Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the invitation to appear before this committee as you examine what we believe to be a very important subject.
I'm Rear-Admiral Bishop, director general of international security policy at National Defence headquarters. I report to the assistant deputy minister for policy, and I'm responsible for managing our bilateral and multilateral defence relationships including, of course, our very important relationship with the United States of America. I hope that my comments today will help you with your work as you study the defence and security of North America.
I'd like to begin my remarks by providing a broad overview of some of the key initiatives and highlighting some key areas of our defence and security co-operation with our partner, the United States, including our participation in the North American Aerospace Defense Command, commonly referred to as NORAD.
As you know, the government has committed to undertaking a defence policy review which will examine Canada's defence priorities and drive our strategy to deal with a dynamic security environment and the uncertainties of the future. The defence of North America will almost certainly figure prominently in the defence policy review, as it has always been an immutable and enduring task for the Canadian Armed Forces.
Consequently, the Canadian Armed Forces is focused on ensuring that we are interoperable with the United States military and we're capable of conducting operations together across the spectrum of conflict. We do this through regular operations, joint exercises, and personnel exchanges in close co-operation as full and equal partners on virtually every defence issue of significance in North America. At any given time, there are more than 700 Canadian Armed Forces personnel serving in the United States. Approximately 300 of them are committed to the NORAD mission, including 147 who are posted to NORAD headquarters in Colorado Springs, and there are literally dozens of others at many other locations spread across the United States.
Our minister and the U.S. Secretary of Defense meet regularly in Canada and Washington and at NATO meetings and other international forums elsewhere in the world. In addition to such senior leader engagement, a wide array of bilateral institutions and agreements help sustain and deepen our defence relationship.
The most important of these is the Permanent Joint Board on Defence, which has met continuously since 1940. This board serves as a bilateral forum to discuss and provide advice on policy issues related to homeland defence and security, including global military challenges that affect continental defence. To adapt to the changes in the defence and security environment, the membership of the board has evolved significantly over the last decade and a half. Specifically, its composition has been expanded to include other security departments and agencies as well as our new military command structures in both our countries.
Today meetings of the Permanent Joint Board on Defence are attended by senior representatives in the Department of National Defence but also by members of Global Affairs Canada, the Privy Council Office, and the Department of Public Safety, with similar departments and agencies represented in the United States' delegation. The board continues to be the most senior political military advisory board on defence and security between our two countries, and it plays a crucial role in fostering frank discussion on the wide range of emerging issues that could potentially affect our continental defence and security.
In addition to the Permanent Joint Board on Defence and the many other Canada-U.S. forums focused on defence issues, there are more than 800 agreements and arrangements that govern the day-to-day defence relationship, including the NORAD agreement. NORAD itself is a cornerstone of the Canada-U.S. defence relationship and it has evolved significantly since it was established in 1958. Nevertheless, it remains today the key means by which our two nations jointly defend North American airspace. Canada works very closely with the United States to ensure that NORAD remains able to effectively deliver its three missions. These include aerospace warning, aerospace control, and maritime warning.
NORAD also plays an important role in ensuring Canadian sovereignty and security, serving as a deterrent against potential attacks, and providing crucial surveillance capability for North America's approaches. As a partner in NORAD, Canada provides a significant contribution to the surveillance of the continent's northern approaches, and this is why we're committed to protecting the status of NORAD as a critical element of North American defence and to continuing to explore options to ensure NORAD can modernize and evolve to meet existing and emerging challenges. A key part of these efforts is examining opportunities for the renewal of the north warning system.
To ensure that we are well positioned to discuss these important issues, we've established the mechanisms to bring together all relevant defence stakeholders, military and civilian, on a regular basis with our U.S. allies to discuss these issues.
Aside from cooperation through NORAD, a vital component of our day-to-day operational defence relationship is conducted under the Tri-Command Framework. The Tri-Command brings together Canada's Joint Operations Command, NORAD, and U.S. Northern Command. The Tri-Command is the primary venue through which Canada and the U.S. collaborate on preparing for and responding to civil emergencies, particularly through the Civil Assistance Plan. The Civil Assistance Plan facilitates military to military support from one nation to the other during natural disasters, terrorist attacks, or other crises.
