Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee, I'm pleased to have the opportunity to participate in your review of the defence of North America. I'll keep my initial comments brief.
Previous witnesses have provided you with input on a wide range of issues related to the subject at hand. While my first-hand military experience is now dated given my retirement from the military some 10 years ago, I've maintained a direct interest in many security and defence areas through my consulting work and my association with the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute. Having said that, I will focus my comments on NORAD to quite a few points on ballistic missile defence.
Several years of my military career were spent in NORAD or NORAD-related positions, the final one being the deputy commander of NORAD at the headquarters in Colorado Springs from 1998 to 2001. I am an ardent supporter of the partnership and am pleased to see that it remains a strong, efficient, and effective means of contributing to the defence of North America.
After 9/11, I was a proponent of expanding the NORAD mission to address other domains and was encouraged to see the inclusion of maritime warning as a step in that direction. Much of the binational cooperation that I thought we could achieve is now being coordinated bilaterally between CJOC and NORTHCOM, the Canadian Joint Operations Command, and Northern Command, which is fine. It may or may not be the most efficient way of operating but it seems to meet the needs of both nations. Lieutenant-General Beare offered you a fairly complete perspective in this regard in his comments given to the committee in May.
On a more general not, I cannot overstate the importance of our partnership with the United States in NORAD. We don't just work together; we operate in a fully integrated command. Tasks performed by Canadians and Americans are interwoven to the point where in most cases the nationality of the person performing them is immaterial. Canadians report to Americans and Americans report to Canadians throughout the structure. We share sensitive and highly classified information in order to perform the mission. We are dependent on each other even though the U.S. provides the majority of the resources. Throughout, the NORAD relationship engenders a level of trust that serves us well beyond NORAD issues. The success of the partnership and the professionalism of the Canadian military personnel have cemented personal relationships in both nations consistent with our inseparable domestic defence requirements. We Canadians benefit in the achievement of a priority national defence mission at a fraction of the cost were we required to do it on our own. Pursuing a natural evolution of the NORAD mission to retain its relevance and effectiveness must continue to be a priority.
Cooperation for aerospace warning and aerospace control along with maritime warning is good and important, but we could do much more. To that end, we should reconsider Canada's involvement in the ground-based North American ballistic missile defence system. Just as Canada participates with the U.S. in NORAD for aerospace warning and aerospace defence, it is a natural extension that Canada's participation in ballistic missile warning should evolve to engagement in ballistic missile defence. I've been an active advocate for Canada's involvement in BMD and was disappointed with the decision in 2005 to decline participation. I felt at the time, and still do, that we missed a great opportunity to reinforce our NORAD relationship, not to mention ensuring the protection of our sovereign territory from a rogue ballistic missile threat.
We subscribe to the necessity of the alliance to defend North America and yet we have abrogated our responsibility to the partnership with regard to the BMD mission. We have left it to the American side of NORAD to perform using their territory, their resources, and their rules. With improvements to the BMD system over the years there's a real risk that NORAD involvement will be marginalized to the point where the U.S. will want to consider excluding NORAD from missile warning altogether and simply execute both the warning and the defence mission themselves. I believe that we should engage the U.S. to assess how we might become involved. It is the responsible course of action for Canada.
Mr. Chairman, I look forward to providing whatever assistance I can in answering any questions you have.
My thanks to the committee for the invitation. I'm very pleased to participate and look forward to the discussion that follows.
Canada is confronted with a number of complex national defence questions today, and there's a danger that we will lose sight of the less urgent but more fundamental challenge of defending the North American continent from large-scale threats. There's also a risk that when we do turn our attention to focus on continental defence, we may become fixated on the politically charged issue of ballistic missile defence. BMD is, of course, an important question which must ultimately be answered, but it is not the only question.
Today I want to make a general argument for re-examining not only BMD, but also the overall architecture of our defence cooperation with the United States. I do not suggest this re-examination because I think there is an immediate crisis to deal with or that the system doesn't work at all; rather, it's because the muddling through we have done to get through past crises may have taken us down a dead-end street, limiting our options for the future.
