6. A new Canadian approach to defence: Anticipate. Adapt. Act.

Being strong, secure and engaged in the context of an extraordinarily complex security environment requires a fundamentally new, agile, modern and responsible approach to defence. To deliver tangible results for Canada at home and abroad, we will launch a range of initiatives that will allow us to:

  • ANTICIPATE and better understand potential threats to Canada and Canadian interests so as to enhance our ability to identify, prevent or prepare for, and respond to a wide range of contingencies;
  • ADAPT proactively to emerging challenges by harnessing new technologies, fostering a resilient workforce, and leveraging innovation, knowledge, and new ways of doing business; and
  • ACT with decisive military capability across the spectrum of operations to defend Canada, protect Canadian interests and values, and contribute to global stability.


Accurate, timely information is a critical commodity for the Defence team and the other federal departments with which it works. The ability to collect, understand and disseminate relevant information and intelligence has become fundamental to the military’s ability to succeed on operations. This provides earlier warning of threats, allowing the Government to identify emerging events and crises, intervene earlier in the conflict cycle if necessary, and minimize the destructive effects of prolonged conflict.

Better situational awareness and intelligence will make Canada, and Canadian Armed Forces personnel deployed on operations, more secure, and will allow us to tailor our contributions to global security in a way that maximizes effectiveness. Strengthened collaboration with other government departments and agencies working on the frontlines of Canadian national security will also assist in identifying risks and threats to Canadian interests.

In order to better anticipate threats, challenges and opportunities, the Defence team will take a number of concrete steps to:

  • prioritize investments in Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance capabilities;
  • enhance its intelligence collection, analysis and fusion capabilities; and
  • support and leverage the expertise of Canada’s defence and security academic community.

Prioritizing joint intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance

The Joint (or “all service”) Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance concept seeks to bring the capabilities of distinct military assets together in a way that provides operational decision-makers with a clear, comprehensive picture of the environment in which they are operating.

Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance is composed of interconnected intelligence collection platforms – including aircraft, remotely piloted systems, land vehicles, ships, submarines, people, and satellites – that have the ability to capture data on points of intelligence interest and exchange data in near real-time. Data is relayed through space and ground-based technology to a targeting or command centre to enable the fusion of data for the ongoing development of the intelligence picture. The Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance concept is often referred to as a ‘system-of-systems.’

From a defence perspective, a robust Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance capability is critically important to the full range of operations the military may be asked to undertake at home and abroad.

At home, Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance provides a clear picture of Canadian air and maritime approaches, which is critical to identifying potential threats to Canadian security and sovereignty, including in the Arctic. It helps us support other government departments in fulfilling their mandates, such as international drug interdiction operations and disaster relief. Effective Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance is also a vital element of Canada’s shared responsibility to help defend North America.

In North America, Arctic surveillance poses particular challenges. In addition to being a vast, sparsely populated area, satellite coverage at extreme northern latitudes and the nature of the polar ionosphere create unique issues for sensor and communications capabilities. We need Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance solutions that are specifically tailored to the Arctic environment.

Internationally, Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance provides critical support to all military missions, from combat operations to humanitarian assistance to peace operations. It can also provide early warning of developing crises to enable the analytical planning and strategy development required for conflict prevention.

Canadian security and defence preparedness benefits tremendously from connectivity with our closest allies, particularly the Five-Eyes network, which includes Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. This partnership, in which Five-Eyes partners share much of the information collected by their respective military assets, enhances Canada’s ability to understand existing conflict zones and predict future ones, and allows cost-saving and burden-sharing among partner nations.

Similarly, NATO considers Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance essential for operations and it is a standing task for Allied military forces. Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance provides information and intelligence to key decision-makers, helping them make well-informed, timely and accurate decisions. Canada will strongly support NATO efforts in this area as a way to improve interoperability among Allies.

In 2018, Canada will launch an expanded constellation of RADARSAT satellites that can be used day and night and in all weather. This enhanced capability will allow us to track maritime traffic over much larger swathes of ocean and provide for more timely identification of vessels that may require further scrutiny.

The modernized CP-140 Aurora Long-Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft is another vital Canadian Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance platform given its cutting-edge anti-submarine warfare and long-range surveillance capabilities. This aircraft is used extensively by the Canadian Armed Forces, both in the Arctic and abroad, and will be replaced in the early 2030s with the Canadian Multi-Mission Aircraft. In addition, an airborne Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance platform will be acquired for the Special Operations Forces.

Similarly, Canada’s Victoria-Class submarines, which conduct sub-surface surveillance, will be a key element of the system-of-systems approach to maritime domain awareness. Working together with surface and air surveillance capabilities, they will play an important role in sovereignty operations and continental defence. The Victoria-Class submarines will undergo incremental modernization in the mid-2020s, which will ensure their continued effectiveness out to the mid-2030s.

Given the critical role Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance plays in anticipating threats to Canada and making informed operational decisions, we will prioritize further capability development in this area, both for domestic and expeditionary purposes.

New initiatives

To enhance its Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance capabilities, the Defence team will:

67. Invest in Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance platforms, including next generation surveillance aircraft, remotely piloted systems, and space-based surveillance assets.

68. Integrate existing and future assets into a networked, joint system-of-systems that will enable the flow of information among multiple, interconnected platforms and operational headquarters.

69. Prioritize Arctic Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance as a defence research and development priority to produce innovative solutions to surveillance challenges in the North.

Enhancing defence intelligence

Intelligence is Canada’s first line of defence. The defence of Canada, the ability to operate effectively overseas, and the capacity to engage internationally are heavily dependent on the systematic collection, coordination, fusion, production, and dissemination of defence intelligence.

No ship goes to sea, no aircraft takes flight, and no boots hit the ground anywhere in the world without the input of specialists from the defence intelligence community. Given the increasing complexity of the security environment, reliable intelligence in expeditionary operations is crucial to effective targeting that minimizes collateral damage and civilian casualties.

Canadian intelligence capacities and expertise – including those within the Canadian Armed Forces – can also contribute to a deeper understanding of the origins of conflict, the best ways to prevent it, and the locations where capacity building will have the greatest impact. The Canadian Forces Intelligence Command (CFINTCOM) is the only entity within the Government of Canada that employs the full spectrum of intelligence collection capabilities while providing multi-source analysis. CFINTCOM provides credible, timely and integrated defence intelligence capabilities, products and services to support Canada’s defence and national security objectives.

The Five-Eyes network of partners contributes greatly to Canada’s understanding of the global security environment. Similar arrangements with other allies, such as NATO, are crucial to mission success. Canada will continue to foster and strengthen intelligence sharing relationships in a spirit of reciprocity. These relationships are integral to ensuring that we are prepared for and can anticipate challenges to domestic and global security.

The Canadian Armed Forces will always ensure that the collection, analysis and use of information is done in accordance with the law, and recognizes the importance of civilian review of national security and intelligence activities, including through the new National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians.

The Defence team will increase its intelligence capacity, and will examine its capabilities to understand and operate in the information environment, in support of the conduct of information and influence operations.

The Targeting Process

Targeting is a formal, deliberate process used by military commanders to determine courses of action during operations. It governs military action by providing a framework for selecting and prioritizing targets and determining the most effective way to deal with them, whether through lethal or non-lethal means, considering operational requirements and capabilities. The targeting process seeks to minimize collateral damage and civilian casualties, and is undertaken in accordance with the Law of Armed Conflict.

