Category Archives: Arctic

Enough Already with the Canadian “Arctic Sovereignty” Hoo-Hah, Underpants Section

(Photo at top of the post is of Russian nuclear icebreaker “Yamal”.)

Further to this post,

NORAD, or, Enough Already with the Canadian “Arctic Sovereignty” Hoo-Hah

…In fact the major defence concern in the Arctic is that its airspace offers an avenue of approach to attack the rest of North America. Nothing to do with any threats to our sovereignty up there. And airspace over Labrador also offers an avenue of approach to attack the rest of North America . But nobody is wringing their hands over protecting Canada’s “Labrador sovereignty”. Go figure. One might almost think Canadians were neurotic about the Arctic…

now, via the estimable Andrea Charron, by Prof. Adam Lajeunesse (website here, tweets here) with the title of the year so far:

JUNE 18, 2022 [at the “Quick Impact” webpage of the North American and Arctic Defence and Security Network (NAADSN/RDSNAA, tweets here)]

The Underpants Gnomes of Arctic Sovereignty

Adam Lajeunesse
St. Francis Xavier University

This week the National Post published a sweeping editorial on Canadian Arctic sovereignty. Warning of the growing threats from great power competitors and the fragile state of our northern defences, the Post ’s editorial board painted a grim picture of Canada’s ability to keep the North both strong and free. Russia is building a powerful icebreaker fleet and renovating its Arctic bases; China, meanwhile, has labelled itself a ‘Near-Arctic State.’ From this, the Post extrapolates considerable danger. It is superficially threatening to be sure.

This may instill fits of polar peril in some, but to this scholar it brings to mind tiny cartoon characters: the Underpants Gnomes, from that irreverent cartoon South Park. Notorious thieves who steal underpants in the night, these creatures were asked why they do it. Step one is stealing underpants they declare. Step three: profit! When pressed to elaborate on step two, they draw a blank.

The National Post has offered us Underpants Gnome logic. Step one, they declare is an expanding Russian icebreaker fleet or growing Chinese Arctic interests; step three is a loss of Canadian sovereignty. Step one is more Canadian military capacity; step three is more sovereignty. Like their gnomish counterparts, there is a gaping hole in the argument. I would challenge the Post to fill in the blanks and answer the obvious question: what is step two?

The notion that growing Russian power in the Arctic naturally threatens to strip Canada of its “status as a northern power” or may lead to us “ceding great swaths of territory to hostile and autocratic regimes” is a big prediction not even remotely explained. Precisely which territories will Russia conquer? How and why would Russia invade a NATO power to steal Arctic territory thousands of kilometres from its own coast? The Post is correct that Russia has a growing icebreaker fleet, but how is this a threat to Canada? These ships are slow and unarmed. They are not designed nor suited for any offensive operations. If Russia would like to use them to deploy soldiers to Ellesmere Island, I suspect that Canada would be inconvenienced by – as former chief of the defence staff General WalterNatynczyk once quipped – having to go and rescue them [I fear that these days the federal government would in fact be very hard pressed doing that].

Russia has also expanded its military bases across northern Siberia. “In the past 16 years, Russia has refurbished 13 Soviet-era Arctic bases and numerous other smaller ports” warns the National Post.

Again, this is taken as a threat without question. Why? Across these bases, Russia has deployed an array of ant-shipping and air-defence missile like the high-end S-400 and Bastion systems. None of these can reach Canada and, even if they could, how does that invalidate Canadian sovereignty? NATO has weapons that can reach Russia, and yet Russia retains its sovereignty. Russia’s militarization of the Arctic is not a threat; it is evidence of Moscow’s own insecurity in the region. And, if the Russian military chooses to send critical weapons systems to Siberia, NATO should applaud that. Better there then in Kaliningrad or Ukraine [in any event the main Arctic military/naval action relates to Russia’s northwestern High North in Europe–see first post noted at bottom of this one].

China is, likewise, held up as a threat to Canadian sovereignty. That country certainly has shown a greater interest in the North over the past ten years and has been expanding its capabilities. Despite this, declaring China a threat requires elaborating on connections that the Post leaves implied. In recent years Chinese companies have been steadily losing favour across the circumpolar North. Confucius Institutes are closing, strategic investment reviews are being strengthened, and China’s soft power has been crumbling in the face of its human rights violations and “wolf warrior” diplomacy. Missing from the Post’s logic is that crucial step which explains where exactly that threat is going to come from.

The Post also laments that Canada has failed to “beef up its Arctic naval fleet in order to project power in the North.” We must buttress Arctic combat capability, says the editorial board, so that the Canadian Armed Forces have the “resources it needs to defend our sovereignty in the Far North.” Step one combat power, step three sovereignty.

The question of sovereignty in the Canadian Arctic relates to the legal status of the Northwest Passage and differing interpretations of international law; Canada calls the waters of the Arctic Archipelago internal while the US [along with quite a few other countries] believes that an international strait runs through the region. Canada’s diplomats and military leaders have known for generations that no amount of combat power will fundamentally shift that legal dispute. The notion that more defence capability magically translates into sovereignty cries out for elaboration.

Russia and China are obvious international security threats to Canada and its allies. Both authoritarian states pose an existential risk to the rules based international order and to Canadians’ safety and way of life. Meeting those threats, however, requires a nuanced understanding of where those risks are most acute, not an exaggerated or alarmist panic. A healthy debate on the many risks to Arctic security is important but unsupported implications and insinuation don’t help. I would love to ask the National Post’s editorial board what their ‘step two’ really is, to see if they can do better than the Underpants Gnomes.

Related posts:

Russia, The US, NATO and the High North–The Far West of the Bear’s own Arctic, that is [April 2021]

No Need for Hoo Hah over Under-Ice Dragons in the Arctic [May 2022, Prof. Lajeunesse a co-author]

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Enfin, PM Trudeau’s Government Commits Money to Several Aspects of NORAD Modernization

Further to this recent post on US pressure on Canada over NORAD,

US Air Force Chief of Staff Visits Ottawa: What’s Missing in This Story?

the Canadian minister on national defence made the Big Reveal June 20, likely with the June 29-30 NATO Madrid summit in mind (to show allies we are Doing Something on defence) as well as trying to placate the Biden administration.

It is clear the announcement at Trenton air base was rushed–a two tweets:

The news release is here. There is still no “Backgrounder”–customary with such major announcements–giving details about, and projected timelines and costings for, the individual projects mentioned.

Some key points:

1) The initial C$ 4.9 billion over six years (i.e. just over $800 million per year) for NORAD modernization is not new money; it was already included in the government’s April 22 budget; there are no details about what the promised $40 billion over 20 years is for;

2) All the major projects are related to detecting threats and processing the relevant information; only two projects relate to acquiring new kinetic defence capabilities. There are also some upgrades for existing NORAD-related facilities;

3) There is no indication of how these specifically Canadian initiatives relate to US plans to modernize NORAD (some of which may not fit in with this government’s thinking–see “left of launch” post below);

4) Canada is still staying out of the US’ GMD ballistic missile defence system;

5) Minister Anand, for some odd reason, did not name either Russia (main threat now) or China as the adversaries involved.

To begin with, an excerpt from an article last year in Aviation Week and Space Technology:

…the radars of the U.S.-Canadian North Warning System (NWS) are still functioning, although their days seem numbered…

The early-warning system lacks the range to detect Russia’s Tupolev Tu-160 bombers [or Tu-95 ones] before they can launch cruise missiles and the resolution to track the latest Russian cruise missiles, particularly the stealthy nuclear Kh-102, after they are launched.

In other words, right now the capacity to intercept the bomber “archers” before they can launch their missile “arrows” at quite some distance from North American does not exist. And tracking those missiles on their courses to targets inside North America is exceedingly problematic. So it would now appear the main future challenge will be tracking and then shooting down the cruise missiles, not the bombers themselves (which may well have fighter escorts in any event–see this 2015 post: “NORAD to Face Escorted Cruise Missile-Carrying Russian Bombers?“).

