Fall 2005 (Volume III, Issue II)

Promoting new understanding and improvement of Canadian foreign and defence policy.

In this issue:

Message from the President - Robert S. Millar

Welcome to the Fall issue of “The Dispatch” newsletter. In this edition we introduce two new members of our Board of Directors, Brian Flemming of Halifax, NS and Mike Mears of London, ON as well as two new Fellows, Sharon Hobson and Richard Gimblett. We welcome them to our expanding network and look forward to their future contributions.

Since our last newsletter CDFAI co-sponsored with the Conference of Defence Associations Institute, a Graduate Student Symposium at RMC in Kingston where 37 quality papers were presented on Security and Defence: National and International Issues. At the end of October in conjunction with Carleton, Queen’s, Laval, Montreal/McGill, The Dominion Institute and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Canada Institute, CDFAI ran a successful conference in Ottawa on The World in Canada: Demographics, Diversity & Domestic Politics in Canadian Foreign Policy which generated some interesting media coverage, not only for comments made at the conference but also for the poll results done by Innovative Research Group.

The Special Commission on the Restructuring of the Reserve, 1995: Ten Years Later paper authored by Dr J.L.Granatstein and LGen (ret’d) Charles Belzile was released. There will be one more research paper released by CDFAI this year.

The five articles in this newsletter continue the discussion on Canada’s evolving role on the international scene. The first article written by Scot Robertson is titled Policy and Force Structure Options for the CF: Resolving Overlapping Demands. In his  comments Scot summarizes many of the critical issues facing the CF in its quest for relevance within the new Defence Policy Statement.

Major-General (ret’d) Cameron Ross in his article on “Caribbean Security is in Canada’s National Interest” lays out many of the challenges facing the nations in this region and issues that Canada should address in order to ensure there are no further failed states on our doorstep.

State Failure and Canadian Foreign Policy authored by David Carment discusses why states fail and how Canada might determine which ones are important. He goes on to discuss the types of intervention strategies Canada should consider, given a yet to be defined risk/reward strategy for early intervention.

George Macdonald has written an insightful article on NORAD Renewal: An Opportunity. His review of the agreement and its benefits to Canada as well as recent Canada – US challenges in this area set the stage for a discussion on an expanded defence arrangement with our neighbours to the South.

Canada’s Culturally Correct Military by Ray Crabbe takes an interesting look at the Canadian Forces and an area that the new Chief of Defence Staff, General Rick Hillier has determined to focus on by making the institution reflect the ethnic composition of Canada. Ray indicates that this is not new, nor without challenges. He draws conclusions on achievability and impact on training standards, conduct and operational and disciplinary standards.

Enjoy this newsletter; if you have any comments please contact us.


CDFAI New Board Members

brianflemming.jpg Brian Flemming, CM, QC, DCL, is a Canadian policy advisor, writer and international lawyer. From 2002 to 2005, he was Chairman of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA), a Crown corporation that was created by Canada’s federal Parliament on April 1, 2002, to improve security at Canadian airports and on Canadian aircraft. He acted as CATSA’s first CEO and set up the Crown corporation.  Brian was recently appointed as a member of the Advisory Council on National Security.
michealmears.jpg Michael Mears recently retired as President of The Calgary Foundation. Mike also has a diverse background in business at the most senior levels as well as foreign service, banking, Merchant Marine and Canadian Naval Reserve experience. 


CDFAI New Fellows

sharonhobson.jpg  Sharon Hobsonhas been the Canadian correspondent for Jane’s Defence Weekly since April 1985.  For the past decade, she has also been a regular contributor to Jane’s Navy International and Jane’s International Defence Review. In 2004, she won the Ross Munro Media Award for defence writing. 
richardgimblett.jpg  Richard Gimblett is an independent historian and defence policy analyst, with 27 years service in the Canadian Navy. He served in ships of various classes on both coasts, including as Combat Officer of HMCS Protecteur for operations in the Persian Gulf during the war of 1991. He subsequently co-authored the official account of Canadian participation in the Gulf War, published under the title Operation FRICTION: The Canadian Forces in the Persian Gulf, 1990-1991.  



davidbercuson.jpg  Dr. David J. Bercusonwas recently appointed  as a member of the Advisory Council on National Security.  The Council will work with the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister to provide advise to the Deputy Prime Minister and the Cabinet Committee on Security, Public Health and Emergencies on national security issues. 


Graduate Student Symposium


The Conference of Defence Associations Institute (CDAI) 8th Annual Graduate Student Symposium, Security and Defence: National and International Issues, October 28-29, held in collaboration with CDFAI, was extremely successful.  Thirty-seven individuals, mainly from DND-funded Security and Defence Forum (SDF) centres, gave stimulating presentations on various defence, security, and development issues. More than 100 people attended the conference, making this the best attended Symposium ever.  Senator Hugh Segal and Major-General Andrew Leslie were keynote speakers.

The top three presenters were (from first to third place) Justin Massie (L'Université du Québec à Montréal), Ty Curran (University of Calgary) and Bruno Charbonneau (Queen’s University).  They received cash prizes of $3000, $2000, and $1000, respectively and their papers will be published on the CDFAI website.

