Hoeven Advances Role for Grand Forks in NORTHCOM'S Arctic & Counter-UAS Missions

Senator Meets with Gen. O’Shaughnessy, NORTHCOM Commander

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee, this week met with Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, Commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM), where he outlined how the capabilities of the Grand Forks Air Force Base could support NORTHCOM’s Arctic and counter-unmanned aerial systems (UAS) missions, including how the Global Hawk is well-suited to play a role in the Arctic given its long endurance surveillance capabilities. Additionally, they discussed the recent Air Force test in North Dakota of an over-the-horizon radar, a capability which promises to provide NORTHCOM with advanced warning of threats to the U.S. mainland from the north. 

Hoeven’s meeting with Gen. O’Shaughnessy follows a visit by the Grand Forks Base Retention and Investment Committee (BRIC) to the NORTHCOM Headquarters in September and comes as part of his efforts to ensure the U.S. Air Force utilizes North Dakota’s air bases and UAS expertise to address these priorities, which are of growing importance to the nation’s defense. The senator also invited Gen. O’Shaughnessy to visit North Dakota to review how the state’s military infrastructure might support NORTHCOM missions. 

“North Dakota has the right location, infrastructure and expertise to support NORTHCOM’s operations in the Arctic and advance its work to counter potential threats from unmanned aircraft,” Hoeven said. “That’s the case we made to Gen. O’Shaughnessy, and we outlined opportunities to align our state’s capabilities with the needs of NORTHCOM’s missions. We appreciate his attention to these critical matters and will continue working to ensure our air bases are prepared to help NORTHCOM secure the Arctic and employ counter-UAS technology.”

Securing an Arctic Mission 

Hoeven has worked in recent years to secure an Arctic mission for Grand Forks. This includes a delegation the senator led to NORTHCOM headquarters in 2014 and hosting the former NORTHCOM Commander in North Dakota in 2017. Most recently, Hoeven worked to include the following measures in the Senate’s National Defense Authorization Act to advance this priority:

  • Hoeven-cosponsored legislation requiring a report on China and Russia’s activities in the Arctic, helping build the case for more attention and investment by the U.S. in the Arctic region.
  • A measure requiring a report on how “Northern Tier” bases, including Minot and Grand Forks, can be utilized to advance U.S. interests in the Arctic region.

Counter-UAS Operations

In order to advance the safe integration of UAS into the nation’s airspace, Hoeven has worked to support the development of counter-UAS technologies. Hoeven stressed to Gen. O’Shaughnessy that the unique convergence of unmanned aircraft operations, training, research and development in the state, which includes military, federal, university and commercial organizations, positions North Dakota to lead in these efforts and would benefit NORTHCOM’s work in this area. 

Hoeven continues working to grow the state’s role in developing these capabilities. Accordingly, the senator:

  • Is advancing the implementation of the Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018, bipartisan legislation that Hoeven helped introduce and pass to support the development of counter-UAS technology and protect important facilities from potential misuse of unmanned aircraft.
  • Secured $4 million above the administration’s request in the Senate’s FY2020 defense funding legislation for UAS research at the Department of Defense, which supports Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) work at the Northern Plains UAS Test Site.
  • Also provided $13 million in FY2019 for counter-UAS development under the Department of Homeland Security.