SUPPORT US

Diplomacy should be at heart of defence policy

Diplomacy_should_be_at_heart_of_defence_Montages.JPG

OP-ED

by Stéfanie von Hlatky and Thomas Juneau

The Hill Times
August 29, 2016

KINGSTON, ONT./OTTAWA—On Aug 2, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan tweeted his thanks to Canadians who participated in the defence policy review consultations during the last four months.

Over 20,200 submissions were received through the online portal and 4,700 people participated in the virtual discussion forum. It is worth asking how the Department of National Defence will now make sense of this input.

We think that defence diplomacy should emerge as a compelling theme in Canada’s new defence policy. This encompasses a spectrum of activities, ranging from capacity-building programs to bilateral defence relations and participation in international military fora.

While defence diplomacy has not featured prominently in the Canadian defence lexicon, it is an essential but vastly underexploited tool for a medium-sized country like Canada to expand its influence abroad. In the context of the Liberal government’s expected announcement in the coming weeks of a new peace support operation in Africa, Canada’s limited defence diplomacy assets are likely to be in high demand.

One of the primary vehicles of defence diplomacy at the moment is the Military Training and Cooperation Program. The MTCP offers assistance to partner countries in three areas—French and English language training, professional development and staff courses, and peace-support operations courses.

To be sure, the MTCP is small but it accomplishes a lot with an annual budget of approximately $15-million. It is a road-tested model that has proven its value, alongside its counterparts in Global Affairs Canada such as the Global Partnership Program (GPP), a threat-reduction initiative for weapons of mass destruction, and the Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force (START). These programs deliver a big bang for a relatively small buck—and they could achieve much more with a modest boost to their budgets.

By providing training and assistance, such capacity-building and training programs strengthen the capabilities and professionalism of armed forces and security services in partner countries, allowing them to better prevent or manage future crises. For Canada, these efforts yield important information about regional contexts and how military organizations evolve in other countries, while providing useful contacts that it can leverage in times of crisis. Ukraine, for example, was a major recipient of Canada’s GPP and is now the top participant in the MTCP.

At a time when Canada does not face a major, direct military threat, the government can afford the luxury of investing in flexible diplomatic tools. Such a niche capability allows Ottawa to expand its presence in specific countries, in the pursuit of targeted interests.

Expanding the MTCP’s mandate and tripling its annual budget to about $50-million would allow Canada to maximize the benefits of such initiatives at minimal cost. While we propose bolstering the MTCP’s resources, we recognize that the defence budget is unlikely to significantly increase for the next few years. However, this proposed increase—which represents a droplet in the total defence budget of about $20 billion—would be sufficient to support an expanded mandate while it could provide a visible signature item in the new defence policy.

Concretely, this investment could boost the MTCP in areas that are core defence priorities, such as counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation capacity-building, Special Operations and regular forces training, high-level and staff exchanges, and intelligence cooperation and training.

Defence diplomacy is also an easy fit within the parameters the Trudeau government has set, namely its focus on diplomacy, conflict prevention, and peace operations. As the soft power arm of the military, defence diplomacy simultaneously contributes to better communication with other nations, improved access to early conflict signals, and better peace support practices through CAF-delivered training.

The benefits of defence diplomacy are clear and will resonate beyond the armed forces. Stronger cooperation with partner countries, especially in volatile regions, will contribute to Canada’s international reputation and standing within organizations like the United Nations. The Canadian Armed Forces, for their part, will strengthen their world-class expertise in military training.

Stéfanie von Hlatky is an assistant professor at Queen’s University and director of the Centre for International and Defence Policy

Thomas Juneau is an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. From 2003 to 2014, he was an analyst with Canada’s Department of National Defence.

Image Credit: Hill Times/Andrew Meade

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTERS
 
UPCOMING EVENTS


No events are scheduled at this time.


SEARCH
EXPERTS IN THE MEDIA

Global Times: BRICS summit displays the potential of a new future

by Editorial Staff (feat. Swaran Singh), WSFA 12, June 24, 2022

Oil's Dive Won't Bring Any Immediate Relief on Inflation

by Alex Longley, Elizabeth low, and Barbara Powell (feat. Amrita Sen), BNNBloomberg, June 24, 2022

China To Tout Its Governance Model At BRICS Summit

by Liam Gibson (feat. Stephen Nagy), The Asean Post, June 23, 2022

Soutien aux victimes d’inconduites sexuelles dans l’armée

by Rude Dejardins (feat. Charlotte Duval-Lantoine), ICI Radio Canada, June 23, 2022

Defence: $4.9 billion for radars against Russian bombs

by Editorial Staff (feat. Rob Huebert), Archynews, June 23, 2022

The Hans Island “Peace” Agreement between Canada, Denmark, and Greenland

by Elin Hofverberg (feat. Natalie Loukavecha), Library of Congress, June 22, 2022

What the future holds for western Canadian oil producers

by Gabriel Friedman (feat. Kevin Birn), Beaumont News, June 22, 2022

At BRICS summit, China sets stage to tout its governance model

by Liam Gibson (feat. Stephen Nagy), Aljazeera, June 22, 2022

Crude oil price: there are no changes to the fundamentals

by Faith Maina (feat. Amrita Sen), Invezz, June 22, 2022

Few details as Liberals promise billions to upgrade North American defences

by Lee Berthiaume (feat. Andrea Charron), National Newswatch, June 20, 2022

Defence Minister Anita Anand to make announcement on continental defence

by Steven Chase (feat. Rob Huebert), The Globe and Mail, June 19, 2022

Table pancanadienne des politiques

by Alain Gravel (feat. Jean-Christophe Boucher), ICI Radio Canada, June 18, 2022

Russia Ukraine conflict

by Gloria Macarenko (feat. Colin Robertson), CBC Radio One, June 17, 2022

New privacy Bill to introduce rules for personal data, AI use

by Shaye Ganam (feat. Tom Keenan), 680 CHED, June 17, 2022


LATEST TWEETS

HEAD OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Suite 1800, 150–9th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 3H9

 

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

 

Phone: (613) 288-2529
Email: [email protected]
Web: cgai.ca

 

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

 

© 2002-2022 Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Charitable Registration No. 87982 7913 RR0001

 


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