A SHARPER SPEAR
Expanded air defenses in the U.S. National Capital Region, backed by a strategic communications plan still in development, are sending a loud-and-clear message to terrorists who might consider another Sept. 11-type attack: "You're on a fools' errand," says Adm. Timothy J. Keating. Since last November, he has headed both North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) and U.S. Northern Command (Northcom).
"WE HAVE AN INTEGRATED, layered [defense]--from thousands of miles away to directly overhead--and any attempt to get through this system-of-systems can be met in a number of ways, leading up to and including a highly kinetic kill. The plan is to ensure that those who would harm our citizens or infrastructure . . . would not get here."
Air defenses in and around Washington were bolstered with more radar-guided missiles prior to the presidential inauguration in January. Fighter aircraft also remain on alert status and conduct patrols "over the U.S. irregularly and aperiodically," Keating says. "It's fairly safe to say the National Capital Region is heavily defended, protected by [this] system-of-systems. Obviously, it expands the protection ring quite a bit. That has its own challenges when you get into notification and authorization protocols."
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, about 40,000 fighter sorties have been flown under Norad's "Operation Noble Eagle.
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