I would identify four key features of our current approach.
One, while NORAD persists as an integrated command structure within a particular domain, the main trend since 9/11 has been a reliance on building up separate national command structures and capabilities.
Two, rather than thinking about how to develop a more integrated command structure that would bridge many domains, the focus has been on trying to make the commands we already have—NORTHCOM, NORAD, and CJOC—work together more efficiently, that is, the tri-command system.
Three, where efforts have been made to pursue more integrated forms of coordination, they have taken the form of ad hoc extensions of NORAD to other domains, i.e., the maritime NORAD system which General Macdonald mentioned a moment ago.
Four, the prospects for building on NORAD and other domains are clearly affected by lingering questions about NORAD's role and relevance, many of which stem from the unresolved question of BMD.
On the one hand, I don't think there's any prospect for us to engineer from scratch the kind of unitary, integrated, multi-domain command structure that was called for by the U.S.-Canada Bi-National Planning Group. The two countries' perspectives and priorities are clearly not identical, and each rightly wants to maintain the capacity to act on its own under certain circumstances.
On the other hand, there are reasons to think twice about just carrying on with the ad hoc NORAD-plus approach that we're currently following. Building on NORAD does carry a number of advantages. Again, these were mentioned already. More concretely, it protects an already effective structure for integrated aerospace warning and air defence, and it may be a foundation for cooperation in space. Less concretely but equally importantly, it leverages existing relationships with key offices and personnel at USNORTHCOM, preserves a potent symbol of Canada-U.S. cooperation, and could sustain and spread a very positive binational organizational culture to coordination in other domains.
There are, however, some potential problems with building incrementally on the NORAD template.
First, NORAD is an air force institution, obviously, and using it as the foundation for a broader, multi-domain structure creates the potential for, or at least the potential perception of, an imbalance of influence. That has been an issue in the effort to build a maritime NORAD as the already difficult bureaucratic process of bringing together many different departments under one umbrella has been further complicated by the perception among some of the participating departments and agencies that the RCAF and USAF are poaching on others' turf.
Second, residual tensions within the partially consolidated CJOC itself, and the gaps between CJOC and NORAD within the contemporary tri-command structure may tend to sustain an unhealthy division of labour between the services, which may exacerbate turf battles and raise questions about overlap and redundancy. At the very least, the existing tri-command system clearly leaves some significant coordination gaps with ongoing complaints from insiders and outsiders alike about over-complicated communication and decision-making, information blockages, and ambiguity about roles and responsibilities.
Third, the branding of new forms of bilateral defence coordination as extensions of NORAD may tend to obscure the fact that these new initiatives are not nearly as integrated as NORAD itself. It is difficult to say at this point, but early reports suggest that the maritime NORAD initiative, for example, will mostly feed into national domain awareness efforts without giving Canadian commanders much influence on U.S. decision-making, or vice versa. In that sense, thinking about this as maritime NORAD may give us the impression we have created more NORAD when in fact what we have created is not the same, or doesn't work the same.
Finally, to wrap things up, if Canada is willing to make significant investments over the next few years to try to harden the outer edges of the continental security perimeter, it may find the United States receptive to the creation of new integrated structures, especially with respect to the surveillance and control of maritime approaches, inland waterways, shipping, and other cross-border transportation systems.
This is probably the only way to stop the post-911, post-BMD drift towards separate national efforts, and to secure greater consultation, intelligence sharing, and financial resources.
Unfortunately, there is little reason to think these issues will be prominent in the upcoming election, or that whatever government comes out of that election will be prepared to open a broader debate on these issues unless, of course, there is some new catastrophic early warning failure to catalyze public demand for a broader and more effective coordination.
I don't think there's much doubt that the Russians' increased activity is a concern to us all. From a NORAD perspective, this isn't something that just developed since the Crimean crisis, or the Ukraine issue. It's more focused on capabilities that Russia has been working on for some time now.
