United States Northern Command

United States Northern Command
United States Northern Command
United States Northern Command emblem.png
Emblem of the United States Northern Command.
Active 2002–present
Country United States
Type Unified Combatant Command
Joint activity
Headquarters Peterson AFB, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Combatant Commander General Charles H. Jacoby, Jr., USA
Deputy Commander Lieutenant General Frank J. Grass, USA
NORTHCOM Area Of Responsibility

United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM, or informally just NORTHCOM) is a Unified Combatant Command of the United States military. Created on 1 October 2002 in the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 attacks, its mission is to protect the United States homeland and support local, state, and federal authorities. The support that USNORTHCOM provides to civil authorities is limited by the Posse Comitatus Act which limits the role of the U.S. military in civil law enforcement. However, in case of national emergencies, natural or man-made, its Air Forces Northern National Security Emergency Preparedness Directorate will take charge of the situation or event.[1]


Area of responsibility

USNORTHCOM’s Area of Responsibility (AOR) includes air, land and sea approaches and encompasses the contiguous United States, Alaska, Canada, Mexico and the surrounding water out to approximately 500 nautical miles (930 km). It also includes the Gulf of Mexico, the Straits of Florida, portions of the Caribbean region to include The Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The commander of USNORTHCOM is responsible for theater security cooperation with Canada, Mexico, and The Bahamas.[2] NORTHCOM was recently mobilized in the wake of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico[3] to provide air, ground, and logistical support.[4]

Task forces

USNORTHCOM is composed of several standing Joint Task Forces (JTFs) previously assigned to United States Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM): Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region, Joint Task Force-Civil Support, Joint Task Force Alaska, and Joint Task Force North. USNORTHCOM service components include U.S. Fifth Army/ARNORTH, First Air Force/AFNORTH, and United States Fleet Forces Command.


USNORTHCOM headquarters has approximately 1,200 uniformed and civilian members, and few permanent forces. Forces from all branches of the U.S. military may be assigned to the Command as needed to complete its mission.

Commander, U.S. Northern Command is concurrently Commander of the U.S.-Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). The two are co-located at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. General Ralph Eberhart was the first CDRUSNORTHCOM.

Related legal changes

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 lifted many restrictions placed on the military to support civilian administration by the Posse Comitatus Act, however the US Supreme Court ruled in June 2008 that significant portions of the MCA were unconstitutional. The "John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007" H.R. 5122 (2006) effectively nullified the limits of the Insurrection Act[5] when it was passed; however, the bill was amended in 2008.

On 1 Oct. 2008, the 3rd Infantry Division (United States)’s 1st Brigade Combat Team was assigned to U.S. Northern Command, marking the first time an active unit had been given a dedicated assignment to Northern Command. The force will be known for the first year as a CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force, and will serve as an on-call federal response force for terrorist attacks and other natural or manmade emergencies and disasters. [6].

List of commanders

Note: The National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 stipulates that at least one deputy commander of USNORTHCOM be a National Guard general officer unless the commander is already such an officer.[7][8]

Image Name Branch Term began Term ended
1. Eberhart re.jpg General Ralph E. Eberhart USAF 22 October 2002 5 November 2004
2. US Navy 041105-D-0000X-001 Adm. Timothy J. Keating.jpg Admiral Timothy J. Keating USN 5 November 2004 23 March 2007
3. Victor E. Renuart Jr. 2010.jpg General Victor E. Renuart Jr. USAF 23 March 2007 19 May 2010
4. Winnefeld 2010 2.jpg Admiral James A. Winnefeld, Jr. USN 19 May 2010 3 August 2011
5. Jacoby 2011.jpg General Charles H. Jacoby, Jr. USA 3 August 2011


  1. ^ *1AF (AFNORTH) National Security Emergency Preparedness (NSEP) Directorate
  2. ^ U.S. Northern Command Public Affairs (22 October 2009). "About USNORTHCOM". USNORTHCOM website. Peterson Air Force Base, CO: U.S. Northern Command. http://www.northcom.mil/About/index.html. Retrieved 28 July 2010. 
  3. ^ "USNORTHCOM responds to Deepwater Horizon oil spill". Northcom.mil. http://www.northcom.mil/news/2010/050510.html. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  4. ^ "Deepwater Horizon airspace activity now coordinated at 601st AOC". Northcom.mil. 13 July 2010. http://www.northcom.mil/news/2010/071310.html. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  5. ^ "Bush Moves Towards Martial Law, 26 October 2006". Towardfreedom.com. 26 October 2006. http://www.towardfreedom.com/home/content/view/911/. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  6. ^ "Brigade homeland tours start Oct. 1 – Army News , News from Afghanistan & Iraq". Army Times. 30 September 2008. http://www.armytimes.com/news/2008/09/army_homeland_090708w/. Retrieved 19 May 2011. 
  7. ^ [1] Pub.L. 110-181: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008
  8. ^ [2] Pub.L. 110-181: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 full text

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