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Military dignitaries from both Canada and the United States attended the commemoration of the 65th anniversary of NORAD at Peterson Air Force Base this morning. Courtesy photo

It seems almost unbelievable, but NORAD –  the North American Aerospace Defense Command located at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado — had its 65th anniversary today. NORAD is a military defense collaboration between the United States and Canada; a cooperative agreement that is the only one of its kind in the world, that has kept the North American continent safe from aggression since 1958. It began during the depths of the cold war.

The occasion was marked by some pretty major (no pun intended) speakers. Among the distinguished guests was the Honorable Melissa Dalton, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Hemispheric Affairs, as well as the event’s keynote speakers: General Tom Lawson (Retired, Royal Canadian Air Force), former Chief of the Defence Staff (Canada) and former NORAD deputy commander; and Lieutenant-General Frances Allen (Royal Canadian Air Force), Vice Chief of the Defence Staff (Canada).

“Over the years, the strength of NORAD has rested in its ability to evolve in response to the changing strategic environment to keep North America safe from aerospace and maritime threats,” said Dalton. “As we reflect on the integral contribution that NORAD has made to the safety and security of North America these past 65 years, this is also a moment to reflect on the immense impact that NORAD will have in the years to come.”

A flyover of several NORAD aircraft, including an F-16 and CF-18s highlighted the event. Courtesy image

During the event, General Glen VanHerck commented, “Today’s strategic environment is the most complex and demanding I have witnessed in my 36 years of service. The threats to NORAD have evolved and so have our missions. Today, we are challenged from all vectors and across all domains. Though the strategic environment remains challenging, I am confident that the future of NORAD remains in great hands. Throughout the esteemed history and legacy of NORAD, one thing has always remained constant – the professionalism and tireless commitment of our people. Together, we execute the noblest mission: defending our homelands and our way of life. It continues to be an honor to lead this bi-national team.”

“NORAD continues to foster the partnership that has provided Canada and the U.S. with what is our most distinct strategic advantage over the past 65 years,” said Lieutenant-General Allen. “NORAD is an obvious example of the enormous benefit to shared security and regional stability generated by international cooperation, an example that holds steadfast in NORAD’s resolve to keep North America safe.”

Just recently, it was the NORAD agreement and its unified air defense systems that was involved in tracking the Chinese spy balloon, as well as several other unidentified objects over Canadian and U.S. airspace.

Editor note: For those paying close attention, the spelling of “Defence” is purposeful and correct for our Canadian neighbors.