Defence Policy Challenges
MINDS Policy Challenges for the 2019-20 fiscal year follow below. They reflect policy challenges for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces (DND/CAF) and are the result of consultations with senior leadership across the Defence Team. These challenges represent key issues areas where DND/CAF could benefit from external expertise to challenge or complement their thinking.
When applying to the program, whether through Targeted Engagement Grants, Collaborative Networks, or Scholarships, applicants are asked to align their work with these priorities, focusing on the key questions. Additional questions have been added for applicant consideration. It is also recommended that applicants consider the future evolution of the issue area (i.e. forecasting), implications for DND/CAF, and Government of Canada (GoC) priorities, including Indigenous peoples, innovation, environment and climate change, diversity and inclusion, etc. For more information on GoC priorities, please visit Mandate Letter Tracker: Delivering results for Canadians.
Please note that the MINDS program is focused on policy thinking and the generation of knowledge related to challenges in the public policy sphere. Applicants interested in advancing critical solutions to defence and security challenges relating to applied capabilities and technology should consider applying to the Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program. Please visit the IDEaS page for more information.
MINDS Policy Challenges 2019 - 2020
Theme One: Well-Supported, Diverse, Resilient People and Families
Challenge 1: Creative recruitment and retention models
The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces (DND/CAF) require an agile and responsible approach to recruitment and retention that capitalizes on the unique skill-set of Canada’s diverse population. Canada’s diverse and multicultural population is one of its greatest strengths, and the CAF is committed to building a workforce that leverages the diversity of talent in Canadian society.
The operational success of the CAF begins with a robust recruiting system that engages and attracts the best and brightest, communicates the unique opportunities and benefits of military service, efficiently and effectively selects and enrolls new recruits, and incentivizes recent recruits to remain. This includes showcasing the unique career options available to all CAF members, and demonstrating the unparalleled professional and personal development opportunities. However, recruitment is only the first step. In order to retain our recruits, we must ensure a culture of respect and inclusion, and ensure that our military personnel receive competitive benefits and remuneration for their service. Taking concrete steps to attract and retain personnel will better position the CAF to maintain a skilled and cohesive force across a broad range of tasks.
Proposals should take into consideration current challenges to sustaining and growing force size, and achieving diversity and inclusion. Applicants are encouraged to think creatively about recruitment and retention strategies that will reflect and harness the diversity and talent of the Canadian populace. The CAF competes with the private sector for talent, therefore proposals should think about how to leverage the uniqueness of a military career and demonstrate how the military can offer opportunities on par with the standards of industry and private sector to all who serve.
Given that the CAF wants to be representative of Canadian society and an equal opportunity employer of choice, DND/CAF would like to explore strategies to develop a more responsive and inclusive military personnel system that supports both CAF members and their families, to enhance the profile of CAF employment opportunities, and to better reflect the diversity of talent in Canada to achieve and maintain an inclusive military with the aptitudes and skill-sets required to succeed. More broadly, the desired outcome is the development and demonstration of innovative approaches to the recruitment and retention of CAF personnel.
- How can DND/CAF make a military career attractive to all interested in serving? How can the CAF strengthen the appeal of a military career when competing for talent from the private and public sector?
- What are the barriers (systemic barriers, unconscious biases, etc.) to recruiting and retaining a diverse CAF within the existing recruitment and retention models, and how can these be eliminated?
- How can DND/CAF best integrate and manage a more diverse membership, including those with unique (i.e., intersectional) profiles?
Additional Guiding Questions
- How can the CAF best engage, recruit and retain women, members from minority groups and diverse communities, with the objective of building a CAF that is inclusive and reflective of the Canadian population?
- What are the intersecting identity factors that have an impact on the recruitment and retention of a diverse CAF and what creative solutions might be incorporated into existing models to address
- How can the CAF best connect with Indigenous communities, sometimes remotely located, and improve Indigenous representation? What actions can the CAF in particular take to address the specific barriers experienced by Indigenous people when it comes to joining and remaining in the CAF?
