Thank you very much for the opportunity to appear before the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence on this important topic. Over the next 10 minutes I'll briefly discuss the emerging threat to North America and NORAD and Canada's aerial readiness in response to these threats. Then, of course, I'd be happy to take your questions.
Turning first to the emerging threat environment, the 9/11 attacks revealed an internal aerial threat to North America, prompting significant organizational, operational, and procedural changes at NORAD and at the U.S. and Canadian federal government levels. For example, NORAD's mandate was in large to look inwards. Northern Command was created. There's now a 24/7 NAVCAN and FAA feed into NORAD, and there was Operation Noble Eagle, etc. All of these different things took place in response to the internal aerial threat to North America and continue today.
In my view, NORAD has the capabilities and procedures it needs to address the internal aerial threat to North America. It's in the external threat environment that the most dramatic changes have taken place in recent years. A benchmark date is the summer of 2007 when Russia resumed its bomber patrols close to North America and planted a flag at the North Pole's ocean floor. Since that time and at an accelerating pace in recent years, Russia has been militarizing the Arctic region. It is opening new infrastructure in the Arctic and has begun building new ships, ice breakers, ballistic missile submarines, and has stepped up the number of bomber patrols.
Of particular concern is a new long-range conventionally armed precision cruise missile that Russia has developed that could easily reach North America from Russian air space or waters. The Kh-101 cruise missile is hard to detect on radar and is believed to have an intercontinental range of between 3,000 and 5,000 kilometres. Last fall, Russia launched the Kh-101 from strategic bombers against targets in Syria. The missile can also be launched from ships and submarines, and it comes in a nuclear armed version, the Kh-102. Russian submarines and aircraft carried cruise missiles during the 1980's, so that part is not new. But the difference today is that the new missile is much more precise and has longer range.
North Korea also poses a potential threat to North America. For many years, that country has been seeking to develop an ICBM that can reach North America, as well as develop miniaturized nuclear warheads that can be fitted to ICBMs. Reports indicate that it's getting ever closer to that goal. North Korea is also developing submarine launched ballistic missiles. Combined with an unstable leadership, North Korea's capability and behaviour present at minimum a medium-term threat to North America.
Other potential threats and challenges stem from the melting Arctic and the resultant interest in Arctic resources—lessened perhaps by the drop in gas and oil prices, but nevertheless still there—and also the interest in using Arctic shipping lanes. China, for example, has a long-standing and growing interest in the Arctic. In January, China commissioned its second polar class ice breaker despite the fact that it's territory lies thousands of miles from the Arctic.
Responding to these challenges requires surveillance and control. That is, it is necessary to be able to detect a threat and then to be able to address it. NORAD has the ability to detect ballistic missiles through long-standing space and land-based systems, all of them belonging to the United States, none of them being on Canadian soil.
More recently, as part of its ballistic missile defence system, the United States has deployed sensors on ships in the Sea of Japan and on a large barge in the north Pacific. Canada has access to all of this information and we'd know of a ballistic missile launch. That's why some people say we're already part of ballistic missile defence. To respond to a potential threat, the United States has deployed ground-based interceptors at bases in California and Alaska.
In 2005, Canada of course decided not to take part in BMD and, therefore, theoretically at least, would not have a voice in the response to a ballistic missile strike against North America. Canadian territory would be defended in the event of a strike if that territory happens to be part of what the United States defines as its defended area, the extent of which is classified. Canada's decision not to participate in the response part of ballistic missile defence is illogical and I hope, and actually I believe, is going to be addressed in the defence review.
Turning to the air breathing threat, NORAD gets surveillance and early-warning information about aircraft approaching North America from the north warning system of radars along the 70th parallel, as well as from radars on the east and west coasts of Canada. The north warning system was constructed in the late 1980s and early 1990s and will need to be upgraded or replaced in the next decade or so. One option is a space-based surveillance or detection system, and the RADARSAT constellation of three satellites scheduled to be launched starting in 2018 could well be suited to this mission. Another option might be unmanned aerial vehicles, the high altitude ones like the Global Hawk UAV.
U.S. and Canadian fighter aircraft are dedicated to the NORAD mission to respond to potential airborne threats. Since 9/11 NORAD fighter jets have been scrambled thousands of times in response to internal and external situations. The statement of requirements for Canada’s new land-based fighter will have to take into account an assessment of the number of fighters Canada needs to effectively carry out its air defence role. Air refuelling tankers also have to be part of the discussion.
