Shield Against Dangerous Aerial Threats

Target: Lloyd Austin, U.S. Secretary of Defense

Goal: Modernize NORAD to strengthen the country’s aerial surveillance and defense.

Every year, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists resets the Doomsday Clock: a symbolic indicator of how close humanity is to global catastrophe and potential annihilation. The clock was recently moved to 90 seconds until midnight, which is the closest it’s ever inched to the apocalyptic number. As the indicator was first created in the wake of World War II’s atomic bomb detonations, it’s been a consistent tracker of nuclear threat. Current conflicts such as the war in Ukraine, the rising tensions between Iran and Israel, and the seeming development of a new Cold War between the United States and China have certainly contributed to the tense atmosphere. And these boiling-pot issues signal a need for modernization of the country’s top air defense system.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is a joint venture of America and Canada that is supposed to act as a surveillance warning system and protector for the nations’ airspace. NORAD has long been subject to dangerous deficiencies, however, including at least three instances when false warnings of an imminent nuclear attack were dispersed to Air Force commanders. Thankfully, these incidents did not escalate to dangerous levels, but they did highlight critical failures that still exist today. The ongoing gaps were on full display when NORAD’s commander recently acknowledged that a large object over American airspace believed to be a Chinese spy balloon was not detected by the system. In fact, it made a complete trek across the country before eventually being shot down.

NORAD leaders issued a joint pledge to modernize this vital system in 2021. Canada has made good on this pledge, but the U.S. still lags behind. Sign the petition below to call on American leadership to honor this important vow for the sake of continental and global security.


Dear Secretary Austin,

The recent chaos surrounding perceived spy balloons and other objects of unknown origin in American air space reinforces the need for more capable aerial surveillance systems. With mounting threats around the globe, this priority is as crucial as ever. NORAD will play a key role in realizing these objectives.

The Joint Statement on NORAD Modernization that you championed nearly two years ago needs to be implemented. The Canada Ministry of Defense has already made the necessary investments for increased situational awareness, enhanced command and control systems, and stronger research and defense capabilities. Please match these investments and ensure greater protection against any threat coming from the skies.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Department of Defense

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