- How can a military force best communicate, both broadly and in a tailored fashion, with diverse, multi-generational and intersectional populations to effectively publicize the full range of opportunities offered by a military career, in the Regular and Reserve Force
- How will current approaches to attraction, recruitment, professional development, career management, and other personnel management processes have to evolve to ensure the needs of a more diverse military community are
- How will support to military families have to evolve to ensure the needs of a more diverse military community are met?
Challenge 2: Innovative approaches to force mix and structure
Canada’s defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged (SSE), highlights the commitment to an agile, highly trained, well-equipped, and capable military. To succeed across a broad mission set, DND/CAF must think about the force mix necessary to deliver, ensuring we have the right people across environments and occupations, with the necessary capabilities to be successful in an unpredictable security environment.
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. To that end, SSE commits to growing the CAF, investing in emerging domains, and recapitalizing the core capabilities of the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army, and Royal Canadian Air Force. There are also considerable investments in our people, with the creation of new occupations to respond to the evolving security environment. These investments will provide flexibility for the CAF to operate across the spectrum of conflict, enable interoperability with Canada’s allies, and maintain an operational advantage over the threats of today and tomorrow.
Proposals should give thought to the types of people, occupations, and capabilities necessary to meet the level of ambition described in SSE. Proposals should also consider Canada’s commitment to grow the Reserve Force, including the appropriate mix of Reserve Force versus Regular Force within the CAF. Consideration should be given to the challenge of maintaining a skilled force that is sufficiently equipped across a broad range of tasks while also meeting requirements in critical occupations facing shortages and the need for non-traditional skills/capabilities.
The goal of this challenge is to generate ideas on the future force mix and structure of the CAF in light of the evolving security environment, as well as the commitments and challenges outlined in SSE. The Defence Team is also interested in receiving innovative ideas about the infrastructure required to support this force.
- What is the appropriate force mix and structure for today and in the future?
- How do we maximize the output and impact of the Reserves?
- How can diversity targets support Force Posture and Readiness efforts?
Additional Guiding Questions
- How does the CAF organize and balance itself, with finite resources, to meet the increasingly complex demands resulting from policy and the current multi-domain security environment, which together require concurrent operations across an ever broader spectrum, often in closer coordination with domestic and international partners?
- How can the CAF adapt force generation, including training, to ensure that forces are ready for all types of missions, including those with a non-combat mandate such as capacity-building (e.g. OP UNIFIER, OP IMPACT) and deterrence (e.g. OP REASSURANCE), while preserving the efficiency of, and managing the pressure on, the force generation systems?
- How should the current Reserve model change to meet the expectations for CAF response in the future security environment?
Theme Two: A Changing Security Environment
Challenge 1: The Rise of Grey Zone / Hybrid Warfare
We are seeing a resurgence of strategic competition between states alongside significant and rapid technological advances and increased information flow. This is facilitating offensive activities in the information and cyber spaces. In this environment, there is a broader and “greyer” spectrum of tensions across which governments and their military forces must act and react, often with compressed decision times.
State and non-state actors are increasingly pursuing their agendas using hybrid methods in the “grey zone” that exists just below the threshold of armed conflict. These practices, including “weaponized” information operations often rely on the spread of disinformation to sow confusion and discord in the international community, creating ambiguity and maintaining deniability. States are able to influence events in their favour while also causing harm to their adversaries without triggering outright conflict. This presents unique challenges for Canada, particularly in terms of deterrence, detection, attribution and response. Response considerations include finding appropriate methods of response between the risk of escalation and the failure to deter future malicious activity.
Hybrid warfare challenges our ability to identify, attribute, and categorize adversarial actions, thus making it increasingly difficult to distinguish between actions that can give rise to use of force and those that cannot. The ability to understand and leverage our potential scope of response, within a short response time, is more important than ever. Hybrid tactics also introduce questions regarding information operation capabilities, both defensive and offensive
 Note: Hybrid Warfare is a military strategy that employs political warfare and blends conventional warfare, irregular warfare and cyber warfare with other influencing methods. Hybrid warfare can be a tactical subset of grey-zone conflict deployed under certain conditions and in varying degrees.