They are re-establishing strategic aviation bases in the north. They are developing newer and newer technology to extend the range of cruise missiles, which are delivered by bombers. They have been more active in the north of late than they have been for the previous decade.
Even when I was in NORAD, there was a softening, if you will, of the relationship in that we undertook to advise each other when we were deploying to the north to provide some public warning of our activities.
I think that now in NORAD Russia is maybe not a direct threat, but certainly they have been penetrating international airspace and conducting flights towards North America, and of course ultimately, the cruise missile threat delivered by bombers is a threat.
No one also can detract from the fact that China is a growing power. The pivot of attention towards the Pacific is an important aspect of what we do. I personally don't think China represents a threat to Canada or to North America, but nevertheless, it is a power to be reckoned with and dealt with, and recognized throughout the international environment.
Thank you, gentlemen, for coming to our committee today.
On the defence of North America, I know you've both focused on NORAD to some extent. We're looking at all the broader issues, including cyber, maritime defence, etc., but just to focus a little bit on NORAD, I got the impression a little bit today....
Mr. Macdonald, you made a comment about NORAD retaining its relevance and effectiveness. Other people seem to be looking for new roles for NORAD. We know how it came about; NORAD came together in the Cold War with respect to a particular defence need. Are we really looking for something to tack onto that? I mean, cyber doesn't seem to work. In Canada it's public safety. In the U.S. it's national defence. It's both offensive and defensive, so we don't really have effective work there. There's maritime, of course; there's an aerospace command, so we're not really dealing with our navy.
Is that why we're settling on BMD, that maybe we can do it together?
Joe Jockel, an academic who has written quite a bit about NORAD, said once that Canada needs NORAD more than NORAD needs Canada. Indeed, in my time in the United States, I found there were many senior American military officers who were unfamiliar with NORAD, and every time we'd have a visit to Colorado Springs I would take the opportunity to give them NORAD 101.
You're quite right in saying that there are maybe fewer in the United States who recognize NORAD's utility than there are in Canada, but having said that, General Jacoby, the current commander, is very supportive of NORAD. The PJBD is very supportive of NORAD and Canada-U.S. participation. Also, whether we continue to call it NORAD or not, or whether we change the name or develop some other arrangement, I think there will always be a need to have this bilateral, binational participation.
Ballistic missile defence is a responsibility of aerospace warning and aerospace control. We've signed up to that. Yes, you could argue that we could avoid it, that the Americans are making more of ballistic missile threat than really exists, but the reality is, too, that we are in NORAD, that it is a recognized mission of NORAD, and that the threat continues to evolve. There's hard intelligence that has identified what North Korea capabilities have developed to, and everybody knows that North Korea is an unstable regime, at best.
I would agree with that. It's important to recognize that maritime warning, whether it happens through NORAD or not, is an inherently much more complicated thing than air defence or air warning. If we go back to the Cold War context it's really just our air force and the American air force, two entities, cooperating with each other. It's a relatively straightforward thing, though in practice more complicated.
After 9/11 air warning obviously expanded. We had the FAA and other civilian agencies involved in the process, but it's still a relatively small number of players bringing information together into one package and trying to work with that.
Maritime warning is much more complex with many more players involved. It shouldn't be at all surprising to us that it takes a longer time for us to get to the point where we're not just in the process of actually exchanging information but we're actually in a position to make good use of it; the right kind of filtering is going on, and once information is packaged together, it can be put out to stakeholders in a way that is useful to them.
I think at this point in the process it's still very early days. A lot of the participants feel that they pool information into the centre and then it comes back to them, and they say, “That's what we told you two days ago and now you're sending it back us.”
I think in the longer term there is plenty of potential for them to get beyond that and to have a more meaningful centre that actually digests that information and can do more than just give out advisories.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and through you to the witnesses, thank you for attending.
Could I have quick responses to my following questions.