For defence planning, the Combined Defence Plan provides a framework for the combined defence of Canada and the U.S. Similar to the Civil Assistance Plan, it provides a framework for how military forces from one nation can be provided in support of those of the other nation. In both contexts, our regional commanders have established relationships with their U.S. military colleagues across the border to ensure our countries can support each other if required. To ensure readiness, our two nations train and exercise together on an ongoing basis.
I'd also like to touch briefly on the Arctic. While the geographic and geopolitical landscape is complex and rapidly evolving, there is currently no military threat to Canada in the Arctic. However, National Defence does have an important role in the north, particularly in support of whole-of-government activities in the region, as well as through surveillance and sovereignty operations.
Here again our relationship with the United States is critically important. In addition to NORAD's responsibilities in the north, we also benefit from a tri-command framework for Arctic co-operation between CJOC, NORAD, and U.S. northern command. It identifies specific areas of co-operation on safety, security, and planning in the Arctic as it pertains to the defence of North America.
In closing, I'd like to emphasize that our defence relationship with the United States has been and continues to be of critical importance to Canada. As we look at the future and are confronted with a threat environment that remains volatile, unpredictable, chaotic, and ambiguous, this special relationship will continue to be of pre-eminent importance to both nations, as both Canada's and the United States' defence and security will depend on our continued collaboration as full and equal partners in North American defence.
Mr. Chair and members of Parliament, thank you very much for the invitation to testify before you this morning. It is my distinct pleasure to address you today and provide our views on threats to North America.
I'd like to take a moment before I get into the prepared remarks to acknowledge the serious event this morning in Brussels, in Belgium writ large. Obviously I do touch on terrorism in my remarks, but I'm happy to take any questions you have. It's an evolving situation. We're getting things minute by minute on this. Much of it is coming in over open sources, through the media, so I'm not that much further ahead than any of you are, but I'd be happy to take questions on that.
Before I talk about possible threats to Canada as we see them, I would like to provide some background on the role of the Canadian Forces intelligence command—CFINTCOM, as we call it. The role of the command consists of helping the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces to make sound decisions in exercising their duties. Whether that's conducting operations in the Arctic, providing support to events such as the 2010 Olympic Games, or carrying out overseas operations, the Canadian Armed Forces have need of the most accurate and up-to-date intelligence in order to achieve their military objectives and ensure the security and protection of their personnel.
Defence intelligence is also a key element in the ability of the Government of Canada to make informed decisions on defence issues, national security, and foreign affairs. In carrying out our mandate, I can say with pride that our intelligence capability is world class and offers the necessary tools, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, to give our leaders an information advantage in making those decisions. Intelligence is a leading factor in operational success.
I should also note that we benefit from productive relationships with our whole-of-government partners, working closely with the Privy Council Office, the RCMP, CSIS, CSE, Public Safety, and Global Affairs, to name a few. You and the Canadians you represent may be certain that your intelligence organizations are promoting the interests of this country in the areas of defence and security.
Canada also has a solid defence intelligence relationship with our Five Eyes partners, including Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Permanent liaison offices in Ottawa, Washington, London, and Canberra help manage these relationships.
Now, to the subject at hand—threats to North America. I appreciate the opportunity to help situate the committee and your subsequent report in how we see the current threat environment. CFINTCOM focuses the vast majority of its energy on military threats and support to Canadian Forces operations abroad.
We define threat as a combination of intent and capability. An entity with the desire to harm Canada but no capability to do so does not in our view represent a threat. Having discerned a foreign actor's intent to harm Canada, the intelligence apparatus must track any advancement in its capabilities in order to determine if that entity presents a threat. Tracking or predicting changes in capability is sometimes challenging, but is usually possible within a reasonable margin of error. Gauging current and evolving intent is more complicated but still possible. However, predicting future intent is highly risky. Where a state may not exhibit hostility while it is developing a capability, once acquired, that capability remains in its arsenal whatever changes happen in its political calculus and intent.
