COLORADO SPRINGS — “I do get a sense of urgency.” NORTHCOM Commander, General Glen VanHerk, took questions on the idea of rethinking homeland defense, at a conference hosted by the non-profit Center for Strategic and International studies. "The next ten years, the threat to the homeland will dramatically change. I don't think we can continue to do things looking in the rearview mirror. We've got to look out the windshield and go forward."
He says world powers like Russia and China continue making advances with weapons and technology. They are also testing the limits of those advances. "Last year we had more incursions into our air defense identification zones since the end of the cold war," said VanHerk.
Part of the testing and training is an element of combat strategy to possibly create doubts in your opponent or adversary. For VanHerk, it is motivation to remain the defense leader. "Showing that you have the ability to respond in a timely manner. That you can detect them before they become a threat to you." NORTHCOM along with NORAD teams work to identify threats and attacks from crossing North American borders. Both are headquartered in Colorado Springs. VanHerk is working to expedite ways artificial intelligence can help defense decision makers. "Those software capabilities can actually analyze and detect changes in pattern of life or detect changes at an airfield or a submarine base, and then give a sensor a cue to look at that," said VanHerk He says detection and response protocols happening in minutes are no longer fast enough--it now needs to happen real time.
Seeing threats sooner serves first as a deterrent. If the threat progresses, there can be attempts to deescalate. In the event of an attack defense can happen sooner, hopefully stopping any threats before reaching North America.