Some observers have cited the massive changes in the Department of Defense (DoD), most being made this fall, as the largest reorganization of the U.S. defense structure since establishment of the department in 1947. Perhaps most significant is a new combatant command responsible for the land, aerospace, and sea defenses of the United States. Called Northern Command (NorthCom), it will command forces within the United States and area waters to help DoD counter terrorist and military attacks, coordinate DoD assistance in natural disasters or other civil difficulties, and provide more coordinated military support to civil authorities.
Beyond U.S. territory and adjacent waters, NorthCom's area of responsibility includes Cuba. The remainder of the Caribbean area is within the purview of the U.S. Southern Command. The Cuban shift elicited this comment from an unidentified DoD official: "It's messy and everyone recognizes that. But they wanted to have a sense of covering the approaches" to the United States from the sea.