Featured papers by top three presenters:

First Place:
Justin Massie (L'Université du Québec à Montréal)
Une culture stratégique idéaliste, libérale et défensive? Analyse de l’Énoncé de politique internationale du Canada 

Second Place:
Ty Curran (University of Calgary)
Sole Sourcing Naval Procurement 

Third Place:
Bruno Charbonneau (Queen’s University)
Repenser État et la Sécurité Nationale : le Cas de la France au Rwanda


Annual Conference





2005 CDFAI Annual Ottawa Conference
The World in Canada:  Demographics, Diversity & Domestic Politics in Canadian Foreign Policy


Thank you to the attendees who participated in The World in Canada Conference held on October 31-November 1, 2005 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.


This two-day event followed on the successful conference Defining the National Interest: New Directions for Canadian Foreign Policy held in Ottawa in the Fall of 2004. The 2005 Conference traced the changes in Canada's demographic make-up and explored the relationship between domestic politics and Canadian foreign policy, across the fields of diplomacy, development, defence and security and immigration. Again this year, the Conference included panel discussions and working group sessions. A national public opinion poll was conducted to measure the impact of cultural, linguistic and regional differences in how Canadians perceive their foreign and defence policy interests. The results of the poll may be downloaded here.


The World in Canada Conference was sponsored by: Carleton University, Université Laval, Queen's University, The Regis (University of Montreal/McGill University), The Dominion Institute and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Canada Institute.  CDFAI gratefully acknowledges the contributions of everyone who helped make The World in Canada Conference a success.






Research Paper: The Special Commission on the Restructuring of the Reserves, 1995: Ten Years Later

On September 28, 2005, Dr. J.L. Granatstein and LGen. (ret'd) Charles Belzile's paper entitled:  The Special Commission on Restructuring of the Reserves, 1995: Ten Years Later was released.  The original report served as a blueprint for restructuring the Reserves.  Dr. Granatstein and LGen. Belzile re-visited their original report to evaluate the reforms and the outcomes over the past decade. This report will serve as the foundation for a major national conference on the Reserves to be held in Calgary on December 2-4, 2005, sponsored by the CDFAI and the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary. Details for this conference can be found at

Dr. Granatstein/LGen Belzile’s paper is the third research paper in 2005 to be released.  One more paper will be released this year in December.



Policy and Force Structure Options for the CF:
Resolving Overlapping Demands 

by Scot Robertson

The Government of Canada has finally released its much anticipated and long-awaited International Policy Review and the associated Defence Policy Review.  While these, along with the budget increases contained in the 2005 Federal Budget give some hope for the future of the armed forces, there is much detail yet to be worked out.  The fact of the matter remains that the Canadian Forces still face many significant challenges.  The first challenge is reversing the slide into irrelevance.  Another challenge, one that the CDS, General Hillier has spoken of, is transforming the Canadian Forces.  The creation of CF Transformation Team suggests that General Hillier is intent on re-building the capability of the CF with the goal of providing credible and relevant forces for the dangerous times that lie ahead.  The magnitude of these parallel and sometimes competing challenges is monumental.  In that regard, it may be helpful to review some of the options that will confront defence planners.

Policy and Force Structure Basics
There has been no shortage of suggestions or recommendations regarding the policy and force structure required for Canada in the days and years ahead.  What has been seemingly absent from many of these is the recognition or acknowledgement that changes made today will shape Canada's military capability for perhaps the next two decades or more.  Therefore, it is critical to consider the very fundamentals of both defence policy and force structure before rushing headlong down any particular path.

Perhaps the key consideration is to remember that Canada needs a force able to contribute not only to peace-keeping / peace-enforcement operations but as a last resort, capable of operating and surviving in a wide range of combat operations.  This should not be taken as a suggestion that the Canadian Forces must possess capabilities in all areas, for clearly, that is beyond the reach of all but the largest armed forces.  Instead, the Canadian Forces require the ability to defend our sovereign territory against known threats within the warning time available and to credibly participate in coalition operations up to and including war.  While it may not be necessary to project power in the sense of a great power such as our ally the US, Canada must be capable of contributing, as part of a coalition, a credible and effective military presence as rapidly as possible. Thus we must balance the need to rapidly deploy forces to provide assistance during natural disasters or to intervene with combat capable force packages as part of a coalition to contribute to international security with the longer term ability to protect the nation.

In developing the force structure to provide this capability the CF must ensure that it recognizes the impact of modern technology on the threat assessment.  Many small nations and terrorist organizations have access to modern weapon systems that are sufficiently powerful to allow a small number of weapons to threaten regional stability and create a significant threat to a deployed force.  It is therefore imperative that the CF maintain a sufficient level of technology to operate against these new threats. Therefore the equipment must be modern, robust and interoperable with our allies.  On the other hand quantities must be realistic and surplus capabilities should not be retained.

The Canadian Forces need to be selective in the capabilities to be retained to ensure the continuing affordability of any future force structure.  Therefore hard choices will have to be made between capabilities to ensure that it retains combat capable forces able to operate with our allies or other coalitions in a wide range of scenarios.  The CF must eliminate redundancy and obtain the maximum amount of capability possible from every element in the force.  The forces that it chooses to retain must be balanced, well equipped and sustainable with readiness levels that reflect a realistic warning time and mission.  In addition the reserves must be structured and assigned meaningful roles in accordance with the strategic assessment of the threat and their ability to respond within the warning time.

