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US, Canadian forces sharpen abilities in austere Alaskan region

  • Published
  • By John Ingle
  • North American Aerospace Defense Command Public Affairs

Air, ground and naval forces from the United States and Canada under the authority of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command successfully completed maneuvers near Shemya, Attu and St. Lawrence Island, Alaska, Sept. 10, as part of a long-planned, bi-national operation to detect, deter and safeguard against potential threats to North America and the Arctic region.

Forces in support of Operation Noble Defender, an operation supporting the NORAD and USNORTHCOM Homeland Defense Campaign plan, demonstrated their ability to operate in the dynamic Arctic region including unfavorable weather and the austere environment.

Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of NORAD and USNORTHCOM, said as the environment continues to change, interest in the Arctic region increases and that makes the ability to execute operations there more important than ever.

“As strategic competitors take advantage of greater access and influence in the region, NORAD and USNORTHCOM must demonstrate the readiness and capability to persistently operate in the arctic,” he said. “Access to ready forces, trained and equipped to operate in the arctic is vital to the defense of North America and ensuring a peaceful and prosperous region.”

Operation Noble Defender included USNORTHCOM air, ground, naval and special forces components conducting Operation Polar Dagger, designed to integrate joint special operations units and test new capabilities while defending critical infrastructure, enhancing all-domain awareness and strengthening the force’s understanding of the region.

USNORTHCOM contributes additional capabilities to Operation Noble Defender events to enhance integrated deterrence across strategic opportunities.

Operation Noble Defender also included an air component, Operation Polar Arrow, to demonstrate the ability to deploy assets in concert with special operations elements, as well as the ability to maintain air sovereignty over North America.

United States and Canadian NORAD assets such as F-16 Fighting Falcons, CF-18 Hornets, E-3 airborne warning and control system and KC-135 Stratotanker demonstrated the interoperability needed by this bi-national command as part of the layered defense structure required to defend North America.

Operation Noble Defender is a recurring NORAD air defense operation that demonstrates and strengthens the command’s ability to maintain mission readiness in various environments and to preserve capacity for follow-on operations.