Proposals should consider how the use of hybrid warfare tactics challenge the understanding and application of NATO’s Article 5 for Canada and its Allies. Proposals should also take into consideration how “influence operations” (i.e. misinformation circulated among communities by state and/or non-state actors) can challenge CAF personnel in theatre, and how Canada can be proactive – through deterrence and counter-influence operations – in its response to these operations. Proposals should give thought to how allies, partners and other multilateral institutions with more experience in this domain respond to hybrid tactics, paying particular attention to deterrence.
The goal of this challenge is to generate ideas on the implications of hybrid warfare in the context of future policy development, as well as DND/CAF and other government departments’ role in predicting, preventing and responding to non-conventional warfare tactics. DND/CAF would also be interested in receiving ideas on the acceptable scope of response to hybrid warfare tactics, in alignment with Canadian values. In light of the increased use of hybrid tactics by state and non-state actors, the Defence Team is interested in the best practices of allies – particularly related to deterrence, legal and regulatory frameworks, and governance.
- What does the rise of hybrid warfare mean for policies/capabilities at the strategic, operational and tactical level?
- What is the role for DND/CAF and other government departments? Who should have the authorities and what is the governance structure?
- How do allies and adversaries define and approach hybrid warfare?
- How are non-state actors and adversaries using non-traditional actors (e.g. gender or minority populations and child soldiers)?
Additional Guiding Questions
- How do nations integrate, achieve coherence, and employ whole-of-government effects, including the full spectrum of national power, in “hybrid” scenarios? What is the role of a military force?
- How is deterrence best achieved in a hybrid scenario without risking undesirable escalation? For example, how can Canadian units such as battle groups as part of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence in the Baltics respond to non-kinetic adversarial activities in a way that achieves their deterrence mandate and operational success while avoiding undue escalation?
- Are there any best practices from partners that would be useful in helping the CAF think about new approaches to deterrence?
- How do we prepare military and civilian members to respond to the challenges posed by hybrid warfare? To what extent should the civilian population be engaged and informed, against actors and activities of this nature?
- What is the role / purpose of information warfare branches within other allied/coalition forces (e.g. the United Kingdom and the United States), and should a similar branch exist in the CAF? Is there a NATO model?
Challenge 2: The Evolving Role of Major Powers
Canada has a strong interest in supporting the international system it helped build, including by fostering new partnerships, engaging with emerging powers and promoting peace around the globe. However, there is evidence to suggest the balance-of-power is shifting, and the roles of major powers are evolving as they engage in behaviours that threaten the international order and challenge the rules-based system.
Trends in global economic development are shifting the relative power of states, from the West to the East, and – to a lesser extent – from the North to the South. Great power competition has returned to the international system. China is a rising economic power and Russia has proven its willingness to test the international security environment. We are moving away from a unipolar world to a multipolar world – the impact of which is a challenge to the Western designed security system. This creates more space for state and non-state actors to exercise influence. We are seeing the effects of this power competition in the South China Sea, Crimea, North Korea, and Iran.
In light of the return of major power rivalry, proposals should take into consideration how Canada can develop stronger relationships with current allies and partners, and build new relationships with emerging powers, while contributing to ongoing and future deterrence efforts. Proposals are also encouraged to consider how the international security environment is being changed by the actions of leading and lesser powers that no longer accept the Western rules-based order. Applicants may further explore the extent of change and its impact on the strategic interests of Canada and its key allies.
The goal of this challenge is to improve the Defence Team’s understanding of the strategic objectives of countries such as Russia and China, and how they might affect Canada. DND/CAF would also like to better understand the responses of allied and partner nations to the challenges posed by the evolving role of major powers.
- What are the strategic objectives of Russia and China? How do they align and diverge?
- How are allies, partners and other actors responding to Russia and China?
Additional Guiding Questions
- The re-emergence of major power competition has reminded Canada and its allies of the importance of deterrence. What does deterrence look like in relation to new and evolving powers?
- What does Canada’s position in the international order look like given the “new power” rivalry?
