Section 6: Competitive Advantage

The ability to realize the Strategic Vision is also predicated on the elements that give CANSOFCOM competitive advantage. Central to this are people – the Command’s most precious resource and its greatest strength. CANSOFCOM’S advantage also stems from the authorities, access and autonomy granted to it in relation to its five functional domains. This combination of structure, substance and talent allows the Command to work effectively as a dynamic, agile, versatile organization that delivers consistent operational excellence within an evolving security environment.


The nature of the Command’s work places significant demands on our people – Regular Force members, Reserve Force members and civilian employees – and their families. This makes it critical for those who work within CANSOFCOM to be the right fit. When identifying, recruiting, selecting, and leveraging those individuals, CANSOFCOM will focus on diversity of experience, perspective, skill set, and mindset, as well as on demonstrated maturity and good judgment. CANSOFCOM will also continue to place a premium on creating an inclusive environment in which creativity, initiative, and innovation thrive.

By taking a deliberate approach to attracting, selecting, and supporting talent, the Command will be able to draw from a diverse range of accomplished individuals from across the Canadian Armed Forces as well as Canada as a whole. Moreover, it will continue to invest heavily in those individuals, empowering them to help resolve complex security problems and training them to enable, support and/or conduct high-risk, high-value and often politically sensitive strategic missions.


CANSOFCOM’s unique structure – in which the Command is self-contained across the five military functional domains and units are grouped under one integrated command and control structure – allows for better alignment of military power with policy direction, under the appropriate oversight mechanisms and accountability frameworks. This ensures that forces are developed and unified coherently, cohesively and effectively. It also ensures rapid and continuous feedback, allowing the Command to preserve the power of initiative to identify and exploit opportunities. Moreover, by maintaining a clear, flat command structure that deliberately removes hierarchy – allowing the Commander to directly engage with all SOF elements without any additional layers – CANSOFCOM will continue to privilege shared understanding and agility.

CANSOFCOM will continue to integrate and harmonize its efforts to direct, support, and produce military capabilities, in collaboration with the other Service Commanders within the CAF. CANSOFCOM works closely with the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army, and the Royal Canadian Air Force, as well as joint enablers, to generate forces, while sharing the joint force employment space with the Canadian Joint Operations Command and North American Aerospace Defence Command.

The 3As

Direct access to decision makers is critical for effective employment of SOF operations. CANSOFCOM’s readiness requirements, domestic and expeditionary mandates, and certain compartmented programs necessitate routine and direct communication with the Chief of the Defence Staff and other senior departmental leaders. This access allows SOF to shape its role at the strategic level so as to ensure maximum return on investment for the Government of Canada.

Autonomy as a distinct entity within the CAF allows the Command to keep pace with the speed of change. CANSOFCOM is self-reliant while being able to integrate and interoperate with the CAF Environments as well as with other partners around the world with whom it has strong relationships through the Global SOF Network. In this context, autonomy means being empowered to make self-informed decisions without undue influence, in relation to its operational imperatives, while balancing the requirements of accountability, responsibility, and transparency.

Effective command, control, and stewardship of the institution, both corporately and operationally, rely upon having appropriate authorities. These are vital to CANSOF’s decision–action cycle and they are fundamental to CANSOFCOM’s ability to meet readiness requirements, to detect, deter, and respond quickly and effectively to threats, and to do so in discreet ways, with a small footprint.

Ultimately, CANSOFCOM’s unifying purpose is the pursuit of operational excellence in order to provide high-value strategic solutions to national defence and national security problems. This necessitates a commitment to good governance and strong institutional management in order to achieve military outcomes that are aligned with CAF policies. It also requires willingness and ability to evolve with changing times by challenging traditional assumptions about our identity, functions, and ways of doing business.

Figure 5

Long description follows

Figure 5: Long description

Three concentric circles, underpinned by floating circles, represent the elements upon which the Command derives its Competitive Advantage. The outer circle reflects Anticipate, Adapt, Act. The middle circle covers Force Employment, Force Development, Force Sustainment, Force Management and Force Generation. The inner circle is comprised of people. The foundational floating circles are Autonomy, Authorities and Access. 

CANSOF walks a path that is different from, yet complementary to, that of the conventional military forces. Employing small, highly empowered force elements, we rely on speed, precision, and the power of human relationships to deliver effects, rather than on mass military might. Through the conduct of independent missions and/or in support of missions led by other National Defence / National Security partners, we create distinct options for the Government of Canada in defence of the nation and of national interests.

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