According to Air Force General Glen D. VanHerck, who serves as commander of both Northcom and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the mission of defending the homeland of the United States against threats from adversaries falls under the purview of the United States Northern Command (Northcom). There are a great number of such threats.
China and Russia saw how the United States conducted its operations in the Middle East and then built their own methods that placed the United States in jeopardy during those same operations.
“While we were focused on violent extremists for the last 20 or so years, they were developing capabilities to hold our homeland at risk,” said VanHerck, who spoke on Tuesday at the annual meeting and exposition of the Association of the United States Army in Washington, District of Columbia.
The general said that despite the fact that both countries have created systems to put the United States at danger, he considered Russia to be the biggest threat to the homeland of the United States at the present time.
According to what he claimed, “about three to four years ago, Russia produced the first hypersonic glide vehicle resting on top of an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) that is capable of nuclear attack.” “You know, it’s been out there for four years operating, and it’s got the United States of America and North America in its sights,” said the spokesperson.
These missiles, according to the general, make the northern warning system of the United States seem “like a picket fence.”
He also said that Russian submarines, notably those of the Severodvinsk class, are on track to pose a danger in the future.
According to VanHerck, China is around seven to ten years behind Russia in its capability to directly damage the homeland of the United States. However, both countries have a presence in the Arctic, which presents an opportunity for them to launch an assault on the United States. He also described China and Russia as peer rivals in both the space and the cyber domains.
According to VanHerck, in order to protect the nation against dangers that now present, threats that are rising, and threats that will exist in the future, his own command will need to do things differently. One of these shifts is the increased velocity with which data travels from sensors to decision makers among the many stakeholders.
According to VanHerck, the assignment of troops to Northcom may also be able to be completed more quickly and effectively.
He said that as of right now, more than half of the area of responsibility for Northcom is in the Arctic, despite the fact that troops are not structured, trained, or prepared to operate in that region.
VanHerck mentioned that the requirements of other combatant commands are taken into account during the “request for forces” process that is used by Northcom. These other combatant commands include the United States Indo-Pacific Command, the United States European Command, and the United States Strategic Command, for example. It’s possible that other demands may ultimately take precedence over what Northcom need.
He said that this was an additional danger during the current crisis. “I believe that we need forces that look quite different from what we have right now, forces that lessen the requirement for tankers as well as the desire for fighters. And what I’m referring about here are systems that are both unmanned and self-sufficient.
VanHerck stated that he envisioned a future in which unmanned systems could be parked “off the coast” near some of the threats to the homeland, and that these same unmanned systems would have the capability to have domain-awareness as well as the possibility of being armed with both kinetic and non-kinetic weaponry. He also said that he envisioned these unmanned systems having domain-awareness capabilities.
According to what he stated, “think about position navigation time denial and deception or high-power microwave or laser capabilities.” “Now, I’m not asking for all of the competitors that are directly going up against Indo-Pacom or Eucom. And for that purpose, I do not need all of the tankers, provided that we station those vehicles in strategic areas around the nation. The same thing can be said about autonomous air platforms, which not only provide me domain awareness but also have the ability to loiter for 18, 24, or even more hours. Not only do these platforms give me domain awareness, but they also present the possibility for either a kinetic or non-kinetic impact.
At this point, VanHerck has said that his idea sounds more like science fiction. On the other hand, he said that he believes it will be feasible in less than ten years.