- What are Canada’s objectives relative to other partner nations and allies (e.g. Five Eyes, NATO, US, etc.)? Are the current construct of alliances (e.g. NATO) still relevant?
Theme Three: Global Defence Engagement
Challenge 1: NORAD Modernization and the Future of North American Defence: Identifying Threats and Gaps
The Canada-US defence partnership is most tangibly demonstrated by the combined defence of the continent through the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD). Since its establishment in 1958, the threats facing North America have evolved significantly and weapons technology has advanced tremendously. NORAD’s strength is its ability to evolve and meet the challenges posed by the changing defence and security environment. Canada is committed to working closely with the US in the defence of North America, including through the modernization of NORAD.
The binational NORAD has served as the first line of continental defence against an air attack for over 60 years. Through strong cooperation between Canada and the US, NORAD has demonstrated its effectiveness in deterring, detecting and defending North America’s approaches. Today’s security environment, however, is more complex than ever, characterized by trans-regional, multi-domain, and multi-functional threats.
Strong, Secure, Engaged highlights the ongoing importance of NORAD, committing the Defence Team to work with the US to ensure that the binational agreement is modernized to meet existing challenges and evolving threats to North America, taking into account the full range of threats.
Proposals should look broadly at emerging threats to North America, across all domains, in the context of continental defence and the CAN-US defence relationship. Proposals should consider Canada’s current contributions to continental defence, including existing policies, and whether they support or facilitate NORAD modernization and the evolution of North American defence.
The goal of this challenge is to receive in-depth analysis of the current and future state of continental defence, including consideration of current and future gaps that may exist in the defence of North America.
- What are the emerging threats against North America and the associated gaps in continental defence? How can Canada best contribute, cooperate and coordinate within NORAD to address them?
- What capabilities and infrastructure fill these gaps? What is the best use of Canadian resources and assets to fill identified gaps?
- How should/could NORAD evolve given the evolution of both the security environment and technology, including impacts to the space, air and maritime domains?
- What policies within the Government of Canada must be reformed in order to modernize NORAD?
- How can we better understand US defence priorities, both within the NORAD context and around the world, and identify new opportunities to cooperate?
- What should be considered critical infrastructure in the context of continental defence?
- What critical technology proliferation poses the most significant risks to the defence of North America?
- Should NORAD be concerned with domains currently outside its mandate, including land and cyber?
- Are there innovative strategies that could be used and invested in to partner with business, indigenous groups, and special interest groups to offset capital costs while providing capabilities for defence use (e.g. food, power, etc.)?
- How should defence work with other security departments for a Whole-of-Government approach to the defence of North America?
Challenge 2: Canada’s Defence Relationships
Canada is committed to being a responsible international player that upholds universal values, contributes to peace building, and works together with allies and partners to address security challenges and help enhance overall capacity and resiliency. However, there are countries testing the international security environment and challenging the rules-based order. Strong partnerships are critical to the effective execution of the defence mandate.
Cooperative defence relationships support the advancement and promotion of broader government priorities – particularly national security, trade, international assistance, and foreign policy objectives. As a trading nation and influential member of the G7, G20, NATO and the United Nations, Canada benefits from global stability underpinned by a rules-based international order. Defence partnerships are critical to Canada’s capacity to address challenges to international instability, which helps to reinforce the rules-based international order.
Recent years have witnessed several challenges to the international rules-based order, which calls for allies and other like-minded states to re-examine how to deter and respond to a wide spectrum of challenges to the international order. These challenges raise questions for Canada regarding the future of its defence relationships.
The Defence Team is committed to maintaining a network of defence partnerships that is flexible and adaptable. Proposals should consider the shifting balance-of-power and the evolving roles of major powers when thinking about what opportunities exist for developing new partnerships and strengthening existing ones. The willingness of potential or existing partners to work with Canada should also be considered.
The goal of this challenge is for the Defence Team to understand the broader effects of the return of major power competition to the international system, and more specifically, what this means for Canadian defence relationships and partnerships. The Defence Team is also interested in an assessment of the opportunities and challenges that exist for new or greater cooperation on defence and security issues.
