Commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and Northern Command (NORTHCOM), Gen. Glen VanHerck admitted Monday that the U.S.-Canada joint organization had not been able to detect spy balloons from China during previous invasions.
VanHerck answered the question, “Is NORTHCOM involved in the tracking of previous Chinese spy ball that flew into U.S. Airspace during Trump and Biden administrations?”
So those balloons, so every day as a NORAD commander it’s my responsibility to detect threats to North America. I can assure you, we didn’t detect these threats. And that’s a domain awareness gap that we have to figure out. But I don’t want to go in further detail.
He said that intelligence had tracked the previous balloons following the incursions. “additional means.”
“The intel community, after the fact — I believe has been briefed already — assess those threats to additional means of collection from additional means and made us aware of those balloons that were previously approaching North America or transited North America,”He stated.
Biden’s administration disclosed last week that China had launched spy balloons into U.S. skies during Trump’s administration. It implied that it was not an unusual occurrence, and that Trump had done nothing to address it. The fact that the U.S. military didn’t detect any incursions under Trump’s administration discredits this criticism.
VanHerck’s disclosure also raised questions as to how NORAD missed the previous incursions.
According to him, the Chinese spy ball that entered American airspace January 28th was over 200 feet high. According to him, “payload”It was likely that the balloon carrying the cargo was larger than regional jetliners and weighed over a thousand pounds.
It was easily spotted by residents in Montana as it loitered overhead and by other states’ residents as it traversed across the continental U.S. and exited near the South Carolina coast, where the U.S. military finally shot it down.
It is not clear how large the previous spy balloons were, and why the U.S. military or Canada’s military missed them.
VanHerck said that it was the balloon’s size that influenced the decision not to lower the balloon earlier.
“From a safety standpoint, picture yourself with large debris weighing hundreds if not thousands of pounds falling out of the sky. That’s really what we’re kind of talking about. So, glass off of solar panels, potentially hazardous material, such as material that is required for batteries to operate in such an environment as this and even the potential for explosives to detonate and destroy the balloon that could have been present,”He stated.
“So I think that would give you an idea of the perspective of the balloon and the decision-making process along the way,”He concluded.
He clarified later that he didn’t have any reason to believe that the balloon was carrying explosives, but he just assumed so out of sheer caution.
VanHerck stated that while the military had time to bring it down above the Aleutian Islands but the balloon didn’t present any danger, the air force was unable to do so. “physical military threat”North America “I could not take immediate action because it was not demonstrating hostile act or hostile intent.”
He claimed that NORAD existed. “good indication”It was not a weather balloon but a spy satellite from the start, contrary to China’s claims.
According to the general, U.S. Military was “unacceptable.” “took every precaution” to ensure that sensitive military sites under the balloon’s path were “covered”It is so simple! “minimized any collection.”
VanHerck responded to a congressional question by stating that he was going to brief Congress regarding the Chinese spy balloon. “worked,” but that he wanted to preserve the Biden administration’s “decision space.”
“All of that’s being worked, and I’m — I’m going to preserve their decision space, the department’s decision space, the president’s decision space,”He said:
During confirmation testimony, He stated that he was willing to give any testimony if asked. “Whenever they ask, I’ll be ready with the support of the department,”He stated.
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