Given the complexity of this process, close coordination is required between all involved and strong, reliable intelligence is vital.The targeting process enables operational decisionmaking, optimizes the use of military capabilities, and ensures the use of the right military tool against a specific target.

New initiatives

In order to address the demand for defence intelligence internally, across the Government of Canada, and among our allies, the Defence team will:

70. Establish up to 120 new military intelligence positions, some of which will be filled by Reservists, and add up to 180 new civilian intelligence personnel.

71. Build CFINTCOM’s capacity to provide more advanced intelligence support to operations, including through an enhanced ability to forecast flashpoints and emerging threats, better support next generation platforms, and understand rapid developments in space, cyber, information and other emerging domains.

72. Establish a Canadian Armed Forces targeting capability to better leverage intelligence capabilities to support military operations.

Bolstering academic outreach

The Defence Policy Review consultations underscored the importance and value of informed discussion of defence issues. They also highlighted the key role that the Canadian academic community and external experts can play in the ongoing examination of defence issues. The Canadian Armed Forces has worked with academia for many years and derives significant benefit from stimulating and leveraging the rich intellectual capacity resident in this community. Continuing to do so will deepen the Government’s understanding of global threats and the complexity of modern conflict while also fostering an ongoing discussion of defence issues.

Collaboration with academia and other experts not only strengthens the foundation of evidence-based defence policy-making, but it will also help drive innovation and develop future thought leaders. The development of collaborative networks of academic and analytic communities across Canada will increase and broaden the diversity of the pool of experts that we can draw upon, and advance informed dialogue on complex defence and security issues. As we seek to stimulate increased research on defence and security issues in Canada, we are mindful of the need for a diverse spectrum of voices contributing to the conversation in this field.

New initiatives

To enhance its relationship with and derive greater benefit from Canada’s rich academic and analytic community, the Defence team will:

73. Increase investment in academic outreach to $4.5 million per year in a revamped and expanded defence engagement program, including:

  • collaborative networks of experts;
  • a new scholarship program for Masters and Post-Doctoral fellows;
  • an expansion of the existing expert briefing series and engagement grant program.


Canada’s military must be agile, flexible and responsive in meeting the challenges and capturing the opportunities of our rapidly evolving world.

A new vision for the Reserve Force

The Reserve Force is an integral component of the Canadian Armed Forces. Ninety-seven percent of Canadians live within a 45 minute drive of a Reserve unit. Reservists come from all walks of life including students, civil servants, labourers, business people, academics and former members of the Regular Force. These are, truly, citizen soldiers.

While the Reserve Force has a long history of making important contributions to the Canadian Armed Forces across the spectrum of operations, most recently during the Afghan conflict, fundamental changes are necessary for the Reserve Force to meet its full operational potential.

To this end, we will implement a new vision for the Reserve Force that will:

  • enable Reserve Force units and formations to provide full-time capability through part-time service;
  • ensure Reservists are a well integrated component of the total force; and
  • appropriately train, prepare and equip Reservists in sufficient numbers to be ready to contribute to operations at home and abroad.

Whether a task or duty is conducted by a Regular or Reserve Force member, the result will be indistinguishable operational excellence. Progress towards this goal is already underway but must be broadened across the military to ensure a truly integrated Canadian Armed Forces that provides effective operational output.

The Canadian Armed Forces’ ability to meet Canada’s defence needs, now and into the future, will rely upon a Reserve Force that can generate full-time capability through part-time service. To achieve this objective, Reserve Force units and formations will be tasked to perform specific full-time roles, some of which will be provided exclusively by the Reserves. A number of these roles will be new, such as cyber operators and Light Urban Search and Rescue, while others will build on previous success, such as information operations (including influence activities) and naval intelligence.

Full-time capability through part-time service

Reserve duties and schedules vary from person to person. While some contribute a few days per month, others are on full-time service. This flexibility allows Canadians to serve their country according to their personal circumstances. Full-time capability with a part-time service will require Reserve Force units and formations to bring together the contributions of these various part-time Canadian Armed Forces members to provide 24/7 defined readiness capability according to the new and enhanced roles assigned to them. This construct will allow Reservists to balance a vibrant civilian life and occupation with meaningful, part-time military service while enhancing the overall Canadian Armed Forces effectiveness.

To maximize the operational output of the Canadian Armed Forces, Reservists will be further integrated into the total force. This includes providing more opportunities for Regular and Reserve Force members to train and operate together in Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships, Battle Groups, Wings and deployed Joint Task Forces, in Canada and around the globe.

In recent decades, the Reserve Force has also been an integral component of deployed operations and has gained a wealth of experience conducting expeditionary duties. As part of the new vision the Reserve Force will be tasked to deliver upon select deployed missions in a primary role. This will include conducting missions that would benefit from their unique skills and strengths such as capacity building efforts.

To ensure that the Reserve Force can continue to provide Canadian citizen soldiers with flexible opportunities to serve their country, the Reserve Force service model will be modernized, including alignment with job protection legislation. Military members must have the flexibility to transition between the full- and part-time service as well as the ability to pursue training and opportunities that suit their career in the Canadian Armed Forces, whether participating in deployed operations or serving on weekends and during the summer at the local Reserve Unit. Rigorous, targeted training also contributes to enhanced interoperability between the Regular and Reserve Force and ensures an integrated, deployable total force.

In recognition of these new roles and responsibilities, Primary Reserve Force remuneration and benefits will be better aligned with those of the Regular Force where the demands of service are similar. This will ensure Reserve Force members receive fair compensation for their service to Canada.

The Canadian Armed Forces is greatly enhanced by being able to employ the varied backgrounds and skills of Reservists. The prevalence of Reserve units across Canada, including in major urban centres, makes them extremely valuable as a means to tap into Canadian diversity, capitalizing on different ways of thinking and problem solving, and accessing the deep cultural knowledge resident in Canadian communities. Reservists bring a wealth of experience from their primary occupations that has allowed the Canadian Armed Forces to access in-demand skills and trades such as linguists and cyber professionals that would otherwise take years to develop in the Regular Force.

To continue to benefit from all the strengths of Canadian society and be successful in a highly competitive labour market, the Reserve Force will dramatically improve the recruitment process to ensure it is agile, flexible and responsive in meeting the needs of those who serve Canada through the Reserves. The Special Operations Forces will also examine establishing a Reserve sub-unit in a metropolitan area to access the valuable skills resident in large population centres that are well-suited to enhance the output of the military.

