March 2020 - Defence Policy − Strong, Secure, Engaged

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  • Canada’s defence policy − Strong, Secure, Engaged − is focused on meeting the needs of military members and their families, including making significant investments to ensure Canada’s defence challenges are met, now and in the future.
  • Strong, Secure, Engaged maintains the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) as an agile, multi-purpose, combat-ready force to ensure that Canada is strong domestically, an active partner within North America, and engaged internationally.
  • The policy also includes a new approach to defence – Anticipate, Adapt, Act – which acknowledges the need to better understand conflict, and ensures that Canada’s military is modern, relevant, and can act decisively in the face of evolving challenges.


  • Canada’s defence policy − Strong, Secure, Engaged − outlines Canadian defence priorities over a twenty-year horizon, including increasing the size of the CAF, affirming Canada’s commitment to its alliances and partnerships, and investing to ensure CAF members have the tools they need to succeed in – and return home safely from – operations.
  • The roles and missions for the military, as well as the corresponding levels of funding and resources, are founded in the defence policy’s review of the global security environment. This review confirmed three trends:
    • The evolving balance of power is characterized by a return to major power rivalry in the international scene and challenges to the rules-based international order;
    • The nature of conflict and its drivers are becoming increasingly complex. For example, the increasing use of hybrid tactics (e.g. the coordinated use of diplomatic, cyber, military and economic tools to achieve strategic goals) by state and non-state actors alike, such as terrorist organizations, is blurring the lines between conflict and peace; and,
    • Technology continues to evolve rapidly, requiring Canada to keep pace to continue to cooperate seamlessly with allies and maintain an edge over adversaries.


  • Ongoing areas of defence policy implementation include:
    • Reinvesting in people and their families: the CAF will increase its personnel by 3,500 Regular Force (to 71,500 total) and 1,500 Reserve Force members (to a total of 30,000) as well as 1,150 defence civilians. Key personnel initiatives include: 200 new Medical Services Branch personnel; the Suicide Prevention Strategy; and new funding to enhance support for military families. A focus on increasing diversity and gender balance are common throughout new initiatives to better care for and support people.

      Status Update: An estimated 281 of the 1,150 defence civilian positions have already been approved. This will particularly grow personnel numbers in areas of focus, such as cyber, intelligence, and the CAF Transition Group.

    • Rebuilding core military capability: the policy commits to maintaining a full spectrum, combat ready force, which includes the recapitalization of core fleets of the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force. Of particular note, the Navy will be provided with the necessary funds for the full complement of 15 Canadian Surface Combatants and the Air Force will acquire 88 new fighter jets.

      Status Update: 333 capital projects are underway to support this objective. Over the past two years, 86 projects have successfully concluded, 142 are in the implementation stage, and 105 are in the early stages of development. In particular, major fleet renewal projects are proceeding apace. For example, in July 2019 the Department released the Request for Proposal for the Future Fighter Capability Project. Suppliers will have until early 2020 to submit proposals.

    • Investing in new capabilities: the CAF must be adaptable, modern and relevant to succeed in the future security environment. To this end, Strong, Secure, Engaged invests in a number of new capability areas, including space (e.g., global satellite communications coverage), cyber (e.g., growing the cyber force and developing offensive cyber capabilities for use in government authorized missions), and Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS).

      Status Update: The department is moving forward on delivering new capabilities to ensure that the CAF can act decisively in today’s rapidly evolving security environment. For example, the competition to acquire an RPAS capability progressed with the release of an Invitation to Qualify in May 2019.

    • Focusing on transparency: The ongoing need for transparency was at the core of the defence policy development process and remains a critical aspect of how the department showcases its implementation efforts.

      Status Update: The first-ever public Investment Plan was released in 2018, followed by the first Annual Update in 2019. These documents provide more insight into spending priorities so that the public better understands how DND uses public funds and industry can position itself to better support requirements.

    • Advancing innovation: Strong, Secure, Engaged invests in the development of innovative technology and knowledge, in order to enhance Canada’s ability to mitigate new threats, stay ahead of potential adversaries, and meet evolving defence and security needs.

      Status Update: The Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) and the Mobilizing Insights in Defence and Security (MINDS) programs have been launched. IDEaS has been supporting the development of innovative solutions to security challenges faced by DND/CAF. MINDS is facilitating collaboration between DND/CAF and defence experts to address policy challenges (e.g. how new technology, like cyber, challenges Canada’s security and how Canada can address those threats).

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