By C. Todd Lopez
US Northern Command is responsible for protecting the American homeland. Domain knowledge is a major element of defense, and it features in President Biden’s 2023 budget request currently before Congress.
“What challenges us is the unknown,” Air Force General Glen D. VanHerck, commander of US Northern Command, said Thursday during a speech at the security conference. from Aspen, Colorado. “What I mean by the unknown are domain awareness challenges. The first one I would tell you is underwater domain awareness. of submarine surveillance in the future will only grow.
Domain awareness challenges also exist for hypersonic cruise missiles and cybernetic domain awareness, VanHerck said.
“The good news is that we are working to fix this problem,” he said. “And the department has done a fantastic job in this year’s budget — the president’s budget for field outreach,” he said. “There are four over-the-horizon radars in the budget, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Regarding the modernization of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, VanHerck said Canadian Minister of National Defense Anita Anand recently announced plans for new radar systems over the air. horizon that will provide better domain awareness when tracking threats from the Arctic Circle all the way down. at the border between the United States and Canada.
“I’m very encouraged by the direction we’re taking, but we still have challenges ahead,” he said.
Another aspect of domain awareness and keeping Northcom abreast of threats in the United States involves better use of artificial intelligence and machine learning, VanHerck said.
“We need to move faster in developing these capabilities,” he said. “When you have information and data, the question is ‘how are you going to process it and disseminate it in a timely manner?'”
“What I try to do is to create a space for decision; decision space equals deterrence options,” he said. “To do that, you have to analyze that data and that information — that domain awareness data — through the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Machines can count the number of cars in parking lots, the number of vehicles in weapon loading areas, and alert you to changes. Today, we often don’t use the machines to analyze this data in a timely manner. So I think we can go faster there.
The Ministry of Defense called China a “rhythmic threat”. Right now, the threat from China may not be as immediate as it seems, even if the threat is growing, VanHerck said.
VanHerck, who also commands NORAD, said evidence of China’s military progress includes the growth of their nuclear and conventional forces, including hypersonic technologies.
“They’re well on their way to approaching peer-to-peer status with us,” VanHerck said.
Russia is now also identified as an “acute threat” by the United States. And while it appears Russian efforts in Ukraine have not yet turned out the way US defense leaders think Moscow might have hoped, VanHerck said the threat posed by Russia should not be discounted.
“I don’t want to say that…Russia has failed,” he said. “They fought over land. What I would tell you is that in their conventional abilities, their long-range distance abilities, they display significant abilities. It is the threat that worries me for the fatherland. So I wouldn’t underestimate Russia, and I wouldn’t say China is 10 feet tall right now, but they certainly aspire to compete with us on a comparable level.