Where there is a notable gap in the aerial surveillance and control of North America is in the ability to detect and respond to cruise missile threats. Cruise missiles fly low to the earth. They are hard to detect and harder to intercept. NORAD has only a limited detection capability against cruise missiles, likely involving airborne warning and control aircraft. It's classified information. America’s concern with the new Russian cruise missile is such that it is pursuing a land-attack cruise missile detection system made up of giant radar blimps to be deployed around Washington, D.C. The radar system, which is in the early stages of development, would allow National Guard F-16 aircraft to shoot down low-flying cruise missiles.
For the general surveillance of its territorial approaches, Canada has a fleet of long-range patrol aircraft that travel over the Arctic and the east and west coasts on a periodic basis. That's the Aurora long-range patrol aircraft. Polar Epsilon is a surveillance capability on RADARSAT-2 that also gives images of the north as the satellite passes over. But as the Arctic continues to melt and traffic increases, Canada will want to move to a more persistent surveillance of the region. The RADARSAT constellation of satellites and high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles that I mentioned a few minutes ago could best provide a persistent surveillance of the air and maritime space region, although it's possible that three satellites would not be enough in terms of the RADARSAT Constellation, that you would need perhaps five.
A final point on aerial capabilities around North America is that the traditional role provided by the Aurora maritime patrol aircraft, that is to say, the anti-submarine warfare that was the Cold War mission of the Aurora, is growing in importance in the new security environment. Many of our allies, including Britain, Australia, and Norway, are now investing in their maritime patrol aircraft fleets. Canada will want to prioritize the multi-mission aircraft that has been on the books for some time to replace Canada’s upgraded but aging and relevantly limited in number long-range patrol aircraft.
I look forward to your questions.
I was asked to speak about Russian threats to central, eastern, and northern Europe in the context of American security. U.S. military leaders have recently named Russia as the greatest threat to America—an existential threat to the United States, they say, the only country in the world with a nuclear capability that could destroy the United States and, of course, Canada.
Although Russian nuclear capabilities have existed for decades, Moscow's aggressive behaviour since the war with Georgia in 2008 has raised concerns that its capabilities could be matched with intent. The subsequent annexation of Crimea and military intervention in Ukraine through its military support for the separatists, but also by its covertly sending Russian troops to the eastern Ukraine, raised more fears that Moscow is pursuing a neo-imperial strategy through aggression.
This presents threats to North America on several levels. First, by violating international law Russia has undermined the security system governing Europe and the world since World War II. Second, it is setting a dangerous precedent that others could follow worldwide. Third, Russian aggression is undermining international organizations such as the United Nations, and military alliances such as NATO. Then Russia is directly threatening NATO member states in Europe, raising the question of whether it would attempt to threaten North America as well. Finally, the militarization of strategic zones, such as the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, and the Arctic, confirms that Russia is aiming for military domination of a vast area of the world.
Russian aggression does not end in eastern Ukraine, as evidenced by Moscow's behaviour throughout central and eastern Europe, northern Europe, and the Baltics. Russia is using a number of instruments of subversion in the countries on its flanks. These tools include military threats; diplomatic pressure; spying; economic penetration; energy dependence; old comrade networks; corruption; the undermining of democratic societies and sabotaging of EU unity; the support of ultranationalists; information war; cybersecurity; and the stirring of ethnic tensions, not only by using the Russian minorities, but also other minorities throughout the region.
This is a well-thought-through, long-term strategy aiming to restore Russian relevance and influence, and in some cases domination and control in a large part of the European continent and Eurasia, as well as establishing Russia as a major pillar in a multi-pillar world. Moscow's behaviour is not opportunistic. It is carefully calibrated by its neo-imperial strategy, but using different instruments of subversion when the opportunity arises.
The Black Sea is a contested zone and a major geopolitical component of Russian revisionism. Expanding positions there is more important and more effective than land conquests. It cannot be done without control of the coastal territory. The annexation of Crimea served precisely this purpose, expanding Russia's Black Sea coastline and, consequently, the area of military domination in the sea.
