WASHINGTON – Defending the homeland is a sacred trust for the military, and U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command are at the center of that effort, Navy Adm. William E. Gortney told a Senate panel today.
Gortney, who testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, has been nominated by President Barack Obama to succeed Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr. as the commander of these two important posts. The headquarters of both are in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Gortney is currently serving as the commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command based in Norfolk, Virginia.
Northcom “is the nation’s last line of defense and providing support to federal, state and local levels when the American people are in their greatest need,” Gortney said. “I view these missions as a sacred trust and, if confirmed, I will faithfully and passionately execute them.”
Cooperation is key to Northcom’s mission, Gortney said. The command must coordinate and cooperate with a myriad of federal, state and local agencies. It has geographic responsibility for North America and the Bahamas, so in addition to the national responsibilities, the command must be prepared for international issues.
“I have spent a significant part of my career building joint and international coalitions to solve the challenging problems that confront us all,” Gortney told the senators. “These are experiences that have prepared me for dealing with our neighbors and close friends in Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas.”
If confirmed, Gortney pledged to work closely with the other geographic and unified commands. He also mentioned working with the service chiefs, the National Guard and the governors.
Ballistic missile defense is an important part of his duties. Gortney emphasized the nation needs to make necessary investments in the proper maintenance and modernization of the existing ground-based interceptors. Following that, it is imperative the nation improve “the kill vehicle itself and then improvement to the sensors that would allow us to better discriminate the threats that might be coming to the homeland,” he said.
Cybersecurity is also a concern..
“Our second responsibility … is to respond to the physical responses to a cyberattack to the civilian pieces,” he said. “And we exercise that throughout the year under our defense support to civil authorities on how well we can respond to that.”