- How does the breakdown of the international rules-based order affect defence relations?
- What is the future of NATO in an era of great power competition?
- What are the opportunities and challenges to defence and security cooperation?
- How can Canada’s defence relationships be expanded to include the voice and agency of women (i.e. Women, Peace and Security)?
Additional Guiding Questions
- What is the impact of great power competition on allied/coalition support for international commitments, as well as Five Eyes, the UN, and Canada’s other bilateral and multilateral defence relationships?
Theme Four: Approach to Defence: Anticipate
Challenge 1: Anticipating Future Challenges
Strong, Secure, Engaged (SSE) values the ability to anticipate new challenges in order to better prepare for, and respond to, threats to Canadian defence and security.
Anticipating emerging threats and challenges, and better understanding the defence and security environment, is essential to Canada’s security. Through the initiatives outlined in SSE, the Defence Team will improve its ability to provide timely information to decision-makers, allowing the Government to identify and understand emerging issues, events and crises in the global security environment, and to respond appropriately and effectively.
As DND/CAF undertake prudent planning in order to remain strong at home, secure in North America, and engaged in the world, they must consider not only threats and future flashpoints, but the sustained investments required in funding people and capabilities.
Proposals should focus on defence and security issues and threats facing DND/CAF from a forecasting perspective. The response should build on the analysis of the global security environment outlined in SSE and take into consideration the level of ambition presented in the policy’s discussion of concurrency and spectrum of operations, as well as its investment plan. Proposals are also challenged to consider changes around organizational and systems design.
In light of the rapidly evolving security environment, DND/CAF would like to better understand the changes that have occurred since the publication of SSE, as well as what to anticipate in the short-, medium- and long-term. Relevant and achievable recommendations should be supported by a thorough analysis that considers SSE.
- How will the following domains evolve over the next 10, 20, 50 years?
o Security Environment
o Defence Investment and Burden Sharing
o Geopolitical issues, alliances and partnerships
o Technology / Information
- Are current capabilities broad and adaptable enough to meet an evolving security domain? If not, what force structure is the most applicable to meet any future challenge in a joint or combined environment?
Additional Guiding Questions
- How do we prepare military and civilian members to respond to challenges posed by threats and challenges along the 10, 20, 50 year horizon?
- How is the future of conflict gendered, and what are the impacts on DND/CAF capability needs?
Theme Five: Approach to Defence: Adapt
Challenge 1: Cyber and Space as Key Enablers
We are in the age of digital transformation, including the rapid pace of technological development and the increasing growth and implementation of the Internet of Things. While this transformation is a key driver of many of the most exciting opportunities in the world, it also indicates the emergence and proliferation of vulnerabilities. Numerous technological advances have the potential to change the fundamental nature of military operations. This is especially true of space and cyber capabilities, which are being used by allies and adversaries alike. DND/CAF must adapt to improve the use space and cyber capabilities to ensure that new challenges in these domains do not threaten Canadian defence and security objectives and strategic interests.
Space and cyber are two capabilities that have become particularly crucial to modern military operations. Today, modern militaries rely on networks and data to plan and carry out missions. Space-enabled systems, such as Global Positioning Systems and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance satellites, enable Western forces their technological and tactical advantage by providing accurate navigation and increased ability to monitor and control areas of interest. While modern information technology brings significant operational benefits, it also introduces critical vulnerabilities through factors such as increased connectivity, legacy hardware and software, and human components. Potential adversaries are rapidly developing cyber means to exploit vulnerabilities, and some states are developing anti-satellite weapons. The emerging nature of these capabilities presents unique challenges as domestic and international legal frameworks continue to evolve.
Proposals are asked to consider the space and cyber domains as key force enablers, exploring positive disruptive opportunities for military and security application. Proposals may also wish to consider – in the context of Canada’s commitment to modernizing space capabilities and assuming a more assertive posture in cyberspace – the experiences of other modern militaries, paying particular attention to how they are adopting and incorporating space and cyber capabilities in operations.
