Gen. Ed Eberhart is the new leader for Northern Command, named by President Bush to head the post established because of terrorist attacks against the U.S. last fall. Peterson Air Force Base is the likely home for the command.
With the announcement, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ended weeks of speculation that Eberhart would be nominated. The U.S. Senate must confirm the appointment. Eberhart has been commander of Colorado Spring’s-based NORAD and U.S. Space Command since February 2000.
“It is an honor to be nominated as the first commander of U.S. Northern Command,” Eberhart said in a statement. “If confirmed, I look forward to serving in this role.”
Terrorist attacks on the United States last fall created a need for the new command. It is responsible for protection of the continental U. S., Canada, Mexico, parts of the Caribbean, and waters 500 miles off all U.S. shores.
The command will also be responsible for coordinating military response to natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and forest fires.
“Our job will be to preserve the nation’s security by defending the American people where they live and work and (to) support civilian authorities as needed,” Eberhart said. “We will also prepare for the inevitability of uncertainty and surprise… this will be a team effort from start to finish.”
The new command is to be operational on Oct. 1. Peterson Air Force Base is the preferred headquarters, but studies underway must be completed before an official location is named.
Eberhart is no stranger to the region. He graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1968. His training was immediately tested in Vietnam, where he flew 300 combat missions as a forward air controller. He later was an instructor pilot, and led the 363rd Tactical Fighter Wing during Operation Desert Shield in the Persian Gulf.
Now 55, Eberhart additionally is commander of the U.S. Space Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command at Peterson Air Force Base. He was selected head of NORAD and the U.S. Space Command about two years ago.
Area officials and the region’s congressional delegation are doing some serious politicking as the selection phase moves forward. Senator Wayne Allard said he is confident the command will come to Peterson AFB. It would generate from several hundred to perhaps 1,000 new jobs, according to published reports.