The U.S. Northern Command has formally added new naval and special operations components to its command structure in the last month, according to the Department of Defense.
A Feb. 28 Armed Forces Press Service report said that two weeks ago, Fleet Forces Command was officially designated as Northcom’s maritime component. NorthCom is a Unified Combatant Command of the U.S. military, tasked with providing military support for civil authorities in the U.S.
The Feb. 28 report quoted Northcom public affairs officer Navy Capt. Jeff Davis as saying the new designation is basically a “paperwork change,” which formalizes the role Fleet Forces Command has been doing on an ad hoc basis almost since Northcom’s beginnings in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
Officially adding the NavNorth mission to its existing responsibilities, Fleet Forces Command will continue to support Northcom’s theater security cooperation plan, with includes port visits, training exercises and professional exchanges, Davis said.
“This is now giving us formally a naval component command like every other geographic command has,” he said. “This is part of the continued maturation of Northcom as a full-fledged combatant command.”
The new designation, said the report, follows then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s approval in January for Northcom to establish a theater special operations command. According to Davis, Northcom is in the process of standing up Special Operations Command North, and expects it to reach initial operating capability next year.
Davis added that, like NavNorth, the new command is viewed largely as an organizational change and will focus primarily on theater security engagement efforts Northcom already is supporting in the region.
According to DoD, Northcom already has Army, Air Force and Marine Corps components. U.S. Army North, formed from 5th U.S. Army, is based in San Antonio, TX. Air Forces Northern, from 1st Air Force, is headquartered at Tyndall Air Force Base, FL. Marine Forces North is part of Marine Forces Reserve, headquartered in New Orleans.