By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 28, 2013 – Ten years after it was established in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, U.S. Northern Command is starting to look increasingly like other U.S. geographic combatant commands, with naval and special operations components formally added to its command structure during the past month.
Two weeks ago, Fleet Forces Command was designated officially as Northcom’s maritime component, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, the Northcom public affairs officer, reported.
The designation is essentially a “paperwork change,” Davis said, formalizing a role Fleet Forces Command has served on an ad hoc basis almost since Northcom’s inception.
Officially adding the NavNorth mission to its existing responsibilities, Fleet Forces Command will continue to support Northcom’s theater security cooperation plan, with includes port visits, training exercises and professional exchanges, Davis said.
“This is now giving us formally a naval component command like every other geographic command has,” he said. “This is part of the continued maturation of Northcom as a full-fledged combatant command.”
The new designation follows then-Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta’s approval last month for Northcom to establish a theater special operations command. Northcom is in the process of standing up Special Operations Command North, and expects it to reach initial operating capability next year, Davis said.
Like NavNorth, that new command is viewed largely as an organizational change, he said, and will focus primarily on theater security engagement efforts Northcom already is supporting in the region.
Northcom already has Army, Air Force and Marine Corps components. U.S. Army North, formed from 5th U.S. Army, is based in San Antonio. Air Forces Northern, from 1st Air Force, is headquartered at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. Marine Forces North is part of Marine Forces Reserve, headquartered in New Orleans.