Canada First Defence Strategy
Roles of the Canadian Forces
A clear level of ambition
In such a complex and unpredictable security environment, Canada needs a modern, well-trained and well-equipped military with the core capabilities and flexibility required to successfully address both conventional and asymmetric threats, including terrorism, insurgencies and cyber attacks. Indeed, Canadians expect and deserve no less than a highly capable military that can keep them safe and secure while effectively supporting foreign policy and national security objectives.
To this end, the Government is giving the Canadian Forces clear direction concerning their three roles - defending Canada, defending North America and contributing to international peace and security - as well as the types and numbers of missions it expects our military to fulfill. This level of ambition will see the Canadian Forces deliver excellence at home, be a strong and reliable partner in the defence of North America, and project leadership abroad by contributing to international operations in support of Canadian interests and values.
Defending Canada - Delivering Excellence At Home
First and foremost, the Canadian Forces must ensure the security of our citizens and help exercise Canada's sovereignty. Canadians rightly expect their military to be there for them in domestic crises. The Forces must also work closely with federal government partners to ensure the constant monitoring of Canada's territory and air and maritime approaches, including in the Arctic, in order to detect threats to Canadian security as early as possible.
Excellence at home requires the Forces not only to identify threats, but also to possess the capacity to address them quickly and effectively. While, under most circumstances, other government departments and agencies will have leadership responsibilities, the Canadian Forces will also play a vital role in many situations. Canada Command was created in 2006 to provide a single operational authority for such domestic operations and will work closely with federal departments such as Public Safety Canada in responding to a natural disaster or a terrorist attack.
Excellence at Home
Delivering excellence at home requires the Forces to be aware of anything going on in or approaching our territory, deter threats to our security before they reach our shores, and respond to contingencies anywhere in the country. Specifically, it means that the military will maintain the capacity to:
- Provide surveillance of Canadian territory and air and maritime approaches;
- Maintain search and rescue response capabilities that are able to reach those in distress anywhere in Canada on a 24/7 basis;
- Assist civil authorities in responding to a wide range of threats - from natural disasters to terrorist attacks.
The Forces must also be available to assist other government departments in addressing such security concerns as over-fishing, organized crime, drug- and people-smuggling and environmental degradation. As well, the Forces will be prepared to effectively assist other government departments in providing security for major events at home, such as the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games and the G8 Summit to be held in Canada that same year.
Finally, the Canadian Forces must have the capacity to exercise control over and defend Canada's sovereignty in the Arctic. New opportunities are emerging across the region, bringing with them new challenges. As activity in northern lands and waters accelerates, the military will play an increasingly vital role in demonstrating a visible Canadian presence in this potentially resourcerich region, and in helping other government agencies such as the Coast Guard respond to any threats that may arise.
A strong, reliable defence Partner
Being a credible partner in the defence of North America requires the Canadian Forces to:
- Conduct daily continental operations (including through NORAD);
- Carry out bilateral training and exercises with the United States;
- Respond to crises; and
- Remain interoperable with the US military.
Defending North America - A Strong and Reliable Partner
Delivering excellence at home also helps us contribute to the defence of North America in cooperation with the United States, Canada's closest ally. Given our common defence and security requirements, it is in Canada's strategic interest to remain a reliable partner in the defence of the continent.
The Canadian Forces will continue to collaborate with their US counterparts as a partner in the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD). This binational command has been an important element of the Canada-US defence relationship since its creation in 1958, and its primary mission of defending North American aerospace remains important today. NORAD is also evolving to meet future threats and, as part of the May 2006 renewal of the Agreement, the Command was assigned the new responsibility of maritime warning.
Canada Command will continue to work with US Northern Command in support of shared objectives. The two Commands are dedicated to enhancing military-to-military cooperation to provide assistance to civilian emergency response agencies in the event of a crisis. The Forces are prepared to do their part under such circumstances with the approval of both governments and would expect similar help in return.
Finally, the two nations' armed forces will pursue their effective collaboration on operations in North America and abroad. To remain interoperable, we must ensure that key aspects of our equipment and doctrine are compatible. Accordingly, the Forces will continue to participate in joint training exercises and personnel exchanges with their US counterparts.
Contributing to International Peace and Security - Projecting Leadership Abroad
As a trading nation in a highly globalized world, Canada's prosperity and security rely on stability abroad. As the international community grapples with numerous security threats, Canada must do its part to address such challenges as they arise. Indeed, tackling such threats at their source is an important element in protecting Canada.
Providing international leadership is vital if Canada is to continue to be a credible player on the world stage. This will require the Canadian Forces to have the necessary capabilities to make a meaningful contribution across the full spectrum of international operations, from humanitarian assistance to stabilization operations to combat.
Today's deployments are far more dangerous, complex and challenging than in the past, and they require more than a purely military solution. In Afghanistan, for example, the Canadian Forces' contribution is only one component, albeit an essential one, of a "whole-of-government" approach. Only by drawing upon a wide range of governmental expertise and resources will Canada be successful in its efforts to confront today's threats.
These operations will often be conducted under the auspices of the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Canada will continue to support and contribute to these key international bodies. In addition, the Canadian Forces will participate, where circumstances dictate, in missions with like-minded states as a responsible member of the international community.
Projecting leadership abroad can take many forms - from taking part in a large international campaign, as Canada is currently doing in Afghanistan, to leading a specific component of a multinational operation, such as a naval task group. One thing is clear, however: Canada cannot lead with words alone. Above all else, leadership requires the ability to deploy military assets, including "boots on the ground." In concert with its allies, Canada must be prepared to act and provide appropriate resources in support of national interests and international objectives.
Projecting Leadership abroad: Lessons Learned from the afghanistan mission
The Canadian Forces have learned many lessons from their complex mission in Afghanistan, and will continue to incorporate those lessons into their operational planning and training. Among other things, the Afghanistan mission has reinforced the need to:
- Maintain combat-capable units at the right level of readiness.
- Provide deployed personnel with the right mix of equipment so they can take part, on their own or with allies, in the full spectrum of operations - from countering asymmetric threats like improvised explosive devices, to contributing to reconstruction efforts in a harsh and unforgiving environment.
- Work closely and develop a coherent overarching strategy with departmental partners.
Level of Ambition - Six Core Missions in Canada, in North America and Abroad
The global security environment has seen significant change in recent years. We have witnessed regional tensions escalate quickly into conflict and natural disasters turn into humanitarian crises. Canada requires a military with the flexibility to respond to such challenges while continuing to carry out essential, day-to-day missions. The Government has accordingly established a level of ambition that will see the Forces carry out the following missions, potentially all at the same time:
Conduct daily domestic and continental operations, including in the Arctic and through NORAD
Support a major international event in Canada, such as the 2010 Olympics
Respond to a major terrorist attack
Support civilian authorities during a crisis in Canada such as a natural disaster
Lead and/or conduct a major international operation for an extended period
Deploy forces in response to crises elsewhere in the world for shorter periods