From cold war beginnings to today’s terrorism threat: Norad celebrates 60 years

The 60th anniversary of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) was celebrated on May 11 and 12, 2018, at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 

The 60-year military partnership was celebrated with a two-day ceremony and a black-tie ball. Events included displays of precision aviation, a look inside NORAD’s Cold War beginnings behind the 23.4-tonne blast doors of the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, and a performance by the Snowbirds.

“One of the reasons our arrangement here in Colorado Springs works,” said Canadian Armed Forces Chief of the Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance, in a statement “is the genuine and profound connection between our two countries, and the people of them.”

The partnership initially began on May 12, 1958, and the command has grown immensely from its Cold War days beginnings. Today it faces new threats such as intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and terrorism.

“Yes, we share a continent. Yes, we share values, and those we must defend. But there is a deeper bond as has been mentioned before between Canada and the United States, and it’s one that makes us more than friends. We’re family,” said General Vance during the ceremony.

NORAD controls the aerospace over North America, defending and warning against attacks by aircraft, missiles or space vehicles.

After the ceremony on May 11, the Snowbirds from the Canadian Forces 431 Air Demonstration Squadron flew overhead in the missing-man formation. They flew CT-114 Tutor jets and a CF-18 Hornet, honouring Canadians who lost their lives while serving NORAD. The Snowbirds performed again the next day, flying past while displaying the U.S. and Canadian airpower, including F-22 Raptor, CF-188 Hornet, F-15C Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft.

During the black-tie ball at the Broadmoor Hotel, General Lori J. Robinson, commander of NORAD and U.S. Northern Command said, “A lot of things change in 60 years. From the constant fear of nuclear war to the ICBM to the attacks of 9/11, NORAD has stood through all of these tests, adapted to the challenges and maintained its capability.”

“This unique binational military command is an enduring symbol of the important partnership between Canada and the United States – one that is essential to us both,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement.

“The valued partnership we share will help our militaries to counter emerging threats and pass on a legacy of peace and prosperity to future generations,” U.S. President Donald J. Trump added in a statement.

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Miranda Brumwell

Miranda attended Niagara College in 2014, completing the two-year Journalism program. She currently resides in London, ON with her boyfriend and baby boy. In her spare time, Miranda enjoys reading, cooking, photography, watercolour painting and spending time with family and friends.

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