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US merges four combatant commands for “first of its kind” homeland defense drill

USS Harry S. Truman
US Navy file photo of an F/A-18E Super Hornet launching from the flight deck of USS Harry S. Truman.

The US Northern Command is leading a major homeland defense exercise that brings together the North American Aerospace Defense Command, US Transportation Command, US Strategic Command, and US Space Command for a first of its kind test.

The combatant commands and NORAD are conducting homeland defense operations, exercising joint integration, conducting multi-national operations, and strengthening interoperability in command and control.

US Navy aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman and its carrier strike group are also involved under the operational control of US Northern Command.

“Leading complex multi-combatant command operations across multiple domains demonstrates our readiness to defend our homeland regardless of COVID-19,” said General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, commander of NORAD and USNORTHCOM. “The high-end training we are conducting enables integration between strategic-level organizations who all play a significant role in the most important mission for our nation — defending our homeland.”

Exercise participants are using Link 16, a tactical data system that enhances tactical capabilities by allowing players to share real-time situational awareness and command and control data.

NORAD, in conjunction with US Northern Command, will conduct an air defense exercise to demonstrate the capabilities of Canada and the United States. NORAD CF-18s and F-15s, fueled by KC-135 Stratotankers, will conduct an air intercept exercise in conjunction with F/A-18 fighter aircraft from the HSTCSG.

The HSTCSG is comprised of the flagship Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) and the embarked squadrons of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60).

US Transportation Command is providing operation Noble Eagle alert tankers along the East Coast to support forces during the exercise. USTRANSCOM’s aerial refueling fleet is the backbone of rapid US global operations and the lifeblood of the Joint Force’s ability to deploy an immediate force supporting all National Defense Strategy Mission areas.

US Strategic Command will provide a B-1B Lancer long-range bomber to simulate an adversary role and attempt to penetrate US airspace to provide realistic training to forces during the exercise.

“Today, there is not a joint operation that doesn’t integrate space capabilities – the pervasiveness of these capabilities and the information they provide is a key ingredient to how American forces operate with unmatched speed, precision, and lethality,” said Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, USSPACECOM commander and USSF Chief of Space Operations.

For the exercise, USSPACECOM through NAVSPACECOM is providing space operations support to the Second Fleet commander through satellite communications and GPS to ensure all units are communicating and executing clear command and control.