Here are extracts from a Globe and Mail story:

Canada commits $4.9-billion over six years to modernize NORAD defences

Steven Chase Senior parliamentary reporter

Patrick Brethour Tax and Fiscal Policy Reporter

Defence experts told The Globe and Mail the spending commitment, nine days before a NATO Leaders’ Summit in Madrid, seems to be an effort to create the appearance that Canada is devoting more money to the military. Canada has come under pressure from allies, the U.S. in particular, to raise its military spending to meet NATO’s target level for each of its members: the equivalent of 2 per cent of annual economic output. Canada’s current defence spending amounts to 1.33 per cent…

“As autocratic regimes [Russia? China?] threaten the rules-based order that has protected us for decades and as our competitors develop new technologies…there is a pressing need to modernize NORAD capabilities,” Ms. Anand told reporters…

The new setup will have several components, according to Ms. Anand. “Arctic Over-the-Horizon Radar” will provide early-warning radar coverage and threat tracking from the Canada-U.S. border to the Arctic Circle [clearly to track cruise missiles through Canadian air space after they have been launched].

The second component will be a “Polar Over-the-Horizon Radar” system to provide the same coverage and tracking over and beyond the northernmost approaches to North America, including Canada’s Arctic archipelago [clearly to track cruise missiles immediately after launch from Russian bombers well away from North American airspace–and perhaps track the bombers themselves–and not vulnerable to interception and attack by NORAD fighters].

A third piece will be a new network called Crossbow, which will be made up of sensors with what Ms. Anand called “classified capabilities.” They will be located throughout Northern Canada, where they will provide another layer of detection.

A final component will be a space-based surveillance system, which will use satellites to collect intelligence and track threats, she told reporters.

…She did not provide a breakdown of how the $4.9-billion would be spent, and did not offer any estimate of when the new surveillance equipment would be up and running. She said Canada will spend a total of $40-billion over 20 years for NORAD modernization under the plan [emphasis added]

Andrea Charron, director of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at the University of Manitoba [a professor who really knows her NORAD and defence stuff], said it’s important that Canada is “thinking about and working on the joint defence of North America.”

But, she added, she thinks Monday’s announcement was aimed first and foremost at Canada’s NATO allies.

“There is incredible pressure that Canada spend more on defence, so they can go to NATO and say, ‘Look, we are spending more,’ ” Prof. Charron said. “At least they are going to the table with something.”..

Asked when Ottawa would reach its 2-per-cent commitment [to NATO], Ms. Anand pointed to Canada’s “upward trajectory” in defence spending….

With the $4.9-billion for NORAD, she said, “our defence spending is now on an even sharper upward trajectory.” However, that $4.9-billion is part of the $8-billion announced in the budget [emphasis added].

But Ms. Anand declined to provide a precise defence-spending target, or to explicitly pledge that Canada would reach the 2-per-cent threshold…

Prof. Charron said the new radar and surveillance projects will take “years and years” to build [emphasis added]

And from a CBC story:

The new network will monitor not only the Arctic — NORAD’s traditional domain — but also Pacific and Atlantic approaches to the continent [see the “Worries” post noted at bottom of this one”–our two fighter bases are well to the interior at Cold Lake, Alberta and Bagotville, Quebec and ill-placed to deal with threats approaching from those oceans; might we start rotating fighters through east and west coast bases as thought needed?]

Canadian Lt.-Gen. Alain Pelletier, the deputy commander at NORAD, said he and other top military officials have been taking notes on Moscow’s air campaign [vs Ukraine].

“Some of that assessment is classified, but I can tell you that we’re seeing the usage of cruise missiles in that theater, like we were expecting it, and like we expect that that cruise missile may be used in the future, against potential … critical infrastructure in North America [emphasis added],” Pelletier told CBC News in an interview following the minister’s statement.

Asked whether Canada will end its prohibition on participating in the U.S. ballistic missile system (BMD), Anand said the government will maintain the current policy of non-involvement [emphasis added]

As for those new kinetic capabilities:

Canada will also acquire new air-to-air missiles [the new AIM-260 the US is developing?] that will be compatible with the 88 F-35 fighter planes from the American manufacturer Lockheed Martin, which will replace the aging F-18s of the Canadian military aviation in the coming years.

We will also work to develop options for a Canadian ground-based air defense capability” added the minister, remaining stingy with details…

Presumably that ground-based air defence capability will be missiles capable of intercepting cruise missiles closing on their targets. Will they be placed to defend our fighter bases at Cold Lake, Alberta and Bagotville, Quebec? Critical infrastructure such as ports? Nuclear power plants? Major cities in case of a possible demonstration nuclear attack (a 2016 post: “NORAD and Russian Cruise Nukes: “de-escalation”? Part 2“)?

Just for comparison’s sake, the current cost for the Stage 2 expansion of the Ottawa’s (pop. some one million) new Light Rail Transit system is $4.6 billion.

Here’s a video of Ms Anand’s announcement and news conference:

Those posts noted above:

NORAD Chief Wants Defence (of what sort?) “Left of Launch” Focus, Russian Cruise Missiles (air- and sub-launched) Big Threat

What Worries the NORTHCOM/NORAD COMMANDER? What Worries PM Trudeau’s Government about Continental Defence? Note UPDATE

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

US Air Force Chief of Staff Visits Ottawa: What’s Missing in This Story?

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General Charles Q. Brown Jr. speaks to members of the U.S. Marine Corps serving as Marine Security Guards at U.S. Embassy Ottawa. Photo from Twitter/U.S. Ambassador to Canada David L. Cohen.”)

Further to this April post,

Now publicly, US Ambassador Puts Pressure on Canada over NORAD Defence Spending–PM Trudeau Talks about “Crown-Inuit partnership” (note June 7 UPDATE and June 11 UPPERDATE)

here’s a story at Air Force Magazine–the Biden administration is having some high-ranking people put pressure, including publicly but still diplomatically, on PM Trudeau’s government for its (pathetic) defence efforts, especially with regard to NORAD upgrading and re-thinking (which our government just doesn’t like to do about defence). When you’ve finished, what is not in the story?

Brown Visits Counterparts in Canada to Talk Arctic, NORAD Modernization, F-35

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. made a trip across the northern border, meeting Royal Canadian Air Force officials in Ottawa to discuss some of the key issues between the two services.

During the June 8-9 visit, Brown met with his RCAF counterpart, Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger, and RCAF Chief of Fighter Capability Maj. Gen. Sylvain Ménard. The leaders discussed steps to modernize and increase coordination across NORAD “to provide continuous monitoring and surveillance capability,” a USAF release said [a “readout’].

Modernizing NORAD has been an area of interest for years now but got a boost in November 2021, when U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and Canadian National Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan released a joint statement outlining their priorities for the effort, including better, more integrated command and control systems, investments in situational awareness, research and development, and capabilities to defeat aerospace threats.

In particular, that joint statement highlighted the need for “next-generation over-the-horizon radar systems that can dramatically improve early warning and persistent surveillance of North American airspace and approaches” to replace the aging North Warning System. 

Details on that next-generation system have not been officially announced, but the Ottawa Citizen reported in April that Royal Canadian Air Force officers had briefed industry officials about plans to spend $1 billion on a new radar system to be built in southern Canada with over-the-horizon capabilities.

Also during Brown’s visit to Canada, RCAF officials raised the importance of the Arctic region, emphasizing how their country’s “insights have been vital to identifying new opportunities for cooperation.” [That information is in the USAF readout.]

The U.S. and Canada have frequently collaborated in Arctic exercises and efforts. As the region becomes more and more contested by both Russia and China, and as the effects of climate change open it up for more competition, USAF has defined a strategy for the region and promised more investments.

