NORAD Deputy Commander Lt. General Alain Parent, center, of the Royal Canadian Air Force, takes phone calls from children asking where Santa is and when he will deliver presents to their house, during the annual NORAD Tracks Santa Operation, at the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, at Peterson Air Force Base, in Colorado Springs, Colo. Also fielding calls are U.S. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, left, and U.S. Air Force Maj. Chris Bendig. The U.S. and Canadian military will entertain millions of kids again this Christmas Eve with second-by-second updates on Santa’s global whereabouts.(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

NORAD Deputy Commander Lt. General Alain Parent, center, of the Royal Canadian Air Force, takes phone calls from children asking where Santa is and when he will deliver presents to their house, during the annual NORAD Tracks Santa Operation, at the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, at Peterson Air Force Base, in Colorado Springs, Colo. Also fielding calls are U.S. Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, left, and U.S. Air Force Maj. Chris Bendig. The U.S. and Canadian military will entertain millions of kids again this Christmas Eve with second-by-second updates on Santa’s global whereabouts.(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

DENVER (AP) — The U.S. and Canadian military’s beloved Santa Tracker is facing something new this year — public criticism.

A children’s advocacy group says an animated video on the NORAD Tracks Santa website injects militarism into Christmas by showing fighter jets escorting Santa’s sleigh.

It’s a rare swipe at the popular Christmas Eve program that gives second-by-second updates on Santa’s global whereabouts.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command defends the video as non-threatening and safe for kids.

The kerfuffle erupted two weeks ago when the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood said the video brings violence and militarism to a beloved tradition. Blogs and Twitter lit up with volleys from both sides.

Coalition officials say it’s a “media-manufactured controversy.” They say they hadn’t even known about the video until reporters called.

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