I found it very interesting, not passingly strange but very interesting that my Liberal friend would talk about degradation. Let's talk about degradation. Would you say that the replacement by purchasing C-17s, the upgrades to the Hercules by already taking delivery of Chinooks, by the recent order of Cyclones, by our shipbuilding capacity that we've just announced that will regain our ability in this country to learn and to be able to build ships that our navy needs, that the LAV upgrades, tanks, and an increase in the number of people in the Canadian Forces—I could go on and on and on. Would you say that signals degradation in Canada's ability, or would you not say that it is a change from 13 years of degradation?
Mr. Bow, you can start with a short answer, because I have a few more questions.
I'm glad you mentioned that, General, because CFB Trenton happens to be in my riding. I can tell you, and it can be verified, that we do have the training capabilities for the C-17 and the Hercules, because we have just purchased simulators, which will.... If you're looking strictly at the dollars spent on fuel, etc., that's been replaced by training on the ground through these simulators, so I think, if you're looking at raw numbers, they sometimes slide.
I'm very interested and surprised, Mr. Bow, because you said something about ordering them. There are four C-17s. The replacement of the Hercules is pretty well complete. Chinooks are being delivered to Camp Petawawa. Cyclones are ordered and they're here. The LAVs have been upgraded. The tanks have been purchased. The dollar value placed on that is significant. All those pieces of equipment are being used.
We can say there has been some degradation, if you want to work your way back to World War II, and that's exactly what I am referring to in our shipbuilding capability. We lost the ability to even build a ship in this country. We are now developing. That's why it's so expensive, but it is going to create jobs, and in the long run give us capacity that was no longer there.
I do appreciate what you've just said.
I'd like to move on to what I consider something that's necessary, and you alluded to it, and that's the replacement of the CF-18s. We will have no choice. The next government will have no choice. I think there has been a signal from the other side that maybe we don't need fighter jets any longer. Then I ask, what if a really bad thing happened? In history, this country's been able to contribute a full-fledged expeditionary force, which we can no longer send. I suppose we could let things fall apart and we could be workhorses or bit players.
My question for you is about your opinion on the replacement of the CF-18s. Shouldn't it be getting into the best aircraft, fifth generation stealth fighters? We heard at this committee stealth kills non-stealth 100% of the time.
General Macdonald, even though you would have to declare something of a conflict of interest, I think your military background and experience would supersede that, I would hope.
Yes. For the clarity of everybody, I worked closely with Lockheed Martin on the F-35 initiative.
The reality is that we do need a replacement fighter. The F-18 was originally planned to meet its end life in 2020. It's clearly going to have to be extended somewhat beyond that time. It's a very capable aircraft. It's in ISIL now, in Kuwait, and will do the job there well, I'm sure. Ultimately, you'll get to a point where its capability cannot be extended beyond a certain length of time at any cost in some areas, and it's expensive to even go beyond 2020.
I think we can make a good case that we need fighters for our NORAD obligations, for our NATO obligations, for other obligations we want to undertake. I think it's important that we proceed now to make a decision on a new fighter. I think the analysis has been done.
I certainly support the concept of a fifth generation fighter, not just because of stealth but because of the information fusion and gathering capability, and of course multiplying it affects the task.
Canada has adopted capability-based planning, which addresses all of those issues in terms of developing a capability.
Our current defence policy clearly supports the procurement of the capital projects that are listed in the Canada first defence strategy, and has broken down into the four pillars of equipment, personnel, infrastructure, and readiness how that money should be distributed.
The capital funding has been protected throughout the course of the last six or eight years, but the defence budget cuts that have been experienced as a result of striving to get to a balanced budget have largely impinged upon operations and maintenance issues: personnel, reserve personnel mostly, the training capability for the force, and I think all national procurement, which is maintenance, repair and overhaul, and spares essentially.
You can empty your bins for a while, but eventually you get to a point where you have to accept that you have reduced readiness if you haven't been able to invest in the necessary spares and logistics and maintenance that should have been done throughout the course of maintaining a particular capability.