“We are committed to working with the Royal Canadian Air Force on modernizing NORAD and on Arctic security to meet modern challenges in defense of North America,” Brown said in the statement. “Our continued collaboration is helping better prepare us to meet future challenges in the region together. I’m grateful for our partnership and look forward to building on our productive talks.”

During those discussions, Brown also “further welcomed” Canada’s decision to buy the F-35, the USAF readout states.

The Canadian government picked the F-35 in March as the preferred bidder for its next fighter jet, announcing plans to buy 88 of the fifth-generation aircraft. Deliveries would be slated to start in 2025.

However, the final contracts with Lockheed Martin have not been signed as negotiations are ongoing…according to Global News

Brown, for his part, “noted that the increased capabilities and interoperability afforded by a common platform would bolster the continental defense partnership,” according to the USAF release. Should Canada finalize a deal for F-35s, it would join the U.S., Finland, Norway, and Denmark as Arctic nations that either operate or have agreed to buy F-35s.

Guess what? There is no mention of a readout, or any other official statement, by the Canadian side. Because there was none. The only account of the visit is from the US Air Force readout.

A striking lack of, er, transparency. Especially as PM Trudeau and national defence minister Anand themselves had just visited NORAD HQ in Colorado on June 7. Also striking. No Canadian media coverage, even post facto, of General Brown’s visit.

UPDATE: This from the RCAF a week late. Pathetic:

A very relevant December post about another US Air Force four star general visiting Ottawa:

NORAD Commander puts Hypersonic and North Warning System Cats amongst Trudeau Government’s Pigeons

And for the bigger NORAD picture:

Here’s Looking at NORAD/NORTHCOM’s Way Ahead, or, Deterrence and Punishment

What Worries the NORTHCOM/NORAD COMMANDER? What Worries PM Trudeau’s Government about Continental Defence? Note UPDATE

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

No Need for Hoo Hah over Under-Ice Dragons in the Arctic

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “A large Jin-class ballistic-missile submarine likely could transit the Bering Strait, but it would be a dangerous proposition for an important Chinese asset. Associated Press (Mark Schiefelbein)”.)

Further to this November 2020 post,

No, Virginia, the Arctic is not a Hotly-Contested Region like the South China Sea–and China is not a Big Deal up there at This Point

excerpts from a sensible piece by two Canadian academics in the US Naval Institute’s magazine, Proceedings:

Chinese Submarines Under Ice?

By Adam Lajeunesse and Timothy Choi [see end of this quote]

May 2022

Cold Realities

In principle, there are clear strategic opportunities for China in the Arctic, but a closer examination limits their appeal. The Arctic eventually may become the “Polar Mediterranean” Canadian explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson predicted; however, today it is unique among the world’s oceans in its isolation.9 The Northwest Passage carries negligible traffic and nothing of strategic importance. While climate change eventually will open the region to more traffic, geography makes the Arctic a poor candidate for Chinese sea control or denial.

As a sea route, the Arctic offers time and distance advantages to ships moving between Europe or the U.S. Eastern Seaboard and Asia, but even in a future of heavy transpolar trade, much of this commerce would be to or from China. In times of conflict, trade between the West and China would be closed or limited regardless of what presence China maintained in the Arctic. China still could interdict shipping to its democratic neighbors, but it is hard to see how doing so would be easier than attacking South Korean, Taiwanese, or Japanese shipping closer to home, where ports lie within easy reach of Chinese missiles.

Interdicting U.S. military sealift also seems a questionable proposition. Deploying warships from Norfolk to the Sea of Japan is roughly 2,000 kilometers (km) shorter through the Northwest Passage than through Panama; however, the northern route is hampered by unpredictable ice conditions. Even in an ice-reduced future, the region will remain inaccessible to non-ice-strengthened ships during the winter, with hazardous sailing conditions persisting in the shoulder seasons. While sealift through the Northwest Passage or the Polar Basin to reinforce an Asian theater may make sense in some circumstances, it will remain a niche alternative confined to the summer—and perhaps not even then.

Likewise, Chinese SSBNs using the Arctic as a missile-launching position is probably exaggerated, given the serious operational problems inherent in sending large missile boats into the Arctic Ocean [emphasis added]. The first of these is simply entering the region. Access to the Arctic is through the Bering Strait, and that means traversing an 80 km–wide passage bordered by Russia and the United States. Sitting in the middle is St. Lawrence Island, U.S. territory that has hosted submarine detection systems since the 1960s.

In addition to the dangers in running directly over U.S. listening systems and within easy range of antisubmarine warfare assets, the Bering Strait offers a shallow seabed below keel and thick winter sea ice above the sail…

…Arctic submarine expert Richard Boyle suggested that any boat longer than 107 meters (length of the Seawolf [SSN-21]) is probably incapable of meeting the maneuverability requirements under ice in shallow water.13 At 135 meters, aJin-class SSBN and its successors would struggle to move safely through the region during much of the year [emphasis added]. A transit would not be impossible, but it would be a very dangerous and uncertain proposition for an important strategic asset whose safety and stealth the PLAN prioritizes at all times.

There would seem to be better options. The range of China’s current and planned submarine-launched ballistic missiles would place most of the United States in jeopardy from anywhere in the Pacific. From the Aleutians to French Polynesia there are tens of millions of square kilometers of deep water in which to hide, all a safer bet than the Arctic [emphasis added].

Possible, Not Probable

While China certainly possesses the technical capacity—and perhaps even the political will—to deploy a submarine to the Arctic, the operational advantages of a regular Arctic presence likely are overstated.

This is not to say a Chinese Arctic presence would be of no concern. PLAN boats in the Polar Basin would create new dangers and add layers of complexity to continental defense planning, requiring a U.S. and allied response. Yet, such deployments also would impose costs on China, leading to dangerous and probably inefficient diversions of some of its most valuable naval assets [emphasis added–no kidding, the PLA navy has other fish to fry].

Adam Lajeunesse [tweets here]

Dr. Lajeunesse is the Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Canadian Arctic Marine Security Policy and an assistant professor at the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government, St. Francis Xavier University. He works on questions of Arctic sovereignty and security policy and has written extensively on Arctic history and operations.

Timothy Choi [tweets here]

Mr. Choi is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Calgary’s Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies, where his dissertation is entitled, “Controlling the Northern Seas: The Influence of Exclusive Economic Zones on the Development of Norwegian, Danish, and Canadian Maritime Forces.” He also serves on the editorial board of the Canadian Naval Review.

Some relevant posts:

US Maritime Strategy and the High North–No Mention of Western Arctic, Alaska or Canada (or Northwest Passage)

US Navy doesn’t seem all that Concerned about the North American Arctic

No Need to go Bananas over the Bear in the Arctic

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Now publicly, US Ambassador Puts Pressure on Canada over NORAD Defence Spending–PM Trudeau Talks about “Crown-Inuit partnership” (note June 7 UPDATE and June 11 UPPERDATE)

Hoo boy! They’ll love that at the Pentagon and Foggy Bottom. And that’s with a Democratic administration. As for Congress…

Further to this post in December last year,

NORAD Commander puts Hypersonic and North Warning System Cats amongst Trudeau Government’s Pigeons

now we get this from the American ambassador himself. A pretty direct message to the PM to get his government’s ass in gear and DO SOMETHING FAST. Love his diplomatic confidence but note those “candid conversations, i.e. tough talk from the Yanks. At the CBC:

U.S. ambassador says he’s confident Canada will strengthen its defences in the Arctic

David Cohen says he’s had some ‘candid conversations’ with senior cabinet ministers since December [see post at the start of this one]

Chris Hall · CBC News

America’s top diplomat in Ottawa says he’s been assured Canada will follow through this year on crucial investments to modernize its Arctic defence, even though this month’s budget didn’t include money for that work.

