Executive summary

Strong, Secure, Engaged presents a new vision and approach to defence by the Government of Canada.

This policy is deliberately ambitious and focuses, first and foremost, on the heart of the Canadian Armed Forces – the brave women and men who wear the uniform. Canada cannot meet its defence needs at home and abroad without the dedicated, motivated and highly skilled people who work tirelessly to defend Canada and promote Canadian values and interests abroad.

This new defence policy provides unprecedented support to our people and their families. We ask a great deal of our people, from deploying on peace operations to responding to humanitarian crises.

The first step in ensuring that our women and men in uniform are prepared and equipped to succeed on operations, and that they are fully supported from recruitment through retirement and beyond, is to give them the resources they need to do their job.

This is the most rigorously costed Canadian defence policy ever developed. It is transparent and fully funded. To meet Canada’s defence needs at home and abroad, the Government will grow defence spending over the next 10 years from $18.9 billion in 2016-17 to $32.7 billion in 2026-27.

The long-term funding commitment that underpins this policy will provide the Canadian Armed Forces with the force size and equipment required to achieve excellence across the full spectrum of military operations, from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, to peacekeeping, to combat.

This policy includes long-term investments to enhance the Canadian Armed Forces’ capabilities and capacity.

Because of the sacrifices that our military personnel make every day, Canada remains among the safest and most secure countries in the world. However, the international landscape is shifting under tremendous pressures, and the current security environment presents a variety of threats, many that transcend national borders.

In the context of this complex, unpredictable security environment, this policy provides a bold new vision and approach to defend Canada and contribute to a more peaceful world.

Strong, Secure, Engaged offers clear direction on Canadian defence priorities over a 20-year horizon. It increases the size of the Canadian Armed Forces, affirms Canada’s unwavering commitment to its long-standing alliances and partnerships, and provides vital new investments to ensure our women and men in uniform have the modern tools they need to succeed in – and return home safely from – operations. This policy transforms how we care for Canada’s military members and their families, from the time of recruitment to retirement and beyond. We believe this is critical to Canada’s security.

Well-supported, diverse, resilient people and families

We have placed an unprecedented focus on ensuring our people and their families are well-supported, diverse and resilient – physically, psychologically and socially. This starts from the moment military members join the Canadian Armed Forces, continues throughout their careers, and extends to that crucial time of transition when members step out of the uniform. Offering steadfast support to our people not only builds a strong and agile defence organization, but also acknowledges the sacred obligation the Government of Canada has to our military personnel, Veterans, and their families. Military families make an incredible contribution to the operational effectiveness of the Forces – they are the strength behind the uniform.

Tax Relief for Deployed International Operations

Canadians know that when our women and men in uniform deploy, they, and their families, make great sacrifices on behalf of their country. With this in mind, in order to ensure that Canadian Armed Forces members are treated equally on deployment, all troops deployed on any named international operationsFootnote 1 will be exempted from paying federal income tax on their salary to the level of Lieutenant-Colonel.Footnote 2 This is in addition to the allowances awarded to compensate for hardship and risk.

Diversity and Inclusion

To support the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces, we will substantially improve recruitment, retention, and training of personnel. We will better forecast occupational requirements and engage in more targeted recruiting, including capitalizing on the unique talents and skill-sets of Canada’s diverse population. The Canadian Armed Forces will increase the proportion of women in the military by 1 percent annually, to move from the current 15 percent to 25 percent representation by 2026.

$144.8 million to Support Military Family Resource Centres

We will ensure that military members and their families are well supported, from the moment they join, throughout their careers, and as they transition out of the military. We are committed to providing more flexible, tailored benefits and support that are personalized to the unique circumstances and needs of each member throughout this journey. This includes the implementation of specific initiatives to help minimize the disruptions associated with frequent relocation.

$198.2 million for new Total Health and Wellness Strategy

We will favour a more comprehensive approach to care – known as “Total Health and Wellness” – and will consider psychosocial well-being in the workplace, the physical environment, and the personal health of members (including physical, mental, spiritual, and familial).

