Commander's Foreword

The Canadian Special Operations Forces Command 2015 Strategic Plan, Consolidating the Objective, focused on strengthening the institutional gains made by the Command over the previous nine years, and on establishing the strategic foundation for its future work. Building on the achievements of that Plan, Beyond the Horizon positions the Command for the next bound with the development of an updated vision for the Command’s role within an evolving security environment, designed to help counter and mitigate new and evolving threats to our nation.

Beyond the Horizon recognizes that the existing international rules-based system is increasingly challenged by new forms of major power competition and by the diffusion of power through new structures by new actors, creating a rise in global uncertainty. It further recognizes that formerly emerging threats have now emerged: cyberattacks, electronic warfare, and disinformation campaigns are capable of posing as great a risk to our national interests as are terrorist attacks and that, while counterterrorism efforts remain critical, they are not the sole area of focus moving forward.

In a rapidly changing and unpredictable world where the distinction between our traditional boundary lines – national security versus national defence; domestic versus international – are becoming blurred, we need to protect our ability to respond to adversaries who are increasingly skilled in their capacity to shift around the edges of our strengths and exploit the openness of our society. The nature of power contests is also changing: traditional “conflict” is becoming entangled with levels of “competition,” making clear identification and response to security threats more difficult, yet also more important than ever before. This means that CANSOFCOM must be continually positioned, both operationally and organizationally, as a meaningful strategic military option for the Government of Canada in both responding to and helping shape the complex global environment. In this context, CANSOFCOM’s core value proposition remains its ability to provide unique solutions of high strategic value.

For CANSOFCOM, success hinges on our ability to evolve our capabilities ahead of changes in the environment. We do so by proactively identifying and illuminating nefarious activity; constantly monitoring and adopting emerging technologies and processes; taking a unique approach to innovation and risk management; and enriching our existing relationships within the National Defence architecture, while deepening new relationships with other actors in the National Security realm – where threats and challenges to Canada’s national interests are increasingly falling – and beyond. Perhaps most importantly, we do so by focusing on the strength of our people and embracing diversity as an operational imperative. In our view, people are not part of CANSOFCOM, they are CANSOFCOM.

Moreover, in these times of high uncertainty, it is important to provide clarity on what CANSOFCOM “is not” in order to avoid the risks of over-reaching and over-use. CANSOFCOM is not a substitute for the conventional military forces (the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force) and the critical capabilities they have brought and will continue to bring to bear in defence of the nation. CANSOFCOM is also not independent of the rest of the Canadian Armed Forces; we rise or fall together.

Lastly, guiding us in all of our efforts is Canada’s Defence Policy, Strong, Secure, and Engaged (SSE). SSE sets out a deliberately bold and ambitious approach to defence, challenging us to anticipate, adapt and act in response to global shifts in the balance of power, to the changing nature of conflict and to the unprecedented speed of technological developments. CANSOFCOM will respond in kind.

Major-General Peter Dawe

Commander, Canadian Special Operation
Forces Command

January 2020

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