Ambassador David Cohen told CBC’s The House in an interview airing this weekend [see just below] that Canada needs to make Arctic air and maritime defence a national priority. He said he’s made that point in “candid conversations” with senior cabinet ministers since he took up the post in December.

“So I think there’s an acknowledgement that this budget does not include funding for NORAD, for modernizing and improving the northern defence for Canada and for the United States, but that it will be forthcoming during the course of this fiscal year [emphasis added, we’ll see how serious much],” he said…

CBC News: The House 19:15 [audio here] U.S. Ambassador says Canada needs to make Arctic defence a ‘national priority’U.S. Ambassador David Cohen sits down with host Chris Hall to reflect on the state of the Canada-U.S. relationship and next steps on NORAD modernization, Arctic defence and integrated supply chains

Cohen acknowledged during the interview at the U.S. embassy that the budget did include another $8 billion in defence spending. But he said Russia and China’s increasing activity in the North must be countered by a more robust Canadian presence at the top of the world.”The United States has been told, I have been told and other officials in the White House and in Washington have been told that when we discussed the $8 billion increase in defence spending, (we’ve) been told that, remember, that doesn’t even include anything for NORAD modernization [emphasis added],” he said. “That will be an add-on as we continue to review what NORAD requires [this government won’t be eager to add that much soon].”

…the prime minister has been unclear about Canada’s position. Justin Trudeau told reporters this week that security is only one part of his government’s focus in the North. Addressing climate change and promoting economic opportunities for the Inuit are equally important [emphasis added, that sure will thrill the Americans], he said.

“We are in a time of of reflection around how we ensure Canada’s continued sovereignty in the Arctic, and in times past or governments past that would have happened through a military lens,” he said Thursday [April 21] after announcing a new engagement policy with Inuit.

“Can we put more bases in the North? Can we show that we’re ready to defend and control our Arctic? What this policy, and quite frankly, the relationship that we’ve built over the past number of years in the Crown-Inuit partnership [shows] is [that] sovereignty in the North passes through the people who live there and who have lived there for millennia [BLAH, BLAH. BLAH].

A spokesperson for Defence Minister Anita Anand said Arctic defence is a key government priority.

Daniel Minden wrote in an email that the budget did include $252 million over five years in initial military funding [$5O million–Canadian–a year, pathetic peanuts], “with new investments in situational awareness, modernized command and control systems, research and development, and defence capabilities to deter and defeat aerospace threats to this continent.”..

One cannot help but imagine Justin Trudeau as Bambi, frozen in the Americans’ headlights:

UPDATE: Nothingburger PM Trudeau and national defence minister Anand June 7 visit to NORAD HQ–Biden administration will not be pleased:

Trudeau, Anand meet with Norad commanders, U.S. defense secretary en route to L.A.

…as they wrapped up their visit, neither Trudeau nor Anand were able to offer any specifics about when details about the plans would be forthcoming.

“We have a number of initiatives on the table right now with the United States and we will be coming forward shortly with a plan to modernize Norad,” Anand said. “I will leave it at that.”..

UPPERDATE: June 11, beginning to feel like full-court press on PM Trudeau’s government by Biden admin. on NORAD etc.:

Relevant posts:

Canada/US Statement on Way Forward for NORAD–Very Little There There [Aug. 2021]

Here’s Looking at NORAD/NORTHCOM’s Way Ahead, or, Deterrence and Punishment [Dec. 2021]

What Worries the NORTHCOM/NORAD COMMANDER? What Worries PM Trudeau’s Government about Continental Defence? Note UPDATE [March 2022]

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Effectively Increasing Canadian Defence Spending Requires Major Procurement Reforms; Will PM Trudeau Bother to Make the Effort to Get it Done?

(Graph at top of the post [March 30, 2020 just before new budget] starts left at 1970–right click on image to see in full.)

Further to this post,

Ukraine: Quite a few Euros Giving Defence Budgets Big Boosts–and PM Trudeau’s Government? Note UPDATE

two people who really are experts in this field make some serious recommendations that should be implemented if this government is serious about defence matters (which is pretty unlikely, see John Ibbitson piece noted at the end of the post)–at the the Canadian Defence Associatons Institute:

Three ways to improve defence procurement in Canada

Richard B. Fadden, O.C. former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister and Deputy Minister of National Defence

LGen (ret) Guy Thibault, former Vice Chief of the Defence Staff

In National Defence, getting the money is the easiest part…

Given the deterioration of the international security situation, the Prime Minister has said he is open to additional defence spending. Assuming Mr. Trudeau meant what he said [getting a knife in early], getting additional defence resources approved though Cabinet and Parliament is fairly straightforward. The first real challenge is determining on what the money is to be spent. Then comes the seemingly impossible task of getting spending decisions effectively implemented as quickly as possible.

Mr. Trudeau is the last in a relatively long line of Prime Ministers who have pauperized Canada’s defence establishment. Whether they regret or are content with their decisions, is not important except that it explains why virtually every part of Canada’s defence establishment needs new resources. In seeking to revitalize the operational capabilities of the Canadian Forces, it is important to appreciate that this will not happen if new resources are exclusively directed to the CAF. The Department of National Defence (the civilian part of the Defence portfolio) and Public Services and Procurement in particular will need additional resources.

New resources for the Canadian Forces can be spent in four ways. The first category is major capital procurement – the fighter aircraft replacement and Canadian Surface Combatant programs are examples. The second category is minor capital procurement- sidearms or armour vests are examples. The third category covers personnel costs – both those relating to current personnel as well costs relating to increasing the head-count of the Forces. The fourth category includes funding for infrastructure – everything from runways, to jetties to personnel housing). The last category might be called operational costs which come in two parts: those relating to training and those relating to actual operations in Canada and abroad. If the Government is serious about increasing the capabilities of the Forces, all five categories will need an injection of money and on-going attention by both Ministers and the public service. The challenge we’d like to focus in on below is the procurement process itself.

Defence procurement is under constant criticism for being overly slow and expensive. There are three main reasons for these shortcomings. The first is the insistence of successive governments that defence procurement support policy objectives other than procuring equipment for the Forces. Objectives such as regional and industrial development, support to innovation and others are all laudable but applying them automatically to major projects means that the procurement of defence equipment takes second place [emphasis added]. The second reason is the extreme risk aversion of both Ministers and public servants to anything going wrong such that an already heavy process is over layered with checks and balances and delays for additional study. Whether these precautions are to help avoid questions in the House, stories in the media or visits to the Federal Court or the International Trade Tribunal they mean delays and cost increases.

The third reason is the view of Governments — admittedly broadly supported by public opinion – that national security and defence are not as important as any number of other policy areas [emphasis added]. This means that defence spending gets a low priority, frequent cutbacks and poor priority setting. In any event, the shortcomings of the procurement process can be shared between politicians, public servants and CF personnel.

A number of possible measures to improve the procurement process are set out below but even the best procurement system on the planet would not change the fact that defence is an expensive business. Currently, for Canada, defence will be especially expensive as we will be — or should be — playing catch-up with most of our allies.

The first aid to an improved defence procurement system is sustained prime ministerial and ministerial attention based on their belief that the national security of Canada and of its allies requires it [emphasis added]. This will happen most easily if Canadians generally share that view but whether this is the case or not, it is the responsibility of governments to lead and to do what it is necessary to provide it. Surely, the current international environment requires nothing less.

If the above is forthcoming, the second aid will develop relatively easily. This would be an acceptance that greater risks are to be taken to advance specific procurement projects, including that public servants be encouraged to recommend — where appropriate — that specific procurement projects be exempt from some or all the rules which govern them. This should specifically include the possibility of subordinating other policy objectives to the delivery of required equipment [emphasis added]. The third aid is the acceptance by all — including the Forces — that while perfection is always desirable when developing capability requirements, sometime getting something promptly is the desirable course.