DND/CAF has identified cyber and space as domains for advanced research and development. This challenge seeks a thorough analysis of how the space and cyber domains can be leveraged to support military operations, while considering the potential legal and ethical challenges of developing and testing these capabilities.
- How can DND/CAF maximize these domains?
- How can DND/CAF maintain effective command and control as new domains are integrated?
- How do you take action to develop and test these capabilities while discussing legal/ethical considerations?
- How will adversaries use and/or exploit these domains?
Additional Guiding Questions
- How can we assess other areas of vulnerability in the cyber and space domains? What might future vulnerabilities for DND/CAF look like in these domains?
- How should DND/CAF approach the increasing blending of domains (i.e. air, land, maritime, space, cyber, and human), given digital advancements?
- How do we prepare military and civilian members to respond to threats, challenges, and opportunities associated with advancements in the space and cyber domains?
- How do we respond to developments of other countries that are crossing domains with single digital and AI enhanced systems?
- What joint enablers – cross-cutting capabilities that can be used across sea, land and air – are required in the information environment?
Challenge 2: The Role of Artificial Intelligence
While much media attention has been given to the rise of autonomous weapons and the potential for “killer robots,” artificial intelligence (AI) can have many applications, including improving business processes, assisting decision-making and predicting problems in equipment. SSE discusses the rapid pace of technological development, but a deeper and more wide-ranging examination of the use of AI is required.
AI refers to the ability of machines to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence – for example, recognizing patterns, learning from experience, drawing conclusions, making predictions, or taking action – whether digitally or as the smart software behind autonomous physical systems. AI, machine learning and analytics are rapidly changing the face of business and industry, and it has the potential to significantly change the way nations address defence and security, as well as the face of the battlefield. AI has the potential to change all of defence, including business practices, training, healthcare, recruitment, combat, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. AI and machine learning have biases and potential exploitable vulnerabilities, including those related to gender, age, and ethnicity, that are a threat to how AI is developed and used.
Other nations are making significant investments in AI for military purposes. These investments threaten to erode the west’s technological and operational advantages and destabilize the international order.
The Government of Canada has recognized the importance of investment in AI as part of its focus on innovation, not just in the private sector, but the public sector as well. Proposals should consider the ongoing and existing Canadian work on AI internal and external to the government of Canada, as well as the efforts of other nations, in determining how DND/CAF should evolve in this domain.
The outcome for this challenge is an analysis of the current uses of advanced machine learning software and how these applications may be leveraged in the military context, while considering the potential technical, ethical and societal challenges of their use. Responses to this challenge should clearly articulate the steps required to meet the proposed end state.
- How do we better understand the military and security context/nexus of developments and uses of AI?
- How can the CAF be better positioned to leverage continuous developments and uses of AI?
- What legal/ethical considerations should the CAF be aware of during the development, testing, and use of AI applications? How do you reduce the potential for imbedding biases as a result of machine learning?
- How will adversaries use AI to challenge the DND/CAF?
Additional Guiding Questions
- Where will AI, once developed, have the most immediate impact on military capabilities? Is there value in pursuing data analytics and machine learning to reinforce advantages against adversaries?
- How can we ensure gender, racial, and other social biases in AI, machine learning, and cyber systems are not inside our defence architecture and affecting operational capability?
- What is needed to develop AI that accurately reflects and protects the diversity of human bodies, identities, and experiences in the military context?
- How does Canada define AI?
- Are there policy barriers in the near and long term that will prevent effective use and development of AI technology?
- What is the role of cultural perspectives on AI, Robotics, and autonomy and how do these impact multilateral negotiations and efforts to regulate “appropriate use?”
Challenge 3: Emerging Technology and Military Application
Strong, Secure, Engaged identifies the rapid evolution of technology as a key factor of the changing security environment: one that presents opportunities and vulnerabilities. Numerous technological advances have the potential to change the fundamental nature of military operations. The rapid pace of technological change, both inside and outside the military domain, requires DND/CAF to adapt: not just in terms of operations and capabilities, but with respect to governance as well.