New initiatives

To enhance the role and capabilities of the Reserve Force, the Canadian Armed Forces will:

  1. Increase the size of the Primary Reserve Force to 30,000 (an increase of 1,500) and dramatically reduce the initial recruitment process from a number of months to a matter of weeks.
  2. Assign Reserve Force units and formations new roles that provide full-time capability to the Canadian Armed Forces through part-time service, including:
    • Light Urban Search and Rescue;
    • Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defence;
    • Combat capabilities such as direct fire, mortar and pioneer platoons;
    • Cyber Operators;
    • Intelligence Operators;
    • Naval Security Teams; and
    • Linguists.
  3. Enhance existing roles assigned to Reserve Force units and formations, including:
    • Information Operations (including Influence Activities);
    • Combat Support and Combat Service Support; and
    • Air Operations Support Technicians.
  4. Employ the Reserve Force to deliver select expeditionary missions in a primary role such as Canadian Armed Forces capacity building.
  5. Create an agile service model that supports transition between full- and part-time service and provides the flexibility to cater to differing Reserve career paths.
  6. Align Primary Reserve Force remuneration and benefits with those of the Regular Force where the demands of service are similar.
  7. Revise annuitant employment regulations to attract and retain more former Regular Force personnel to the Reserves.
  8. Offer full-time summer employment to Reservists in their first four years with the Reserves commencing in 2018.
  9. Work with partners in the federal government to align federal acts governing job protection legislation. Subsequently, we will work with provinces and territories to harmonize job protection for Reserves at that level.

Strengthening Canadian communities by investing in youth

National Defence has a long and proud history of supporting youth through the Cadet and Junior Canadian Rangers Programs. The Cadet and Junior Canadian Rangers are the largest federally-sponsored youth programs in Canada and provide young Canadians aged 12 to 18 with an opportunity to participate in a variety of fun, challenging and rewarding activities while learning about the Canadian Armed Forces.

Cadets and Junior Canadian Rangers are encouraged to become active, responsible members of their communities and make valuable contributions to Canadian society through their environmental, citizenship and community activities. They also learn valuable life and work skills such as teamwork, leadership, citizenship, and values and ethics. These programs embrace Canada’s multiculturalism and diversity and allow young Canadians opportunities to interact with a wide range of other youth across Canada and the world through international visits and exchanges. Focused on Indigenous youth across Canada, the Junior Canadian Rangers also incorporate the traditional knowledge and culture of their communities, including skills related to hunting, fishing, local languages, as well as music, dance, cooking and spiritual ceremonies.

Ultimately, the Cadet and Junior Canadian Rangers Programs offer Canadian youth a physically challenging, mentally stimulating, structured environment that promotes community and environmental responsibility as well as personal health and well-being. The Cadet and Junior Canadian Rangers programs are an important investment in our youth – many Cadets and Junior Canadian Rangers are high achieving students that go on to become Canada’s future leaders. That is why National Defence is committed to expanding the reach of these important programs so more Canadian youth can experience these tremendous and positive youth development opportunities and continue to strengthen communities across Canada.

Keeping pace with technological developments

Technology is a critical enabler of modern militaries and fundamental to every type of operation the Canadian Armed Forces is expected to conduct. That includes everything from search and rescue, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and peace support, to combat. We must keep pace with the rapid evolution of technology to ensure continued operational relevance, both to address threats from potential adversaries and to maintain our ability to operate alongside key allies.

Three categories of capabilities have become particularly critical to modern military operations – space, cyber and remotely piloted systems. While each provides important benefits on its own, they provide far more capability when used jointly as a system-of-systems, and properly integrated within the full suite of military capabilities.

Space capabilities

Space capabilities are critical to national security, sovereignty and defence. They have become an essential bulwark for Canadian Armed Forces operations. In concert with allies and partners, under the leadership of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Canada has built a robust program that contributes significantly to success in a wide range of missions.

The responsible use of space

Defence’s development and use of space capabilities is carried out in accordance with domestic legislation, such as the National Defence Act, the Remote Sensing Space Systems Act, and the Canadian Space Agency Act, as well as relevant international law, including the Outer Space Treaty, the Limited Test Ban Treaty, and the Law of Armed Conflict.

We actively support Global Affairs Canada’s participation in international diplomatic efforts to ensure that space does not become an arena of conflict.

For example, the Canadian Armed Forces uses the United States’ Global Positioning System for navigation, to accurately select targets, and to help locate people in distress. Satellite communications are essential for the command and control of military operations, both in remote regions in Canada, and around the world. Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance satellites provide incredibly detailed images of otherwise inaccessible areas, including in the Arctic, in support of information and situational awareness requirements. Indeed, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance satellites are vital to the Canadian Armed Forces’ ability to monitor and control Canada’s maritime approaches. Our space surveillance satellite, Sapphire, looks out into space to track debris and other threats to critical space assets. It contributes to the United States’ Space Surveillance Network, which benefits all Canadians by reducing the risk of collisions that could take satellites offline.

As the importance of, and interest in, space has increased, new challenges have arisen. For example, the risk of collision between satellites and other orbiting spacecraft or debris continues to increase as more objects are launched into space. This adds to the other rigours of operating in the space environment, such as harmful radiation, or space weather.

Moreover, largely due to the critical role space plays in enabling modern militaries, some states are developing a range of anti-satellite weapons (ASATs) that could potentially threaten our access to and use of space capabilities. These counter-space capabilities range from those having reversible effects, such as radio-frequency jammers, blinding lasers, and cyber operations, to those having permanent destructive effects such as earth-to-space missiles. Ground-based assets and infrastructure associated with satellites are also vulnerable to a variety of threats from physical or cyber attacks and jamming.

These threats do not necessarily mean that any state currently has the intention to attack Canadian space assets. However, it does mean that the Canadian Armed Forces must take its counter-space capabilities into account as it continues to develop the Canadian defence space program. Space-related challenges are magnified by the fact that the international legal framework governing outer space continues to evolve. For instance, how close is too close when it comes to approaching military satellites? Should testing or using debris-causing counter-space capabilities be prohibited? Canada is providing leadership in promoting the peaceful use of space and fostering norms of responsible behaviour in space. The Defence team will continue to support the efforts of Global Affairs Canada in this important work.

Broad cooperation between Canada and the Five-Eyes community has been an enduring feature of Canada’s space program. The Combined Space Operations Initiative (CSpO) is the centre of our allied efforts to enable and enhance cooperation. This initiative enables cooperation on military and defence space activities, with the aim of strengthening deterrence, improving the resilience of space systems on which Five-Eyes militaries rely, and optimizing resources across participating nations. Maintaining interoperability in space with key partners and allies is critically important to the success of our operations.

New initiatives

To adapt to evolving challenges and opportunities in the space domain, the Defence team will:

  1. Defend and protect military space capabilities, including by working closely with allies and partners to ensure a coordinated approach to assuring continuous access to the space domain and space assets.
  2. Work with partners to promote Canada’s national interests on space issues, promote the peaceful use of space and provide leadership in shaping international norms for responsible behaviour in space.
  3. Invest in and employ a range of space capabilities, including space situational awareness, space-based earth observation and maritime domain awareness, and satellite communications that achieve global coverage, including in the Arctic. (For more detail on Defence investments in space capabilities).
  4. Conduct cutting-edge research and development on new space technologies in close collaboration with allies, industry, and academia to enhance the resilience of space capabilities and support the Canadian Armed Forces’ space capability requirements and missions.

Cyber capabilities

Cyberspace is critical for the conduct of modern military operations, and is recognized as a domain of operations, like air, sea, land and space. The Canadian Armed Forces and other advanced militaries rely on secure networks to operate communications, intelligence and weapons systems. Modern information technology brings significant operational benefits, but also creates critical vulnerabilities.

The cyber threat environment is evolving rapidly. Our equipment platforms, from aircraft to armoured vehicles to ships, are highly networked. So are our personnel in the field. Potential adversaries see this as an opportunity. Strategic adversaries, both state and non-state, are constantly improving their ability to exploit our dependence on networks with increasingly sophisticated tools. And in cyberspace, significant effects can be achieved with relatively little investment.