Reinvention of Canadian Armed Forces Transition

We will transform the way the Canadian Armed Forces supports the transition of personnel, whether returning to active duty or transitioning seamlessly to post-military life and the services of Veterans Affairs Canada. And, we will create a new Canadian Armed Forces Transition Group that represents a fundamental reinvention of the way transition is managed. This Group – composed of 1,200 personnel, including specialized staff and holding positions for ill and injured – will work in collaboration with Veterans Affairs Canada to provide our people with the individualized care they need and deserve.

Defence funding and capability investment

To meet Canada’s defence needs at home and abroad, the Government will grow annual defence spending over the next 10 years from $17.1 billion in 2016-17 to $24.6 billion in 2026-27 on an accrual basis. This translates to a rise in annual defence spending on a cash basis from $18.9 billion in 2016-17 to $32.7 billion in 2026-27.

Increase defence budget to $32.7 billion by 2026-27

This level of funding is affordable, achievable, and has been informed by a rigorous, evidence-based analysis of Canada’s defence needs and the resources required to effectively deliver upon them over a 20-year horizon. To deliver on the Government’s commitment to transparency, results, and accountability, we will publish the next Defence Investment Plan publicly.

Long-term Capability Investment

These investments will allow long-term investment in Canadian Armed Forces capabilities. Funding will be provided to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) to acquire the full complement of 15 Canadian Surface Combatant ships required to replace its existing frigates and retired destroyers – one of the largest acquisitions in Canadian shipbuilding history. The Canadian Army (CA) will undergo a recapitalization of much of its land combat capabilities and its aging vehicle fleets, while modernizing its command and control systems. Additionally, it will expand its light forces capability which will allow it to be more agile and effective in complex operational theatres, such as peace operations. The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) will acquire 88 advanced fighter aircraft to enforce Canada’s sovereignty and to meet Canada’s North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) commitments while recapitalizing many of its aircraft fleets such as the CP-140 Aurora anti-submarine warfare and surveillance aircraft. Finally, the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) will expand its operational capacity and invest in capabilities that enable rapidly deployable and agile Special Operations Forces (SOF) to provide their unique skills both at home and abroad.

71,500 Total Regular Force Size

The Regular Force will grow by 3,500 (to 71,500) military personnel. This growth will enable critical investments in important areas such as space and cyber, intelligence and targeting, and, most importantly, support to the health and welfare of military personnel. These investments will provide the necessary flexibility to enable the Canadian Armed Forces to operate across the spectrum of operations, and leverage new technologies to maintain Canadian Armed Forces interoperability with allies and an operational advantage over potential adversaries.

New vision for Defence:

STRONG at home, SECURE in North America, ENGAGED in the world.

Informed by the challenges and opportunities we see in the world around us, this policy defines how the Government of Canada will support and employ the Canadian Armed Forces to defend Canadian interests and contribute to a more secure and peaceful world.

This policy is grounded in a thorough assessment of the global security environment – one that is marked by the shifting balance of power, the changing nature of conflict, and the rapid evolution of technology. Increasingly, threats, such as global terrorism and those in the cyber domain, transcend national borders. These trends undermine the traditional security once provided by Canada’s geography. Defending Canada and Canadian interests thus not only demands robust domestic defence but also requires active engagement abroad.

In recognition of this dynamic, Canada’s defence policy presents a new strategic vision for defence: Strong, Secure, Engaged. This is a vision in which Canada is:

  • Strong at home, its sovereignty well-defended by a Canadian Armed Forces also ready to assist in times of natural disaster, other emergencies, and search and rescue;
  • Secure in North America, active in a renewed defence partnership in NORAD and with the United States;
  • Engaged in the world, with the Canadian Armed Forces doing its part in Canada’s contributions to a more stable, peaceful world, including through peace support operations and peacekeeping.