The final aid is utilizing at least some new defence resources on existing projects. For example, topping up the CSC budget to ensure that the full number of — fully capable — projected ships be delivered. Another example, relates to the need to increase our defence presence in the Arctic and could mean upgrading the Nanisivik Naval Facility to at least what was initially intended — a year-round capability including one or more runways to accommodate both Canadian and NATO aircraft. The same sort of upgrade could be applied to the Canadian Army’s Arctic Training Center. Finally, to improve communications and surveillance in the Arctic , build on existing commitments to support the on-going development of a low earth orbit constellation which could support both military and civilian needs.

There seems to be agreement in Canada and throughout NATO that we are all facing a very dangerous international environment. If this is the case, Canada will need to up its game on national security and defence. This will mean, as a former Deputy Prime Minister once said, our not going to the washroom when the bill is being circulated! But, it’s not only money, it’s ongoing attention by the Prime Minister and appropriate Ministers. And given Canada’s history in this area, the key is “on-going” attention. As Minister Anand has noted, Canada can get things done when its important – vaccine acquisition and distribution being the latest examples [emphasis added].

From that column by Mr Ibbitson:

Canada may increase its defence spending – but that doesn’t mean it’s serious about restoring our military

John Ibbitson

Thursday’s [April 7] budget will almost certainly include increased funding for defence. Do not expect that increase to signal a new and sustained commitment to restoring Canada’s rundown military.

Canadians feel safe. As long as they feel safe, they will not sacrifice. They will vow to stand with Ukraine, condemn alleged Russian war crimes, offer shelter to refugees.

But as Adam Chapnick, a professor of defence studies at the Royal Military College, observes, “we aren’t in the mental headspace to have a serious conversation,” about defence spending, “and our elected representatives aren’t in the headspace to have it either [emphasis added].

…Leah Sarson, a professor of international relations at Dalhousie University, expects to see a commitment to upgrade NORAD aerospace defences [see this post: “What Worries the NORTHCOM/NORAD COMMANDER? What Worries PM Trudeau’s Government about Continental Defence? Note UPDATE“]

But she doesn’t expect any sustained effort to bring Canadian defence spending up to the NATO target of 2 per cent of GDP.

Canadians typically like to see an emphasis on humanitarian aid and diplomacy,” she told me, “rather than an emphasis on defence and military spending [emphasis added].”

Canada is content to shelter beneath the American umbrella. Oceans separate us from conflict in Eurasia, and the Western hemisphere is mostly at peace…

The military in Canada has such a small footprint that its well-being doesn’t register with Canadians. Politicians don’t prioritize it because no one raises the issue at the door…

The question, then, is whether the events in Ukraine will galvanize public opinion in favour of sustained increases. The answer is almost certainly no [emphasis added]

…a credible military – one capable of seriously contributing to the defence of Canada’s interests in the Arctic and of contributing meaningfully to NATO in Europe – is long overdue…

NATO partners are entitled to something better than a Canadian military that is equipped on the fly, with procurement either infinitely delayed or rushed through in response to the latest crisis. Our forces rely far too heavily on the kindness of allies.

But that would entail sacrifice. And a Liberal government that has signed a pact with the NDP to introduce publicly funded dental care and pharmacare is unlikely to ask Canadians to support increased spending on the military as well, along with the higher taxes needed to pay for it.

So don’t be fooled if you see headlines Thursday about increased defence spending in the budget. It likely won’t mean much of anything [emphasis added].

Sigh. We are truly not a serious country. But we are great at pretending:

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

NORAD, or, Enough Already with the Canadian “Arctic Sovereignty” Hoo-Hah

Canadian politicians, pundits, media and some academics should stop constantly obsessing, in an almost juvenile fashion, about minimal threats.

First from Tufts University:

The Arctic and the LOSC [Law of the Sea Convention]

No Race for the North

…with the exception of a small island between Canada and Greenland, there are no unresolved land border disputes in the Arctic…

[No-one claims any other Canadian land territory and Russia is not going to invade and seize it–the US would not allow it and NATO’s Article 5 would be invoked. World War III anyone?]

Coastal State Rights

Much of the Arctic Ocean falls under the jurisdiction of the coastal States. As outlined in Chapter Two: Maritime Zones, coastal States enjoy a 12 nautical mile territorial sea and a 24 nautical mile contiguous zone. In addition, coastal States may declare an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 200 nautical miles from the baseline, in which they have the right regulate the use of natural resources and establish environmental protection [but the EEZ is NOT a state’s “sovereign” territorial sea]. While some overlapping claims exist, the Arctic coastal States have mostly resolved maritime boundary disputes through bilateral negotiations. The most significant unresolved maritime boundary dispute is between the U.S. and Canada in the Beaufort Sea. However, both parties seek to minimize tension as they work toward resolving the dispute. In  reality, issues of sovereignty in the Arctic are relatively clear and not contentious [emphasis added]

Arctic Continental Shelf

Unresolved overlapping claims on the deep seabed are the only significant territorial disputes between nations in the Arctic. Under the LOSC, coastal States have the right to request a recommendation from the Committee on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) regarding an extension of their continental shelf beyond the 200 nautical mile EEZ. An extension would legally entitle that State to exclusive subsoil resource access on the extended continental shelf [emphasis added]. For additional information on this topic see Chapter Two: Maritime Zones. If scientific data collection and analysis corroborates the current projections of the extended continental shelves in the Arctic, nearly all subsoil rights in the Arctic will ultimately fall under the exclusive jurisdictions of States. Successful extension claims in no way affect the legal status of the water column, the ocean surface, or the airspace above the extended continental shelf [emphasis added, once again no general “sovereignty” is granted]

And from Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans in 2019:

Sovereignty and UNCLOS

Defining Canada’s Extended Continental Shelf

Fisheries and Oceans Canadian Hydrographic Service, Natural Resources Canada’s Geological Survey of Canada and Global Affairs Canada, with the support of the Canadian Coast Guard and other international partners, have worked for several years on a project to determine the outer limits of Canada’s extended continental shelf, under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

UNCLOS is an international treaty that sets out the legal framework for ocean activities. It defines the maritime zones along a country’s coastline, and the rights and duties of a country regarding these zones. UNCLOS also recognizes that coastal states have sovereign rights over the natural resources of the seabed and subsoil of the continental shelf, as well as jurisdiction over certain activities like marine scientific research [“sovereign rights” only over the natural resources; not full territorial sovereignty].

It states that countries can extend their territory beyond 200 nautical miles if they can show that their continental shelf is a natural prolongation, or continuation, of its land territory. The continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles is known as “the extended continental shelf.”..

Canada is continuing to collect and analyze continental shelf data in the Arctic Ocean and is collaborating with neighbouring states in the scientific, technical and legal work needed to do so [in other words at this time the only threats here would to be to our claims, not any recognized right of control and certainly not actual sovereignty]...

In any event, if anyone thinks there is going to be a vast boom in Arctic seabed drilling for hydrocarbons in whatever extended shelf Canada ends up with (and much of our final claim is not likely to be contested) I’ve got some fine swampland in Florida to sell them. You think any Canadian government would allow such drilling these days? So why do we really give much of a good god-damn what extended shelf we end up with anyway other than some silly lust for the North Pole?

But now we nonetheless get this headline for a National Post story–which itself basically undercuts the sovereignty nonsense:

Russia’s invasion has Ottawa looking to ‘protect our Arctic sovereignty’

Russia is reinvesting its military capabilities and presence in the region, while China has declared itself a ‘near Arctic’ state with strategic interests in the area, a government document says

…Defence Minister Anita Anand is pledging to modernize the alliance protecting Canada’s North [but very little done so far to help modernize NORAD–a post: “What Worries the NORTHCOM/NORAD COMMANDER? What Worries PM Trudeau’s Government about Continental Defence? Note UPDATE]…“The work is happening now to ensure that we are prepared for any eventuality, including in terms of protecting our Arctic sovereignty [from what?].”

