By Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill National Guard Bureau
ARLINGTON, Va. (7/28/11) – An active duty Army general has been nominated to lead Northern Command.
Army Lt. Gen. Charles Jacoby Jr. was nominated to lead the Colorado Springs, Colo., based command and its sister North American Aerospace Defense Command, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced Tuesday.
The combatant command’s fifth commander, Jacoby would replace Navy Adm. James Winnefeld, who has been nominated as the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The National Guard supports all the combatant commanders, and it has a particularly close relationship with NORTHCOM, where more than 40 full-time Guard members serve.
“Simply said, we could not do our missions without the National Guard,” Winnefeld told the House Armed Services Committee in March, mentioning the Guard 15 times in a 15-page statement.
Founded in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, NORTHCOM conducts homeland defense, civil support and security cooperation to defend and secure the United States and its interests.
NORAD, its 53-year-old sister command, conducts aerospace warning, aerospace control and maritime warning in the defense of North America.
The National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 says that a NORTHCOM deputy commander must be a National Guard general officer unless the commander is a National Guard general.
NORTHCOM’s deputy commander is Army Lt. Gen. Frank Grass of the Missouri Army National Guard. His predecessor was Army Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, the former chief of the National Guard Bureau.
“I’m … very encouraged by the strong partnership we have with the National Guard; they are essential to operational success across the full spectrum of our missions,” Winnefeld told Congress in March. “On any given day, the number of Guardsmen in our headquarters is around 100.
“The Army National Guard provides the bulk of personnel for air defense capabilities protecting our nation’s capital. … They provide all of the manning at our ground-based interceptor sites in support of missile defense. They are also currently developing additional capabilities to take on a much larger role in support of consequence management in the aftermath of chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack. …
“The Air National Guard provides the majority of NORAD’s operational force for air sovereignty alert missions.”
NORTHCOM and the National Guard Bureau have been preparing dual status commanders who can command either National Guard or federal forces for support of civil authorities in the wake of natural or manmade domestic disasters.
NORTHCOM hosted adjutants general from the 54 states and territories at the National Guard Bureau Senior Leader Conference in October, and Winnefeld has joined Council of Governors meetings. The bipartisan council was included in the 2008 NDAA to advise Panetta, the Homeland Security secretary and the White House Homeland Security Council on National Guard matters.
Jacoby’s 33-year career since graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point has included serving as commanding general, Multinational Corps – Iraq. He is currently director of strategic plans and policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.