Although Canada and its allies have maintained a long-standing qualitative advantage in military power, global economic growth and the fast pace of technological developments are allowing potential adversaries to swiftly close the gap. Unlike previous technological shifts in conflict, new and emerging technologies are rarely developed exclusively for military application. “Dual-use” technologies often have wide-spread use in the civilian sector such that innovations in military technology are taking place in the private sector, outside of the sovereign control of any one country. This has led to foreign actors to use economic-based tools to acquire sensitive technologies, intellectual property or expertise from Western countries for their own military development.
While linked to the challenges related to space and cyber, proposals for this challenge should consider technological development in the private sector, as well as academia and research, with a focus on dual-use technologies. Proposals may also wish to consider the experience of other like-minded countries in countering economic-based threats and the development of appropriate measures to mitigate the risk of sensitive dual-use technology being acquired by potential adversaries.
The goal of this challenge is for the Defence Team to better understand the Canadian technological landscape, including which emerging developments are likely to have future military value, as well as to identify opportunities to work with these sectors in an effort to limit the exploitation by potential adversaries.
- How can DND/CAF identify the military/security value of emerging technologies?
- What are these technologies?
- How can DND/CAF work with these sectors to raise awareness and mitigate risk?
- How should the role of these sectors evolve given the high likelihood of dual-use applications for emerging technologies?
- What are relevant or notable examples where military or dual-use technology was acquired from the private sector by a foreign state, and what lessons can be learned from these cases?
Additional Guiding Questions
- How can the Government of Canada’s, and the CAF’s, approach to developing, adopting and employing technology be agile and rapid enough to match the integrated civilian-military models adopted by authoritarian adversaries? How can we best balance the restrictions inherent to our democratic principles and operational requirements to retain our/the West’s competitive edge?
- Are there any outstanding legal or ethical questions that could be exacerbated by military application?
- How do we prepare military and civilian members to respond to dual-use technologies with military applications?
- What is the acceptable risk level of trying to maintain pace with evolving technology?
- What diversity considerations are important to consider when developing, adopting, and employing emerging technology?
Challenge 4: Defence Role in the Arctic
The Arctic is emerging as a site of growing competition. Climate change and technological advancements have resulted in an increasingly accessible Arctic. New actors are pursuing economic and military activities, some of which may pose a threat to Canadian security and sovereignty. Strong, Secure, Engaged recognizes that working cooperatively with allies and partners, including ongoing collaboration with Arctic states, will be essential for succeeding in a complex security environment.
The Arctic region represents an important international crossroads where issues of climate change and the environment, international trade, and global security meet. A decade ago, few states or firms had the ability to operate in the Arctic. Today, state and commercial actors from around the world seek to share in the longer term benefits of an accessible Arctic, pursuing economic and military interests in the region. However, some of the increased activity in the Arctic has the potential to threaten Canada’s sovereign interests, including activities outside of the traditional military realm such as increased growing foreign investment, tourism and scientific research.
Proposals should consider the interests of Indigenous communities living in the Arctic, including the question of how military and non-military activities in the region can contribute to an improved standard of living for these communities. Proposals may also wish to look at the linkages between poles (Arctic/North Pole and Antarctica/South Pole) and polar capabilities, as well as whether there are any areas of cooperation between allies or partners with interests and activities in Antarctica.
The goal of this challenge is for the Defence Team to better understand how Canada can work with both Arctic and non-Arctic partners to identify and address risks in the Arctic, including those in the non-military realm.
- Beyond the military domain, what threats exist in the Arctic? What are the foreign economic and military interests in Canada’s North?
- DND/CAF works closely with partners (e.g. government, other Canadian partners, other Arctic countries, NATO, non-Arctic partners) in the Arctic. How can these relationships be more effective at delivering benefits and services?
Additional Guiding Questions
- Through SSE, Canada has committed to acquiring various technologies to increase its reach and mobility in the Arctic. Given the changing nature of the threats in the region, including those non-military in nature, are we investing in the right capabilities? Are there other capabilities that would support Canada’s objectives in the Arctic?