This process started in 2008 with the war in Georgia, with Abkhazia, which is strategically important to Russian naval power in the Black Sea. This is why Russia is planning to develop the port of Ochamchira in Abkhazia and connect it by roads with the north Caucasus. While South Ossetia has little strategic value for Russia other than as a tool to destabilize Georgia, Abkhazia is strategically important because of its location on the Black Sea coast. Moscow needs Abkhazia to achieve military supremacy in the Black Sea, which is its strategic goal, and one major reason for its annexation of the Crimea.
The Black Sea strategy threatens to reverse NATO gains in this critical part of Europe. It also aims to deny NATO access to Ukraine, Moldova, and the Caucasus. In 2015, Moscow formulated a doctrine that focused on creating an A2/AD or an anti-access/area-denial zone toward NATO in the Black Sea, while at the same time ensuring a growing threat to the alliance’s southeastern flank.
Moscow is focusing more attention and investment on militarizing the Black Sea, while in many ways withdrawing from regions less linked to NATO, such as Central Asia, for example. Evidently, the Kremlin puts greater importance on adversity with NATO than on its competition with China.
Russian strategy in the Black Sea is already putting greater pressure on Bulgaria and Romania, including the maritime energy fields of Romania's exclusive economic zone. Romania now de facto shares maritime borders with Russia in the Black Sea waters. That means that NATO shares maritime borders with Russia in the Black Sea as well.
It is taking a toll on the military forces of Bulgaria and Romania, which have to patrol the region and respond to every violation of their airspace. Bulgaria currently has only four flying airplanes, and they're all Russian made, but it is planning to buy new airplanes soon, probably F-16s. Romania purchased 12 F-16s from Portugal and is planning to buy another 12 in 2017. That increased military equipment for the two countries—NATO allies in the Black Sea—includes buying new patrol boats.
Russian control of ports and sea lanes threatens to choke the trade in energy routes, prevents NATO from projecting sufficient security for Black Sea members, and gives Moscow a larger stake in exploiting fossil fuels in maritime locations. Offshore deposits around Crimea are now under Russian control. It could also disrupt or challenge energy supplies through pipeline connections between the Caspian Basin and Europe and set back EU attempts to pursue energy diversity. This could further curtail EU and European connections with central Asia, and undermine prospects for future natural gas deliveries from Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan to Europe.
The Baltic Sea is another area of interest to Russia. It occupies a pivotal position in Moscow's plans to consolidate the northern flank of its expansionist Eurasian project. It provides a vital trade route to Russia's second-largest city, St. Petersburg; hosts the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline to Germany; and is the location of the Baltic fleet headquartered in Russia's Kaliningrad exclave.
Despite Kremlin opposition over the past two decades, the Baltic Sea has become a largely NATO lake, with six member states having coastlines there: the traditional members Denmark and Germany; and new members Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. In addition, since Russia's assault on Ukraine, the remaining two neutral states, Sweden and Finland, are moving closer to NATO in efforts to protect their security in this increasingly unpredictable region.
Russia's northen flank consists of two sets of countries that have experienced growing pressure from Moscow—the Baltic and the Nordic. The three Baltic states occupy the most vulnerable position, especially Latvia and Estonia, which contain significant Russian and—
Each state campaigns for more effective NATO protection to counter attempts to unsettle internal security. In the wake of Russia's attack on Ukraine, the Baltic states formally requested that NATO deploy several thousand troops as a permanent deterrent. They're seeking a brigade-sized unit of approximately 3,000 soldiers so that every Baltic nation would have at least one battalion stationed in its territory.
The successful defence of any NATO member in deterring Moscow's many-pronged assaults will be a critical test for the credibility of the alliance over the next decade. If any NATO member is dismembered by Russia, then Moscow will not only exact revenge for losing the Cold War. It will also have in effect dismantled the western alliance.
The Nordic non-NATO members, Sweden and Finland, have also become increasingly concerned by Moscow's activities along their borders. Events in Ukraine in 2014 threw into sharp focus the absence of Nordic capabilities following years of drawdowns and a focus on crisis management operations instead of territorial defence. Northern Europe has been left dangerously exposed to military coercion at a time of mounting uncertainty. If regional stability was threatened because of Russia's actions, both Sweden and Finland could petition for NATO membership, thus expanding the rupture between Washington and Moscow and intensifying Russia's justifications for its regional aggressiveness.
