Good morning, Mr. Chair and members of the committee.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. My name is Lieutenant-General Alain Pelletier. I'm the deputy commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, known as NORAD, and we are headquartered at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Joining me today are Major-General Iain Huddleston, commander of 1 Canadian Air Division and of the Canadian NORAD Region, and Jonathan Quinn, director general, continental defence policy, Department of National Defence.
As deputy commander of NORAD, I am the second in command and support the commander of NORAD, U.S. General VanHerck, in the execution of our missions, responsibilities and functions outlined in the NORAD agreement and the NORAD terms of reference.
Formalized in 1958, the NORAD agreement established three primary missions for NORAD in North America: aerospace warning, aerospace control and maritime warning.
In the context of NORAD's mission, “North America” means Alaska, Canada, the continental United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, including air defence identification zones, the air approaches, the maritime areas and the maritime approaches.
It is also worth mentioning that NORAD also delivers integrated threat warning and attack assessment for missiles, a mission that spans the entire globe.
The commander of NORAD, or I as the deputy commander in his absence, is responsible to the Government of Canada and to the Government of the United States of America for the execution of our mission.
Subordinate NORAD organizations include the Canadian NORAD region, known as CANR, the continental U.S. NORAD region, known as CONR, and the Alaska NORAD region, known as ANR, all led by their respective region commanders with embedded U.S. and Canadian Forces members alike.
NORAD has a history of evolution that has ensured the command is positioned to effectively respond to changes in the security environment and technological advances. Over its history, the threat to North America has evolved from a northern approach long-range aviation to now a 360-degree threat, and from all domains.
For the first time in our collective history of binational defence, we now have two strategic competitors, Russia and China, both with nuclear weapons, and a third actor in North Korea.
With ongoing climate change, Russia, China and other states are increasingly interested in the Arctic. As time goes on, the Arctic is becoming an interconnected and increasingly globalized region, as well as a source of contention.
From a NORAD perspective, the concern is that the Arctic is the closest path to attack North America. Our adversaries have already modernized their Arctic infrastructure, deployed new coastal and maritime defence missile systems, upgraded their maritime forces and increased military exercise and training operations, with new command organizations dedicated to the Arctic.
To effectively execute our assigned NORAD mission, we must outpace our global competitors, deter our adversaries, deny and defeat threats through all-domain awareness, information dominance and decision superiority, and be globally integrated with our allies.
In June, the announced funding for Canada’s continental defence capabilities, namely for the modernization of NORAD.
NORAD modernization will contribute to the defence of North America and help address evolving missile threats and maritime warning challenges, consistent with the NORAD agreement, helping to ensure our continent is a secure base to project power and be engaged abroad.
NORAD headquarters is working closely with National Defence headquarters and the Pentagon to synchronize and coordinate NORAD modernization from a project/acquisition perspective.
As threats continue to rapidly evolve and the Arctic becomes increasingly accessible, it is important for both countries to field critical capabilities, as soon as possible, that will enhance our domain awareness, enable persistent operations and provide national decision-makers adequate time to make key decisions.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, for the opportunity to address this committee.
We look forward to your questions.
Thank you for your question.
I'll start, and then, Lieutenant-General Pelletier may have something to add.
We have conducted some initial consultations with indigenous and northern communities to get a better handle on community needs and to identify areas where National Defence investments can assist and provide dual-use benefits for those communities.
I mentioned some of the specific infrastructure projects. As those projects move into the implementation phase and we start doing site assessments and that sort of thing, we'll continue those consultations and move into much more in-depth targeted interactions with local communities, again, to maximize opportunities for our mutual benefit. As we all know, northern communities have many of the same challenges that the Canadian Armed Forces have in operating and existing in those high latitudes. There are certainly lots of opportunities from an infrastructure perspective, technology perspective and so on.
I would mention as well that as we look at fielding capability, much in the same way as with the recently signed contract for the sustaining maintenance of the current North Warning System, there will be lots of opportunities for indigenous companies and communities to benefit economically as well. That maintenance contract was given to an Inuit-owned organization, and certainly we envision more opportunities along those lines as we move forward with the NORAD modernization plan.
I'm not sure if General Pelletier may have something more to add.
Some of the challenges the member just outlined—in terms of the Internet, clean drinking water, and housing—obviously go well above and beyond the defence mandate. There's lots of very good work going on in other government departments to get at those challenges. At the same time, we recognize that this is going to be a big investment and that there certainly will be opportunities to look for dual-use benefits across the board. We work very closely on a number of files with Dr. Lackenbauer, and I know he has lots of great ideas on this front as well.
