fight­er squadrons and instruct­ed at the Navy Fight­er Weapons School. He led the USS Enter­prise through Oper­a­tion Endur­ing Free­dom imme­di­ate­ly after the 9/11 attacks.

“As a car­ri­er strike group com­man­der, he sup­port­ed Oper­a­tion Iraqi Free­dom and con­duct­ed mar­itime secu­ri­ty mis­sions in the Per­sian Gulf,” Gates said. “Most recent­ly, he was the direc­tor of strate­gic plans and pol­i­cy for the Joint Staff. With this sin­gu­lar resume, I can think of no bet­ter offi­cer to assume the vital duties of defend­ing our nation, respond­ing to nat­ur­al dis­as­ters when called upon, and part­ner­ing with Cana­da, Mex­i­co and our Caribbean neigh­bors in secur­ing our bor­ders and sov­er­eign­ty.”

Win­nefeld rec­og­nized the com­mands’ accom­plish­ments and said he was look­ing for­ward to becom­ing part of the team.

“While I know I need to lis­ten and learn, I join this great team with a lot of ener­gy and ideas,” he said. “There are any doors of oppor­tu­ni­ty open to these two com­mands, and we will step through them in due course. In so doing, we will not for­get our Amer­i­can and Cana­di­an col­leagues serv­ing togeth­er over­seas. They and oth­ers from like-mind­ed nations are our first line of defense.”

Cit­ing a con­nec­tion between those who serve on the front lines and the NORAD and North­com mis­sions, Win­nefeld rec­og­nized two sol­diers in the audi­ence from near­by Fort Car­son who are recov­er­ing from wounds they suf­fered in com­bat, as well as “Gold Star” fam­i­ly mem­bers who have lost loved ones on deploy­ment who were at the cer­e­mo­ny.

“When one of these devot­ed young men and women is wound­ed or lost in action, it’s not an iso­lat­ed event far away,” he said. “There’s a clear con­nec­tion between what these very spe­cial peo­ple did and do over there and what we do over here.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)