To succeed in an unpredictable and complex security environment, Defence will:

  • Actively address threats abroad for stability at home;
  • Field an agile, well-educated, flexible, diverse, combat-ready military;
  • Develop sophisticated awareness of its operating environment to better predict and respond to crises;
  • Act as a responsible, value-added partner with NORAD, NATO and Five-Eyes partners;
  • Work with the United States to ensure that NORAD is modernized to meet existing and future challenges;
  • Balance traditional relationships with the need to engage emerging powers;
  • Field advanced capabilities to keep pace with allies and maintain an advantage over potential adversaries;
  • Address the threat stemming from terrorism and the actions of violent extremist organizations, including in ungoverned spaces;
  • Bolster its ability to respond to increasingly severe natural disasters at home and abroad; and
  • Increase presence in the Arctic over the long-term and work cooperatively with Arctic partners.

In order to meet these objectives, Canada needs an agile, multi-purpose, combat-ready military, operated by highly trained, well-equipped women and men, secure in the knowledge that they have the full support of their government and their fellow Canadians.

A new approach to Defence: Anticipate. Adapt. Act.

To implement our new vision, Canada will also adopt a new approach to defence – one that values the ability to anticipate new challenges, adapt to changing circumstances, and act with exemplary capability and professionalism while supporting peace and security around the world.

ANTICIPATING emerging threats and challenges is fundamental to Canada’s security. The Defence team will improve its ability to provide timely information to decision-makers, allowing the Government to identify and understand emerging events and crises, respond appropriately, and minimize the destructive effects of prolonged conflict.

Global satellite communications, including in the Arctic

The Canadian Armed Forces will acquire next generation surveillance aircraft, remotely piloted systems – commonly referred to as “drones” – and space-based surveillance assets to significantly expand its Joint Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance capacity. These new platforms will be integrated with existing assets into a networked, joint system-of-systems that will enable the real-time flow of information that is so essential to operational success.

Increased defence intelligence expertise and capacity

This targeted investment in equipment will be accompanied by a significant new investment in the defence intelligence experts who collect, analyze, and disseminate information.

$102.5 million investment in outreach to external experts

To complement our efforts to better understand the dynamic root causes of conflict – including social and economic factors – and complex geopolitical developments, the Defence team will also launch a revitalized partnership with external experts to capitalize on the extensive expertise of Canadians. This will include new support and funding for scholarship programs for Masters and Post-Doctoral students interested in defence and security, and engagements and events that promote dialogue in the defence community.

ADAPTING to the rapid pace of change in today’s fluid security environment is fundamental to operational success. Canada’s new approach to defence adopts new technologies and methods, and transforms the way people are managed and employed.

Expanded capabilities in space and cyber

Canada will modernize its space capabilities and will take steps to protect these critical assets against sophisticated threats, while continuing to promote the peaceful use of outer space. We will assume a more assertive posture in the cyber domain by hardening our defences, and by conducting active cyber operations against potential adversaries in the context of government-authorized military missions. Cyber operations will be subject to all applicable domestic law, international law, and proven checks and balances such as rules of engagement, targeting and collateral damage assessments.

Fleet of remotely piloted systems

Given the unique value provided by remotely piloted systems, the Canadian Armed Forces will also invest in an extensive range of new capabilities for the RCN, the CA, and the RCAF. This will include remotely piloted aerial systems. More fundamentally, the core capabilities of the RCN, CA and RCAF will be placed on a fully modern, robust footing, with a procurement renewal plan buttressed by stable, consistent and transparent funding. This will keep Canada secure and our sailors, soldiers and airwomen and men properly cared for and supported – both during their time in service, and as they transition to post-military life.

$313 million over five years for the Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) Program

To promote a longer term culture of innovation, we will launch a new Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program to create clusters of defence innovators conducting leading-edge research and development in areas critical to future defence needs. The Defence team will foster a competitive environment and challenge innovators to develop solutions to emerging problems, allowing innovators to approach challenges from their own unique perspectives and remove artificial constraints that stifle creativity. New ideas will be supported through investment in research and flexible procurement arrangements. This will allow the Government to work in partnership with industry to develop and test new products to meet evolving capability needs while also positioning firms to pursue new export opportunities in the global market.

