North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)
Galen Roger Perras
North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), originally the North American Air Defense Command, began its existence on May 12, 1958, as a joint Canada-U.S. command. There is no formal NORAD treaty; rather, technical and diplomatic notes were exchanged in 1957. NORAD was designed to warn against and defend North America from Soviet bomber strikes—work that it did with little fanfare. Indeed, for many North Americans, their only knowledge of NORAD came from childhood memories of television reports about how NORAD was tracking Santa's sleigh on Christmas Eve. Al Qaeda's attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, using hijacked civilian jets and a potential Canadian role in continental ballistic missile defense (BMD), however, have raised concerns about NORAD's long-term viability. This entry examines the history and functions of NORAD and discusses some of the controversies and problems associated with the organization. The notion of North ...