Homeland Defense

Dear Readers,

Welcome to the first edition of The Watch, a magazine published by U.S. Northern Command focusing on homeland defense. This inaugural issue explores the changing threat environment — from troubling advances in adversaries’ missile capabilities to new vulnerabilities in the cyber sphere — and how partners are working together more than ever to safeguard their homelands.

Defense strategies must evolve as the physical nature of the planet evolves. The Arctic region, for example — once a nearly impenetrable plug of ice and hazardous weather — becomes increasingly more accessible as ice caps recede. The melting ice exposes deposits of oil, gas and minerals to extraction, opens shipping lanes, draws countries into competition and spurs the militarization of a once-overlooked region.

Such evolving defense challenges often are met by partners working together. Norway, for example, decided in January 2017 to allow U.S. Marines to deploy inside its borders — a first since Norway joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949. While the countries train together to conduct cold-weather operations, they also demonstrate the strength of the NATO alliance. Norway and its neighbors have spent the past year reasserting their commitment to the alliance and increasing defense spending in the face of Russian aggression in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

When it comes to 21st-century warfighting, however, not every battle is fought with tanks, airplanes and ships. Some battles are won in space, while others are waged on the internet. In this edition, we’ll explore a U.S. Pentagon program that involves cutting-edge technology. Innovative ground defenses destroyed a mock intercontinental ballistic missile in space and never allowed it to enter the atmosphere or threaten the U.S. homeland.

By establishing strong alliances and staying abreast of disruptive technology, the United States and its partners and allies collectively defend their homelands every day. We hope you find this edition of The Watch insightful and informative.