I would say that at this point, as we're shifting into implementation for these kinds of defined, at least by location, infrastructure enhancements, we will be working very closely with northern communities again to assess their needs, let them know what our needs are, and specifically identify where those align and where we can maximize mutual benefit for these initiatives.
I would also add that the investments outlined in the NORAD modernization effort have been very specifically focused on aerospace threats to the continent, in keeping with NORAD's mandate. In budget 2022, the government also announced a plan to review our current policy. That will be an opportunity to look more broadly, beyond just the aerospace warning and control and maritime warning mission of NORAD, to other threats and opportunities that come in the Arctic, and make recommendations to government on potentially looking at other investments in the north where there would be additional benefits potentially for northern and urban communities.
My responsibilities include reconstitution and the retention effort for the RCAF. I'm not involved in recruitment, although my division is focused on supporting recruitment through improving RCAF attractions. What we mean by that is selling ourselves effectively at events around the country and at colleges.
I acknowledge that the CDS has presented our personnel situation as a crisis, and I agree with that. My role as the commander of 1 CAD, with my commander of 1 CAD hat on as opposed to the CANR hat on, is to streamline operational training by training individuals from the basic point to where they are operators. We are looking at ways to fast-track and to acknowledge the past experience of the individuals to accelerate those paths.
Another part of my job is very much on the retention side, where I need to make the RCAF a better place to work and a more attractive place to stay, moving forward. Effectively, that's where I'm focused. In terms of the RCAF as a whole, the focus points are similar, but they extend now to basic training and to working with the chief of military personnel to improve recruitment.
To describe it as a crisis is accurate. There are a number of numbers out there in the public sphere, as you've said. I won't speak to those, but it is very much a near-term, key focal point for the RCAF.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, gentlemen, for being here.
I'm going to direct my question to Mr. Quinn. I'm looking for some more discussion in layman's terms.
We talked about the future fighter capability project. With other questioners, most notably Mr. Robillard, we talked about NORAD modernization. I'm interested in how the two, NORAD modernization and the future fighter capability project, will work together to improve our ability to patrol Canada's aerospace.
Mr. Quinn, I thought you said some things about this before that seemed at a level I could easily understand, and I would appreciate that.
Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.
I'll start, and I'll invite General Huddleston to chip in as well.
In terms of the interaction between the future fighter and some of the investments as part of the NORAD modernization package, I mentioned new investments in infrastructure. That will make sure that both in southern Canada but also in the NORAD forward operating locations the infrastructure is appropriate and well set up for those really advanced capabilities of the future fighter aircraft.
As well, a big part of the NORAD modernization effort is to enhance command and control systems. We have a huge amount of data already coming in from various sensors. As we modernize those surveillance systems, there will be even more data. We will use new technology, like artificial intelligence, secure cloud computing and machine learning, to ingest all of that information coming from those sensors, analyze it and spit it out in easily understandable, decision-quality information for operators. We'll have the ability to communicate that not only to operators in headquarters, but also pilots who are flying the future fighter, to make sure that they have that decision-quality information at the ready.
As well—and this is the last thing I'll mention—one of the other initiatives of the NORAD modernization effort is to procure new air-to-air missiles, both short- and long-range, essentially acquiring more of those so we have sufficient stocks, but also a new, longer-range variant of air-to-air missiles that will be used in the future fighter aircraft. This will help account for the fact that our adversaries can launch missiles that can threaten Canada from further away.
Between that enhanced northern infrastructure, so that you can pre-position fighters further to the Canadian outer reaches, and those longer-range missiles, the package will make us much more capable.
General Huddleston, I'm not sure whether there's time to add anything else to that.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Quinn. You've covered it all very well.
The fighters and the supporting structure for the fighters are our defeat mechanism. They're meant to engage the threats that we see, but they will also contribute significantly to domain awareness, the surveillance of the space when they're airborne.
NORAD defence, defence of this continent, is very much a layered effort. We've talked about satellites, about communication and surveillance, about radars, and now we're talking about the fighters. The way they mesh together is important, in order to bring all of those capabilities together to achieve the priorities of General VanHerck and to give us the detect and defeat capabilities, particularly, that we're short on currently.
Thank you for the invitation to testify before the committee. I have three points to raise, which, hopefully, we can get into in some detail in the question period.