In the event that Moscow decides to directly attack Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, in an alleged defence of its national interests, it will seek full military manoeuvrability in the Baltic Sea and seek to restrict NATO's response. In flexing its military muscles through large-scale manoeuvres, the construction of new bases, and frequent violations of the airspace and coastal waters of littoral states, Moscow has been aiming at several objectives.
First, the military buildup is supposed to demonstrate that Russia is again a great power and can create an environment of uncertainty in the Baltic and Nordic regions. Second, Moscow is testing NATO's political and military responses and adjusting its own tactics and operations in potential preparation for armed conflict. Third, in the case of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, the Kremlin's military pressure is part of a broader multi-pronged offensive to weaken their governments, stir up social and ethnic conflicts, and demonstrate that NATO will not be able to defend them in the event of war.
East and central Europe have been divided throughout the Ukrainian crisis. That shows the leverage that Russia has gained in those countries. Russian officials focus on influencing political decisions, in each of the capitals, through a combination of diplomatic pressure, personal and professional contacts, economic enticements, and energy dependence. Reports regularly surface in Slovakia, Hungary, and other states that old comrade networks continue to operate between local politicians and Moscow. These are based on financial benefits rather than ideological or political convictions. It enables the Kremlin to exert political influence over certain officials and governments, challenges unified EU and NATO positions, and assists Moscow's international aspirations.
Thank you for the warning, and the invitation and opportunity to appear before the committee. This is indeed both a vital and urgent topic.
I would like to state at the very beginning that from my perspective, any analysis of North American defence may be deconstructed only for analytical and functional purposes. A full understanding of the issues and modalities of Canadian and North American defence ultimately needs to operate within a larger context, given that we live and operate in a globalized system. Consequently, threats are interconnected and developments far away have an impact on us.
What I propose to focus on here are specific Canadian and continental defence concerns, while trying to keep in mind the larger perspective that I outlined. Within the narrow analysis, we should nonetheless be cognizant of the full range of threats, from the political to the military and the environmental. The current comprehensive review of Canadian defence policy, one that I understand should be completed in 2017, will hopefully take this holistic and global approach.
Canadian defence, I would argue, operates at three levels: the country, continental arrangements, and the larger trans-Atlantic Alliance. In essence, as in the case of any state, Canada is first and foremost responsible for the production of its own sovereignty and national interests. However, we are also part of NORAD and NATO, as we have seen, and for several decades our defence and that of the continent, at least from north of the Rio Grande, has been a blending of these three levels.
At the country level, we know that Canada operates the Joint Task Force North, and Canadian Forces maintain a year-round presence in the northern region. The RCAF's mission, in turn, ranges from search and rescue to sovereignty protection. Canada, as well, pursues military co-operation through the tri-command, which is the relationship between the Canadian Joint Operations Command, the U.S. Northern Command, and NORAD. NORAD, the bi-national military command, has a significant presence in the north through operations and training. Further, NORAD's north warning system, using radars covering 4,800 kilometres, looks for airborne activity and, since 2006, also potential maritime threats. Outside of this area, Canada also co-operates with NATO regarding global security concerns.
All of these activities function within a certain context and environment, and any analysis cannot be judged in abstract terms. That is, Canada has to respond to specific threats. Also, as has been outlined by my two other colleagues, the two primary threats to Canada—and there are also threats on the periphery—emanate from Russia, and potentially from North Korea. By far the greatest threat comes from Russia.
I would like to begin by saying that we are not in a new Cold War. Rather, to the contrary, I would contend that Russia, as really a remnant of the Soviet Union, is not the same as the Soviet Union, although we do need to worry about various acts of aggression on the part of Russia. There are no longer two conflicting universal ideologies confronting each other across the globe. There's not the same threat of nuclear Armageddon or nuclear winter, and in terms of conventional warfare, we do not have the threat of scores of Russian divisions pushing through the Fulda Gap on their way to the Channel. Having said that, this is far from contending that we need to be reassured, because we have seen an assertive, and even aggressive, Russia with very virulent manifestations of this in Ukraine, and earlier in Georgia. We have returned, as Walter Russel Mead has suggested, to geopolitics.
The Russian government is also prodding and probing western weaknesses. It has outlined new ambitions, particularly in the vast and strategic Arctic, which is so much a part of Canada's concerns about protecting sovereignty.
