NORAD commander: Incursions by unmanned aircraft systems on southern border likely exceed 1,000 a month

There are likely more than 1,000 incursions by unmanned aircraft systems along the U.S.-Mexico border each month, said the U.S. Northern Command’s top general during testimony today at a Senate Armed Services Committee posture hearing.

A man in camouflage stands at a lectern with his hands at chest level.

“I don’t know the actual number — I don’t think anybody does — but it’s in the thousands,” said Air Force Gen. Gregory M. Guillot in response to one senator’s query.

When asked about the period of time that it takes to reach that number of incursions, Guillot responded, “I would say in probably over a month. We… probably have over 1,000 a month.” 

Though the exact number of UAS incursions along the border remains unknown, Guillot, who took over as commander of Northcom and the North American Aerospace Defense Command on Feb. 5, said he learned the approximate number recently while talking to officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Justice. 

“The number of incursions was something that was alarming to me as I took command last month,” Guillot said. 

When asked if such incursions present a defense threat to the homeland, Guillot said he hasn’t seen any of the incursions “manifest in a threat to the level of national defense,” but he said he does “see the potential only growing.” 

In recent years, members of Congress have shown a growing, bipartisan concern about dangerous UAS activity, including activity linked to drug and human traffickers who have used UAS technology to facilitate their illegal operations.

A square, plastic aircraft with a spinning rotor on each corner flies in the air with a clear blue sky behind it.

As a command being primarily tasked with continuously providing “worldwide detection, validation and warning of a ballistic missile attack on North America,” NORAD is also charged with providing “continental detection, validation, warning and aerospace control” of airborne threats to North America, including unmanned aircraft systems, according to the NORAD website. 


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