A rapid strategic deployment capability is the key to ensuring that defence objectives can be met.  Strategic lift must be enhanced to ensure high readiness units can be deployed to theatre in time to make a difference.  This will require the formation of rapid response units to conform to the strategic lift available as well as an increase in the availability of that lift.  The impact will be a smaller but more capable force packages able to deploy worldwide within a very short time frame with limited time between deployment and employment in the theatre of operations.

The capability to collect, process and disseminate information is critical to operations in the 21st Century.  Prior to committing forces to operations a complete understanding of the threat is required to allow proper decisions regarding the type of response required and be confident that such deployed forces can be commanded and controlled in any situation. The CF must therefore improve command and control, communications, and intelligence capabilities through the utilization of information technology and systems.  Surveillance and reconnaissance will be critical elements in all theatres of operation to allow the deployed forces adequate warning of changing threats to permit them to employ appropriate tactics to deal with the threat.  This is especially critical for transitioning from peace keeping to peace enforcement operations.

The CF needs to place emphasis on combat multipliers and modern technologies.  Superior training must be maintained through enhanced simulation as well as field exercises.  Also, the CF needs to maintain an understanding of the employment of new technologies on the battlefield to prevent existing capabilities from becoming obsolescent and encouraging the adoption of new capabilities as required.  It should pursue the acquisition of technologically superior equipment that increases lethality while reducing the size of the force package required to produce the capability.  The CF must retain the ability to be fully interoperable and able to integrate our forces with our allies and coalition partners.  It must improve the flow of information within deployed forces to maximize the combat capability of those forces through the use of detection, targeting, and communications equipment.  The resulting increase in awareness of the operational environment will allow commanders at all levels to react more quickly and decisively to rapidly changing circumstances.  Manoeuvrability in the area of operations is critical therefore forces must be structured and equipped to promote agility which will ensure decisive speed and tempo can be maintained.

Resolving the Policy Dilemma to Meet the Re-Investment Demands
Unfortunately, these demands do not present an either or situation.  There is a need to take action in all three areas.  But the CF must decide what level of emphasis will be placed on each area.  In considering how to spend any additional resources, the Department and the CF should consider how any particular programme or project meets the larger requirements in the following three areas: 1) improve the ability to respond to the immediate need to address regional conflicts; 2) refurbish and modernize aging equipment; and 3) re-engineer for the next era of war.  

In short, Canada and Canadians need to decide what level of capability the CF needs to possess in the future, and how much change the Department is willing to accept to achieve that goal.  Will the CF be willing to transform its force structure to achieve a fully capable and relevant end state in the 21st Century or are there some limitations restricting change?  If it wishes to attain a fully capable and relevant force for the 21st century, how quickly are we prepared to proceed with change?  The last few months suggest some cause for optimism.  However, much hard and painful work remains.



Caribbean Security is in Canada’s National Interest

by Major-General (R) Cameron Ross; CMM, CD

As the fall weather turns colder and flurries predict the onslaught of winter, Canadian thoughts turn to warmer climates.  Ads for Caribbean cruises abound.  Far from the thoughts of vacationers is terrorism. Once on board, the average Canadian thinks little of Al Qaeda; the Caribbean is far from Bali.  But where else will you find between 4000 and 8000 predominantly American tourists packed into an unprotected area the size of two square city blocks? 

On any given day, you will find at least two and perhaps four huge cruise ships in a Caribbean harbour.  And, while security personnel are dockside, there is little, if any, maritime protection.  An unlikely soft target?  Think again.  There is emerging awareness that terrorists will use the same infrastructure as the drug trade.  And the latter is a thriving, well-organized business in the Caribbean.

Drugs, predominantly cocaine, are loaded onto speed boats in South American ports.  These long and sleek ‘go fasts’ with three or four 150/200 HP engines, have a small crew of heavily armed men.  Capable of traveling northward through the island chains at 40+ knots for up to seven hours, they are hard to detect and even harder to intercept.  The final destination for these drugs is the US, Canada, and Europe.  The drugs are transhipped to freighters or pleasure craft, onto airliners, or onto other ‘go fasts’ to complete the journey.  The trade is ruthless, with no leniency asked, and none given.  The equipment used is top notch and loyalty of service is paid in cash – huge sums of it.  It is the latter that is also the currency of the terrorist.  There is fear that terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda will use the robust and dynamic infrastructure of the drug trade to strike at soft targets populated predominantly by Americans. 

The drug trade is fought on three levels:  nationally, bilaterally, and multilaterally.  The individual countries do their best.  However, many of these island states, with populations from 70,000 (Dominica) to 280,000 (Barbados) have a very limited capacity to deal with a sophisticated threat.  These nations have a maritime police section responsible for intercepting and apprehending the ‘go fasts’; however, they have inadequate resources to deal effectively with the problem.  Their boats, often old, are in dire states of repair and are often a hodgepodge of mixed designs.  While the crews are often enthusiastic and willing to go into harms way, they frequently do not have adequate rules of engagement to stop the ‘bad guys’ before they dump their cargo overboard. 

The United States is a major player in the Caribbean Basin on both the war on drugs and terrorism.  The U.S. has developed bilateral relationships with some of the countries but for the most part, there has been limited success in battling a trans-national threat.  The war in Iraq and more recent impact of Katrina and Rita has reduced the US Coast Guard presence.  It is evident that whenever large helicopter-capable ships are in the neighbourhood, the drug trade goes to ground.  Cutbacks have also resulted in the decreased presence of the Canadian Navy in the Caribbean over the years. 