The rhetoric from Moscow and even that from Washington is troubling. At the February 2016 conference in Munich, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev claimed, “we have slid back to a new Cold War.... On almost a daily basis, we're called one of the most terrible threats either to NATO...or Europe, or to the United States.” This is somewhat ironic, since it was Russia using hybrid warfare that illegally annexed Crimea, and continues to fund, arm, and direct separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.
The Americans have also expressed alarm. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter declared in February of 2016 that “we haven't had to worry about this”—meaning a Russian threat or attack—“for 25 years” and “[w]hile I wish it were otherwise, now we do.”
Despite this rhetoric, we are not quite yet in a new Cold War; Russia's capabilities are limited by the fact that it has a GDP roughly that of Italy's in nominal terms. But this does not mean that it does not enjoy very significant regional advantages, as has been outlined by others, and I would not by any means wish to minimize those threats. But how do we deal with that?
The west is basically hard-wired—and this is not necessarily bad—to negotiate. That is not necessarily the Russian approach or the approach of the Kremlin currently. Russian foreign policy is driven to a very large extent by a series of intertwined domestic crises. We need to understand this if we are to cope with the military threat, because it operates within the larger political context. It is persistent and is likely to continue for a very long time under the current leadership in the Kremlin.
The domestic motive forces of Russian action and Russian military threats externally are driven by four domestic crises: the political legitimacy crisis, the economic crisis, an identity crisis, and a coming succession crisis. In light of the Kremlin's inability or unwillingness to take the fundamental steps that would be needed to resolve these crises, the Putin government not only has been shrinking the zone of democracy within Russia, but has relied on manufacturing external threats to create a kind of permanent mobilization as an alternative to genuine political legitimation.
Its economic problems have also pushed Russia to try to gain as much control over the Arctic as possible, both in terms of political goals and in terms of economic value. The Arctic has enormous potential resources, but the Arctic is also a very fragile area. If we look at the threat in the Arctic, we see four areas of concern: one, environment and ecology; two, energy exploration; three, trade and navigation; and four, security. I will skip over the first three because I want to spend a little more time on the fourth one.
Needless to say, any major spills in the Arctic would be catastrophic. That exploration would take place in one of the most ecologically fragile areas in the world and that no country has a worse record as a custodian of the environment than Russia, and no country is pushing for more exploration than Russia.... Russia also tries to control navigation, and this is where the Russian capacity to use icebreakers, which other countries don't have, and which neither the Americans nor we in Canada have paid enough attention to, I would argue, presents Russia with certain advantages.
In the fourth area, Russian security and military aspirations in the Arctic are enormous. The Russians have created the joint strategic command, SEVER, and have deployed a large Arctic brigade only 50 kilometres from the border of Finland. They continually conduct large exercises, including the vast military exercise in the north in 2015, involving something like 80,000 troops.
In December 2014 the Kremlin established the Arctic strategic command with the same legal status as the four other long-standing military districts. In 2015 Mr. Putin not only created a coordinating mission for development of the Arctic, vested with power in all areas and activities, but confirmed in March of that year as commission chair the notoriously anti-Western and aggressive deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin, who famously quipped that “tanks don't need visas”. Russia has also deployed extensive nuclear assets in the Arctic, including the nuclear Borei-class submarines with Bulava missiles.
Clearly, Canada cannot cope with a threat of this magnitude on its own. It needs help from its American ally in NORAD and from its other allies in NATO.
In the case off NORAD, however, in addition to the Russian threat, at some point we may also face one from North Korea, which is becoming more imminent as we get information on the possibility of the militarization of nuclear warheads and the deployment of mobile missiles in the case of Korea.
The problem with NORAD is that we rely a great deal on the United States. Under the current administration in the United States, there is a preference to limit engagement or to “lead from behind” and to lower defence expenditures. So reliance on the United States, allies have found, has become significantly more uncertain.
In terms of NATO—and this involves Iceland, Norway, and Denmark, as well as the United States, as they are fellow NATO members—the alliance itself does not have a particularly encouraging record of maintaining its defence capabilities. Despite the agreement in Wales two years ago that committed all 28 members to meeting the 2% of GDP defence expenditure target, only five countries have done so. Among the five that do, the United States and the U.K. have, in fact, been diminishing their defence expenditures. Canada, at roughly 1%, with a zero increase in 2014-15, also has a less than encouraging record when we have vast areas to protect in terms of our sovereignty. Germany, the second largest economy in NATO, has expenditures on defence of only about 1.2% of GDP, and last year those declined in absolute terms.