I would say that our strength is in the people we have, the training we provide, and certainly the capital equipment. A number of the very positive projects were mentioned, but right now I would say that we are thin on the ground, from the point of view of being able to sustain them to the level that they should be.
Let's go to the Standing Orders. First of all, Standing Order 114(1) states:
|| The membership of standing and standing joint committees shall be set out in the report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs—
—which we did last year—
||—which shall prepare lists of members in accordance with Standing Order 104. Once the report of the Committee is concurred in,—
—which it was—
||—the membership shall continue from session to session within a Parliament, subject to such changes as may be effected from time to time.
The membership of Mr. Larose is established.
Standing Order 119 is also referenced on page 1018, chapter 20, of O'Brien and Bosc, and clearly states:
|| Any Member of the House who is not a member of a standing, special or legislative committee, may, unless the House or the committee concerned otherwise orders, take part in the public proceedings of the committee, but may not vote or move any motion, nor be part of any quorum.
The difference is, and this is where I come to you, that in chapter 20, page 1027 of O'Brien and Bosc, it indicates:
|| At meetings, the very principle of substitution means that it may only occur when the substituted member is absent from the meeting.
The regular member is here; therefore, he has the ability and he cannot be substituted—
||—but retains his or her right to participate and vote during the meeting.
He has a right to participate and vote, as was just described in O'Brien and Bosc, and I'm prepared to give my time. Since the NDP won't give up its time, I'm prepared to give some of the Conservatives' time to Monsieur Larose.
I have a concern about ballistic missiles. My concern is that the effectiveness of what exists now has not really been fully proven.
It's an uncertainty about the effectiveness of the countermeasures that also exist, or that are seen as perhaps even being developed.
Let us talk about the dynamics of that.
If Canada provides money to support development by the Americans, what is our guarantee in that relationship? Going by the number of reports we receive, it is not enough, given the number of missiles that could be directed at the United States. So, by investing billions of dollars, we end up with a few more, or we improve the technology. How can we be sure that the Americans are also going to use them in order to defend Canada too?
In the case of Europe, we understand that, because of the distance, their only possible choice is to use them to defend themselves.
Given the strategic priority based on the adversary’s targets, what guarantees do we have that the missiles we deploy will also be used to defend what I consider important targets in Canada?
Certainly the ground-based midcourse ballistic missile defence system that the Americans have developed is a developmental program, and a number of fairly high-profile failures have occurred.
One fundamental premise, though, is that there will never be enough interceptors to defend against a prominent actor, Russia or China, in the ballistic missile environment. You are only dealing with onesies and twosies from a North Korea.
When I was deputy commander of NORAD, admittedly this was 13 years ago, I participated directly in a number of ballistic missile defence exercises in Colorado Springs, because it was assumed at that time by the Americans that we would participate, so they included Canadians in everything.
I was the acting commander in chief for a number of those exercises. I made the decisions about what targets would be engaged and how many missiles would be launched. I briefed the exercise president on what was happening. I got information from a Canadian missile warning officer to tell me about missile warning. I liaised with the American ballistic missile defence system stakeholders, and we addressed the challenges of the exercise through that.
The reality is that we will never be guaranteed that Canadian territory will be defended by the eventual system unless we are part of the equation.
The very first thing to say about it is that the kinds of defence and security challenges on that side of North America are completely different from the ones in the north. What this means is that there are different services, departments, and agencies involved in those questions, and the institutional rules that govern their cooperation are different.
I think that more of the issues that are in play in the southern part of North America—and we'll call it that—are security issues, as opposed to defence issues. Again, there is a lot of room for defence assets to be made use of and for defence services to cooperate with one another across national borders, but these are, for the most part, security issues. They have to do with drug smuggling, illegal immigration, and those kinds of issues. There's a different array of partners involved in those processes and a different set of issues to be worked out.
I guess one way of connecting the dots between what we talked about earlier and what we're talking about now is that when we say “the defence of North America”, on most of the issues up until two minutes ago we meant North America north of the Rio Grande. When we talk about the defence of North America in that broader arena, there are all kinds of new political and diplomatic complications involved. Mexico's constitution sets all kinds of limits on what the military is allowed to do and what kinds of relationships they can have with other countries' militaries, so it's a whole different playing field now.