Not surprisingly, one of the more effective ways to combat any threat is to pool resources.  NATO is the world’s greatest example of this.  Seven Eastern Caribbean countries created their own mini-NATO in 1982.  This coalition, called the Regional Security System, is focused on law enforcement issues rather than military threats per se.  With a small headquarters in Barbados, the RSS coordinates policing efforts along the island chain of former British colonies.  The RSS has also played a major role in disaster relief as occasioned in 2004 when Hurricane Ivan devastated Grenada; RSS ‘troops’ were among the first to respond.

As in any war, intelligence is critical to success.  Without timely, accurate intelligence, law enforcement agencies are either in a reactive mode or are acting in ways that are easily predicted by the opposition.  A case in point is the wasteful dispatch of ‘standing patrols’ of large, crew intensive, vessels in open waters.  More efficient is the dispatch of a fast, small crewed, well-armed vessel to intercept a pin point target based on intelligence.  Such intelligence is gathered electronically, (wire and computer taps), aerial platforms (standoff thermal and radar capable), and from human agents.

Regrettably, intelligence capabilities are expensive.  And ‘black boxes’, secretive operations rooms, and night flights are less glamorous than the large vessel flying a nation’s flag docked at quayside, to which politicians can point proudly and claim ‘our Navy’.  The RSS, while possessing significant potential, suffers from a lack of resources which can be directly attributed to a lack of political willingness to combat the drug trade.  As with NATO, there are often parochial interests which divert interest from the common good. 

The Caribbean is very dependant on tourism. With the demise of the banana and sugar cane industries, there are precious few alternatives for revenue into the national coffers.  Compounding these concerns, many of the Caribbean countries have some of the highest debt-to-GDP ratios in the world (Antigua 137%; Grenada 116%). To add to this grim picture, there are disturbing social changes underway.  Males are being lured from completing school by the attraction of fast money and prestigious positions in drug-related, tribal societies.  This ‘male marginalization’ has longer term social impacts.  And it is exactly the recruiting zone for terrorist organizations.

Fast forward ten years to 2015.  Cuba will likely be in a post-Castro era.  The new leadership will hopefully be more western leaning.  Cuba is by far the largest island in the Caribbean with marvellous, largely un-tapped beaches.  This low-priced tourist haven has been out of bounds to Americans for decades.  Easing of the travel barriers will have throngs of Americans flocking to Cuba, a destination which is hours closer (and therefore cheaper) compared to St. Kitts, Barbados and Grenada.  The impact of this dramatic loss of revenue on these smaller island countries will be catastrophic.  If they are fiscally challenged now, law enforcement agencies will be ham strung in the future.  The islands will become a ripe breeding ground for terrorist and drug organizations who, in a ‘business is business’ environment, will unite in loose but mutually beneficial partnerships. 

So, the Canadian couple, sipping a rum punch on their cruise ship, docked in a Caribbean port, watching small boats scurry nearby might ponder … will this be another Bali?  Or they might ask what is the Canadian Government doing to mitigate the odds?  The bulk of government development aid is going to Africa and Central Asia.  While the fight against AIDs, famine, and human rights has solid foundation in Canada’s values, one has to question the nexus with Canadian national interest.  The fact that on any given day from October to April there are at least a dozen non-stop flights from Canada to Caribbean islands highlights the need to protect Canadian lives.  And the latter role is displaced by no other in the priority list of ‘must do’s’ of any federal government. 

Canada has invested in these islands over countless generations. Regrettably, that investment has waned in light of failed states elsewhere (Afghanistan, Haiti). It would be tragic indeed for Canada to have to return to the islands in force and at greater costs in human lives when we knew all along that this region was running these risks and we passed on a chance to forestall or even prevent another failed state on our doorstep? What happened to 'preventative diplomacy'?

Of note is the high level of professionalism of the Defence Forces of the RSS countries.  Every one of them has senior officers who were trained in Canada under the Military Training Assistance Programme (MTAP).  The same cannot be said of the police forces that have a majority of officers who have not had any professional development beyond their recruit course.  A long-term commitment to train both police and military officers at Canadian Forces and RCMP institutions (Royal Military College, RCMP Academy, and Staff Colleges in Kingston and Toronto) would go a long way in mitigating the terrorist threat.

It is in Canada’s national interest.

“The only way that we're going to have a peace economy is if Canada has a very active, very aggressive foreign policy,” Prime Minister Paul Martin (Globe and Mail 30 Sep 05)  



State Failure and Canadian Foreign Policy

by David Carment

It took a long time for the Canadian government to realize that state failure  is a problem.  State failure is nothing new. There have been many occasions historically where states have failed following on the collapse of empire in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today most states that are weak or failed or collapsed are so because they are fairly new and they have not had  the opportunity to develop effective political, economic and social institutions.

State failure is now in the news largely because  it is considered to be a security and not just a developmental issue. To put state failure  on the radar screen you have to convince people that their security may be affected. That's not easy to do. We Canadians tend to feel we are isolated from the world's problems. Nevertheless, when our neighbour to the south decides that this is something important, we usually go along with them. Not always. But we have been active working in partnership with our allies on these issues for the last 10 years on peace support missions, in the Middle East and in the war against terrorism in Afghanistan.

