PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis visited Headquarters North American Aerospace Defense Command, U.S. Northern Command, and U.S Air Force Space Command Nov. 16 to discuss the topics of homeland defense, ballistic missile defense, NORTHCOM's role in assistance to response efforts to natural disasters, and the vitality of the Air Force space mission.
During his visit, Mattis toured NORAD and USNORTHCOM command and control centers, viewed exercise demonstrations, had a roundtable discussion with command leaders, met and engaged with service members and provided them future strategic insight during a headquarters assembly.
“I have come here to pay my respects to you and feel I owe that to you,” Mattis said to a room full of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Canadians and civilians. “I have a deep sense of gratitude for you because I cannot over emphasize the importance of your mission,” referencing NORAD’s mission of missile warning and USNORTHCOM’s mission of ballistic missile defense.
“You are going to hold the line, you’re going to maintain alertness, you’re going to watch for aerospace and maritime threats to the North American continent,” Mattis continued. “You’re going to do this job at a time when both of our nations need you to be at the top of your game.”
Secretary Mattis went on to inform the audience of his three priorities in the Department of Defense and things he is focused on: to build a more lethal military; to strengthen our alliances and partnerships by building trust; and to change the way we do business.
“I wanted you to be aware of those three priorities I’m working on and I want you to focus on creating harmony,” Mattis said. “I want to you to create harmony at this command and in your future assignments, and it may even be a vicious harmony as we close in on the enemy. We need to keep the U.S. military tight-knit, and we need to keep our alliances strong and let them know that we need them. If we concentrate on what other nations bring to the table, you’ll find that they all have something to offer.”
Mattis highlighted the importance of discipline saying, “You have to make certain that you discipline yourself and that you discipline each other. You have to take care of each other because lack of discipline is not very forgiving in this world.”
Mattis concluded his speech by opening it up for questions and answers.
Upon completion of the NORAD/USNORTHCOM all-call, Secretary Mattis continued his Colorado Springs itinerary with a visit to Schriever Air Force Base, part of Air Force Space Command.
Mattis began his Schriever visit with a stop at the National Space Defense Center where he and AFSPC leaders discussed the Space Security Defense Program.
The NSDC, formerly known as the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center, is a joint and interagency center that provides C2 for space defense, conducts space experiments, exercises and trains, and supports space defense Battle Management Command and Control. It is designed to create unity of effort and information in space defense operations among the Department of Defense, the intelligence community, and interagency and commercial space entities.
The NSDC is continuing to mature toward full operational capability, which is anticipated in early 2018. The NSDC will provide input to develop and improve the U.S.’s ability to rapidly detect, warn, characterize, attribute and defend against disturbances to space systems.
Mattis wrapped up his visit at the 1st Space Operations Squadron at Schriever AFB where 50th Operations Group leadership discussed the vitality of space situational awareness and the critical space capabilities they provide the nation.
1 SOPS is responsible for operating the Space Based Space Surveillance System, Advanced Technology Risk Reduction system and the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program.
2nd Lt. Scarlett Rodriguez from 50th Space Wing Public Affairs and Shellie-Anne Espinosa from Air Force Space Command Public Affairs contributed to this story.