With that definition in mind, I can say that at this time we do not see a state actor that has both the capability and the intent to harm Canada militarily. Nevertheless, we view the proliferation and potential use of weapons of mass destruction, or WMD, including chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear, as well as the development of ballistic missiles capable of reaching North America, as worrisome. States of concern, such as Iran and North Korea, will likely continue in their attempts to acquire, develop, and improve weapons of mass destruction, along with the ballistic missile capabilities to deliver them.
The dual-use nature of most biological and many chemical-related technologies makes monitoring weapons programs and procurement involving these materials difficult. Furthermore, the ostensible civilian application of nuclear technology and the use of space launch vehicles can mask military intentions. It is important to note, however, that we assess that only states can master the complexities of ballistic missile delivery systems.
In the case of Iran, its current missile arsenal lacks the range to strike targets within North America. With the current P5+1 joint action plan, we assess that the potential for Iranian covert nuclear weapons development has been substantially set back, and is more likely to be detected should it occur.
North Korea, on the other hand, has expressly indicated that it wants to be able to target North America with nuclear armed missiles. While it is actively developing ballistic missiles that could potentially reach North America, whether North Korea has developed a practical weapon is unclear. North Korea's recent claim of successfully testing a thermonuclear weapon or H-bomb is unsubstantiated. Nevertheless, that country's history demonstrates continuing efforts to develop a viable nuclear weapon capability, which we will continue to watch closely.
Terrorism is obviously at the forefront of our minds as a challenge to the security of North America. While the primary Government of Canada agencies responsible for countering terrorism domestically are the RCMP and CSIS, the Canadian armed forces are ready to play a role in supporting their emergency management partners across Canada. We also work closely with these and other partners to ensure the safety of our CAF personnel and infrastructure.
Finally, with regard to cyber, there are two specific areas of interest for the Canadian Forces Intelligence Command: threats that affect the ability of the armed forces to operate, and the cyber-capabilities of foreign actors. The bigger picture of cyber-threats, that is, threats to Canada in general, and threats emanating from non-military cyber-actors are the purview of the Department of Public Safety.
The potential exists for foreign states to employ computer network exploitation capabilities in support of strategic intelligence collection. More simply put, this means using computers to spy on Canada. They may also use network reconnaissance in support of planned or anticipated computer network attacks. That is looking at our computer systems so at the moment when we would have to be defending ourselves, they would conduct a cyber-attack in an attempt to render our command and control systems inoperable. As well, they may use network attacks against private and government data and communications networks on which we in the Department of Defence and the armed forces rely.
CFINTCOM is interested in all such incidents because they affect the ability of the armed forces to operate.
Mr. Chair, this concludes my presentation. Thank you very much for the opportunity. I look forward to answering your questions.
Good morning, Mr. Chair and members of the committee. It's my pleasure to be here today to discuss the foreign policy considerations related to the defence of North America.
First, allow me to say just a few words about my own role at Global Affairs Canada.
As Director General of the International Security and Intelligence Bureau at Global Affairs Canada, I am responsible for the management of the foreign policy dimension of all of Canada's defence and security relationships. However, my bureau is also responsible for our relationships with other bilateral allies and partners, as well as engagement with key multilateral security organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and Canada's commitments to the U.S.-led Anti-ISIL Coalition.
My bureau also acts as a focal point within our department for intelligence matters and has the responsibility for advancing Canadian positions to address international crime and terrorism as well as to provide advice on certain programming initiatives in support of these objectives.
Let me focus on Canada's foreign policy responses to potential threats to the North American continent. Then I will examine the Canadian activity outside North America to address potential challenges before they reach our shores.
First, let me begin by underscoring that beyond the clear domestic and sovereignty prerogatives of my National Defence and Public Safety colleagues, from a Global Affairs Canada perspective, the security of North America is the primary enabler for the close economic ties with the U.S. that underpin the prosperity of both Canada and the United States.