There is no magical solution to defence. You have to spend the money, you have to get the weapons. Negotiations, cooperation, and improved discursive practices all help, but ultimately the largest regional threat—the one coming from Russia—has to be addressed with both capacity and the will to dissuade. Moscow has taken aggressive political, military, and economic steps, particularly in the Arctic. The threat is not one of all-out attack, at least in the Arctic—and I'm not looking at the Baltic States, which are somewhat different. But the danger in the Arctic is one of misperception, miscalculation, and missteps. The response should be driven by prudence, not paranoia.
In conclusion, Canada needs to protect its rights in the Arctic, and air power will play a key role, but it all has to be done in a coordinated, comprehensive, deliberate, and determined fashion. Russia deserves respect, as does any other state, but a certain reality needs to be communicated to the Kremlin. Clever tactics by Moscow, the use of hybrid warfare in various parts of the world, and political pressure do not change the fundamentals of a country, Russia, that should concentrate far more on its domestic issues and on tapping its vast human and natural resources in order to become a modern state, rather than looking to find some sort of imaginary road to its restoration as a superpower through various foreign adventures.
The west, in turn, needs to have an integrated approach, a kind of grand strategy where Canada works together with the U.S. through NORAD and with NATO in its approach to the Arctic and to North American threats in general.
Russia should be made to understand that not only an outright conflict but even just an all-out military competition would ultimately be very bad for it, because it simply cannot match the capacity of a combined and determined west. Russia needs to look to Cervantes and Sancho Panza's line about a ceramic pitcher, where he said, “if the pitcher hits the stone or the stone hits the pitcher, it’s bad for the pitcher”. In an all-out confrontation, Russia is the pitcher. So perhaps Russia should be persuaded, indeed, to focus more on its domestic issues, as foreign adventures are not a substitute for resolving those problems.
Lastly, another European writer-philosopher, Voltaire, put it best in terms of advice. Voltaire, in Candide, speaking through his ever-optimistic hero, who had been mugged by reality, declared that ultimately, “Il faut cultiver notre jardin”, we must cultivate our garden. This perhaps is particularly timely advice for Russia and others who may pose threats to North America.
As an academic, obviously my preference would be that we spend money on universities and hospitals, and not on weapons. But the reality is that we live in an international system where there are significant threats.
Russia has been prodding and probing, and it has enjoyed tactical successes, at a great cost to its domestic economy. Misperception and miscalculation are often what lead to conflict. So I do not think there's a plan on the part of Russia to enter into a conflict with the western countries, but weakness can be provocative, as they say.
The danger is that Canada, just as other members of an alliance, cannot just cherry-pick. When we talk about what the dangers are of not participating, technologies have been developed now. BDM has moved tremendously. The capacity of x-band radars has expanded. There are things that can be done against cruise missiles, but you do need to spend the money. You need to have the willpower, and you have to demonstrate that you are doing that.
Deterrence is crucial. To defend against cruise missiles, it's not just what you deploy on the ground but also the perception of what you're willing to do, what the message is that you convey. Deterrence involves a psychological relationship. If you consistently underspend, if you have a situation with the Germans, for example, now realizing that much of their fighter air power is just not usable.... Something like 42% of their Tornado airplanes just can't get up in the air. So you have all of these problems.
In the case of Canada, we have to think very hard about what we can do, even with the limited dollars we have. We can't match Russia, let's say, in terms of quantity. We need to try, therefore, to use quality. That has been the traditional strength western countries have had.
What would quality be? Quality would be using the latest technology. The latest technology is not about an airplane; it is about a system. Do you go for fourth generation, or four and a half? We really need to go for fifth generation and spend the money. There are no really inexpensive ways of getting around it. And there is an obligation to be part of that alliance. It is essential to demonstrate.
We need to also understand that patience is beginning to wear thin in the case of the entire political spectrum in the United States. It is not just Donald Trump who's ranting and raving about free riders, but you see this in the campaign of Bernie Sanders. You see it with Hillary Clinton. You see it in the criticism that President Obama has levelled at France and Britain.