I guess the answer is yes.
I want to go back for just a second to say that BMD is not behind us in the sense that the question has been answered in any meaningful way. I would rather say that the prospect of their approaching us and making a request is probably behind us, and if it's going to happen now, it's going to be because we initiate something. In this sense, that is an answer more directly to your question. I don't think that is the next thing that is going to come up as one of those kinds of defence dilemmas.
I'm not sure there is anything on the radar right now where the U.S. is pursuing something that they are going to be actively interested in pressing Canada to participate in and that would put the government in an awkward position. As a practitioner of politics, you could see that as good news, as oh good, we don't have one of these things in front of us, but the bad news is I think that's a reflection of the way their decision-making about continental defence is moving in a direction where they are more and more inclined to think about answering these questions for themselves rather than approaching us to participate in these things.
Really, a lot of the time, if we want to have a cooperative outcome that we're happy with, we are going to have to initiate on a lot of these issues ourselves in order to make sure that there is a conversation about some of their evolving choices, for example, in space, and their counterterrorism policies, and their decisions about things like information sharing that are related to homeland security.
Mexico is sort of trying to answer that question for itself right now, not so much with respect to NORAD, but with respect to NORTHCOM.
The Mexican constitution and sort of informal political convention say that the Mexican military is under strict political control and it doesn't engage with militaries from other countries. They particularly have the United States in mind there. However, in practice, Mexican officers have been involved in exchange programs, for example with NORTHCOM, and they are actively consulted by NORTHCOM on a lot of different issues.
There is some engagement military to military between Mexico and the United States, but there isn't much of a clear connection between the kinds of issues the Mexicans and the Americans are dealing with bilaterally and the kinds of things NORAD does, for example.
The one exception to that is the maritime warning function. There may be some point further on in the future when we would want to connect up the maritime warning mission that is being undertaken on a bilateral basis between Canada and the United States with the multilateral maritime surveillance that goes on in the Caribbean and the waters off the southern parts of the United States.
My friend here is a former member of the military, both in Canada and in eastern Europe. Before the Ukrainian issue appeared, my friend kept telling us to keep our eye on Russia. After you gentlemen were talking about the Russians and their intent and how it's not something we need to worry about as a threat, my friend said to me, “That's exactly what they want us to think.”
If you take a look at some of the things that Mr. Putin has said concerning Ukraine, that they were withdrawing their tanks and sort of heading east again when they were actually going in the opposite direction, and I could go on and on, you can see that he does the opposite of what he says.
My challenge to you is, how can you say it's not a threat when he is beginning to exercise his muscle? There are those of us who think that just by his actions in eastern Europe, and we know why...maybe he has designs—and I believe he does, because I'm beginning to believe my friend here—to be something of the old.... You know how powerful Russia was in the old Soviet regime. Maybe there is some reason to worry. Maybe we should approach Russia with more caution than we do and not be lulled into thinking they're not a threat.
Tell me how wrong I am and why I'm wrong.
This is a huge issue. I don't think we can rest on our laurels at all, citing what success we may have enjoyed so far to defend against a cyber-attack.
When I was in Colorado Springs, the U.S. Space Command at the time was given the responsibility for computer network operations, which has evolved to information operations and now cyber issues, cyber defence and attack. That's over a very short period of 12 or 13 years. It's gone from being asked what's an information operations action to everybody knowing the importance and significance of our cyber vulnerability.
We in Canada, I think, are somewhat behind the eight ball here. We haven't progressed as much as the Americans have in cyber-command. The interconnectedness of our economies and our infrastructure should be a wake-up call, I think, for us to take very seriously the potential of a debilitating attack.
I briefly saw an article this morning saying that by 2025 cyber-attacks could cause significant deaths, with all the concomitant impacts of a significant and well-directed attack.