The first concerns NORAD modernization and its impact on the Arctic, and other general issues about North American defence and security. The second concerns relations with Russia in the Arctic. The third relates to the impact of the commitment to defence investment in the Arctic—although we don't know, from the announcement by the in June, the specific amount of the $40 billion devoted that will actually go into the Arctic—and its implications for the indigenous and local communities.
First, concerning NORAD modernization, if you look at the documents, including the joint statement between the Secretary of Defense of the United States and the in August of last year, the parameters of NORAD modernization remain locked into a Cold War structure and mentality. Even though the threat environment has changed, by and large dictated both by geopolitical changes that have occurred roughly since 2014 and by technological changes that have changed the nature of the threat environment, it doesn't seem that either the Canadian government or National Defence, at least publicly—and again, I won't speak to the United States and their views on this—has really thought about the implications of NORAD modernization for the Arctic.
In specific terms for Arctic security, when the government is committed to funding a new surveillance system consisting of two new radar lines and additional upgrades, modernizations and perhaps some new forward operating locations, they don't seem to realize that this of course creates a direct threat to the Arctic. In this context, we rely upon the defeat mechanism or defence mechanism, basically, with our new generation of fighters—when we get them—and long-range to medium-range air-to-air missile systems.
What's important is to recognize that in the case of conflict, these will become a first target for Russia, and I'll put China sort of in the background of all this. This raises issues about the need to develop point defences. These will be ground-based defences to provide a layer of defence, and this extends further south.
That's the immediate issue that emerges from the modernization program, but of course it existed in the past, so there's nothing new there. More importantly, when you think about the new threat environment, the main threat environment, two things pop up immediately.
First, NORAD is now in the business of missile defence. By the nature of the long-range cruise missile hypersonics, as well as the ballistic missile capabilities of Russia—and, in the future, China as well—these have become missiles.... We need to have the capacity to intercept missiles in flight. This of course raises major issues for the government and the department, as well as the United States, about being able to keep NORAD in its traditional box of air defence or air control, or “aerospace control”, as they call it. It's just air defence, because we have not been in the missile defence business in the past. Hence, what capabilities will we need to be able to deal with this problem?
That's the first thing that emerges. This raises major issues that the government and the department need to start thinking about. I'm sure they're thinking about it, but of course this has implications for long-standing Canadian policy on ballistic missile defence.
The second element of this is that it's an all-domain environment. It's an all-domain defence environment, so we of course talk about surveillance being in all domains, with land, air, space and maritime being integrated together on the surveillance side of the equation, but this also needs to be integrated in terms of the defeat or defence side of the equation for an effective deterrence by denial. In that regard, this raises questions about the current structure or the mission suite of NORAD, which is largely aerospace—air defence—and whether this needs to expand the NORAD mission suite and in fact move towards the development of a true integrated North American defence command.
The second reason related to this is of course the command and control issues. That's an essential part of NORAD modernization. In so doing, you have an issue about the current command structure, which is NORAD headquarters and the regional commands, and whether that's an efficient and effective way to undertake this. These are all changes that are going to fall out, or what I like to call the elephant in the room.
The third thing raises the issue of the eastern approaches to North America. This raises questions about NORAD as a binational arrangement and the issues of Greenland, which means Denmark—of course, on the sideline of this is Iceland—and how they may essentially need to be brought into the NORAD arrangement. In so doing, this raises questions about NATO and NATO's involvement in the Arctic; traditionally, the Canadian policy has been to keep NATO out of the Arctic.
Those are the first set, on NORAD modernization.
The second is relations with Russia. We have treated, as a function of the Russian aggression in Ukraine, our relationship with Russia, as well as China, as black and white. That is, they are our enemies, as the chief of the defence staff said about a week ago in testimony to another committee—I think it was the committee on public safety.
We live in a world of great power politics, great power relations. It's important to remember that in great power politics, the United States leading the west, Russia and China, and I would add—
Thank you for the opportunity to speak on the subject of Arctic security. My perspective is that of a former military practitioner and an academic with three decades of study and publishing on defence resource management issues. To give you context of my background, I retired from the military in 2017 as the RCAF comptroller and business planner.
My focus today is on climate change and the impact on defence infrastructure in northern Canada. The 2021 NATO climate change and security plan defined climate change as a “threat multiplier” to NATO members. In the time allocated, I am going to initially discuss the effect of increasing temperatures in the north and the impact on defence, and then conclude by outlining the climate change risks to defence infrastructure.