If we are to take sovereignty protection seriously, if we are to take our alliances seriously, then the risk is of alliance management, the risk is of actual defence. The risk is also of depriving our industry of technology that we could share, that we could build on. When we calculate a risk, we have to calculate that risk across the entire political, economic, and psychological spectrum.
In a sense this would tie in to some of the other questions that were asked. We need a conceptual clarification of what is a threat. When we say, “Look, there is no threat,” there is no threat in the sense of what we were used to in the Cold War, where we saw massive forces with tens of thousands of tanks as part of a strategy that would have involved a lunge toward the Channel. That is not what Russia intends. That is not what Russia is capable of doing.
However, the threat emanates from a country that prods and probes and seeks tactical advantages, that seeks to resolve its domestic problems and the problem of domestic instability. The social contract that had existed has fallen apart and you have a Kremlin that is looking for a kind of external validation. This is a recipe for having a kind of accidental conflict.
We see the Russians sending submarines into the waters of neighbouring states. The Swedes were pretty certain there was a Russian sub in their waters. We see the kind of challenges in the air, whether it was the British or others, where Russian aircraft come very close to their airspace. There were near accidents that have occurred. It has been a long time since that has happened. You have to go back to Soviet days when the Russian air force last acted this provocatively. So all of these are recipes for miscalculation.
You have a similar situation in North Korea. This is a wretchedly poor country, where people are starving, where people are trying to escape, and yet all its resources are being spent on trying to present the country as powerful and able to intimidate and develop nuclear weapons.
This is something out of the toolbox of the dictator. Where you don't have the domestic legitimacy, where you can't solve domestic problems or use a kind of local magical realism to sway the people, you seek to have a kind of permanent mobilization by calling on external threats and by using ultra-nationalism. That is subject to its own laws of diminishing returns. You have to keep ratcheting it up and this is what Russia has been doing. That presents dangers.
The economic problems in Russia mean that Russia needs to be aggressive in trying to get more energy. What does Russia export? It is energy, weapons, and corruption. That's about the three things, so where are they going to get additional energy? Well, they're looking at the Arctic.
If you have a catastrophic spill in the Arctic it would make what happened in the Gulf of Mexico look like a picnic. That is also a threat. So we have this economic threat, we have the ecological threat, and we have a military threat. We need to properly conceptualize, contextualize, and understand it, and we need to send the right kind of message. The capacity of the west is so much greater, but we have not mobilized that capacity, not for a confrontation but to send clear messages to Russia: solve your domestic problems, don't look for international adventures. There's no reason why Russia could not be a prosperous modern state. It isn't.
Some of this has already been done. I think by the time we are done with this, with all the other expert opinions that we've received, “risks and threats assessment” from the aerial component of the defence of North America will already be covered off. Because we are concentrating only on aerial assets, we have some major gaps in capabilities and capacity. That is why we need to talk to the navy. That is why we should have a presentation from a commander of the Canadian Army.
As for readiness and recruitment, the Canadian Armed Forces are facing huge issues right now . Reserve force strength, in particular, is dropping off. We need to hear from the experts on reserves, as well as recruitment of regular force.
Procurement is a dog's breakfast. It doesn't matter what political stripe you are; we know that we have to tackle this one, and we should have one or two hearings on that.
I think that paragraph (e) of the motion, “national security and protection of sovereignty”, will be covered off in the study that we are doing right now.
Then, when we talk about NATO and the UN, we can still inform the process. From my conversations with the minister, this would still be considered worthwhile. As you know, you'll have the expert panel that will be weighing through all the evidence. I think that in October they'll still be looking at what they received from the public consultations and the online submissions, and they'll still have time to look at this and build it into their overall review policy and the white paper as it's drafted. We are not expecting that to come out and be presented until January, the minister is saying, so there is time there. There is a whole quarter for that to be used and to fill in some of those gaps.
To speak to Randall's concerns, I agree that this is part of the information-gathering process, but again, the question is what comes next, and whether or not we, as a committee, in the fall, or even in the winter, will have a chance to look at what the expert panel has sifted through and make recommendations in the white paper draft. Then, ultimately, once the white paper is out there, we'll want to look at that again and have the minister come forward and present it in the new year.
I think this is doable and that it is our responsibility. This is policy development, and probably the biggest thing that's coming down in the next two years. We want to be engaged in it and exercise our responsibility, as parliamentarians, to help inform the government on what goes in that white paper.