Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and Northern Command (NORTHCOM) gave a unique admission during a press conference on February 6th. Telling the American people that this was not the first time we have had Chinese balloons over our country shocked many. When directly asked about NORTHCOM having any record of tracking these Chinese balloons during either the Trump or Biden administrations, he unloaded a response many did not expect.
“So those balloons, so every day as a NORAD commander it’s my responsibility to detect threats to North America. I will tell you that we did not detect those threats. And that’s a domain awareness gap that we have to figure out. But I don’t want to go into further detail.”
Naturally, of course, this led to the question of how and when were these detected if we were not told about them when they happened.
“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.”
By his words, we are supposed to believe that they discovered when balloons flew through the air without having recorded proof or noticing a difference in our sky, but they can’t figure out what happened during Epstein’s time in jail.
These statements also destroyed Biden’s cocky comments stating that we had balloons like these during the Trump years, but Trump just ignored it. It’s easy for a sitting President or anyone to ignore a problem they don’t even know exists. On the flip side of the coin, these statements also make us look like a weak nation. If we cannot detect balloons flying through the air, then the old ways of attacks are not only still viable for many nations, but it makes us look incredibly weak.
Admissions like the ones from VanHerck raise serious questions about NORAD and their ability to do their jobs. The balloon that came into US airspace on January 28th was over 200 feet tall, with a “payload” bigger than a regional jetliner, and weighed more than a few thousand pounds. To say this was hard to miss is an understatement. Crossing Montana as well as numerous other states, it was easily seen as it moved and eventually made its way to South Carolina.
Given the ease with which it was spotted, VanHerck claimed that the sheer size alone made shooting it down earlier impossible. “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.”
While the General stands ready to appear before Congress should it be necessary, he needs to be more prepared to answer questions about the balloons during Trump’s time in office. This new intelligence needs to be shared with the American people.
If it is as good as he is indicating it could be, we could solve so many problems. It’s not often that technology comes out that can detect past air movements. Especially so high in the sky. By being able to do this, who knows just what kind of information it could uncover?
Then there is the other likelihood and that’s his decision to hide behind national security or something else. In that instance, the American people and our elected reps learn nothing about these “past encounters.” We just get left with the typical feeling of disappointment and uncertainty. If this happened we the American people deserve to know about it, and a sitting President damn well needed to know about it.