Canada needs to figure out which failed states are of importance to us.. We could say all of them matter, but they matter for different reasons. It is going to take lengthy discussion between academics, NGOs and the policy community to set out a list of priority countries. The Canadian government has already produced a list of countries but there are only a few failed states on it among the 50 or so potential candidates.

To be sure,  there will always be situations that will require more than just Canadian efforts. On other occasions there will be situations, a relatively small country for example or an island state, where  Canada could  have a significant  impact by taking the lead or even acting on its own. For example,  the collapse of  Nigeria or  North Korea would be  overwhelming. Both would produce  significant regional problems. For a  medium-sized country like Canada, we  have to look at our engagement in these kinds of situations  in terms of our own effectiveness. Given that we will be part of a team working together, our contribution may amount to less than 5 percent of the total.

It may be that in situations of lesser salience, Canada could be more effective. There are fewer things to do and the problems may be less overwhelming. So it is not an easy choice. Can we risk ignoring a small country's collapse, knowing that we might be pretty effective in doing something about its problems? For example, in Haiti, the mistake we made in the early 1990s was pulling out too quickly. Had we stayed the course, we would not have seen a recurrence of that country's problems. The lesson there is that in a small country one can be fairly effective, but you do need to stay the course.

Similarly, what we are watching unfold in Sudan right now is a very anxious moment, to say the least, because there is a great deal of hope that the African Union will be able to develop its own conflict prevention and management capacity  to address the problems in Sudan and elsewhere on the continent. But what is anxious about it, is that we are not absolutely certain that the outcome will be a positive one.  There is partly the obligation to contribute to the African Union's capacity, and Canada is doing that with a fair amount of aid that is being distributed to both Sudan and the African Union. But we have to wait on the “sidelines”, while people are being killed. For those who monitor human rights abuses, this is simply not appropriate.

In general terms, there is now an almost unshakable belief that regional organizations should take more of a leading role in addressing security problems including state failure. It is easy to say that NATO is probably the most effective military organization and has experience in dealing with these issues in the past and should take on some role, for example, in Sudan. But what is the long-term sustainability of that process, and how will that be perceived by those within Africa, who historically have experienced outside interference far too often?  Unfortunately, the UN has not come out looking very good  after many of the recommendations in the  High Level Panel were rejected, so there will continue to be increasing support for regional solutions to regional problems.

One could argue that integrating states into global, regional or local institutional frameworks is in itself a preventive measure. However, it may be premature to draw a conclusion as to whether these kinds of conflict prevention mechanisms work. These are long-term efforts, and it is sometimes in the range of 15-20 years before we have any degree of certainty about whether they have been successful. For example, we don't have a precise methodology yet, that would allow us to firmly conclude that shoring up human security in weak states is actually going to lead to long-term prevention. We would like to think it does, and we need to develop tools to allow us to evaluate that impact.

For the Canadian government there is a real challenge ahead. It is difficult  to convey the long-term consequences and risks associated with failing to act  at the earliest stages. But if the Canadian government is going to talk about state failure in the context of prevention, then we do need to think strategically and we do need to identify both the risks and the rewards of acting in a preventive way. Canadians need to understand that it is in their interest to do so.



NORAD Renewal: An Opportunity 

by George Macdonald

“The history of the US-Canadian defense relationship since 1938 has been one of deepening cooperation on the basis of a continental partnership often expressed through binational institutional arrangements.  We are now at a moment when another expansion and deepening of that relationship is indicated and seems likely.”1

For almost 50 years the foundation of the Canada-US defence relationship has been NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defence Command.  It has evolved from inception in 1957 as a response to the Soviet Cold War bomber threat to a sophisticated partnership dealing with a range of threats from airliner hijacking, to warning of ballistic missile attack, to the monitoring of space-based assets.  As the threat has changed and evolved over the years, so has NORAD – quietly adjusting to the world situation and generally being taken for granted by the citizens of Canada and the United States.  Arguably, NORAD has been the most successful military alliance ever, in that it constitutes the integration of binational resources and people to accomplish a common mission.  Canadians and Americans work side by side to provide the aerospace warning and control necessary to our common defence and independent sovereignty.

The events of 11 September 2001 brought NORAD operations to everyone’s attention.  Although the lead time provided for alerting fighters to respond was inadequate on that day due to the unexpected source and nature of the threat, NORAD was instrumental in asserting airspace control in the hours and days that followed.  Now, four years later, NORAD has an extensive capability to monitor the thousands of daily aircraft movements which occur within, between and through our two countries.  But it has also returned to its usual posture of being taken for granted, only recently returning to public view in the context of the high profile media coverage of the ballistic missile defence issue.