- Are our policies and strategies compatible with other Arctic partners? How does Canada work with allies and partners who may have a different interpretation of the level of risk associated with activities in the non-military realm?
- What is the realistic scope of responsibility the Defence Team can assume in the Arctic, particularly given existing resources? What additional resources might be required to meet current and future expectations?
- How could climate change alter future defence requirements in the North?
- What other infrastructure does Canada need in the Arctic? How can CAF and other government departments leverage each other’s capabilities to achieve a holistic presence and situational awareness in the North?
Challenge 5: Defence Procurement
The CAF must be prepared to conduct the full spectrum of military operations, and ensuring the CAF has the capabilities to do this requires DND to make ongoing investments in the acquisition of new technologies, as well as maintaining current operational capabilities. The Government of Canada recognizes the challenges associated with military procurement and is committed to streamlining the process to deliver new capabilities when they are needed.
The procurement process is complex and involves many actors. Not only is federal government procurement subject to legislative obligations under Canada’s trade agreements, defence procurement in Canada involves several federal government departments and agencies. The need for trade-offs between costs, capability, schedule and benefits for Canadians/Canadian industry results in inherent tension and competing objectives among implicated players. Further, cumbersome decision-making and approval processes have introduced unnecessary delays, and capability requirements have not always been clearly communicated to industry and Canadians.
Given that many of the military capabilities the CAF operate are also used by our allies, maintaining interoperability is an essential consideration. As military technology is evolving rapidly, the CAF must continually evolve to maintain an operational advantage and protect against emerging threats. As a result, proposals should take into consideration the need for a flexible and agile defence procurement process in order to support such rapid progress, while maintaining an accountable process that will ensure value and relevance for Canada.
The goal of this challenge is for the Defence Team to receive innovative ideas and possible procurement models to streamline the defence procurement process, ensuring the CAF has the capabilities necessary to act decisively and deliver results across the full spectrum of operations.
- How can DND/CAF improve defence procurement?
- What does the model look like?
- What policy changes, if any, are required to implement a new model?
Additional Guiding Questions
- What are the advantages/disadvantages of capability-based planning versus threat-based planning? Is there a hybrid option?
- How can trials/testing by Original Equipment Manufacturers or other countries, as well as proven technologies, be utilized by Canada to expedite procurement?
- Is there a more effective model to manage capabilities that evolve quickly or require updating/replacement on an accelerated schedule? What does this model look like?
- Given that much of defence procurement is reliant upon the processes of other government departments (OGDs), are there best practices or models that could better enable aspects of defence procurement for which OGDs are responsible?
- What is needed to foster greater supplier diversity in defence procurement?
Theme Six: Approach to Defence: Act
Challenge 1: The Future of Capacity Building
Strong, Secure, Engaged defines one of the CAF’s core missions as, “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 and assistance to partner countries and it will continue to do so moving forward.
Canada’s military has participated in capacity building for many years, providing expertise to help strengthen the professional capacity of partner defence and security forces. The scope of capacity building is determined on a mission-by-mission basis and can include training (including military training), advice and assistance for partner forces, including lethal and non-lethal aid.
DND/CAF offers training in Canada and abroad. Training includes: language training to facilitate communication and interoperability; professional development and staff courses; peace support operations training; and, expert team and delegation visits to enhance defence capabilities in specific areas.
The global system has evolved, and with it, partners and other countries and their militaries have matured. They no longer require just the “basics” when it comes to training. To that end, proposals should consider if the growing complexity of the security environment, the changing nature of conflict, and the nature of peace operations, require Canada to reconsider how it engages in capacity building.
The Canadian Armed Forces are a professional force that has been highly capable of providing effective military training and assistance to foreign military and security forces. As the security environment has evolved, so too has the training and capacity building assistance provided. The goal of this challenge is to consider the evolution of this important CAF mission, while also considering the ongoing requirement for interoperability.
- How should capacity building evolve?
- What are the implications of hybrid warfare on capacity building?
Additional Guiding Questions
- With respect to capacity building, what partner nations should Canada consider engaging with?
- Should Canada offer capacity building opportunities to partner nations that are not actively seeking them?
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