What’s the concern with the Arctic

Even before Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the Canadian government was flagging Russia’s activities in the region. Briefing materials prepared for Mélanie Joly when she became foreign affairs minister said that Canada views the Arctic as “emerging as an area of geostrategic importance and competition.”..

The Arctic isn’t a monolith, though

It’s important to draw a distinction between the Canadian and European Arctic, []Adam] Lajeunesse [Irving Shipbuilding chair in Canadian arctic marine security at St. Francis Xavier University] said, explaining Russia’s “ability to project power into the Canadian Arctic has not materially increased in the last decade.”

Russia has “considerable” militarization in the Arctic, but it “can’t even reach Canada. It’s not a threat to Canada,” he said. Indeed, Joly’s briefing binder pegs the threat of conflict in the area as low [emphasis added, SO WHY THE HOO-HAH?].

But the European Arctic, Lajeunesse said, “is very much in danger of Russian aggression, because they share a border with Russia, and they are very much in a range of all of the weapons [as is highlighted in this post: :Russia, The US, NATO and the High North–The Far West of the Bear’s own Arctic, that is“].”

The Canadian Arctic is “not something the Russians are going to attack or fight over, but it is an avenue through which” Russian submarines or Russian cruise missiles might travel [emphasis added], he said…

Exactly. In fact the major defence concern in the Arctic is that its airspace offers an avenue of approach to attack the rest of North America. Nothing to do with any threats to our sovereignty up there. And airspace over Labrador also offers an avenue of approach to attack the rest of North America . But nobody is wringing their hands over protecting Canada’s “Labrador sovereignty”. Go figure. One might almost think Canadians were neurotic about the Arctic.

A very relevant post from 2020:

No, Virginia, the Arctic is not a Hotly-Contested Region like the South China Sea–and China is not a Big Deal up there at This Point

Further to this post,

The Bear’s Arctic Build-Up (not aimed at North American portion), Part 2

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Ukraine: Quite a few Euros Giving Defence Budgets Big Boosts–and PM Trudeau’s Government? Note UPDATE

Further to these tweets,

it is certainly time for this government to fish or cut bait on the matter of a significant hike in this country’s defence spending if we wish to be taken with any seriousness by allies and friends. And also to find ways to spend those scarce defence dollars faster and more efficiently and effectively. Let’s start by a stop to essentially using as much defence procurement as possible as job subsidies programs to win votes.

See story below at Aviation Week and Space Technology–would be nice if our media did stories aggregating the various European countries increasing defence spending rather than just covering them individually, if at all. Brief single stories do not give readers/viewers an overall picture they might retain. Canadians might take serious note of what, say, Sweden and Denmark are both doing as they are not seen as military-oriented countries:

Ukraine Invasion Prompting European Defense Spending Hikes

Tony Osborne

Sweden has joined the growing list of European countries set to hike defense spending in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Sweden’s government announced it would raise spending on defense to 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) and that budgets would be allocated “as soon as it is practically possible,” Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson told a March 10 press conference. 

Stockholm had already been taking steps to boost its defense capability in response to Russia’s actions in Crimea in 2014. Ministers originally planned to increase defense spending by 85% between 2014 and 2025, the largest re-armament by the Scandinavian country since the 1950s.

“In a situation where tensions in our immediate area are worse than in several decades, we need to continue to strengthen our defense capabilities,” Andersson said. 

While spending would be immediately increased to strengthen capability in the short term, Andersson added that there was work underway to find “a stable, long-term and solidary financing of the expansion.” 

“The expansion must rest on a stable foundation for us to be able to have a strong and secure defense,” Andersson said. 

Sweden’s decision comes on top of announcements made by several other European countries led by Germany, which announced plans for a €100 billion ($110 billion) fund to address capability gaps and an increase in defense spending as a proportion of GDP to 2% [emphasis added]. The move is set to make Germany among the world’s largest spenders on defense. 

Romanian President Klaus Iohnannis has indicated that Bucharest will raise spending from 2% of GDP to 2.5%, stating that the additional funding will “ensure better conditions for our armed forces, in order to better train and respond more effectively to the operational needs of the Romanian Army and current and future security challenges.”  

Baltic state Latvia has also announced plans to raise spending to 2.5% of GDP by 2025; up from 2.2% this year. Artis Pabriks, Latvian defense minister, said the increase will enable the country to spend more on logistics capabilities and develop more uncrewed systems, as well as support investment for indirect fire support, the mechanization of ground forces and the strengthening of cyber security. 

In Poland, new laws are being drafted that will allow Warsaw to further increase national defense spending to 3% of GDP [emphasis added] to give the country’s armed forces a “greater deterrent potential,” defense minister Mariusz Błaszczak said.  

Polish ministers hope to achieve the spending increase next year. It was previously envisioned that Poland would boost defense spending to 2.5% of GDP by 2023.  

“This is an act that will allow us not only to increase the size of the Polish Army, but also to spend on the Polish Armed Forces, restore the reserve system, encourage soldiers to remain in service and implement the concept of universal defense,” Błaszczak said. 

Denmark too has also pledged to raise defense spending permanently to 2% of GDP by 2033. Current Danish defense spending is around 1.4% of GDP [emphasis added–that current spending is about the same as Canada’s].  

Ministers are working to establish a reserve fund totaling DKR3.5 billion ($500 million) for increased preparation, strengthened diplomacy and humanitarian efforts.  

Copenhagen is also looking to repeal Denmark’s opt-out of European defense initiatives and plans to hold a referendum on abolishing the clause in June.  

“Denmark must be fully involved in the development of European defense and security policy,” Danish defense minister Morten Bødskov said. “Russia’s aggression on Ukraine threatens European peace and stability. Therefore, time calls for a gear shift.”

Sigh. We’re looking increasingly lonely and it would seem any fancying for essentially constabulary armed forces will have to go down the drain–earlier post:

COVID-19/Natural Disaster Response, or, Canada’s Coming Constabulary/Militia Armed Forces?

Other relevant recent posts:

Why Australia is Taken Seriously by the US and UK, Canada less and less (“irrelevant”?)

What Worries the NORTHCOM/NORAD COMMANDER? What Worries PM Trudeau’s Government about Continental Defence? Note UPDATE

UPDATE: This government is planning to buy 88 new fighters for the RCAF (most likely the F-35A, which the Germans have now also decided to acquire, note the role they are for), with the endlessly postponed decision supposed to be announced this year. Knock on wood. That will be just over one-third the modern fighter forces the four Nordic countries combined will be deploying well before our air force can deploy its new planes. That is being done with a total population just under three quarters of Canada’s and with a very much smaller area to cover compared to this country:

In the future Denmark and Norway will have a total of 79 F-35s. The Nordic fighter aircraft force will be at 243 if a coalition is expanded to include 64 F-35s from Finland and 100 Gripen from Sweden.

‘Twould be nice to see the Canadian media point out those numbers–if they are even aware of them.

UPPERDATE: “Ouch!” cartoon of the day by Brian Gable at the Globe and Mail March 18:

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

What Worries the NORTHCOM/NORAD COMMANDER? What Worries PM Trudeau’s Government about Continental Defence? Note UPDATE

Trick question. That government doesn’t give a flying beaver’s fart. In any event it’s not just about air defence in (mostly) the Arctic anymore, Americans and Canadians.

Further to this post,

Here’s Looking at NORAD/NORTHCOM’s Way Ahead, or, Deterrence and Punishment

if Russian-launched air cruise missiles (ALCMs) targeted against North American can be launched from beyond NORAD radar coverage, and beyond the defensive cover of USAF and RCAF fighters, how useful will be NORAD’s fighter forces? If they can’t get the archers can they then destroy their arrows en route? Seems, er, problematic in terms of numbers of ALCMS coming. Target point defence, both with more fighters and SAMs one answer? Also vs sea-launched cruise missiles (SLCMs). US could try, Canada most unlikely.

