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United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM, or informally just NORTHCOM) is a Unified Combatant Command of the United States military. Created on October 1, 2002 in the aftermath of the September 11, 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.

USNORTHCOM’s Area of Responsibility (AOR) includes air, land and sea approaches and encompasses the United Statesmarker, and its territories, Canada, and the surrounding water out to approximately . It also includes the Gulf of Mexicomarker and the Straits of Floridamarker. The commander of USNORTHCOM is responsible for theater security cooperation with Canada and Mexico.

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 Alaska, and Joint Task Force Northmarker. USNORTHCOM service components include U.S. Fifth Army/ARNORTH, First Air Force/AFNORTH, MARFORNORTH, 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 Commandmarker (NORAD). The two are co-located at Peterson Air Force Basemarker in Colorado Springsmarker, Coloradomarker. General Ralph Eberhart was the first CDRUSNORTHCOM.

The current commander of the U.S. Northern Command is General Victor E. Renuart Jr., USAF.

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 effectively nullified the limits of the Insurrection Act when it was passed; however, the bill was amended in 2008.

On Oct. 1, 2008, the 3rd Infantry Division ’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..

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.

Name Branch Term began Term ended
1. Gen. Ralph E. Eberhart United States Air Force October 22, 2002 November 5, 2004
2. Adm. Timothy J. Keating United States Navy November 5, 2004 March 23, 2007
3. Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr. United States Air Force March 23, 2007


  1. Unified commands adjust responsibilities
  2. Bush Moves Towards Martial Law, 26 October 2006
  3. [1]
  4. [2] Pub.L. 110-181: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008
  5. [3] Pub.L. 110-181: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 full text

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