Defence can be affected by cyber threats at home and abroad – from attempts to steal sensitive information from our internal networks, to cyber attacks on the Canadian Armed Forces on deployed operations, to the use of cyberspace by terrorist organizations to spread disinformation, recruit fighters and finance their operations. Indeed, there has been a steady increase in the number of state and non-state actors developing the capability to conduct disruptive cyber operations.

The Defence team works closely with the Communications Security Establishment, Public Safety Canada, Global Affairs Canada and Shared Services Canada on cyber issues. To date, this work has focused on strengthening the defence of important military systems, network monitoring and control, building the future cyber force, and integrating defensive cyber operations into broader military operations.

However, a purely defensive cyber posture is no longer sufficient. Accordingly, we will develop the capability to conduct active cyber operations focused on external threats to Canada in the context of government-authorized military missions. The employment of this capability will be approved by the Government on a mission-by-mission basis consistent with the employment of other military assets, and will be subject to the same rigour as other military uses of force. Cyber operations will be subject to all applicable domestic and international law, and proven checks and balances such as rules of engagement, targeting and collateral damage assessments.

New initiatives

To adapt to evolving challenges and opportunities in the space domain, the Defence team will:

  1. Protect critical military networks and equipment from cyber attack by establishing a new Cyber Mission Assurance Program that will incorporate cyber security requirements into the procurement process.
  2. Develop active cyber capabilities and employ them against potential adversaries in support of government-authorized military missions.
  3. Grow and enhance the cyber force by creating a new Canadian Armed Forces Cyber Operator occupation to attract Canada’s best and brightest talent and significantly increasing the number of military personnel dedicated to cyber functions.
  4. Use Reservists with specialized skill-sets to fill elements of the Canadian Armed Forces cyber force.

Remotely piloted systems

Remotely Piloted Systems, popularly known as drones – operating on land, in the air and under water – offer great potential in helping Canada meet its defence needs, at home and abroad. They are important tools that help remove humans from dangerous situations, and permit operations in severe and inhospitable environments. Remotely piloted systems can be used effectively for a wide range of military applications, from ground systems used as bomb disposal robots to undersea systems for conducting acoustic surveillance, mapping or the surveillance of ‘choke-points’, to naval mine countermeasures. Aerial systems can provide temporary communications relay during a disaster relief mission when regular networks have been damaged, enable long-range coastal and Northern surveillance, and provide a targeting and precision strike capability.

As the development of remotely piloted systems increases, this technology is proliferating among potential adversaries. Expanded proliferation, combined with technological advancement, will mean that Canada is faced with a variety of possible threats from remotely piloted systems. These range from non-state actors using unsophisticated and commercially available remotely piloted aerial systems to conduct reconnaissance, to advanced potential state adversaries developing high-end, weaponized systems. In response, Canada will require the appropriate capabilities to identify and defend against these burgeoning threats.

As with any technology used in operations, the Canadian Armed Forces will ensure that its use of remotely piloted systems is consistent with domestic and international law. Operations will be conducted in strict accordance with all the controls, procedures and rules of engagement that govern the use of force with any other weapon. We also recognize that the rapid evolution of technology has the potential to lead to increasing levels of autonomy in remotely piloted systems. We will continue to support Canada’s engagement and leadership in international policy discussions on this issue in multilateral fora. The Canadian Armed Forces is committed to maintaining appropriate human involvement in the use of military capabilities that can exert lethal force.

New initiatives

To better leverage the unique benefits associated with remotely piloted systems, the Defence team will:

  1. Invest in a range of remotely piloted systems, including an armed aerial system capable of conducting surveillance and precision strikes (For more details on planned investments in remotely piloted systems).
  2. Conduct research and development of remotely piloted land, sea and aerial capabilities, in close collaboration with industry and academia.
  3. Promote the development of international norms for the appropriate responsible and lawful use of remotely piloted systems, in support of Global Affairs Canada.

Modernizing the business of defence

Whether meeting its environmental responsibilities, leveraging best management practices from the private sector or striving to continually improve efficiency and effectiveness, we will work tirelessly to modernize the business of defence. A modern “business of defence” maximizes operational output and ensures that every defence dollar is put to the best use in achieving our objectives. The Defence team is committed to continuous improvement and is on track to meet its goal to achieve $750 million in efficiencies and enhanced productivity by 2019-20.

Improving defence procurement

Effective defence procurement is vital to ensuring the Canadian Armed Forces is equipped and ready to fulfill the important missions we ask of it. It is also essential for ensuring public trust.

We must get it right.

While 90 percent of projects are delivered within their planned scope and budget, defence procurement has undoubtedly faced challenges. In particular, a small segment of complex, high-value equipment projects have faced significant challenges. Cumbersome decision-making and approval processes have introduced undue delays. Accountability among departments has been diffuse and at times unclear. Procurement professionals would benefit from greater education, training and tools.

Capability requirements have not always been clearly communicated to industry and Canadians. Early cost estimates have sometimes proven problematic, creating financial pressures and compromises to the final capability delivered. And perhaps most challenging, 70 percent of all projects have not been delivered on time.

Industry representatives should not have to deal with burdensome and excessively complicated approval processes that impact their ability to plan investments and effectively and efficiently respond to the Government’s requirements. It is also important for industry to have a more transparent relationship with government in order to deliver projects that meet shared expectations and respect project timelines.

The Government of Canada recognizes the challenges associated with military procurement and is working closely with partners across government and industry to examine every aspect of the procurement cycle in order to find solutions.

Despite recent improvements, the timely delivery of projects remains a significant issue and more must be done. There are a number of steps that can be taken immediately to help streamline defence procurement and build on recent measures to improve procurement across government. These measures will help keep us on track with planned budget profiles and deliver new capabilities when they are needed.

Canadian defence industry

The Canadian defence industry is critical to the ability of the Canadian Armed Forces to deliver on the defence mandate. Industry provides the military with broad defence capabilities including satellites, a range of aerospace technologies, naval shipbuilding and various army vehicles. In addition to support services these contributions from industry directly enable the military to succeed in everything they do. Close cooperation between the Canadian Armed Forces and industry is also necessary to ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces has access to the advanced technologies and innovation that allows Canada to keep pace with allies and an operational advantage over adversaries.

Cooperation with industry not only enhances the Canadian Armed Forces’ ability to deliver on its mandate with core military capability, but provides Canadians with well-paying jobs, and firms with important export opportunities. The defence sector employs over 60,000 Canadians and contributes over $10B annually to GDP. Defence industry employees’ average annual salaries are almost 60 percent above the average of other manufacturing sector employees and close to 60 percent of defence sector sales are exports. This vital sector also helps keep Canada’s economy vibrant and innovative with over 30 percent of defence occupations in innovation-relevant science and technology-related fields.