In Canada, the ballistic missile defence debate, or lack thereof, has resulted in a rejection of Canadian participation in BMD.  While the decision is supported by a majority of Canadians, we should not be surprised if the US finds our position puzzling or if they wonder how committed we are to NORAD and mutual aerospace defence.  Indeed, differences in perception have developed within the realm of Canadian-American security.  During the past few years of the ‘new security environment’, the terrorist threat, which was manifested in the attacks on 11 September has diminished in the eyes of most Canadians.  This is not the case south of the border.  In the recently-released National Defense Strategy of the United States of America, the Executive Summary states “America is a nation at war.  We face a diverse set of security challenges…..We will give top priority to dissuading, deterring and defeating those who seek to harm the United States directly, especially extremist enemies with weapons of mass destruction”.2

Rightly or wrongly, Canadians are clearly of a different mindset than Americans – we tend to think we live in a fireproof house. Whatever our specific views of, and reactions to, our own security concerns, we must acknowledge the differences between the perspectives of our two nations.  Simply insisting that we Canadians are right and the Americans have overblown the terrorist threat is not a productive approach if we wish to act even in our own self interest.

This all raises some serious questions about the state of the bilateral defence relationship, especially from an American perspective.  Will the BMD decision impact the quality of the NORAD experience and the close military-to-military relationship we have enjoyed?  Will this impact extend beyond defence cooperation to other areas?  More pointedly, can Canada be taken seriously and be trusted when, after a long period during BMD discussions, the expected decision was reversed at the last minute?  Will NORAD survive in this environment?

These questions arise just at a point when renegotiation of the NORAD Agreement is underway.  The Agreement has generally been renewed for five-year periods, sometimes as a simple extension of the terms.  Teams from Canada and the US are now engaging with a view to determining what changes should be made in the Agreement currently due for renewal by 12 May 2006.  This begs a number of issues.

The Americans might well ask if Canada is prepared to participate in open, frank and genuine discussion.  Some interesting insight was revealed in the views expressed in a March 2005 article in the Colorado Springs Gazette:

“In the upcoming negotiations, NORAD grows or dies. Those are its two options,” said Brett Lambert, a national security expert with defense contractor DFI International in Washington, D.C. “If NORAD doesn’t respond to meet the post-9/11 challenges..., the concept of NORAD will begin to wither on the vine. That would be a tremendous loss to both countries.”3

If we Canadians value NORAD, and we have shown that 70-80% of us do in repeated polling over a long period of time, we should take positive action to alleviate any uncertainty around our commitment to renew.  Indeed, Canada can assume a leadership role by proactively taking the initiative to address the drift which has occurred in our bilateral relationship – it is in our interests to do so.

Despite any negative sentiments that may exist, formal discussions between Canada and the US on defence cooperation present several opportunities.  A purposeful, enthusiastic approach by Canada can keep NORAD discussions on the right foot and could achieve some fairly significant results.  The strategic direction has, in fact, already been stated by the Prime Minister and the President during the latter’s visit to Canada in November 2004.  They jointly declared that we “will work to ensure the coherence and effectiveness of our North American security arrangements by:…working towards renewing the NORAD agreement and investigating opportunities for greater cooperation on North American surveillance and maritime defence.”4

We should seize this opportunity and actively engage our NORAD partners to achieve as positive a result as possible.  It is not in our mutual defence interest to simply extend the current NORAD Agreement.  Such a ‘sub-optimal’ result would not acknowledge changes which have occurred since 9/11.  Neither would it respond to the direction of the Prime Minister and the President, the recommendations of the Binational Planning Group established in December 2002 5, nor the Defence Policy Statement released on April 19.

We need an expanded defence arrangement and now is the time to put it in place.  Canada should accept that it is in our interests to recognize the significance of US security concerns.  If the Canada-US border is shut down, for example, in the wake of another major terrorist attack, Canada would suffer disproportionate economic consequences.  Forty percent of Canada’s GDP is tied to exports to the United States, while only 2.5 percent of US GDP is tied to exports to Canada.” 6  We must accept the reality that we have a lot more to lose in such a circumstance and we should be prepared to deal with it accordingly.  It is fundamentally important that we recognize the depth of US security concerns, the potential consequences for Canadians, and the need to take steps to preemptively mitigate these consequences to the degree that we can.  Increased defence and security cooperation should address this.

It is important to note that this does not compel us to agree with everything American regarding security.  Taking steps to protect Canadian interests – our economy in this example – does not mean that we are being co-opted by American fears regarding security.  It simply means that we recognize those fears and the possible impact on Canada, and that we are willing to act to minimize being ‘side-swiped’ by any actions taken by the US.

In the first instance, Canada should use the occasion of the NORAD discussions to carry out any necessary repairs to the bilateral defence relationship.  Canada can take the lead by indicating a positive disposition to the talks and an active  readiness to explore mutually-beneficial improvements.  Further, Canada can be a proponent for an expansion from what is now a predominantly aerospace defence relationship to one that addresses topical concerns more completely.

The expansion being considered would enhance formal cooperation to achieve greater maritime security.  This includes the sharing of intelligence and information, the creation of a common maritime ‘situational awareness’, agreement on contingency plans, the exercising of coordinated operations, and the actual prosecution of vessels of interest.  The confirmation of a formal mandate in this area would address an area of potential vulnerability and would result in a maritime version of the air control now conducted within NORAD.  This would provide us the ability to detect, assess and intercept maritime vessels of interest, albeit at a much slower pace than in an aerospace environment.

There are also other opportunities for cooperation, such as the employment of other forces in response to a terrorist attack.

At first glance, NORAD is the obvious structure in which to expand our defence and security cooperation.  We already have an integrated command and control arrangement within which we can share information, staff plans, and coordinate execution of any action agreed upon.  We have a long history of doing this effectively and efficiently in aerospace and could simply extend this activity to other areas.  We can build on the strengths of our relationship over almost five decades.