30,000-strong Reserve Force: Full-Time Capability, Part-Time Service

This policy enables the Reserve Force to achieve a full-time capability through part-time service. The size of the Reserve Force will be increased by 1,500 to 30,000. The Reserve Force will receive new operational roles and will become further integrated into the total force. The Canadian Armed Forces will also create a more agile model that supports the transition between full- and part-time service that meets the needs of the member and the institution.

$225 million to reduce carbon footprint

The Government will make fundamental changes to the business of defence to improve management practices and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Canada will invest $225 million by 2020 in a range of infrastructure projects to reduce its carbon footprint, including demolishing outdated buildings with limited operational value. All new construction and major recapitalization projects will be the Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard or equivalent. The Department of National Defence will also transition part of the non-military fleets to hybrid and electric by 2020.

Over 80 percent of defence procurement contracts to be managed by Defence

The Defence team will introduce reforms to streamline the procurement process. These reforms will reduce departmental approval times by 50 percent, increase contracting authority to allow 80 percent of procurement contracts to be managed internally, align innovation in the Canadian defence industry to defence procurement needs, increase transparency with industry and the Canadian public, and strengthen the procurement workforce.

To ACT decisively with effective military capability is the ultimate goal of Canada’s new approach to defence. The Government of Canada is making a long-term investment in the Canadian Armed Forces – the largest commitment of capital funding and modernization in decades. The Canadian Armed Forces will be prepared to renew Canada’s strong commitment to NORAD and NATO, acting in multiple theatres simultaneously, while also bolstering disaster relief, search and rescue, contributions to peace operations and capacity building.

Strong, Secure, Engaged delivers on the Government of Canada’s enduring commitment to defend Canada, work with the United States in the shared defence of North America, and be a credible and engaged international actor. This new vision and approach will improve the employment, support, and care of the Canadian Armed Forces and deliver results for all Canadians.

Canadian Armed Forces core missions

At any given time, the Government of Canada can call upon the Canadian Armed Forces to undertake missions for the protection of Canada and Canadians and the maintenance of international peace and stability. This policy ensures the Canadian Armed Forces will be prepared to:

  • Detect, deter and defend against threats to or attacks on Canada;
  • Detect, deter and defend against threats to or attacks on North America in partnership with the United States, including through NORAD;
  • Lead and/or contribute forces to NATO and coalition efforts to deter and defeat adversaries, including terrorists, to support global stability;
  • Lead and/or contribute to international peace operations and stabilization missions with the United Nations, NATO and other multilateral partners;
  • Engage in capacity building to support the security of other nations and their ability to contribute to security abroad;
  • Provide assistance to civil authorities and law enforcement, including counter-terrorism, in support of national security and the security of Canadians abroad;
  • Provide assistance to civil authorities and nongovernmental partners in responding to international and domestic disasters or major emergencies; and
  • Conduct search and rescue operations.

Concurrent operations

This policy ensures the Canadian Armed Forces will be prepared to simultaneously:

  • Defend Canada, including responding concurrently to multiple domestic emergencies in support of civilian authorities;
  • Meet its NORAD obligations, with new capacity in some areas;
  • Meet commitments to NATO Allies under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty;
  • Contribute to international peace and stability through:
    • Two sustained deployments of ~500-1500 personnel, including one as a lead nation;
    • One time-limited deployment of ~500-1500 personnel (6-9 months duration);
    • Two sustained deployments of ~100-500 personnel;
    • Two time-limited deployments (6-9 months) of ~100-500 personnel;
    • One Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) deployment, with scaleable additional support; and
    • One Non-Combatant Evacuation Operation, with scaleable additional support.

The process that culminated in this document began with the most comprehensive public consultations ever undertaken by the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. The Canadian public, defence experts, Parliamentarians, and our allies and partners around the world made substantive contributions. Canadians submitted more than 20,000 entries into an online consultation portal, and defence experts and stakeholders participated in nine roundtable events, including discussions dedicated to industry and innovation, gender perspectives, and indigenous affairs. Parliamentary committees in both the House of Commons and Senate conducted insightful studies and Parliamentarians from all parties held town hall meetings with Canadians across the country. Canadian defence officials also engaged counterparts around the world to exchange best practices. Thank you for your contributions.

This defence policy is informed by what we heard.

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