Almost 25% of Canada's GDP is generated through exports to the U.S. Comparatively, exports to all other countries generate only an additional 6% of Canada's GDP. In 2015, Canada-U.S. trade in goods and services reached almost $881 billion in annual trade for goods and services. Canadian exports to the U.S. were about $450 billion, representing more than 72% of all Canadian exports. Canada imported $431 billion in goods and services from the U.S., representing more than 64% of total imports. Goods and services worth over $2.4 billion cross the U.S.-Canada border every day.
As such, the importance of maintaining a relationship of mutual confidence, including assurances that potential threats will not originate or pass through our respective countries, is fundamental to the continuation of the free and open relationship that Canada and the U.S. currently enjoy.
Moreover, the North American geographic reality necessitates close bilateral co-operation between the U.S. and Canada. We have the world's longest shared border, which has led to close transnational co-operation on domestic security measures. We are surrounded on almost all sides by rugged coastlines, a reality that has driven increased Canada-U.S. collaboration on maritime domain awareness and the 2006 expansion of NORAD's mandate to include maritime warning.
Also, the vast Canadian Arctic and its approaches are of undeniable geostrategic importance for the defence of both Canada and the U.S., as Admiral Bishop has just mentioned, which is the reason that we have invested significant resources into our northern defences.
In an increasingly resource-constrained environment, and given the high cost of operating over significant distances and in the north, the benefit for Canada of close co-operation and cost sharing with the U.S. are obvious. While defence imperatives always require delicate decisions on military investments, without the close defence co-operation that Canada enjoys with the U.S., Canada would be required to make some very difficult decisions on military investments.
As mentioned, one of the primary mechanisms for North American defence is NORAD, the binational command staffed by both Canadian and American military and civilian officers. This organization is unique in the world and has been a priority for Canada since it was formed in 1958. Furthermore, it is seen as a foreign policy priority as well. Global Affairs Canada, for example, contributes a political adviser to NORAD in Colorado Springs, who reports directly to the commander of NORAD.
Over the past several decades, the geopolitical situation to which NORAD has responded has shifted and evolved, and NORAD has undergone several adaptations to its roles and responsibilities as a result.
This includes the addition of a domestic airspace monitoring and response role following the 9/11 attacks, and the addition of a maritime warning role in 2006, which I already mentioned earlier, to ensure seamless monitoring and assessment of North America's maritime domain.
Global Affairs Canada continues to work closely with National Defence, the Department of Defense, and the U.S. State Department to ensure that NORAD is able to evolve and modernize to address emerging threats. This work includes the support of bilateral consultations to examine North American defence infrastructure, organization, and planning required for the combined defence of North America.
Admiral Bishop has mentioned the PJBD, the Canada-U.S. Permanent Joint Board on Defence, and I will not repeat the important points he made except to note that obviously this is something that involves very much both sides and that also recently added board members from both Public Safety and PCO to give a wider breadth of discussion and co-operation to this discussion.
While our relationship with the U.S. is clearly a priority, allow me to now take the discussion a bit further afield, by noting that our strong preference is to prevent threats to North America at their source, by employing the full range of diplomatic and military tools and the Canadian tool-kit.
This includes diplomatic efforts to engage and de-escalate tensions wherever possible, including through the promotion of nuclear security, non-proliferation and disarmament, combined with the provision of development assistance, security programming, capacity building, and peace operations.
Global Affairs Canada maintains key security programming tools including the counterterrorism capacity-building program, intended to build the capacity of beneficiary states to prevent and respond to terrorist activity globally, and the anti-crime capacity-building program, which aims to enhance the capacity of beneficiary states to prevent and respond to threats posed by transnational criminal activity, principally, in the Americas.
Furthermore, through a range of multilateral and bilateral engagements, Canada has also focused its diplomatic efforts on addressing trans-national organized crime and illegal migration, and countering violent extremism including through Canada's support to the U.S.-led Anti-ISIL Coalition.