Having said this, we should not become overly focused on being compelled to do this within NORAD.  Indeed, we need to be prepared to see NORAD and bilateral cooperation with ‘new eyes’.  If there is some other arrangement that might serve us as well or better than NORAD, we should not hesitate to examine alternatives.  Direct cooperation between Northern Command and the newly-formed Canada Command may be a viable option for expanded cooperation.

Overall, the current circumstances present an opportunity for Canada and the US to work together for mutual security by actively addressing “expanded NORAD” options.  Even then, establishing agreement about what we should do will only be a beginning.  We will then need to put in place the arrangements to effect better security and crisis response.  Much of what is proposed relates to the effective employment of existing resources, with some added connectivity for information sharing.

By engaging in NORAD negotiations aggressively and with a receptiveness to mission expansion, Canada can take the initiative to move forward positively in the bilateral defence relationship, and take it to a new level. This would send a positive signal to the US and provide increased attention and momentum to our mutual security needs.


1 Mason, Dwight N., Managing U.S. and Canadian Defense in North America, in On Track, Conference of Defence Associations, September 2005.
2 US Department of Defense; National Defense Strategy of the United States of America; March 1, 2005; p. iv.
3 Pam Zubeck, ‘NORAD At Turning Point In Mission -- Snags in post-9/ 11 defense may hurt chances of survival’; The Colorado Springs Gazette; March 28, 2005; p 1.
4 Prime Minister Martin and President Bush; “Joint statement by Canada and the United States on common security, common prosperity:  A new partnership in North America”; November 30, 2004; Ottawa, Ontario.
5 Canada-US Binational Planning Group, “Interim Report on Canada and the United States (CANUS) Enhanced Military Cooperation ”; October 13, 2004; Peterson AFB, CO; pp 77-78.
6 Andreas, Peter; “The Mexicanization of the U.S.-Canada Border:  Asymmetric Interdependence in a Changing Security Context” in U.S.-Canada Relations (unpublished), The American Assembly, Columbia University, February 2005. 



Canada’s Culturally Correct Military

by Ray Crabbe

Canada’s Chief of Defence Staff, General Rick Hillier, has the ear and the confidence of the Prime Minister, and certainly of the Minister of National Defence, Bill Graham. So when the CDS decided to delve into the very sensitive issue of the ethnic makeup of the Canadian Forces, both the PM and Minister agreed to support the CDS. Besides, it is politically correct and expedient to have one of the oldest and most respected national institutions reflect the ethnic composition of Canada.

Some time ago, General Hillier announced that he intends to create a military that reflects the diversity of Canada’s population and that visible minorities must be a part of it. “Our population has to look at us and see themselves in us”, he said. It is through the multi-ethnic composition of the Canadian Forces that the support of visible minorities for a military force will be achieved. As an organization of nearly 100,000 Canadians, Canada’s military must compete with all other organizations for its ‘workforce’. Given that visible minorities make up roughly 13% of Canada’s population, it is essential to draw its members from across the entire spectrum of society. This will become more important as the relative number of visible minorities grows.

To put this in perspective, and based on the latest national census, there are roughly 4 million visible minorities in Canada, of which 1 million are of Chinese decent, 1 million from South Asia, 700 thousand Blacks, 350 thousand Filipinos and about 1 million others. In a force of 65,000 regular force members and 25,000 reservists, on an equitable basis this equates to recruiting and retaining about 3000 Chinese, 3000 South Asians, 2000 Blacks, 1000 Filipinos and 3000 others. A lofty goal, for sure, to achieve an ethnic composition that reflects Canadian society.

Recruiting and retaining visible minorities for service in Canada’s military will not be without challenges. The predominantly white male population that makes up a very large percentage of the military will need to be educated to create an atmosphere of acceptance for visible minorities. This will take solid leadership. Many of the minority groups came to Canada to escape repressive and totalitarian military-led regimes and are sceptical about any military organization, even one whose soldiers are the envy of the world. In the past, Canadian soldiers of certain ethnic backgrounds have been left behind on overseas military operations due to potential cultural sensitivities in the area of operations. This can impact units dispatched on overseas operations. Finally, to avoid potential dissention in the ranks, it will be essential that visible minorities are not afforded the relative comfort of ‘soft’ trades; rather, they must share in the tough slugging as well.

Attempting to introduce minorities into the Canadian Forces is not new. In the 1980s and 90s, at a time of cultural and ethnic paranoia within the federal government, the military became a test bed for government social policies. In 1989, a court order assigned quotas to the military for women, aboriginals and visible minorities. Regrettably this was a failure in many ways. The military resisted change, often for the wrong reasons. The government ordered the military to achieve the prescribed levels and in response to meet the quotas, training and personal standards for members of the forces were lowered. Standards are established on the basis of readiness and preparedness that must be met and maintained to fight and win on the battlefield. Lowering the standards to meet ethnic quotas, or for any reason, is an extremely dangerous practice because it ultimately puts the lives of soldiers in jeopardy. Any plans to attract visible minorities must not under any circumstances succumb to such political pressures.