The availability of infrastructure in the north is the first and most important factor that is necessary to enable the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence to operate effectively in the north throughout the year. In recent years, climate change has been a lived reality for citizens living in northern Canada.
The recently released Canadian Climate Institute report, entitled “Facing the Costs of Climate Change for Northern Infrastructure”, stated up front that “Northern Canada faces a double threat of already inadequate infrastructure in a rapidly warming climate.” Canada has a long-standing infrastructure deficit, and this is particularly acute in the north. Physical infrastructure is defined as roads, bridges, sidewalks, potable water systems, airfields, ports and storm and waste-water systems. Governments from the municipal to the federal level have been slow to adapt their infrastructure to climate change.
The United States, in a recent report, has defined that “Climate change is increasing the demand and scope for military operations at home and [abroad].” In Canada, in the 2020-23 “Defence Energy and Environment Strategy”, DND is “the largest user of energy and the single largest emitter of [greenhouse gases] in the federal government”.
As global temperatures continue to climb, broad shifts in weather systems are occurring, making events like droughts, hurricanes and floods more intense and unpredictable. Extreme weather events that may have hit just once in our parents’ lifetimes are becoming more common.
The cost of infrastructure in northern remote locations is significantly higher than in southern Canada.
There are four distinct risks to DND on climate change. The first is budget risk, repairing facilities damaged by climate change events and the need to update both buildings and infrastructure to adapt to climate change. Two is operational risk, reducing training activities due to meteorological or other climate-related risks. Three is the increased frequency of aid to civil power, that being provincial governments, increased deployments of military personnel across the country to support provincial governments and communities that have been impacted by floods, forest fires and hurricanes. We've seen a lot of that recently. The final one is outdated regulations. All levels of government in the north need to update infrastructure policies, regulations, standards and building codes to explicitly account for the complex and severe impacts of northern climate change.
The answer, in my view, is more than consultation. In my view, the answer—as I was going to say in my opening remarks but I went too long—is that the defence investment in NORAD modernization relative to the Arctic will have significant impacts, and we don't know which specific portion that is, because it will be a lot of things. It will be transformative in the Arctic.
What does this mean for the indigenous communities? That's an important issue, because when we think about security, we think about the defence security of the nation and North America in co-operation with the United States, but those very developments can undermine security in the indigenous and local communities. You're going to invest a lot of money in jobs and training. Is it sustainable over a long period of time? How will it impact indigenous culture?
Also, the government is structured on a functional basis, so Defence will do defence, Transport will do transport and Health will do health, all related to the Arctic. You have a lot of departments and agencies, but there is no central structure in the Government of Canada to integrate it and to recognize that when we invest in defence in the Arctic, these are dual-use capabilities. Better communications will enhance communications—Internet access, virtual health—and a variety of benefits for the indigenous community, so those investments have to be integrated, and that requires, to use the government term, a whole-of-government approach, but there is no whole-of-government structure to do this.
That's the million-dollar question, and it refers to understanding the Canadian policy in terms of what participating means for Canada and what we have to do.
Generally in the threat environment today, which is technologically based—in which the United States is integrating air and missile defence, which includes defence against air-breathing bombers and fighter bombers, cruise missiles and hypersonics all integrated with ballistic missile defence into one—Canadian territory starts to become very important. If the United States, for example, proceeds with their third missile defence site in upstate New York, which hasn't proceeded yet, the value of Canadian territory in terms of tracking battle damage assessment radars goes up significantly.
You can imagine that in the future, if this goes ahead, relative to integration, Canada's participation will be welcomed by the United States because we're going to provide a very valuable piece of territory to them for an effective defence of North America.
It also raises the question of whether we're defended right now anyway. We don't know, and that then raises questions about command and control. If you go back to 2003 or 2004, when we discussed this with the United States, the United States said that Canada could not have a role—nor would NORAD have a role—in command and control, but that may all change.
There are a lot of emerging issues in this. My hunch is that down the road, we will have to be engaged one way or another, but how that co-operation with the United States will work out is the million-dollar question.
Last week, we heard from Dr. Michael Byers. He said specific things, such as that we need to preserve that assured mutual sense of destruction to hold some of our opponents at bay. Certainly, Dr. Fergusson, you touched on that. He also said, though, that Russia will not invade the North American Arctic.
You touched on that a bit today and talked about the confidence and security agreement and working on those relationships. There was certainly a discussion in terms of the fact that, through that resource extraction or additional number of people going through the Arctic, that can be done through policing and through the international agreements and laws we already have in place, and that the idea of Arctic security takes a different role.
