by TSgt Ed Staton
AFNORTH Public Affairs
5/18/2015 - Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. -- The
First Air Force commander emphasized new responsibilities, a continued
focus on homeland defense and an increased tempo heading into the
hurricane and fire-fighting season during a Commander's Call held May 4
at Horizons Community Center.
Speaking to a combined gathering of AFNORTH and 601st Air Operations
Center personnel, Lt. Gen. William Etter, Continental U.S. North
American Aerospace Defense Command Region - 1st Air Force (Air Forces
Northern) commander, expressed thanks for everyone's accomplishments
while challenging them to meet future personal and mission challenges.
Etter highlighted several missions.
"What we do is crystal clear," said Etter. "We defend the airspace on
the NORAD side. Deter, detect, dissuade and if necessary we defeat.
This is a busy place and we've flown over 8,000 scrambles since 9-11."
While providing a NORAD mission support overview, Etter offered insight
on the unique U.S.-Canadian NORAD relationship that features Canadian
Brig. Gen. Alain Pelletier as CONR deputy commander.
"We are the only bi-national command in the world," Etter said. "General
Pelletier is not an exchange officer. He has command responsibility
and that makes us different."
Etter also noted management of the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile
Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, or JLENS, is a new role for
AFNORTH. JLENS features an airship that floats 10,000 feet in the air
and carries powerful radars designed to detect airplanes and cruise
"JLENS will bring a huge protection capability to the NCR (National
Capitol Region)," Etter said. "They put it on top of a balloon and
balloons are fragile. We've got to make sure we watch it and we're
creating developmental software and programs for it."
The fast-approaching hurricane season and the likelihood of many western
fires caused by drought conditions in the Western United States are
sure to task U.S. Northern Command's homeland and civil defense missions
this summer, Etter added.
"We need to anticipate the threat and we can't be late," said Etter.
"We're in the business of saving lives and speed counts. If someone
says we 'need you by Sunday,' that doesn't mean that we wait until
Sunday to arrive."
The AFNORTH commander and his command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Ronald
Anderson, also stressed the importance of individuals doing their
professional military education. They cited recent examples of people
rendered ineligible for promotion without that requirement.
"We make sure we stay physically fit to do the mission to the best of
our ability," Anderson said. "Our mental fitness toward the mission is
just as critical, and completing our PME ensures that."