Finally, Canada is also a member of a range of multilateral organizations, the goals of which are to prevent escalation through a combination of military and diplomatic co-operation, confidence building, and deterrence. These include institutions like the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Organization of American States, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum, and others. Canada's membership in these organizations has additional benefits as well, such as, for example, increased situational awareness, training, and joint exercises.
Global Affairs Canada works closely with our colleagues at National Defence to ensure that our strategic and policy directions are well aligned with Canada's interests and our bilateral and multilateral relations are supportive of a more secure North America and a more secure global situation as well.
I'm going to answer this question in English because I don't have all the acronyms in French. We're an acronym-driven organization.
We have officers working with the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, and U.S. Marine Corps across the United States. It would take me a long time to describe everywhere that we are. To show you the level of integration and co-operation, we have officers, as I've said, in NORAD headquarters, in the deputy commander role, and also a lot of Canadians making up a significant amount of that staff.
We also have Canadians in very key leadership roles in American units. For instance, in each one of the five U.S. army corps, they have a deputy who is a Canadian one-star rank, who is integrated into their command structure. That's the level of trust that the United States has with Canada.
We have a lot of people working with U.S. units. In their AWACS squadron, we have a sizeable presence. We have people working in the Pentagon. We have a lot of people in the United States on military courses, and that spans a spectrum from training to professional education at their war colleges.
It's also important to note, in saying that we have a substantial presence in the United States, that the United States sends a lot of exchange officers to work with the Canadian military. These opportunities to work in the United States alongside the Americans, and for the Americans to send people to Canada to work alongside Canadians, is a really effective way of deepening our understanding of each other's ways of approaching operations and of our respective cultures. It makes us a better fighting force when we're paired up to do an operation together.
It is a very close level of co-operation. Those 700 people are spread all across the United States, Alaska, and some of the U.S. territories.
It's very good observation.
We obviously have the fighter jets that play an important role in NATO, and the tankers, as we've talked about, for providing air-to-air refuelling, given the distances that are involved. We also make use of our other air resources in the Canadian Forces to conduct surveillance operations. We have maritime patrol aircraft, which regularly conduct surveillance missions over the approaches to the eastern and western seaboards of Canada.
We have missions that go up into the Canadian Arctic to survey the Arctic land mass, but also the seaward approaches and the waters in the Arctic archipelago. We also work with other government departments that contract aircraft to conduct surveillance and patrol missions. We pair up with them and make use of those aircraft to conduct surveillance.
As I said, we have, again with our partnership with the United States.... One of our strengths in Canada is our expertise in space. We make use of space extensively to assist in the surveillance, particularly on the maritime side of who is in our waters. The navy, on the Atlantic and Pacific approaches to Canada, has a very good picture of what we call marine domain awareness. That has a high level of fidelity, in terms of what ships are in our waters and where they're going.
It's a difficult challenge based on the size of the space that we have to look at, but we do harness all of our resources, and we work with all of our partner agencies in government to maximize the resources they're employing to build the very best picture of what's going on around our territory.
I would phrase it differently with respect to drones. I'll start there.
Drones have proven to be invaluable for military operations. Almost all of our western like-minded nations are acquiring uninhabited aerial vehicles for military operations. They're particularly good at intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance missions, where you need an airborne platform, with sensors, that can loiter in a specific area for a long period of time. These unmanned aircraft have proven their worth in countless operations over the last decade, including in support of Canada's operations in Afghanistan.
Really, drones are a military capability that most countries are pursuing, and Canada is no different. We have the JUSTAS project, which is looking at our operational requirements for an unmanned aircraft for surveillance and reconnaissance.
The issue of whether or not those drones should be armed is a question that, again, I think will be tackled in the defence policy review. I think that's a very good question for a policy review to look at. From a military standpoint, I can say that armed drones provide a useful tool to military commanders in operations, just like other weapons systems do. As to whether or not Canada should have that kind of capability, I think that's a very important policy question and one that I would expect to be tackled in the defence policy review.