Can you talk about that? Can you expand on your opinion on that?
I will open that to Dr. Charron as well.
I think what you're trying to get at is whether we have the right laws to entice Russia to continue to respect the rules-based international order. Notwithstanding the egregious behaviour in Ukraine, when it comes to the Arctic, they've actually been a very helpful Arctic partner. NORAD, for example, is very quick to note that even when Russia is buzzing our air identification zones, they are remaining in international airspace. We still have the search and rescue agreements. We still have the moratorium on Arctic fishing in the central Arctic Ocean.
What we really want to do is encourage the Arctic states and especially Russia, and by extension observers in the rest of the world, to respect the rules-based international order, to get back to the business of scientific, indigenous, knowledge-based projects that work to mitigate the effects of climate change, to respect the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, which to date has been respected, and to return to that more co-operative tone we had pre-2014.
I would only add that if you look at the projections about transportation in the Arctic, in the United States, for example, their Coast Guard, the policing arm, is also under title 10 and can be transferred to the Department of Defense—they are military vessels.
I think it's similar in the case of Russia. Along with increased transportation up there, assuming that this all plays itself out as projected, you will have a more military naval presence there. That means you're going to, in the international waters side of the Arctic, depending on how it all opens up, have more likelihood that you're going to have not confrontations but connections or meetings of Russian naval vessels, military vessels, Canadian, American, etc., and Chinese potentially, in the future.
In that context, it's important that when we talk about the rules-based order, the notion to extend this in the ideal...we need to develop common rules that go beyond simply the law of the sea and the way it's been done elsewhere. These were problems during the Cold War. We need to start talking about how to manage this co-operatively because of common interests. That's an issue that has to emerge as one of the confidence-building and security measures that I think are important in the Arctic.
I would add only a few things.
First, and I don't mean to be flippant, hope that the economy goes down and the labour market shrinks dramatically. That's always a correlation to increasing recruitment in the forces. As I said, I'm not trying to be flippant. There are things that National Defence, in a more focused and sophisticated recruitment and retention program, can do, but you have to remember that today, and this is the real elephant in the room on this side, the shift from a labour-intensive armed force to a technology-intensive armed force means that the forces are competing with high-tech, highly educated private companies and the public service as well. What will entice them to go into the forces, when they're going to make a lot more money and life is a lot better—let's be honest—in the private sector? That's an Achilles heel, and sometimes there's not.... It's what in public administration they call a “wicked problem”.
One thing that the forces have to start to realize...and this is not new to me. I would refer back to Doug Bland's words long ago, that the forces have the mentality that you enter when you're 18 or 19, you get trained and educated, and that's your life career. In the world we live in now, life careers are no longer attractive: In five or 10 years, I can get these skills and do this, and then I'll transition into the private sector—
Well, I think NORAD has evolved over time, especially since 9/11.
More important, I think, is integrating the efforts of NORAD, NATO and the hundreds of bilateral agreements that Canada and the U.S. have in the other domains, in the land, sea and space domains. That's where we need to see more momentum and more movement, so that we're not dealing just with domain-specific plans.
I'd also like to see us start exercising not just in a NORAD context, not just in a NATO context and not just in a land context, but really doing those strategic exercises that involve all domains and more than just one alliance at a time, and more than one event going on at a time, because realistically that's what we're going to have to prepare for. It's going to be a climate change event and an adversary will take advantage of that and the lack of resilience on the ground. It's going to be all of these factors that we need to exercise, but that's expensive and time-consuming.
I want to thank our panellists for being here.
My question is for Professor Fergusson and Professor Charron.
I want to challenge your assumptions that Russia is going to be a reliable partner in the Arctic, given not only how they have behaved in Ukraine but, leading up to the situation in Ukraine, how they continued opening up and expanding military bases in their Arctic. Because of Russia's behaviour, we now have an expansion of NATO, which they, of course, oppose. I hope Russia is defeated and all the territory in Ukraine is returned, including Crimea.
The question becomes how we will bridge that gap when essentially, I would think, they're going to be in quite a foul mood for a long time based upon a defeat in Ukraine, and they will blame Canada and all the rest of our NATO allies who have contributed assets and funding to enable Ukraine to be as effective as it is.
Wouldn't the Arctic become part of the neighbourhood in which they might see weakness? Shouldn't we be investing even more aggressively in our Arctic capabilities?