Regardless of one’s ethnic or cultural background, every member of the Canadian Forces must be capable of meeting four fundamental requirements to be an effective soldier. Firstly, he or she must be capable of achieving and maintaining the established individual and collective standards which in turn ensures that a member of the military has a fighting chance to succeed in battle – whether that battle be in the air, on the sea or on the ground. Secondly, every member of the Canadian Forces must be capable of performing effectively as a member of a team under adverse and dangerous conditions. Teamwork translates into unit cohesiveness and tactical integrity where members of a team rely on one another to do their jobs, and depend on each other for their lives. Thirdly, those in uniform must be willing and able to withstand the rigors of a disciplined way of live – to accept not only the rules and regulations of military law, but more importantly, the application of self and group discipline to achieve collective goals. This has been and continues to be the hallmark of Canadian soldiers. Lastly, there must be an acceptance of the universality of service; the willingness to perform any lawful task, anywhere, anytime and under any conditions. Any Canadian who can meet these fundamentals of military service, regardless of his or her ethnic background, culture or sex has the right to serve in the military of the nation.

There is no reason to believe that a more ethnically diverse Canadian Forces cannot be achieved. Further, this can be done without compromising the standards of training and conduct and without prejudicing operational and disciplinary standards that have stood the test of time in making Canadians the best soldiers, sailors and aviators in the world. Integrating ethnic minorities into the military to better reflect the realities of Canada’s population is a commendable goal and one that fits well into the new CDS’ transformation of Canada’s military. It will not be without external and internal challenges, but with General Hillier’s dogged leadership and determination – coupled with the required  political support – it can become a much-needed reality.


CDFAI Donors


  • Alsten
  • Enbridge
  • General Dynamics Land Systems
  • Raytheon Canada
  • Hurry Hydrocarbons
  • Shell Canada
  • General Dynamics


  • Donner


  • Granatstein
  • Pullen
  • Millar
  • Murphy
  • Bissett


  • Alberta Gaming
  • Foreign Affairs Canada


  • Queen’s
  • Université Laval
  • University of Montreal    


About Our Organization

An investment in CDFAI is an investment in Canada.
CDFAI or the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute is a unique charitable organization, headquartered in Calgary, Alberta.  It is the largest Canadian non-governmental organization dedicated solely to studying and providing policy recommendations on Canadian defence, security and foreign affairs issues.

Canadians depend on and support a world that is politically free and open.  Both Canadian values and Canadian interests are served by the free flow of people, goods, and ideas across international boundaries.  Such a world requires a strong Canadian diplomatic presence, effective security and adequate military capacity.  CDFAI is dedicated to educating the Canadian public about the importance of these issues.  


An investment in CDFAI is an investment in Canadians.
CDFAI’s goal is to elevate Canada’s international stature.

By developing and sponsoring authoritative research and education programs, CDFAI provides Canadians with factual and comprehensive policy analysis regarding Canada's foreign policy and the state of our military preparedness and national security.

An investment in CDFAI is good for business and the Canadian economy.

An investment in CDFAI will help maintain a properly funded research institute that can influence the making of defence and foreign policy decisions in Canada. CDFAI will help to strengthen Canada’s capacity to participate on the international stage.

"There is a connection between a democratic and prosperous Canada and an active and engaged Canadian foreign policy.  Let us refer to this as  “Canada’s necessary international connection.”  From the earliest colonial days to the present, Canada’s small population base has made it imperative for Canada to trade abroad in order to achieve a high standard of living.  Canada has also required substantial inflows of immigrants to build its population base and it has always needed access not only to international markets, but also ideas."   

David Bercuson, eminent historian, noted Canadian author and Director of Programs with CDFAI.


Research and Publications

  • Research Papers
  • Updates on the Department of National Defence
  • University Press Series
  • Internships 


  • National Conferences
  • Speaker Series
  • Canadian Military Journalism Course
  • Graduate Student Symposium

Community Outreach

  • Ross Munro Media Award
  • Journal of Military and Strategic Studies
  • Ross Ellis Lecture in Military and Strategic Studies
  • Quarterly newsletters
  • Website

During its brief four-year history CDFAI has witnessed reforms to military policy, increases in defence spending and increased interest in Canadian foreign policy.

CDFAI’s financial goal for 2005 is to raise $1 million. The cost of fund development is 10 percent of it’s goal.

CDFAI provides Canadians with factual and comprehensive policy analysis to promote their understanding of Canada’s foreign policy and the state of our military preparedness and national security by developing and sponsoring authoritative research and education programs.

Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Calgary, CDFAI is a non-profit, charitable research and education institute. 



If you would like to be included on our regular mailing regarding conferences, lectures and newsletters, please send your particulars to [email protected] or sign up for our mailing list at All email addresses gathered by CDFAI are kept confidential as we do not release or sell any information collected from the public to any third party without explicit permission to do so.

CDFAI also adheres to a strict no-SPAM policy and as such, does not forward emails containing information provided by third parties and/or organizations and businesses with which it has no official interest, relevancy and/or affiliation.

TOP OF PAGE       

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.

Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Suite 2720, 700–9th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 3V4


Calgary Office Phone: (587) 574-4757


Canadian Global Affairs Institute
8 York Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 5S6


Ottawa Office Phone: (613) 288-2529
Email: [email protected]


Making sense of our complex world.
Déchiffrer la complexité de notre monde.


©2002-2024 Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Charitable Registration No. 87982 7913 RR0001


Sign in with Facebook | Sign in with Twitter | Sign in with Email