International Policy Statement: Defense

In this continuing series I’ve so far looked at the Diplomacy Policy Statement pertaining to the Foreign Affairs departments’ role in Canadas’ International Policy. I also went in depth to look at their position on UN Reform and multilateralism.

In this article I will analyse the Defense Policy Statement.

Here is the official Defense Policy Statement website, or you can download the PDF from me here.

Perhaps the biggest change is the refocusing of the Canadian military…

Bill Graham says in his message to open the Statement:

The tragedy of September 11, 2001 proved to Canadians that we are vulnerable to the threat of terrorism and the spillover effects from failed and failing states. This policy, therefore, establishes the defence of Canada as our first priority. The Canadian Forces will be reorganized and retooled to tighten their focus on this primary mandate.

I don’t think many Canadians deem protection of their own territory as very important. Indeed, I bet many would ask “why?”. However, this renewed focus at home could serve us well. Both at boosting our credibility with our southern neighbour, and at giving our soldiers a renewed sense of what they’re fighting for. I do not doubt the motivation of our Canadian Forces, but if I were in their position, which seems to be a constant state of flux.. or bored at home… this refocusing would engage me. The Forces *should* be prepared to protect Canada. We should be able to defend ourselves in every single region of our nation. And by doing that… we will be implicitly training for nearly every possible situation that would encounter overseas.

Here’s an interesting graph showing Canadas overal military strength and it’s deployment before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall.


Domestic deployments are shown in blue, International in brown.

The Statement goes into detail on how the Canadian Forces will be retasked and retooled… one of the major points is having what looks to be like three distinct “Groups” of forces compromising special ops, land, air and maritime assets.

  1. A Special Operations Group (includes an enlarged JTF2)
  2. A Standing Contingency Task Force. Able to deploy with 10 days notice.
  3. Other Task Forces deployed for longer periods for combat and/or peace support operation

Other interesting “aquisitions” on the table are maritime capabilities that “provide sea-based national or multi-national command capability” and “deploy tactical unmanned aerial vehicles”.

On the airborne side they are looking to; acquire medium- to heavy-lift helicopters.. to support special ops and transport assets from maritime or forward bases, acquire, or ensure access to, the right mix of capabilities to meet the increasing requirements for domestic, global and in-theatre airlift; provide the Canadian Forces with a flexible and pursue the use of satellites to support domestic and international operations.

On the land side: increase the forces by 5000 regular and 3000 reserve. ” complete the acquisition and development of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems, ” continue to transform into a modern, combat capable medium-weight force, based primarily on wheeled Light Armoured Vehicles, including the Mobile Gun System and the Multi-Mission Effects Vehicle

As I said above, it appears that one of the biggest shifts for the Canadian Forces will be a new focus on Domestic security. Most of the goals pretty common sense and not really of note.. though this one caught my eye “helping develop a common maritime picture, including by expanding the number of High Frequency Surface Wave Radars on each coast [including the North] ”

Throughout the document there is a heavy emphasis on security through intelligence and monitoring. These marine radars, to more aviation radar installations, to increased capabilities for CSIS, cyber intelligence gathering, and the use of satellites and UAVs all add up to the military doing a better job of keeping an eye on Canadas land, air and water. Good or bad.. Big Brother is perhaps getting a little bigger?

On the defense of North America:

Canada’s geography is, from an American viewpoint, destined to regain the importance it lost after the end of the Cold War…. It is clearly in our sovereign interest to continue doing our part in defending the continent with the United States.

NORAD is the focus of the document and looks to continue to be the main method for cooperationg with the United States. That said, there are other, more concrete forms of cooperation including:

improving their ability to operate alongside American forces, including through more frequent combined training and exercises;
[and] continuing to participate in international operations overseas to address threats at their source.

Which brings us to Canadas Overseas responsibilities:

The Canadian Forces will, therefore, maintain their contributions to international institutions such as the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Membership in both of these organizations continues to serve Canadian interests and reflect our values. At the same time, consistent with international legal norms, when the will of the international community is clear, we will also consider participating in less formal coalitions of like-minded states, as we have seen in the international campaign against terrorism.

Canada will take a lead role in the Multinational Standby High Readiness Brigade for United Nations Operations (SHIRBRIG). The brigade, deployed for the first time in Ethiopia and Eritrea in 2000, will remain critical to the United Nations’ ability to undertake peace support operations in the coming years. Canada held the SHIRBRIG presidency in 2003, and has command of the brigade until mid-2006.

People like numbers… and when they see that the Canadian Forces are being upped by 5000 regular and 3000 reserve men and women they might look at those numbers and say ‘bah, that doesn’t seem like much.. can’t fight a war with 5000 soldiers”.

However, those 8000 new soldiers have, according to this document, given the Canadian Forces the ability to deploy twice the number of troops to conflicts and missions around the world, and sustain them for longer periods.

The new “Land Forces” capabilities include:

  • sustain overseas for an indefinite period two land task forces, potentially in different theatres of operations, to form the land component of Mission-Specific Task Forces. While currently limited to approximately 700personnel, these land task forces will increase to approximately 1,200 personnel. In addition, the land forces will be able to provide a smaller, third task force of approximately 1,000 personnel for a sixmonth period, either to reinforce a current operation or to mount a new short-term mission. Overall, the land forces will effectively double their capacity to undertake and sustain operations; and
  • provide a brigade headquarters, capable of commanding a multinational formation for a year, as part of a larger Canadian international effort.

That’s it for the Defense Policy Statement. There really wasn’t that much to it. It was alot more fluff than the Diplomacy statement though it did at least point a few goals and initiatives that will help the Canadian Forces evolve and grow. I’m glad to see that the new soldiers will be put to use and used to augment rather than simply maintain the status quo. I do think it’s important as well that we have a Canada Command that is capable of responding to domestic emergencies and cooperating with civilian operations… this, I think, has been a huge deficit for the Canadian Forces in the past.

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