Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan participates in NORAD, USNORTHCOM Change of Command Ceremony

News release

May 24, 2018, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA — National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

Canada is steadfast in its commitment to working with our U.S. allies to keep our citizens safe and secure through the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).  

Earlier today, Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan participated in the Change of Command ceremony for the incoming Commander of NORAD and U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), United States Air Force General Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy. General O'Shaughnessy will replace outgoing Commander General Lori Robinson, who has provided exemplary leadership as Commander NORAD and USNORTHCOM since 2016.

Minister Sajjan also took this opportunity to acknowledge the recent 60th anniversary of NORAD, and to emphasize the unique and lasting defence relationship between Canada and the United States. 

As the first line of defence against air and maritime threats, NORAD is responsible for warning and control over North American airspace and warning over maritime approaches. As outlined in Canada’s defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, Canada is committed to continuing to work with the United States, including through NORAD, to keep our shared continent secure. 

On the margins of the ceremony, Minister Sajjan had the opportunity to meet with United States Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, where they discussed continental defence.


“NORAD is a symbol of military cooperation between Canada and the United States. On this day, we mark the change of Command for NORAD and United States Northern Command (US NORTHCOM). I am pleased to congratulate General O’ Shaughnessy as he takes on this important role. As we welcome General O’Shaughnessy, I would also like to bid a fond farewell to outgoing Commander General Lori Robinson.”

The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence

Quick facts

  • North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) was established in 1958 to monitor and defend North American airspace. In 2006, NORAD expanded its mission to include maritime warning.

  • NORAD Headquarters is based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and is a unique bi-national military organization. Traditionally, the Commander of NORAD has been from the American Armed Forces and the Deputy Commander has been from the Canadian Armed Forces. 

  • Canada’s defence policy Strong, Secure, Engaged commits Canada to work in partnership with the United States to make sure we are secure in North America. The policy also commits Canada to continue to work with the United States to modernize NORAD so it remains agile in the face of evolving threats. This commitment highlights the continued importance of NORAD to Canada in terms of continental security and broader Canada-US defence relations.  It also includes collaborating with the US on the development of new technologies to improve Arctic surveillance and control, and the newly aligned Canadian Air Defence Identification Zone (CADIZ), which is effective today.

  • The Commander of NORAD is responsible to both the United States President and the Canadian Prime Minister. NORAD and US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) headquarters serves as a central collection and coordination facility for a worldwide system of sensors designed to provide the Commander and the leadership of Canada and the United States with an accurate picture of aerospace and maritime threats. Three subordinate regional headquarters, located at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska; Canadian Forces Base Winnipeg, Manitoba; and Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, receive direction from the Commander and control air operations within their respective areas of responsibility.

  • Canadian-born General Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy has previously served as Commander, Pacific Air Forces; Air Component Commander for US Pacific Command and Executive Director, Pacific Air Combat Operations Staff, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

  • In May 2016, General Robinson made history as the first female Commander to command a unified Combatant Command.

Associated links


Byrne Furlong
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of National Defence
Phone: 613-996-3100

Media Relations
Department of National Defence
Phone: 613-996-2353

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