Now from a story at Defense News:

NORTHCOM needs better sensors to protect against Russian submarine, missile threat [note NORAD not in the headline]

By Megan Eckstein

The upcoming budget request could include investments in maritime domain awareness close to home, with improved sensors to detect Russian naval threats to the homeland.

Commander of U.S. Northern Command Gen. Glen VanHerck told the House Armed Services Committee the technologies the U.S. needs to bolster its homeland defense against Russian submarines and missiles are currently available and in use by other countries around the world — meaning the Defense Department could move out quickly on buying and fielding them…

“The AS-23a air-launched cruise missile, for instance, features an extended range that enables Russian bombers flying well outside NORAD radar coverage — and in some cases from inside Russian airspace — to threaten targets throughout North America [emphasis added]. This capability challenges my ability to detect an attack and mount an effective defense. In the maritime domain, Russia has fielded the first two of their nine planned Severodvinsk-class guided missile submarines, which are designed to deploy undetected within cruise missile range of our coastlines to threaten critical infrastructure during an escalating crisis. This challenge will be compounded in the next few years as the Russian Navy adds the Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile to the Severodvinsk’s arsenal,” his written testimony continues.

During the hearing, Rep. Joe Courtney, the Democrat from Connecticut who chairs HASC’s seapower and projection forces committee, asked about two solutions VanHerck mentioned in the written testimony: an Integrated Undersea Surveillance System and an Over-the-Horizon Radar system…

VanHerck said modernizing and expanding the Integrated Undersea Surveillance System would be a collaboration between the U.S. Navy and partners such as Canada to “track and maintain awareness of submarine positions around the globe. [It’s] a very challenging environment in the central Atlantic, when they get on the mid-Atlantic ridge, to be able to track them — so to be able to hold them accountable, if you will, before they become a threat is important.”..

“I need improved domain awareness to increase warning time and provide leaders at all levels with as many options as possible to deter or defend against an attack. Global all-domain awareness will generate a significant deterrent effect by making it clear that we can see potential aggressors wherever they are, which inherently casts doubt on their ability to achieve their objectives,” he wrote…

On the Over-the-Horizon Radar system, VanHerck said this system would look out about 4,000 miles in the maritime, air and space domains. Traditional radar systems are limited by the curvature of Earth, and this new system would give significantly better early warning capability compared to existing systems.

“OTHR is a proven technology that will provide persistent surveillance of the distant northern approaches to the United States and mitigate the limitations of the Cold War-era North Warning System, while contributing to broader domain awareness challenges including space domain awareness. The ability to detect air-breathing and spaceborne threats in the approaches to Canada and the United States will be significantly enhanced by fielding OTHR as soon as possible,” he wrote in his testimony.

VanHerck said the radar is “something we can move out on relatively quickly, as well as undersea surveillance,” given that the technology already exists and is in use by other nations…

Russia has the capability today to hold targets in the United States and Canada at risk with long-range air- and submarine-launched conventional cruise missiles. These highly precise and stealthy systems highlight the need for policy determinations regarding what must be defended along with continued demonstrations of resiliency and hardening [emphasis added, that point defence],” he wrote.

In addition to fielding the sensor systems and sharing the collected data globally, to “successfully deter aggression and defend the homeland, we must be able to detect and track the submarines, aircraft, and surface ships that carry weapons systems capable of striking the homeland before they depart from their home stations. We also need to improve our capability to defeat those launch platforms before they are within range of their targets.”

Meanwhile PM Trudeau’s government does not want to face paying serious loonies (those are Canadian dollars) to modernize the increasingly obsolescent radar North Warning System–and the US is getting publicly bothered, see this post last December: “NORAD Commander puts Hypersonic and North Warning System Cats amongst Trudeau Government’s Pigeons“. In any event I have no confidence that his ministers and most of our senior public servants have any real grasp of the matters now involved with the defence of this continent and the Revolution in NORAD Affairs taking place in the US.

It’s not all about how much money a Canadian government is willing to spend on the North Warning System/NORAD; it’s about what strategy for NORAD/NORTHCOM the US will decide upon and whether Canada agrees (willingly?) to be a full participant therein.

Very relevant posts:

US NORTHCOM Thinking pre-emptively vs Russian Cruise Missiles, Leaving NORAD a Backwater?

NORAD Chief Wants Defence (of what sort?) “Left of Launch” Focus, Russian Cruise Missiles (air- and sub-launched) Big Threat

“Left of launch” means acting (in one fashion or another, kinetic or otherwise (e.g. cyber), preemptively before an actual attack starts. What does our government think of NORAD’s being involved/associated with such an approach? Again, have they even thought much? At all? PM Trudeau’s government should be asked to clarify its views on the way ahead for continental defence and not answer just with vapid, blah blah talking points.

Surely real attention must be paid at last now in light of Bad Vlad Putin’s nuclear noises relating to his brutal war on Ukraine?

UPDATE: Let’s see how much funding, how far the government is willing to go beyond North Warning System upgrading toward other aspects of continental defence that US is planning. And ballistic missile defense? Defense vs sub-launched cruise missiles (with real public emphasis on RCN’s ASW role?). Defence vs cruise missiles that get past the High North?

I’d love to be pleasantly surprised and so I’m sure would be Pentagon and Biden administration (see this post: “NORAD Commander puts Hypersonic and North Warning System Cats amongst Trudeau Government’s Pigeons“):

Canada to unveil ‘robust package’ to modernize NORAD continental defence, Defence Minister Anita Anand says

Steven Chase Senior parliamentary reporter

Robert Fife Ottawa Bureau Chief

Defence Minister Anita Anand says the Canadian government will soon unveil a significant spending plan to help modernize continental defences under NORAD, a revamp the United States has been seeking for years.

“Make no mistake: Canada will be at the table in the short term with a robust package to modernize NORAD – a system that has kept Canadians and Americans safe for over sixty years,” Ms. Anand told an Ottawa defence conference.

Her commitment at the Ottawa Conference on Security and Defence [organized by Conference of Defence Associations and CDA Institute] Friday [March 11] comes just days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government would consider boosting defence spending in the wake of Russia’s military assault on Ukraine.

*Opinion: Canada may finally have the political will to strengthen our depleted defence capacity

A major component of upgrading North American Aerospace Defence Command is replacing the aging North Warning System, a chain of radar sites that provide surveillance against aerial incursions, which is expected to cost more than $10-billion.

Ms. Anand declined to clarify whether this would include Canada joining the U.S. ballistic missile defence system [emphasis added] when asked by an audience member.

In 2005 former prime minister Paul Martin’s Liberal government rejected joining American missile defence.

“I cannot give away the plans to modernize NORAD in their intricacies at this time but I will assure you we are fully cognizant of the various threats that our current system allows to be present and we are working very hard on bringing forward a robust package of new technologies in the short term,” the minister told the conference.

James Fergusson, deputy director of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at the University of Manitoba, wrote in a January 2020 paper [see here] for the Macdonald-Laurier Institute think tank that the modernization price tag could be as much as $11-billion according one unofficial estimate. If the cost were split 60/40 with Canada taking the smaller share, that would mean as much as $4.4-billion for Canada [emphasis added].

Last August, on the eve of the 2021 federal election campaign, the Canadian and U.S. governments announced they intend to proceed with “co-ordinated investments” that bolster their ability to protect North America from “a greater and more complex conventional missile threat” including gear that watches for incoming threats from “the sea floor to outer space.”The risk that Canada and the U.S. have in mind is missile technology advancements in Russia and China that can send non-nuclear warheads far greater distances with far more accuracy. These include hypersonic missiles, which travel extremely fast and can dodge and weave during flight to avoid interception, as well as next-generation cruise missiles. This evolution in conventional missiles has made them an increasingly important tool to deter threats or project power without resorting to nuclear weapons.