New initiatives

To streamline defence procurement, better meet the needs of the military, and deliver projects in a more timely manner, the Defence team will:

  1. Reduce project development and approval time in the Department of National Defence by at least 50 percent for low-risk and low-complexity projects through improved internal coordination, increased delegation and strengthened approval processes.
  2. Work with partners to increase the Department of National Defence’s contracting authorities for goods up to $5 million by 2018, allowing over 80 percent of defence procurement contracts to be managed by Defence.
  3. Use procurement to incentivize Canadian research and development in important and emerging technological areas.
  4. Increase the transparency and timeliness of communication to the defence industry associations, including instituting meetings between the Department of National Defence and Canadian industry through the Defence Industry Advisory Group and other fora.
  5. Grow and professionalize the defence procurement workforce in order to strengthen the capacity to manage the acquisition and support of today’s complex military capabilities. This includes the addition of new procurement specialists and enhanced training and professional accreditation for defence procurement personnel.
  6. Provide Canadians with regular updates on major project and programs to increase transparency, communicate challenges, and measure performance, including by publishing National Defence’s Investment Plan.
  7. Ensure that Canadian environmental standards are adhered to in all procurement projects.

Greening defence

A clean environment and sustainable economy are priorities for the Government of Canada. The Defence team has a key role to play in helping advance these important objectives as one of the largest employers and maintainers of equipment and infrastructure. With the responsibility to manage more than two million hectares of land, thousands of buildings, jetties and training areas, the Defence team must be at the centre of the Government’s commitment to be a responsible steward of the environment.

We work hard every day to be good stewards of the environment. Great progress has been made in remediating sites formerly contaminated by military activities and work is ongoing to proactively mitigate the environmental impacts of military activities going forward. The Defence team is also doing its part to protect species at risk on base lands, having signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Environment and Climate Change Canada and Parks Canada, and providing guidance to personnel on fulfilling the requirements of the Species at Risk Act.

The Defence Team’s commitment to address climate change

National Defence represents more than half of the Government of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. Consequently, it has a critical role to play in helping the Government of Canada meet its climate objectives.

National Defence is committed to meet its Federal Sustainable Development Strategy goal of reducing its emissions by 40 percent from the 2005 levels by 2030 (excluding military fleets).

The Defence team has a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from the 2005 levels by 2030 in support of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy goal of achieving a low-carbon government. This includes seeking out opportunities to purchase clean power such as in Alberta where, as of January 2017, 90 percent of electricity supplying our installations is now coming from renewable sources. We are also investing in Energy Performance Contracts, which enable the department to make use of private sector innovation and capital by allowing energy service providers to identify and implement energy efficiencies and get paid back through energy savings. The range of measures available through Energy Performance Contracts include lighting retrofits, modernized central heating plants, building upgrades as well as improved operating practices.

All of this important work is supported by improvements to how the Defence team measures and reports on its environmental performance. Effectively greening the Defence team depends on having an accurate, quantifiable picture of our footprint. Military operations and environmental protection and stewardship are not mutually exclusive – ensuring that the environmental impact of defence activities is minimized is paramount to the success of operations, whether at home or abroad.

New initiatives

To ensure it supports the low-carbon government targets outlined in the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy, the Defence team will:

  1. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from the 2005 levels by 2030, including through the following measures:
    • Investing $225 million by 2020 in a wide range of infrastructure projects across Canada to reduce our carbon footprint;
    • Transitioning 20 percent of non-military vehicle fleets to hybrid and electric by 2020;
    • Requiring new construction and major recapitalization projects to meet industry-recognized standards for high performing buildings such as the Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard or equivalent;
    • Expanding the use of Energy Performance Contracts to implement energy efficiencies on bases and wings across Canada; and
    • Installing electric charging stations at new or retrofitted buildings for personnel to use with defence fleets and/or personal vehicles.
  2. Examine alternative energy options and their potential use for operations.

Modernizing defence infrastructure

The Defence team manages the largest infrastructure portfolio in the federal government, including over 20,000 buildings, 5,500 kilometers of roads and 3,000 kilometers of water works. This infrastructure portfolio is worth roughly $26 billion and the maintenance, operation and infrastructure workforce accounts for about 10 percent of the defence budget in any given year. The effective management of infrastructure is a critical enabler for Canadian Armed Forces operations, whether it be the bases and installations where the military train, prepare for and execute their important missions, the vast support network required to maintain and operate equipment, or housing for military personnel and their families.

Great progress has been made in improving the operation of defence infrastructure by consolidating the portfolio from nine individual operators to one. While this model has only been in place since April 2016, having a single point of responsibility and accountability has already reduced administrative burdens, increased efficiency, and enhanced responsiveness to operational needs. However, further progress can still be made to improve how we manage infrastructure, in order to better leverage innovative practices and maintain an affordable and sustainable portfolio supported by the right workforce.

We will continue to modernize our infrastructure to improve efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and support military personnel. Efforts will be focused on properties that are operationally relevant and make effective use of space and land. The adoption of a centrally-managed approach provides us with a greater understanding and visibility of our infrastructure. We will therefore be in a better position to consolidate assets with a similar function and, as a result, accelerate the disposal of underused buildings that do not meet our needs. This will help us reduce operating costs and liabilities. All these efforts will provide opportunities for First Nations and local businesses to take part in construction contracts or demolition projects.

In order to meet the future infrastructure needs of the Canadian Armed Forces, we will explore opportunities to harness private sector innovation and expertise. This will include careful consideration of alternative delivery models, such as public-private-partnerships, where there is a strong business case and demonstrated value for Canadians. This will provide valuable access to the skills, capital, and best practices of the private sector, while allowing the Defence team to focus on its core functions. We will explore these opportunities on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with employees, stakeholders, local communities and public sector unions.

New initiatives

To modernize the management of the real property portfolio to better serve defence and free up personnel to perform military tasks, the Defence team will:

  1. Dispose of underutilized or obsolete buildings. This will improve the efficiency of the infrastructure portfolio, while at the same time help us accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
  2. Improve infrastructure on bases and wings, including housing for Canadian Armed Forces personnel. In doing so, we will explore ways to partner with the private sector and will consult with public sector unions.

Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS)

Innovative technology, knowledge, and problem solving are critical for Canada and its allies to mitigate new threats, stay ahead of potential adversaries, and meet evolving defence and security needs, while generating economic benefits for Canada.

In the past, defence innovation was often driven by government research labs. In today’s knowledge economy, technological development and innovation are more often generated by the private sector and academia. Further, the nature of conflicts and threats is rapidly evolving.

In this new environment, Canada’s military needs a fundamentally new approach to innovation that allows it to better tap into the extraordinary talent and ingenuity resident across the country. The Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security program, or IDEaS, will launch a number of coordinated new initiatives that will transform the way we generate solutions to complex problems.

IDEaS will establish research clusters to stimulate collaboration and the free flow of ideas that are so critical to innovation. These clusters will bring together academics, industry and other partners to form collaborative innovation networks. Areas for advanced research and development include surveillance, cyber tools for defence, space, alternative fuels, remotely piloted systems, data analytics, and counter-improvised explosive device solutions. A critical area for urgent research is the human dimension of our work, including treatments for mental health and operational stress injuries.

Competition is also an effective way to stimulate innovation. The Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security program includes a new commitment to “compete the idea” and turn to innovators in the private sector or academia to seek viable solutions. This will allow innovators to approach challenges creatively from their own unique perspectives.

IDEaS will introduce flexible new procurement tools that allow Defence to commit early in the development process to being the first customer for promising new ideas. This will create an environment where risk is shared more equally between Defence and its innovation partners. The ability to develop and test solutions throughout their development will allow Canadian industry to field test their products with the Canadian Armed Forces to ensure that new capabilities or approaches meet the needs of the military and give Canadian companies the opportunity to participate in global markets.

The Defence team will work more closely with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada to align closely with Canada’s broader Inclusive Innovation Agenda, particularly as it relates to its objectives to grow companies and accelerate growth, encourage an entrepreneurial and creative society, leverage global scientific excellence, and establish world-leading research clusters.

New initiatives

To transform defence innovation in Canada, the Defence team will:

  1. Invest $1.6 billion over the next 20 years to implement the new Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program, including:
    • Creating clusters of defence innovators (academics, industry, and other partners) to conduct leading-edge research and development in areas critical to future defence needs;
    • Holding competitions that invite innovators to present viable solutions to specific defence and security challenges; and
    • Implementing flexible new procurement mechanisms that allow Defence to develop and test ideas and the ability to follow through on the most promising ones with procurement.

Enhancing Arctic capability

Spanning three Territories and stretching as far as the North Pole, Canada’s North is a sprawling region, encompassing 75 percent of the country’s national coastlines and 40 percent of its total land mass. The sheer expanse of Canada’s North, coupled with its ice-filled seas, harsh climate, and more than 36,000 islands make for a challenging region to monitor – particularly as the North encompasses a significant portion of the air and maritime approaches to North America.

Modernization of the North Warning System (NWS)

The NWS is a chain of unmanned radar stations within the Arctic that provides aerospace surveillance of Canadian and United States Northern approaches.

While the current NWS is approaching the end of its life expectancy from a technological and functional perspective, unfortunately the range of potential threats to the continent, such as that posed by adversarial cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, has become more complex and increasingly difficult to detect.

To this end, Canada and the United States have already launched bilateral collaboration to seek an innovative technological solution to continental defence challenges including early warning. Studies are ongoing to determine how best to replace this important capability as part of the overall NORAD modernization.

Although Canada’s North is sparsely populated, the region is spotted with vibrant communities, many inhabited by Canada’s Indigenous populations. These communities form an integral part of Canada’s identity, and our history is intimately connected with the imagery and the character of the North. Economically, Northern Canada is also home to considerable natural resources, industries, and growing tourism – with the potential for further exploration, including transit through Canada’s Arctic Archipelago.

The Defence team’s extensive Northern footprint includes more than 800 buildings at over 60 sites. Joint Task Force North, headquartered in Yellowknife with detachments in Whitehorse and Iqaluit, anchors the Canadian Armed Forces’ Northern presence. The Canadian Armed Forces, including through NORAD, operates from a number of locations in the North, including in Inuvik, Yellowknife, Rankin Inlet, Iqaluit, and Goose Bay, which also help support the Northern deployment of fighter aircraft. The Canadian Armed Forces also shares a number of facilities with federal partners, including a state-of-the-art cold weather training facility at Resolute Bay, a signals intelligence facility at Canadian Forces Station Alert - the northernmost permanently inhabited facility in the world - and a high Arctic weather station at Eureka. In addition, work is ongoing to complete the Nanisivik Naval Facility which will support operations of the new Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships, and other government maritime vessels.

Canada’s contributions to regional Arctic security form a core part of the Canada-United States defence relationship. Nowhere is this more apparent than in joint efforts to renew the North Warning System (NWS) and modernize elements of NORAD. As the security dynamics in the Arctic evolve, Canada and the United States will continue to work side by side to secure our shared northern air and maritime approaches.

The Arctic is also becoming more relevant to the international community. Climate change is increasingly leading to a more accessible Arctic region. While operating in the region will remain a difficult challenge for the foreseeable future, Arctic and non-Arctic states alike are looking to benefit from the potential economic opportunities associated with new resource development and transportation routes.

NATO has also increased its attention to Russia’s ability to project force from its Arctic territory into the North Atlantic, and its potential to challenge NATO’s collective defence posture. Canada and its NATO Allies have been clear that the Alliance will be ready to deter and defend against any potential threats, including against sea lines of communication and maritime approaches to Allied territory in the North Atlantic.

The Canadian Armed Forces, through NORAD, has a duty to monitor and control all of Canada’s territory and approaches. In order to fully execute this mission and provide effective aerospace warning and control for all of North America, Canada will expand the Canadian Air Defence Identification Zone (CADIZ) to cover the entire Canadian Arctic archipelago. The current CADIZ is based on the capabilities of the Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line radars which were replaced in the late 1980s by the North Warning System. Despite this change to NORAD’s surveillance capability, the CADIZ boundary remains unchanged. An expanded CADIZ will increase awareness of the air traffic approaching and operating in Canada’s sovereign airspace in the Arctic.

The Canadian Armed Forces will also introduce a number of new Arctic-focused capabilities including naval vessels such as the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships, space-based surveillance assets such as the RADARSAT Constellation Mission, polar satellite communications, Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems, operational support sites including the Nanisivik Naval Facility, and a family of new ground vehicles capable of navigating the harsh landscape of Canada’s North. We will integrate these capabilities into a ‘system-of-systems’ approach to Arctic surveillance, comprising air, land, sea, and space assets connected through modern technology.

Air Defence Identification Zones

Air Defence Identification Zones (ADIZ) are tools used by states to monitor and identify aircraft approaching their territory and assess possible threats to national security. An ADIZ typically begins at the edge of sovereign airspace and extends outward into international airspace.

The Canadian Air Defence Identification Zone (CADIZ) is part of a larger ADIZ surrounding the continent, and is used by NORAD to execute its primary mission of aerospace control and warning for North America.

The establishment of an ADIZ provides notice to aircraft that they may be intercepted if they do not notify Canadian authorities of their entry and exit through CADIZ.

While operating in Canada’s North, we often work in close partnership with other federal, territorial, and local partners. As such, we will leverage our new capabilities to help build the capacity of whole-of-government partners to help them deliver their mandates in Canada’s North, and support broader Government of Canada priorities in the Arctic region.

As Indigenous communities are at the heart of Canada’s North, we will also work to expand and deepen our extensive relationships with these communities, particularly through the Canadian Rangers and Junior Canadian Rangers. This will also include engaging local populations as part of routine operations and exercises.

New initiatives:

To enhance the Canadian Armed Forces’ ability to operate in the Arctic and adapt to a changed security environment, the Defence team will:

  1. Enhance the mobility, reach and footprint of the Canadian Armed Forces in Canada’s North to support operations, exercises, and the Canadian Armed Forces’ ability to project force into the region.
  2. Align the Canadian Air Defence Identification Zone (CADIZ) with our sovereign airspace.
  3. Enhance and expand the training and effectiveness of the Canadian Rangers to improve their functional capabilities within the Canadian Armed Forces.
  4. Collaborate with the United States on the development of new technologies to improve Arctic surveillance and control, including the renewal of the North Warning System.
  5. Conduct joint exercises with Arctic allies and partners and support the strengthening of situational awareness and information sharing in the Arctic, including with NATO.


Everything the Defence team does to better anticipate threats, understand the complex security environment and adapt to a rapidly changing world is done with a single objective in mind: ensuring the Canadian Armed Forces achieves success on operations. The Canadian Armed Forces is fundamentally focused on delivering results, whether it is battling through harsh conditions to save someone in distress in the Canadian Arctic, working with other Canadian government partners to help deliver life-saving assistance after a natural disaster at home or abroad, or engaging in combat to defeat potential adversaries or protect vulnerable populations from those seeking to harm them, in the context of United Nations or other peace operations.

Given the uncertainty and complexity of the global security environment, Canada will continue to invest in a multi-purpose, combat-ready force that is able to act decisively and deliver results across the full spectrum of operations. The roles and missions of the Canadian Armed Forces have traditionally been characterized in geographic terms, with distinct lines drawn between domestic, continental and international responsibilities. The Canadian Armed Forces’commitment to defending Canada and the broader North American continent and contributing to international peace and security will be stronger than ever. However, making sharp distinctions among the missions that fulfill these roles is becoming less and less relevant in the new security environment. The rise of borderless challenges such as terrorism and cyber attacks, the increasingly strong connection between global stability and domestic security and prosperity, and the fact that the Canadian Armed Forces is as likely to support broader whole-of-government efforts abroad as it is at home, mean that its three traditional roles are becoming more and more intertwined.

Concurrent operations

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. It will often call upon the Canadian Armed Forces to deploy on multiple operations at the same time. 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; and
  • contribute to international peace and stability through:
    • two sustained deployments of ~500-1500 personnel in two different theatres of operation, 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.

Canadian Armed Forces core missions

The eight new core missions of the Canadian Armed Forces must reflect this reality. Instead of being simply divided geographically, they are now also plotted against the spectrum of military options. These missions are all critical to delivering on Canada’s defence objectives, and are not listed in order of priority.

At one end of the spectrum are traditional defence tasks. This includes working with allies and partners to prevent potential adversaries from causing harm and to deter hostile actions against Canada and its allies. It also involves being prepared to engage in combat if prevention and deterrence fail.

At the other end of the spectrum are activities that we undertake in support of other government departments to respond to emergencies in which immediate or prompt action is required to save lives and reduce human suffering.

And between these two poles on the spectrum are a wide range of operations, including peace support, as well as those in support of other government departments – from responding to terrorist threats in Canada or supporting fisheries enforcement off our shores, to capacity building, to evacuating Canadians to remove them from danger far from home.

To ensure Canada remains strong at home, secure in North America and engaged in the world, the Canadian Armed Forces will:

Detect, deter and defend against threats to or attacks on Canada

Detect, deter and defend against threats to or Detect, deter and defend against threats to or attacks on Canada 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 non-governmental partners in responding to international and domestic disasters or major emergencies

Conduct search and rescue operations

Detect, deter and defend against threats to or attacks on Canada

Defending Canada and Canadians is the Canadian Armed Forces’ top priority. Above all else, the Canadian Armed Forces must ensure the defence and security of Canada. This begins with the surveillance and control of Canadian territory and approaches, with an increasing focus on the Arctic. The Canadian Armed Forces will provide constant monitoring of Canada’s approaches and have high readiness assets available at all times to respond in the event potential threats are detected.

The Canadian Armed Forces will develop and maintain a robust capacity to respond concurrently to multiple domestic emergencies.

Detect, deter and defend against threats to or attacks on North America in partnership with the United States, including through NORAD

The Canadian Armed Forces will continue to work within NORAD to conduct continental operations to defend against shared continental threats and address common challenges. Canada will ensure it has the military capabilities required to meet its NORAD obligations, including sufficient mission-ready fighter aircraft, and enhance our capacity to provide continuous aerospace and maritime domain awareness and aerospace control.

Additionally, the Tri-Command Framework brings together NORAD and our two national commands – the Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) and United States Northern Command – to strengthen North American defence and security. Beyond that, Canadian and American services are well-integrated and interoperable, both from a materiel and doctrinal perspective. As Arctic states, Canada and the United States have a shared interest in ensuring the Arctic remains safe and stable. Canada will cooperate with the United States on Arctic security and will examine the requirements to meet all-perils threats to the continent through NORAD modernization. This will also involve working collaboratively to enhance shared situational awareness and early warning in the northern environment.

Lead and/or contribute forces to NATO and coalition efforts to deter and defeat adversaries, including terrorists, to support global stability

Combating threats to global stability reinforces security and prosperity at home. The Canadian Armed Forces will be prepared to operate with its close allies and partners to defeat armed adversaries and respond to instability, around the world and in international waters. The Canadian Armed Forces will work with allies to identify, confront and defeat trans-regional threats, including from violent extremist organizations.

As a founding member of NATO, Canada has enduring obligations to support and defend Allies who are threatened by any potential adversary and to contribute to continued security, while preserving stability in the Euro-Atlantic region. The Canadian Armed Forces will contribute actively to collective defence. In 2016, Canada embarked on a leadership role in the name of deterrence, acting as framework nation as part of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence in Central and Eastern Europe.

Lead and/or contribute to international peace operations and stabilization missions with the United Nations, NATO and other multilateral partners

Canada has made a firm commitment to increase its support to United Nations peace operations. Canada will focus on four core elements, undertaken as a whole-of-government effort by

  • providing Canadian personnel and training for United Nations peace operations;
  • strengthening Canadian support for conflict prevention, mediation, and peace building efforts;
  • advancing the role of women and youth in the promotion of peace and security; and
  • supporting United Nations reform efforts to make peace operations more effective.

Peace support efforts by the Canadian Armed Forces will be complementary to broader government objectives and whole-of-government efforts to prevent conflict, stabilize fragile situations and combat threats. The Canadian Armed Forces will collaborate closely with other relevant departments and agencies on a more integrated approach to operational-level planning of peace support and stabilization missions. The Canadian Armed Forces will be prepared to make tangible, value-added contributions to United Nations peace operations in all four core elements. This could include the deployment of leadership and ground troops, as well as the provision of critical enabling capabilities. To improve the performance and professional standards of United Nations peace operations, the Canadian Armed Forces will enhance the ability of others to contribute to peace operations through training and capacity building efforts and will contribute to key positions both at United Nations Headquarters and within peace operations to help effect change. Canada will also continue supporting the prevention of child soldiers.

The Canadian Armed Forces will develop stronger relationships with other multilateral partners, such as the European Union, regional actors, such as the African Union, and like-minded states, like those of the Francophonie, to further enhance global capacity to promote peace and stability.

For Canada, addressing challenges to international stability through United Nations-led or United Nations-sanctioned structures presents a number of advantages: It facilitates burden-sharing; diffuses risk; reinforces the rules-based international order; and allows Canada and other countries to contribute based on their particular strengths and capabilities for collective benefit.

Child Soldiers

The employment of Child Soldiers is a heart-breaking but persistent feature of modern conflict around the world. Although their use is considered a war crime, it is not a new trend.

Canada supports the prevention of child soldiers. This approach is necessarily multi-faceted and requires close coordination across government, as well as working with organizations such as the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative to respond to the unique implications of dealing with Child Soldiers.

In addressing this serious issue, the Canadian Armed Forces will be guided by six principles:

  • Understanding the context for conducting military operations within Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, and determining and applying appropriate Rules of Engagement;
  • The legal requirement for reporting the six grave violations (UNSCR 1261 (1999)) in respect of Child Soldiers;
  • Determining the logistical implications and considerations of handling and treatment of Child Soldiers
  • Ensuring proper physical and psychological preparation of Canadian Armed Forces personnel for operations that may involve dealing with Child Soldiers;
  • Having an appropriate gender mix within the deployed force to facilitate the response to encountering Child Soldiers; and
  • Ensuring the provision of early and accurate public information about all encounters with Child Soldiers.

Women, Peace and Security

The United Nations Security Council adopted its first resolution on women, peace and security in October 2000. United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 and the seven subsequent resolutions seek to address the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women and the key role they can play in conflict management, conflict resolution, and sustainable peace. The women, peace, and security framework rests on four pillars, namely: prevention of conflict and of violence against women, active and meaningful participation of women in peace and security activities, protection of women’s and girls’ human rights including against sexual violence, and women’s involvement in, and access to, relief and recovery efforts. Women’s participation is vital to achieving and sustaining peace, and has a tangible impact on the operational effectiveness of our forces. Women broaden the range of skills and capacities among all categories of personnel, improve the delivery of peace and security tasks, enhance situational awareness and early warning by facilitating outreach to women in communities, and improve a military force’s accessibility, credibility and effectiveness in working among local populations. Lastly, when women are included, peace processes are more likely to be successful and peace agreements are more likely to endure.

Among our allies, the Canadian Armed Forces is regarded as a leader of military gender integration. The last occupation to be closed to women, that of submariner, was opened to both sexes in 2001 and women participate fully and meaningfully in all aspects of domestic and international missions. The Canadian Armed Forces has developed and implemented policies of equal opportunity and is making considerable effort to attract greater numbers of qualified women, and to identify and address potential barriers to members of Defence. Although challenges remain in this regard, the Canadian Armed Forces is undertaking ongoing efforts to address them. As an example, the Canadian Armed Forces Diversity Strategy applies to all military members and key institutional processes including programs, policies, directives, procedures and doctrines that direct and influence the Canadian Armed Forces and its operations.

The Canadian Armed Forces will continue to integrate gender perspectives into the analysis, planning, execution and evaluation of all operations. These efforts are built upon UNSCR 1325 and its subsequent Resolutions. Incorporating gender perspectives into the preparation, conduct, and evaluation of missions enables the Canadian Armed Forces to increase operational effectiveness and enhance understanding of the challenges faced by populations at risk in areas of armed conflict or natural disaster. Military members receive continuing education and training to raise awareness of the differential impact of conflict, natural disasters and humanitarian emergencies on women, men, girls and boys. The Canadian Armed Forces also promotes the role of women in international peace and security within organizations such as NATO. Military members are taught from basic training onwards to adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct in keeping with Canadian and international human rights.

Engage in capacity building to support the security of other nations and their ability to contribute to security abroad

Canada has a long history of providing expertise to help partner nations strengthen the professional capacity of their defence and security forces. The Canadian Armed Forces will leverage its world-class ability to train and assist foreign military forces and security partners to continue this tradition both in the field and here in Canada – at institutions such as the Peace Support Training Centre in Kingston, Ontario. Bolstering the capacity of others not only contributes to international stability, but also provides Canada with a valuable opportunity to exhibit leadership abroad and promote key Canadian values such as inclusion, accountable governance, gender equality and respect for diversity and human rights.

The scope of capacity building is determined on a mission-by-mission basis and can include training, advice, and assistance for partner forces including lethal and non-lethal aid. The Canadian Armed Forces will work with Global Affairs Canada to ensure capacity building efforts are always focused on trusted bilateral partners that have demonstrated a clear commitment to human rights and regional and global stability.

Provide assistance to civil authorities and law enforcement, including counter-terrorism, in support of national security and the security of Canadians abroad

The Canadian Armed Forces will be prepared to respond to requests from the government and to assist other government departments and law enforcement agencies in support of Canada’s national security and the security of Canadians abroad. In Canada, this could include a range of operations, including responding to terrorist threats, providing security support to a major event, or responding to a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive (CBRN-E) incident. The Canadian Armed Forces may also conduct such operations in an international context, such as engaging in counter-narcotics operations, counter-terrorism operations, and undertaking non-combatant evacuations. Fulfilling this core mission will be facilitated by an increase in the size and capabilities of Canadian Special Operations Forces.

Provide assistance to civil authorities and non-governmental partners in responding to international and domestic disasters or major emergencies

As natural disasters and weather-related emergencies grow in frequency and severity, they will bring with them an increasing need for Canadian Armed Forces support. At home, the Canadian Armed Forces stands ready to respond to requests from civil authorities in cases where their capacity to respond has been overwhelmed. Similarly, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief abroad remain a priority for the Government of Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces is ready to assist as required, supporting other government departments, international aid organizations, and local governments during international emergency response. The Canadian Armed Forces Disaster Assistance Response Team will be critical to this effort.

In addition to responding to natural disasters, the Canadian Armed Forces may be called upon to provide military support to civilian organizations in the wake of a major disruption to or attack on critical infrastructure, including a catastrophic cyber attack on vital networks

The Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART)

The DART is a diverse, multidisciplinary military organization designed to deploy on short notice anywhere in the world in response to situations ranging from natural disasters to complex humanitarian emergencies. The DART is one component of the Government of Canada’s toolkit for response to such crises abroad and deploys on advice from Global Affairs Canada in partnership with the Defence team.

The DART is equipped to conduct emergency relief operations for a limited period until national and international aid agencies are in a position to provide long-term help. The DART does not compete with these organizations; it complements their activities. The DART is not designed to provide first response services, such as search and rescue or emergency trauma care, but rather critical needs including: water purification, primary medical care and engineering help. DART personnel who belong to Canadian Armed Forces units across Canada, train together regularly and keep themselves ready to mobilize quickly. The DART also includes civilian advisors who provide critical civil-military liaison, policy and humanitarian advice.

The scalability and multidisciplinary nature of the DART is one of its greatest assets and will be maintained.

Conduct search and rescue (SAR) operations

The Canadian Armed Forces will conduct aeronautical search and rescue in support of people in distress within its area of responsibility, as well as help coordinate maritime search and rescue alongside the Canadian Coast Guard. Search and rescue is a shared responsibility across all levels of government and is delivered with the support of the private sector and thousands of volunteers – the Canadian Armed Forces plays a vital role within this broader team.

Additionally, the ongoing multi-year launch and operation of the Medium Earth Orbit Search and Rescue (MEOSAR) satellite capability, of which Canada is one of four key contributors, will greatly enhance the ability of the Canadian Armed Forces to locate people in distress. Defence will complete the acquisition of the new Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue Aircraft and also invest in its rotary wing Search and Rescue helicopters to ensure the reliability that Canadians depend upon in times of need.

Search and rescue by the numbers

Canada has one of the world’s largest areas of responsibility for search and rescue, covering 18 million square kilometres of land and water, more than 243,800 kilometres of coastline, three oceans, three million lakes, as well as the St. Lawrence River system.

Alongside the Canadian Coast Guard, the Canadian Armed Forces responds to more than 9,000 search and rescue calls annually, approximately 1,000 of which result in the launching of search and rescue air assets. Leveraging a multi-national search and rescue satellite constellation of which Canada is a founding member and one of four key contributors, successful search and rescue operations rely on highly skilled personnel trained to operate specialized equipment from locations strategically positioned around the country.

The Canadian Armed Forces devote approximately 950 personnel to deliver search and rescue services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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