An August 2021 statement, titled “Joint Statement on NORAD modernization,” set out priorities for the future of North American Aerospace Defense Command, the heart of the Canada-U.S. continental defence pact, saying the two countries must be able to “detect, identify [airborne] threats earlier and respond to them faster and more decisively.”

The statement said the North Warning System will be replaced with technology including “next-generation over-the-horizon radar systems,” which have the ability to detect targets at very long ranges. It also mentions building a network of American and Canadian sensors installed everywhere from the seabed to satellites in space…

Post on that statement:

Canada/US Statement on Way Forward for NORAD–Very Little There There

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Here’s Looking at NORAD/NORTHCOM’s Way Ahead, or, Deterrence and Punishment

(Note second comment for another relevant SLCM map–how much ASW done off western coast of North America? Radar detecting capabilities vs cruise missiles?)

Further to this May 2021 post,

NORAD (and NORTHCOM) Thinking Offense of some sort vs Russian Threats–what does Canadian Government Think?

a few excerpts below from a paper by two very knowledgeable professors at the University of Manitoba, published in Strategic Studies Quarterly (Volume 15 Issue 4 – Winter 2021) of the Air University of the US Air Force.

The paper highlights the pretty urgent need to upgrade NORAD’s detection and defence capabilities, together with US Northern Command, to handle notably increased threats from Russia stemming from technological advances (cruise missiles, hypersonics) and greater resources for them. And then there is the PRC on the rise…Surely working towards defensive denial against some types of attacks beats relying almost completely on punishment? (Though the nature of punishment may be partially shifting in this cyber world.)

North America’s Imperative: Strengthening Deterrence by Denial

Andrea Charron

James Fergusson

In today’s threat environment, adversaries can hold the continent hostage unless leaders can bolster its deterrence posture. Rather than deterrence by punishment, however, the focus of NORAD, USNORTHCOM, and the Canadian Joint Operations Command must be on deterrence by denial and increasing the costs of actions by adversaries should they pursue an attack on North America…

This analysis briefly examines the strategic logic underpinning the need to modernize North American defense, focusing primarily on NORAD and deterrence by denial. It is vital that structural changes to the North American deterrence posture, including necessary investments, are made to alter adversarial perceptions so that North America cannot be held hostage. Beyond the need to modernize NORAD’s early warning and defense control capabilities to meet the new threat environment, both countries must modernize NORAD—the organization—and rethink the importance of protecting the North American homeland…


Alongside detection, defense is the second capability component of a credible North American denial deterrent. As with detection, existing gaps may affect adversary and North American (Canada and the United States) deterrence calculations. Several stand out in the traditional defense domains. Assuming Canada agrees on a CF-18 replacement and given the presence of US anti- cruise missile interceptors, the question becomes whether intercept density relative to NORAD’s assigned assets is sufficient to defend against cruise missile threats.

NORAD is also looking at existing northern forward operating loca-
tions and other possible locations farther south to meet maritime threats and potentially provide some form of layered defense. Additionally, there is a recognized requirement for in- flight refueling capabilities, and the deployment of anti-cruise missile point defenses must be considered. These factors strongly suggest more resources need to be dedicated to the air defense component of North American deterrence and then integrated into the detection side of the equation [emphasis added, esp. by Canada].

Maritime Complexity

…major surface combatants (including the future Royal Canadian Navy combat vessel) need to deploy sufficient anti- cruise missile air defenses [vs SLCMs launched from Russian subs and surface ships–see this post: “US Navy Talks Up Steps it’s Taking vs Russian Subs/Cruise Missiles in North Atlantic–why not Royal Canadian Navy? (Note Norway UPPESTDATE)“–and note image at top of the post], and these defenses need to be integrated into NORAD’s air defense assets. At a minimum, the role of maritime assets must be fully integrated into NORAD exercises to bolster North American deterrence requirements…


From the perspective of North American homeland defense and security, the current CANUS command structure and capabilities are locked into an exclusive deterrence-by-denial posture. Punishment as an alternative is not an option, which does not mean that an adversary does not confront a credible punishment threat. Rather, the punishment threat and thus punishment capabilities reside elsewhere and are exclusively American [emphasis added–but US thinking seems working towards giving NORTHCOM/NORAD a role in punishment, see this post: “Rethinking and Remaking North American Defence, or, a Revolution in NORAD Affairs? How, er, Proactive?” ]. The question then is whether the CANUS part of the equation is adequately structured and resourced to present a credible denial threat to an adversary. Arguably, an adversary could be dissuaded from directly threatening or attacking independent of a punishment threat conceived of as a last resort.

Importantly, any adversary, regardless of perceptions of denial credibility, cannot ignore or simply discount punishment given the reality of US strategic conventional and military capabilities. Of course, as a psychological theory designed to alter adversarial thinking and calculations, it is extremely difficult to know or predict how an adversary thinks and responds to a deterrence posture. Perhaps, then, what is more significant is how North American decision makers think about their own credibility. It is here that the North American conundrum resides.

The North American component of the US- led Western global deterrence posture should exist as the central deterrence hub such that an adversary does not perceive it as a vulnerability that could be exploited to deter US- led responses to regional challenges. Yet it is questionable whether US and Canadian decision makers even think in these terms about the homeland.

Both arguably remain fixated on the overseas components, with North America as an afterthought despite the rhetoric…The American view is that neither Russia nor China would dare strike North America due primarily to its overarching military superiority and last-resort strategic punishment capabilities. The Canadian view is really a nonview. Essentially, Canada does not really think in deterrence terms because it lacks the capabilities to deter credibly and because deterrence is an American responsibility, with Canada helping and warning where it can…

The basic answer is to alter deterrence thinking in North America. Structural changes, including necessary investments, to the North American deterrence [by denial] posture must be made to alter adversary perceptions so that North America cannot be held hostage [emphasis added]

These changes are obviously easier said than done. Despite the best efforts by senior NORAD and USNORTHCOM officials to communicate this message [see this March 2021 post: “US NORTHCOM Thinking pre-emptively vs Russian Cruise Missiles, Leaving NORAD a Backwater?“], it may take an unexpected overseas regional challenge resulting in a major crisis in which the lack of North American denial credibility comes to the fore. Unfortunately, by then, it may be too late. The need to refocus on denial is paramount.

Andrea Charron
Dr. Andrea Charron is an associate professor of international relations and director of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the home of Canada’s NORAD headquarters.

James Fergusson
Dr. James Fergusson is a professor of international relations and deputy director of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at the University of Manitoba. His latest book is Beyond Afghanistan: An International Security Agenda for Canada (2016)…

Thus a major thrust of the paper’s arguments is that, besides the clear need to modernize NORAD, along with NORTHCOM, to deal with threats to North America at the strategic level, those defences must also be capable of deterring, and if not handling effectively, more limited strikes against North America (conventional or even nuclear) in support of military operations elsewhere aimed at convincing the US to give up resisting those operations.

In that context note this bit from a 2015 post:

NORAD Note: Russian Bomber (with cruise missiles) Strikes in Syria

…Moscow’s bomber force remains a traditional component of its nuclear triad, but also forms a useful element in its quest for conventional deterrence, conferring the ability to reach out and touch the U.S. or NATO allies at great range…

Meanwhile the US in putting increasing pressure–including publicly by the dual-hatted USAF four-star general commanding NORAD and NORTHCOM–on PM Trudeau’s government to start committing to serious and funded actions on upgrading NORAD–a post:

NORAD Commander puts Hypersonic and North Warning System Cats amongst Trudeau Government’s Pigeons

One hopes some senior bureaucrats and, gasp, maybe a few ministers are at least briefed on the professors’ paper. Dream on, eh?

These tweets illustrate the current government’s continuing er, lackadaisical approach to NORAD (Mr Trudeau has been prime minister for over six years):

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds