Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence

Issue 9 - Evidence - Meeting of June 9, 2008


OTTAWA, Monday, June 9, 2008

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day at 2:35 p.m. to examine and report on the national security policy of Canada.

Senator Colin Kenny (Chair) in the chair.

[English]

The Chair: Honourable senators, before we proceed with our agenda, I shall announce that after more than a four- year tour of duty with the committee, Leslie Dauncey will leave us at the end of June. Leslie has accepted a secondment with the Canadian International Development Agency, CIDA, and the joint task force on Afghanistan. I shall take this opportunity on behalf of members present to thank Leslie for her professionalism, guidance and wise advice in supporting me in my role as chair and also helping all the other members of the committee in their good work.

Leslie, please come up here. This is fun to do when it is a surprise. On behalf of this committee, I am pleased to present you with this gift and wish you every success in the future. Well done.

Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!

The Chair: We now ask Lt.-Gen. Gauthier to come up. Unfortunately, we do not have a gift for him, but we have some terrific questions. Thank you, Lt.-Gen. Gauthier.

Before we commence, I will introduce the members of the committee. First, there is the deputy chair on my left, Senator David Tkachuk from Saskatchewan. He was appointed to the Senate in June 1993. Over the years, he has been a businessman, public servant and teacher.

Beside him we have Senator Michael Meighen from Ontario who was appointed to the Senate in September of 1990. He is a lawyer and a member of the bars of Quebec and Ontario. He is currently the chair of our Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs and also a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce and the Fisheries and Oceans Committee.

To his left is Senator Joseph Day of New Brunswick. Senator Day has had a successful career as a private practice attorney and has served in the Senate of Canada since 2001. He currently chairs the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance and is deputy chair of the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs.

At the far end of the table is Senator Grant Mitchell who was appointed to the Senate in 2005. He is from Edmonton. He has had careers in the Alberta public service, the financial industry and in politics. From 1986 to 1989 he sat in the Alberta legislature and was Leader of the Opposition from 1994 to 1998. He also sits on the Senate Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources.

On my right is Senator Tommy Banks from Alberta. He has recently returned from an extensive tour of Northern Canada. Senator Banks was called to the Senate in April of 2000. He is known to many Canadians as an accomplished and versatile musician and entertainer. Senator Banks is the chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. He is also a member of the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs.

Senator Wilfred Moore was called to the Senate in 1996 and represents of the senatorial division of Stanhope Street- South Shore in Nova Scotia. He has been active at the municipal level in Halifax-Dartmouth and has served as a member of the Board of Governors of St. Mary's University.

Senator Rod Zimmer is from Winnipeg. He has had a long and distinguished career in business and philanthropy. He has been a member of the Senate since August 2005 and also sits on the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications.

Senator Nancy Ruth is a feminist activist. She is from Ontario and has been a senator since March of 2005. Senator Nancy Ruth is a member of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. She is also member of the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs.

Colleagues, today we have three witnesses and we intend to discuss, amongst other things, funding challenges that have faced the witnesses in their areas of responsibility within the Canadian Forces and with respect to transformation, training, equipment, recruitment and retention.

First on the agenda we will hear from Lieutenant-General J.C.M. Gauthier, Commander of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command, CEFCOM. Lt.-Gen. Gauthier joined the Canadian Forces in 1973. His regimental assignments were with the 5th Combat Engineer Regiment in Valcartier, Quebec, and with the 4th Combat Engineer Regiment in Lahr, Germany. Over the course of his career, he has served as an instructor at the Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering in Chilliwack, British Columbia, and as regimental commander.

In recognition of his leadership on Operation Harmony in the former Yugoslavia, he was awarded the Meritorious Service Cross. He subsequently served as Deputy Commandant of the Canadian Army Staff College in Kingston and as Chief of Staff to the Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff at National Defence Headquarters. He was Commander Land Force Central Area and he assumed operational command of Joint Task Force Southwest Asia. He led a broad ranging transformation of the defence intelligence function as the Chief of Defence Intelligence.

Lieutenant-General J.C.M. Gauthier was appointed the first Commander of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command on September 12, 2005. Welcome, Lt.-Gen. Gauthier, we are pleased to have you with us. We look forward to hearing from you.

We understand you have a brief statement. The floor is yours.

Lieutenant-General J.C.M. Gauthier, Commander, Canadian Expeditionary Force Command, National Defence: Good afternoon and thank you for giving me this opportunity and, more importantly, thank you for the great work that you do on behalf of the Canadian Forces and on behalf of the Government of Canada in respect of the Canadian Forces.

[Translation]

CEFCOM officially stood up on February 1, 2006. It was an outcome of the Canadian Forces transformation process started by General Hillier in 2005, one of the main aims of which was to improve the way operations are conceived, led and supported.

As its name implies, CEFCOM is a fully integrated command, separate from NDHQ, consisting of Army, Air Force, Navy and civilian personnel. It is concerned with all CF operations that take place overseas, whereas domestic and continental operations are the focus of CEFCOM's counterpart, Canada Command.

It is a tremendous honour for me to have been appointed CEFCOM's first Commander, particularly at a time in our history when overseas operations are so prominent.

[English]

As many of you know, I do not have standing forces to draw upon but rather, command forces assigned to me as missions are authorized and launched. My role — and CEFCOM's role — is threefold: first, to exercise effective command oversight over our operations around the globe; second, to shape and guide the conduct of the missions over time, consistent with stated government objectives and strategic guidance from the Chief of the Defence Staff, CDS, while cooperating closely with our whole-of-government partners and our allies; and third, to work hand in hand with the force generators, the army, navy and air force, and others to do everything I can to set the conditions for our men and women deployed in harm's way to succeed in what Canada is asking them to do.

Essentially, my role is to provide clear guidance and then to orchestrate support to the mission, leaving our task force commanders such as the David Frasers, Tim Grants, Guy Laroches and now Dennis Thompsons in Afghanistan, freedom to execute their missions in a flexible manner and in a way most responsive to changing circumstances on the ground.

In the past, with a limited staff within National Defence Headquarters, overseeing operations, operational planning, consisted of working with force generators to determine what forces could be contributed to a particular operation; arranging for the deployment and support of these forces; and exercising oversight to the extent possible. With the new, more robust operational command structure, we have moved beyond simply committing forces to an operation to a focus on achieving a defined strategic effect, with our whole-of-government partners on half of Canada.

[Translation]

The Afghanistan mission is obviously the case in point. CEFCOM has developed a campaign plan for this mission — something we simply did not have the capacity to do in the past. In broad terms, our campaign plan is founded on three pillars or main areas of effort. These are to conduct security operations; to build Afghan security force capacity, which will ultimately allow them to assume full responsibility for their own security; and to enable and support the efforts of our whole of government partners to contribute to reconstruction, development and governance capacity building efforts in support of the Afghan people. Our men and women are engaged in all three of these efforts concurrently, but we shape the campaign over time by adjusting the relative emphasis and concentration of resources among these three pillars to achieve progress, geographically and seasonally.

[English]

With our current command of the NATO International Security Assistance Force's southern region, and our responsibility for Kandahar province, Canada's influence is acknowledged and respected. I know you all understand that this mission is the most intense, complex and dynamic mission Canada has undertaken in many decades, and I am incredibly proud of how our men and women have responded to the challenge.

I know you were in Afghanistan not long ago and saw firsthand the great progress we are making in professionalizing the Afghan National Army, the small steps we are taking with the Afghan National Police and the roads and causeways we are building while employing hundreds of Afghans. I know you saw the extent to which many Afghans in the key districts we have focused on have been able to resume some level of normality, with Afghanistan as the frame of reference rather than Ottawa as the frame of reference.

Our men and women are accomplishing at least as much if not much more than we could reasonably ask of them in Afghanistan, keeping in mind that ``progress'' as we define it will naturally ebb and flow over time. Over the past few weeks, since you returned from your visit, as the poppy harvest has come to an end, the insurgents have resumed their disruptive, terrorizing activities. We are not seeing hundreds of them in one place, as we did two years ago, but we are seeing 5, 10, and 15 of them in one place. It is not completely safe by any stretch of the imagination, nor will it be any time soon. Some parts of Kandahar province are safer than others, and we have been focused on the key districts where a majority of the population lives.

Kandahar City, with its large urban setting, inevitably will be vulnerable to indiscriminate suicide attacks for a long time, but by and large it is a busy, bustling city, where people are resuming their lives, admittedly despite an undercurrent of fear.

In outlying districts such as Zhari and Panjwai, the insurgents have most often resorted to indiscriminate attacks from improvised explosive devices, IED. From time to time though, particularly during this time of the year, they will target our forces more directly, sometimes with the tragic consequences we have seen over the past week.

The pattern of the past months has been for them to focus much more frequently on softer targets, such as the Afghan National Police, who are less able to defend themselves, and to intimidate and prey on more vulnerable civilians. All this activity is aimed at undermining confidence in, and support for, the democratically elected Government of Afghanistan and this, of course, is why we need to continue to confront this challenge squarely and to help consolidate the government's presence, along with our Afghan brother in arms.

[Translation]

You also understand that the Afghan mission represents the most comprehensive whole of government undertaking our military has participated in. We know that security is not the end-state of Canada's mission but a necessary enabler for a broader focus on Afghanistan's political and economic recovery.

[English]

Working with whole-of-government partners is an important part of what CEFCOM does. We are developing strong relationships with counterparts in government, learning to speak a common language and building a shared understanding of what needs to be done, and what is achievable where and when and in what sequence. Consultation routinely takes place on many facets of the mission — how priorities are established and how to measure progress and other areas too numerous to mention. These relationships are helping us to adapt coherently as we move forward to realize government's recent direction regarding the increase in civilian presence, numerous impending capability enhancements to improve security and force protection, and the declared plan to augment our forces in Kandahar province by allies.

It is hard to predict if the Afghan mission represents an exceptional experience for the Canadian Forces or if it is indicative of coming trends, but I have no doubt that the lessons we learn there, not only militarily but in how to integrate ourselves within a broader whole-of-government effort, will reap benefits for Canada when dealing with future international challenges.

While CEFCOM has cut its teeth on the Afghanistan mission, there are currently 13 other distinct operations worldwide of various sizes and mission types. On the African continent, 63 Canadian Forces personnel contribute to United Nations-sponsored peace support, traditional peacekeeping missions in Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan and Darfur. Four Canadians serve with the UN mission in Haiti and another 43 with various multinational stabilization efforts in the Middle East. These individuals all serve in challenging and, with few exceptions, potentially dangerous environments. Though these mission contingents are small and integrated into larger multinational force staffs and observer groups, our men and women are invariably in key positions and bring disproportionately high value. In fact, during recent visits to our missions in Haiti, the Sinai and the several in the Middle East, force commanders were absolutely effusive in their praise. All of them wanted the key people we have there to stay on beyond their planned tour lengths or, at the least, if they could not have that, to be assured that they would be replaced by someone of the same exceptional quality as those they have now in each of these small missions.

You may also be aware of another mission where Canada is exercising leadership and contributing substantial resources. Over 900 naval personnel embarked in three Canadian warships are part of multinational Combined Task Force 150, operating in Middle Eastern waters to provide maritime security and conduct counter-terrorism operations. Our own Commodore Bob Davidson took command of this formation only six days ago and will now lead the combined effort of up to 15 allied warships from his flagship, HMCS Iroquois. This is the first major naval mission CEFCOM has orchestrated from its inception through mission preparation to deployment and execution. Already, as part of this mission, a commercial vessel in international waters has credited a Canadian frigate and its embarked helicopter with fending off a piracy threat. In fact, that incident occurred about two hours after Commodore Davidson took command.

[Translation]

In addition to these planned or steady-state missions, CEFCOM must be ready for the unexpected. In 2006, within months of its creation, CEFCOM spearheaded a military effort to support Foreign Affairs in evacuating Canadian nationals from war-torn Lebanon. Only one month ago, within the span of ten days, staff were preparing potential military responses — and in some cases pre-positioning — as a result of the typhoon in Myanmar, another outbreak of violence in Lebanon, and a devastating earthquake in China.

[English]

It was a busy week for us.

The command continually monitors potential hot spots, creating contingency plans to enable rapid implementation of government direction once received. To perform this function, CEFCOM is an around-the-clock operation, placing high demands on a first-class, exceptionally dedicated team.

I am biased, of course, but I firmly belief that CEFCOM's exclusive focus on international operations has given the Canadian Forces the ability to lead and support deployed operations better than ever before. I visit our deployed missions often to obtain a clear sense of how things are going at the ground level, and I am confident that, from our current flagship mission in Afghanistan to the other numerous mid-and small-scale efforts in other remote parts of the world, we are setting the conditions for our men and women deployed in harm's way to succeed. They understand clearly what is expected of them, they know there is a team back here in Ottawa that is attentive to their needs, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and they also know and are proud of the fact that they are making a positive difference for Canada in the world.

Thank you very much. I am open to your questions.

The Chair: Thank you very much, general, for a helpful presentation.

Senator Meighen: Welcome again, Lt.-Gen. Gauthier.

It has been about two and a half years now since General Hillier's brainchild — at least he was the godfather — of the transformation of the Canadian Forces where we came up with this new structure. You, as the head of CEFCOM, have been there since the beginning. As you mentioned, you have a counterpart at Canada Command, CANCOM.

So that everyone has a clear understanding of how it works, and you have been helpful in your presentation explaining that, and Senator Moore and I were talking about it earlier, the commanders of the army, navy and air force are responsible for recruiting and training people. Then along comes the commander of CEFCOM, or the commander of CANCOM, and they say, I need certain people with certain equipment to accomplish a mission — in Canada in the case of CANCOM, or outside of Canada in the case of CEFCOM. Is that roughly how it works?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: Largely, yes.

Senator Meighen: In other words, you employ the forces that have been generated by the commanders of the army, navy and air force.

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: Yes, those are the terms we use. There are force generators and force employers. In fact, some have a foot in each camp, such as Canadian Operational Support Command, CANOSCOM, and Canadian Special Operations Forces Command, CANSOFCOM. They are both force employers and force generators. They generate some forces and have some force employment responsibilities. By and large, effectively, there are those that are focused principally on force generation and those focused principally on force employment. That paradigm is not hugely different than the one we had in the past, but force employment in the past was controlled by a staff in National Defence Headquarters that performed a lot of multi-tasking. That is no longer the case. They are not focused one minute on some domestic crisis and, the next minute, the same staff are focused on this, that or the other mission, and primarily in a reactive mode.

The force generator to force employer paradigm has not changed in terms of satisfying those requirements. It is how the requirements are satisfied now that is different, with operational commanders who spend all their time focused on operation output. That is what I do 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Senator Meighen: We have now had two and a half years of it. When do we sit down and look back at the pluses and minuses, or an overlook of the pluses and the minuses? Will there be a formal process, or is this something that happens every day of the week?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: It has already happened in steps. There have been discussions amongst the senior leadership over time. We regularly do vector checks through a commander's council chaired by the Chief of the Defence Staff, which involves operational commanders as well as force generators.

A study was done. I should remember it now, as I raise it, but I do not remember the name of the study by Admiral Mason, General Crabbe and General Sutherland, which took an initial look at this back in December of 2006, not long after the commands had been created. Of course, much water has flowed under the bridge since then.

The last time we met as operational commanders, together with force generated with the vice-chief of the defence staff, chief of the defence staff, chief of force development and others and looked at how we were performing and whether we were on the right track, was certainly within the last three months, looking ahead past the 2010 Olympics.

Senator Meighen: What was the answer?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: The answer was, we are on the right course. At this stage, there is not a strong appetite to make dramatic changes one way or the other. We are immersed in a challenge in Afghanistan. We are immersed in another challenge, which is to prepare for domestic challenges on a day-to-day basis as well as longer-term, with major events coming up in 2010.

I cannot speak for the new Chief of the Defence Staff and I cannot speak for the minister either, but I do not expect dramatic changes between now and the 2010 Olympics.

Senator Meighen: My understanding is that the commanders of the army, navy and air force submit a strategic plan, a business plan — call it what you will — in which they have their wish lists and eventually a reply comes back. None of us in any walk of life receive everything we ask for, but they receive what they are able to receive and then there is a saw-off, with a mitigation process, et cetera. Do you submit a similar business plan, strategic plan?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: I do, but it is focused where the business planning process is focused and that is the institution as opposed to operational outputs. The focus of my business plan was on CEFCOM headquarters, and the extent to which I believe it is able to fulfill its mandate; what is working well, what is not working as well, and where I would like to see further investment in people — money or what have you.

Senator Meighen: Am I to assume you cannot share with us those details?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: I can tell you in a general sense that I am happy with how we are resourced from a people perspective and a financial perspective to support the headquarters. I am equally satisfied with how we are resourced for operations outside the country because that is the top priority for the Canadian Forces. I generally receive absolutely what I need to support that.

Am I 100-per-cent happy with how I am resourced right now? Absolutely not. Like everyone else, I have submitted some asks. Like everyone else, those will be given due consideration and I will be given a response in due course. In the meantime, that means I need to be careful with what I try to accomplish with the staff that I have. I need to manage that. My appetite might be up here with the things I want to do but I need to balance that appetite with the capacity of my people to satisfy that appetite.

Senator Meighen: When we were in Afghanistan, we spent a great deal of time usefully — we are grateful for it — with General Laroche, who took great care of us and who was willing to explain and explain again everything that was going on. We were taken, for example, to where the new anti-IED measures were being adopted. If new equipment to counteract the improvised explosive devices is required, would that request come from General Laroche to you? Would he say, ``General Gauthier, what I need over here is some more'' whatever, and would you do your best to obtain it for him?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: Absolutely: Yes; I go back almost two years, not quite, to a phone call I received from General Fraser in the July or August time frame with a requirement for tanks and for another company of infantry. He states that requirement to me. It does not normally come as a surprise because we speak several times a week, the theatre commander and I. For significant requirements, he would formalize that request; send something to me and I would pass it to the CDS, the Strategic Joint Staff and others who would sit down and confirm the requirement, confirm how it could be satisfied, and deploy capabilities in the field. Yes, he would communicate that request through me.

Senator Meighen: I know my colleagues have many questions. Again, in our trip to Afghanistan, we were struck by how possibly useful the new and improved the uninhabited airborne vehicles, UAVs, would be. Often we do not even know what the acronym stands for.

Where are we with UAVs, Lieutenant-General Gauthier? We are hoping for the Predators. The ones we have now are clearly primitive compared to what we might have.

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: They were modern when we bought them.

Senator Meighen: Technology moves so quickly. They are obviously of great use in terms of spotting people laying IEDs, for example. Where are we with the rental purchase?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: A range of capabilities were identified in the Manley report, and subsequently agreed to by the parliamentary motion, which are being pursued enthusiastically and aggressively. I hope you will hear announcements from government on that range of capability requirements soon. They include the UAV and so on.

The Chair: On two points that Senator Meighen raised, we are all aware that General Atomics has dropped out of competition for the UAVs and you are down to one or two Israeli options, neither of which has the ability to deliver ordnance. Does that situation worry you?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: I have not been involved directly in the contracting process.

The Chair: I will rephrase the question. Does having UAVs in Afghanistan that do not deliver ordnance a problem?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: There are UAVs in Afghanistan that deliver ordnance.

The Chair: Are there Canadian ones?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: No.

The Chair: The other clarification I wanted to make is what is referred to colloquially as the Three Wise Men's Report, which was critical of the duplication and triplication of staff in town. The report also recommended a pause until after the Olympics to let things settle down.

In the interim, has there been any effort to reduce that duplication or triplication that they made reference to, and to streamline the process?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: You have to appreciate that the report was rendered in December 2006. Parts of the new command structure were not formed until the summer and into the fall of 2006. They were reporting on something that was still a work-in-progress, but it was early in the progress stages back in that time frame.

We all talk regularly and work with each other every day. We are trying to reduce to the absolute minimum both gaps, so it is not only about duplication and triplication but also gaps and seams between the various staffs to ensure they are seamless, and we are not working at cross purposes.

We have taken some measures and shifted some staffs around. There are functions that used to be done in my headquarters. We have shifted some of those functions to Canadian Operational Support Command over the course of the last year with people. The positions were shifted from my headquarters to the other.

Are we completely there yet? Absolutely not. I was discussing this subject with my own staff last week. I ask the question regularly in theatre when I visit them: What is your perspective on all of this looking up? Are you seeing duplication of effort between the various staffs? I am receiving increasingly positive comments, not to suggest it was terribly negative in the past. However, I am receiving positive comments and we are attentive to this feedback.

With the pace of activity in CEFCOM — and elsewhere, but my focus is CEFCOM — we cannot afford to have people wasting their time doing something that someone else is also doing. We are mindful of that situation.

Senator Banks: It is good to see you again. We all concur with what you said in terms of the clear progress, however slow it is, which was obvious to us in Afghanistan.

When you talked about your comfort with the level of resourcing of people, I understood you to be careful to make clear that you were talking about your headquarters staff. I have to ask, because of the connection between force generation and force application, whether you are equally happy with the resources you have to put people into the field to accomplish the job we all admire as being accomplished so well.

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: I did not provide a complete enough answer to that question.

Part of the challenge is that the operational planning process is not based on either an annual or a multiyear — five-, ten-, fifteen- or twenty-year — cycle. It is more conditions-based than that. Requirements associated with operations are driven more by conditions on the ground or conditions back in Canada, in terms of government direction and so on, than they are by a business planning cycle. We do not assess mission resourcing in the context of our business planning framework because it would have the potential to compromise operational imperatives in the operational planning process.

To answer your question specifically, if I need more in relation to the job that needs to be done, then it is my job to go to my boss and say, if you want me to do this operation, then I will need this to do that. Of course, we evaluate that need constantly. We evaluate it with each of our missions where there is a rotation of troops, whether it is six months, nine months or whatever it may be. We regularly evaluate what the forecast requirements are moving down the road, and shape the force structure to ensure that the force structure, capabilities and mission focus is what it needs to be in a given time frame.

Only this afternoon, we had an extended discussion, looking forward to not the next rotation which deploys in the fall, but the rotation after that, to begin to shape missions, tasks and force structure applied to geography in relation to whole of government. We are having those discussions now.

Senator Banks: Do you have enough people to do what you need to do? Are the requests you make to the force generators met to your satisfaction?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: Yes, there is a good relationship between the force generators and my staff, an extremely good relationship when it comes to operational missions. We sit down together.

I have a land, air and maritime liaison officer that connects into the army, navy and air force. Because Afghanistan is our focus, I have an army representative sitting at the table next to me at my weekly briefings. With the new maritime operations, we will have a maritime voice at the table also, as we monitor progress over time.

There are no absolutes. Whether I have enough to do the job is related to the definition of the job, effectively. Are there enough troops on the ground in Kandahar province to do everything that needs to be done in Kandahar province to achieve progress at some sensible level? The answer is no, and the Manley panel effectively said that, which was why one of their preconditions for carrying on with the mission was to have a partner organization to work with in Kandahar province.

Senator Banks: Switching gears, can you please talk about the Strategic Advisory Team, SAT, and President Karzai. On a day-to-day basis, we understand that the people from whom he receives a lot of operational, mechanical and practical advice are Canadians in the Strategic Advisory Team. Do they come under your purview?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: They do. They report through the senior Canadian commander in Kandahar.

Senator Banks: We have heard how good and effective they are. However, they are all military officers; therefore the best Canadians are not necessarily all there giving advice to the president. We have heard from some folks that there should be a concept within the SAT to find the best Canadians from wherever or whatever part of our country, not only the military; and that perhaps consideration ought to be given to the team being more than a purely military advisory group. What is your reaction to that view?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: I agree completely.

Senator Banks: Is it in the offing?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: I have to say, to begin with, there was no such thing prior to August 2005. From a military perspective, this was not in our doctrine manuals, as SAT, to go to a menu and order from a catalogue that particular type of capability.

Senator Banks: Afghanistan has a lot of make-it-up-as-we-go-along, I think.

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: Yes, in a positive sense: Early on, in the first rotation, Colonel Mike Capstick and his team went over there and did a lot of what you described — figuring out as they went along — but to a point where a strong appetite existed from the Afghan government for more. Over the course of the three rotations, we have had great, capable officers and non-commissioned members, NCMs, over there. I am not sure if you had a chance to meet with them.

Senator Banks: We did.

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: They are doing great work. Initially, given the environment in Kabul, a 100-per-cent or 95-per- cent military team made eminent sense. As time has marched on and as the Afghan government has become more capable, we need to ask ourselves if this approach is absolutely the right one or do we need to do as you have suggested? That subject is under review right now and you can expect to see changes as time marches on.

The Chair: One thing you did not comment on, Lt.-Gen. Gauthier, when you talked about your liaison people in your command is whether special operation forces were part of that. How do you relate to them, inasmuch as they, too, are employers and they report to the Chief of the Defence Staff rather than to you?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: Operationally, they report to me through General Thompson. That is fully integrated. Colonel Day is the commander of CANSOFCOM. He sees himself personally as my SOF advisor and his operational staff is effectively my operational SOF staff to ensure things are integrated. I am seeing synergy there. This relationship is about ensuring that the full range of capabilities overseas is integrated to achieve the desired effect. It is working well, from my perspective.

The Chair: As a committee, we had concerns about how Operation Enduring Freedom and the International Security Assistance Force, ISAF, could function on the same territory. I presume they have mechanisms to coordinate what they are doing.

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: That question is slightly different because you are talking about CANSOFCOM. There are any number of elements that operate under Operation Enduring Freedom rather than the ISAF mandate. You would have to ask Major General Marc Lessard, who is the commander of all ISAF operations in the south of Afghanistan what his view was in terms of visibility into Operation Enduring Freedom activities.

I know what the answer is. He is happy that it is joined up. He has the visibility and the say that he needs to have in terms of prioritizing effects on the ground.

The Chair: Then we do not have to ask. Thank you.

Senator Tkachuk: I will focus a little bit on Afghanistan, leading from the other two questioners as far as equipment is concerned.

Senator Meighen talked about the equipment to assist the soldiers in IED tactics and Senator Banks talked about other equipment. Do you have a priority list of things that you think are important that either you are not getting or we can be helpful in getting, or that you could inform us that you are obtaining for the requirements that we need in Afghanistan?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: My long-standing answer to that question in the past has been medium-lift helicopters and rotary wing capability writ large, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, including uninhabited aerial vehicles.

Those are the major areas in the environment in which we are functioning in Afghanistan. Those make a big difference. They are coming, from my perspective. I am satisfied they are coming. We are working with force generators to set the conditions to receive these capabilities, as force generators and the rest of Canadian Forces are able to deliver them over the next eight to ten months. I am confident they will be there in time to satisfy the Manley panel requirements.

In terms of other capabilities, the response from the Canadian Forces and from government in relation to — as General Leslie likes to describe it — my insatiable appetite for more over there in terms of capabilities, people and so on, has been amazing. It is positive. If we look at the types of kit we have over there that we did not have in the Canadian Forces inventory prior to this mission, we have the M777, 155-mm Howitzer, or it is the Nyala RG-31, or the Leopard 2 tanks, and I could go on with these capabilities. You were able to see the expedient-route opening capability, EROC, over there, and on the list goes.

I am happy with the responsiveness of both the Canadian Forces and government to our operational requirements over there and the efforts to do everything they can to change the paradigm from what it has been in terms of a normal time horizon to deliver capability and to satisfy immediate operational requirements. It has been positive.

Senator Tkachuk: I noticed how careful you were in answering the question of the chair when he talked about the need for more manpower. How is that need decided in Afghanistan, being a NATO mission, with Canada and the Americans involved in the same province and territory? How does that decision-making work? Do they all come together at regular meetings and talk about these things? How do they make the decision and assessment for more troops, and who to ask for more troops; what countries to go to?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: Ultimately, it is the theatre commander, the, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force, Comm. ISAF. Last week, General Dan McNeill left and General Dave McKiernan replaced him, a four-star general from Heidelberg. They are both great officers.

He constantly evaluates his needs. He communicates those needs through his NATO chain of command, which flows up through Joint Force Command Brunssum, commanded by General Ramms, and up into SHAPE headquarters. Is SHAPE a permissible acronym?

The Chair: That is all.

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: Based on that evaluation, there is a standing combined joint statement of requirement, CJSOR — a detailed listing of capabilities required in Afghanistan by region, type of unit and so on. It is up to SHAPE headquarters — Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe — to manage force generation in support of the requirements agreed, first, amongst nations and identified by the force commander in theatre to try to generate the forces in support of it. That has been a bit of a challenge for some of the CJSOR requirements in South Afghanistan.

Senator Tkachuk: We have set a limit. Would they go to the Americans? If they needed extra forces, how would they assess where to go for them, or would they beg, borrow and steal from whatever country makes the commitment?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: It is not so much about if they are needed. There are identified CJSOR shortfalls, which have been publicized over the course of the last couple of years. Those needs vary over time. There is the NATO force- generation process. There are periodic meetings, at which nations are represented and given an opportunity to bid on the gaps.

Based on the response or lack of response to those requirements, these things will come up at gatherings of senior leaders, whether chiefs of defence, ministers of defence or even foreign ministers and prime ministers.

Senator Tkachuk: The Manley report had a specific, targeted number, which was satisfied by the Americans and the French. How did they determine that number? Would they have had meetings with the NATO command? Would they have had meetings with our commanders?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: It was based on the fact that there was an identified need for a certain number of battalions in Kandahar province and across the south. Without getting into all of detail, they took what a basic battalion should look like, added to that all the supporting infrastructure that comes with a battalion in terms of national support and so on, and that gave them a round figure of 1,000. There was probably some level of advice from the CDS and other witnesses who appeared before the panel to suggest the number.

Senator Nancy Ruth: Lieutenant-General Gauthier, one thing I was most disappointed about in the Manley report was its refusal to talk about United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. I made an assumption here that this resolution comes under your sort of command, so to speak.

How do you use international directives like this one? How is this resolution on women, peace and security, discussed and implemented, and what is the impact?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: The most important aspect of applying these resolutions — and there are any number of UN Security Council resolutions that apply — is to ensure our personnel are properly trained prior to going overseas.

I am informed by the army that all our personnel deployed on missions abroad receive specific pre-deployment training on the protection of women, children and other vulnerable populations. The curriculum for this training is given at Kingston at the Peace Support Training Centre, and the training is regularly updated.

I do not have as clear a picture of the specifics of this resolution, but we can provide those details, perhaps. In addition, Canada and the U.K. have developed a gender-training initiative for military and training personnel involved in peace support operations.

Senator Nancy Ruth: Is that for ours, Afghanis or both?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: It is for internationals that are deploying on these missions. I do not have a lot more information on that training. That said, I expected you to ask me that question, senator.

Senator Nancy Ruth: I am sure, after last week.

Do you have any sense of what kind of impact this resolution is having, if any?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: I have not specifically asked the question. I certainly will as I march down the road, especially given how often I go into Afghanistan. I will ask that question when I go to Afghanistan.

In a general sense, not related to the broad-based training we do but more mindful of the fact that, given Afghan culture, interaction between males from our task force and females and children — local Afghans — is a bit of a challenge.

Part of the answer is to do everything we can to ensure that we have a good number of women deploy. We cannot adapt the force structure dramatically to do that. However, there have been all sorts of examples over the course of the last year or two where the women deployed have been able to have a particular effect by virtue of being women who are employed in roles that they are not necessarily employed in with other militaries. That is a good-news story.

Senator Nancy Ruth: Do the women in Afghanistan have a chance to work with leaders of women's groups rather than with individual women?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: It is a combination of both. That applies not only to the women who are deployed in our units such as the provincial reconstruction team, PRT, and the civil military cooperation detachments — the last time I looked, both of those units have a number of women involved in them — they tend to have more contact with the public and they would naturally tend to be more involved with leaders, also.

Let us not forget that representation in the PRT from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, DFAIT, and the Canadian International Development Agency, CIDA, also have a number of females who are able to play that role with female community leaders.

Senator Nancy Ruth: Do groups like CIDA and DFAIT relate to the military about what they are sharing on issues dealing with women's participation, peace making and other such brokering exercises, or do they each work in their own tunnel?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: The elements I referred to, PRT and the Civil-Military Co-operation, CIMIC, detachments, in particular, work hand in glove with CIDA and DFAIT, right out to the district level. They would certainly be sharing information. They are not working in isolation from each other. They are working together on a day-to-day basis.

Senator Nancy Ruth: Are there other countries where you are in command where resolution 1325 has become an issue and soldiers are trained?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: All our people that are deploying on these missions — on the smaller missions, in particular — flow through the Peace Support Training Centre and are exposed to the training. I cannot speak to the extent to which they are able to apply that training, practically.

I am going on another mission next week to a place other than Afghanistan, and, again, I will ask that question.

Senator Nancy Ruth: Thank you for your support.

Senator Mitchell: General, you noted earlier that we travelled to Afghanistan. I wanted to say that it was a powerful experience for me. I think I speak for everyone here. One of the most moving features of that experience — and people say it but I want to reinforce it — was the quality of the people we met there from General Laroche all the way through the ranks.

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: I will interrupt you for a second. The best thing about my job is just that: Being able to go into the mission areas every couple or three months and to have dealt with rotation 0, rotation 1 and rotation 2. You mentioned General Laroche. There are 20,000-plus Canadians who are an incredible calibre of people who have been doing amazing things in Afghanistan. I appreciate your making the comment.

Senator Mitchell: I feel it is important that I say that.

In addressing Senator Nancy Ruth's points, I should say two things. On the civilian side, Elissa Goldberg who heads up the civilian wing, is impressive as well. The manner in which she and the military dealt with one another showed a great deal of respect. That respect, in part, is at the root of the effectiveness of the government as a whole.

To further pick up on Senator Nancy Ruth's point, I was impressed by the level of respect — and I am sure there are still difficulties — between male and female military personnel. I grew up in a military family at a time when not many women were in the military. It was striking to me the way that women have been integrated. I know there is probably a long way to go and it is not perfect. However, it is nonetheless impressive.

I will return to my first point. A lot of the debate in Canada about this mission concerns the question of peacekeeping. We have in our DNA, almost, this idea that Canadians invented peacekeeping; we are peacekeepers. Somehow, for some people, this mission does not quite meet that expectation.

The debate does not address the fact that peacekeeping, if it will exist at all, has changed fundamentally because the nature of wars and the world have changed fundamentally. There are no inter-state wars — if I am not mistaken — with Israel and Lebanon not actually fighting at the moment. There is no political boundary along which they can split two armies wearing different uniforms and walk blue helmets up and down them.

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: Not many.

Senator Mitchell: This war is not the Second World War and it is not the Suez. It is somewhere in between.

How do you define ``peacekeeping'' in this kind of paradigm? I do not want to diminish in any way, shape or form the risk that the military are taking because they are fighting a war. We lost two more people in the last week and a half and that is terrible. However, at what point does this mission morph somehow into something that is more like a modern-day ``peacekeeping,'' perhaps as much as we could define modern-day peacekeeping in that kind of environment?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: I think you are familiar with General Charles Krulak of the United States Marine Corps who, about 10 years ago, coined the phrase ``three-block war.'' The theory is that, in modern warfare operations, there will be, in one block, military personnel engaged in combat operations; in another block, they are engaged in stability operations; and, in a third block of the same city, they are engaged in humanitarian assistance operations.

I do not use that term anymore because I find it is more simplistic than the complexities that we must deal with in Afghanistan.

We are involved in counter-insurgency operations right now, ultimately, in support of the government of Afghanistan. Our focus is on the people of Afghanistan and helping them. As you saw in Afghanistan, every last one of our soldiers over there understands that focus. It is about giving the Afghan people hope for a brighter future, extending the legitimacy and credibility of the Afghan government, institution building and all those other things.

The term ``peacekeeping'' is actually quite limiting. There are some elements of what we are doing that require the same traits and characteristics as peacekeeping. However, it is a lot more complex than that. That is why we are in this full-spectrum operation mode where, at one end of the spectrum, we are involved in intense combat some days. We are building capacity and enabling our whole-of-government partners to try to build institutions and help the people of Afghanistan.

To complete the thought, we will be involved in that full spectrum. That full spectrum applies across the province of Kandahar in the sense that, in some places, we are supporting stability operations. When I use the term ``stability operations'' I mean whole-of-government operations to deliver effects in support of the people of Afghanistan. There are some places where we can do that today such as Kandahar City and a couple other districts. In other districts, we are involved in clearing and holding, trying to establish or create a secure environment that will lead to the stability operations. Then there are places where we are at the defining or shaping stage.

Different districts will be treated in different ways and will progress at a different pace over time. For the foreseeable future, we will be involved in different types of operations. We need to be prepared for those operations.

Senator Mitchell: You may have coined a new description of these things, full spectrum.

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: It is not new from a military perspective.

Senator Mitchell: I have a question on the issue of how many people are there and what country should supply them. There is clearly a greater American commitment now. When we were there, 3,400 marines had arrived and were going through the base. I was running around on the airfield with some of them.

As the Americans, perhaps, make the decision to diminish their commitment to Iraq, or for many other reasons, do you see a greater willingness on their part to commit more U.S. soldiers to sustain and support what we are doing?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: It is difficult for me to comment on what the U.S. military and the U.S. government may be planning.

In a general sense, I can acknowledge that General McNeill identified the need when he was commanding ISAF. We have had comments attributed to Defense Secretary Gates and others that could be interpreted in a certain way in the potential for the future. However, the U.S. needs to draw their own conclusions based on the various challenges they have interacting in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The Chair: Would it be fair to say that if they were positive about it, you would welcome them?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: Absolutely.

Senator Day: From a lot of your answers, I wonder if our military is being transformed into one that prepares for Afghanistan and Afghanistan-type missions only. I want to be reassured that we are not transforming the military into one to fill that type of mission exclusively. In the future, we will undoubtedly be involved, as part of our responsibility internationally, in missions that are different from Afghanistan.

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: I am focused overseas and I am focused on today's missions. To be fair to the Canadian Forces generators who are more focused on the institution and the future of the institution, it would be a good question to put to them.

However, I am reasonably confident in the answer. Speaking as an army officer, we have a view from a land force perspective, but it applies more broadly across the Canadian Forces, of the contemporary operating environment in the 21st century. It is one of asymmetric threats, volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity that must be dealt with.

There are basic capabilities that we recognize will be required in any sort of operation, or that will satisfy a range of requirements in operations in the future. We are learning things about non-traditional requirements in the context of the contemporary operating environment against insurgent-like forces that are irregular rather than a regular opponent.

Everything to do with that environment will serve us in good stead. As the senator suggested, conflicts around the world and the nature of conflicts in different places are likely to serve us well in other places.

We call the capacity building efforts ``war winning,'' such as the capabilities we have deployed through Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams, OMLT, to work with the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police. Those capabilities will enable success in the longer term. Security in and of itself delivered by us does not have a lasting effect. We need to give the nation the capacity to do that for itself.

Another issue is the notion of enabling whole-of-government effects and results. An Afghanistan model is emerging.

How different will others be? They will be different in specific terms, but not in general terms. We need the mindset that we will focus on that broad range of activities in most future operations.

I think everyone would agree that we are learning an incredible amount every day, week and month over time. That learning will stand us in good stead for the Afghanistan mission and also for many other missions.

Senator Day: Let me ask you about two or three groups that exist. I am trying to understand your role as Commander of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command vis-à-vis the ``generators of forces.'' You said that once you have that, there are certain groups to which it does not apply.

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: It does, but they do a little of both.

Senator Day: If that is the case, why should we learn about the terms?

Tell me what role the Strategic Joint Staff at National Defence Headquarters has vis-à-vis your activity?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: In the military, one thing we teach in our military educational institutions is the notion of strategic operational and tactical levels of operations. By and large, my headquarters is focused on the operational level. That level is the bridge between the strategic government intentions — Chief of the Defence Staff intentions — and tactical actions. It links one to the other to ensure that tactical actions lead to strategic effects.

The small staff that works in National Defence Headquarters is the Strategic Joint Staff. They are clearly focused at the strategic level. They support the CDS and they support the minister to a certain degree in giving the minister situational awareness of what is happening on the ground day-to-day in Afghanistan.

They assist the CDS in guiding operations. When the CDS is guiding those operations, he is guiding me with those operations. They will produce tasking and initiating directives and other such things to shape, from the CDS perspective, the conduct of operations all the time.

The Strategic Joint Staff is substantially smaller, I would say, than the old Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff organization, and it is almost exclusively focused on supporting the CDS.

Senator Day: With transformation, was that group contemplated to continue as a separate group advising the Chief of the Defence Staff on what was going on in the mission rather than you, as a Commander of the Expeditionary Force, advising the chief?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: This role has been reinforced over the course of the last two years. If we do not have a small staff responding literally to day-to-day and minute-to-minute needs, a spark will turn into some kind of strategic brush fire that needs to be stomped out. If there is no staff in the National Defence Headquarters, small as it is, to work on that role, then my staff must deal with it rather than being focused downward on supporting the troops.

That was one of the flaws in the old structure. This small staff was pulled in many different directions at the same time.

Senator Day: Is there a danger that this group will give information to the Chief of the Defence Staff that is different from the information the CDS would have received from you if the CDS had come to you for the information?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: The chief and I are both busy people and we do not have time to interact directly on a minute-to- minute basis. A lot of the work is done through staff. A staff officer such as the Director of Staff in National Defence Headquarters will sit down with the chief and walk through four or five issues in the course of a daily operational briefing, for instance. I would rather not spend the time doing that every day because it tears me away from my focus, which is downward and outward. I also focus a great deal on other government departments and dealing with our allies internationally.

Senator Day: Tell me about this position of Chief Force Development. Who holds the position? Is there such a person?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: Absolutely. It is General Mike Ward. The position was created a couple of years ago looking out 25 years to ensure that the Canadian Forces, from a capability perspective, is tracking in the right direction based on capability-based planning. I cannot give you any more detail than that. The time horizon is completely different. My horizon is minutes to months but the horizon of the Chief Force Development is probably 15 years to 25 years.

Senator Day: Is that in terms of equipment acquisition or capability?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: It is equipment, capability, force structure and programs.

Senator Day: He may be the person that is thinking along the lines of my first question of ensuring that we do not become so Afghanistan-centric that we are unable to do anything else.

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: Absolutely: He would have been at the centre of the Canada First Defence Strategy. It is capability-based planning, looking at a range of scenarios that four structure models can be applied to 25 years from now, so that planning is not focused only on Afghanistan. This strategy will give us the capability to implement the Combined Task Force 150, CTF-150, scenario of 2025 or 2030 — the maritime operation that we are engaged in now, as well as a range of others.

Senator Day: He reports directly to the Chief of the Defence Staff?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: He reports to the vice-chief of the defence staff.

Senator Day: You talked earlier about the possibility of duplication and mentioned the Canadian Operational Support Command. Is that a separate, stand-alone command operations support?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: Yes.

Senator Day: The acronyms SO and OS are interesting because SO is different from OS and we are talking about operations support, OS.

What role does Canadian Operational Support Command have on an ongoing basis with the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: They are inextricably linked and interwoven. Staffs talk on a minute-to-minute basis. Operational Support Command is focused on the machinery back in Canada that projects support overseas. He is focused on the pipeline from Canada into Afghanistan and other operational theatres. From a material standpoint and other standpoints, he is focused on ensuring that the material is in place in theatre to give the troops on the ground the support that they need, all in support of me. He clearly understands that he does all that in support of me just as, for domestic operations he can provide similar services to the Commander of Canada Command. Such services include shipping tanks overseas, supporting new capabilities, withdrawing capabilities from overseas, replenishing on a day-to- day basis to ensure that ammunition and other stock levels are where they need to be and troubleshooting daily to ensure that a spare part required to keep a critical piece of equipment running is available. He does not do this on an individual component basis but he is responsible for much of it. He works with the Assistant Deputy Minister, Materiel, and others to ensure that the system is gathered to provide support to us.

Senator Day: In terms of an expeditionary force battle group out there, does he have personnel in the battle group who are looking after logistics and supply, and so on?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: No, they are my people.

Senator Day: They are your people?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: Yes.

Senator Day: When they come back home, do they fall under his command?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: Right.

Senator Day: When infantry personnel return from a mission in Afghanistan after six months or so to CFB Gagetown or Petawawa or Edmonton, do they fall under Canada Command or go to their army, navy or air force training locations?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: They will return to the place they were generated from, whether army, navy, air force or somewhere else in the Canadian Forces. Not all individuals deploy from their home unit. The capabilities are generated principally from the army for Afghanistan but individuals do not come only from the army. Instead, they come from across the Canadian Forces. They return to the home unit.

To step back from that detail, when they set foot back in Canada, they are no longer under my command.

Senator Day: That is what I meant. In effect, they can say they are no longer employed.

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: Certainly, I would not put it that way.

Senator Day: Nor would I. I was playing with your earlier terminology of generation and employment.

Senator Zimmer: I recently saw a movie called, Charlie Wilson's War. The credits said that much of the movie was filmed at Camp Mirage, which does not officially exist.

Keeping that in mind, what is the value-added role of Camp Mirage now that the Canadian Forces possess C-17 transport aircrafts? Why is Camp Mirage needed and why does it not officially exist?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: Of course, it exists but I will go to the last answer first.

The Chair: The right answer is, we do not know where it exists.

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: That is exactly right, or we cannot talk about where it is, out of respect for our hosts. The only issue that our hosts do not want us to talk about publicly is the location of Camp Mirage because it could cause them particular challenges.

That is a good question for which the answer is being looked at as we speak. We do not have four fully operational C-17s but we need to look at what effect they have on our requirements. Camp Mirage has been a huge enabler, at not much cost, for operations overseas in Afghanistan and for the CTF-150, the current maritime operation. I have not been completely energetic and enthusiastic about devoting a great deal of attention to the future of that particular support capability because it is only that — capability, until I have a clear understanding of what the new capability inherent in the C-17s will give us.

That is a good question and we are studying that right now.

Senator Zimmer: Does your command keep a lessons-learned account to ensure that the Canadian Forces take advantage of the experience in each rotation of troops in Afghanistan? When we were there, we saw good lessons. We saw a building of a bakery, an embroidery shop and a road that they will officially name and take pride in doing so.

Are you keeping a lessons-learned account in Afghanistan?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: Are we doing it as well as I would like us to do it: no. Are we doing it pretty darn well: absolutely. Because it is a land-centric mission, the lessons learned process is largely vested in the army. They do not prepare only army lessons learned, they prepare Afghanistan lessons learned writ large.

As I said earlier, we have been learning multiple lessons each minute over there during the course of the last two and a half years, without question. The proof is in the pudding, to a certain extent.

If we look at where we were, from a force structure perspective, the tasks we were doing and how we were functioning two and a half years ago when we first deployed to the south of Afghanistan, and if we look at all the changes that have been introduced over the course of the last two and a half years, those changes speak to a reasonably robust lessons-learned capability that has allowed us to be as agile as we have been over the course of the last two and a half years.

The army has a relatively small team in Kingston, the Canadian Army Lessons Learned Centre, and General Leslie can tell you more about this centre because it is largely driven by him. The air force and navy have similar capabilities. There is a centralized coordination process, but it is not as robust as we have in the army, navy and the air force. I will say that I am happy with what the army is doing for us and doing for itself to ensure that lessons are captured on a timely basis.

I said we are learning every minute. There are cases where we have an improvised explosive device, IED, strike, and within hours, if not minutes, analysts are deployed to that site, analyzing lessons that we will apply to tactics, techniques, procedures, equipment and other capabilities as appropriate. Recommendations are fleshed out in a matter of hours on these things to ensure that we draw the right lessons out of them as quickly as possible. Lessons learned is actually a good news story.

Senator Zimmer: As a final comment, as far as talking to the troops and the good things they are doing, everyone we spoke to said exactly that: We are making progress, we are doing good things, and things are going forward. It bears out what you said.

Senator Moore: Thank you, Lieutenant-General Gauthier, for coming here. In your opening remarks, at least twice you mentioned a phrase that is new to me: the whole-of-government partners. What does that mean? You are a military man.

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: Two and a half years ago, we used the term 3D: diplomacy, development and defence. Depending on where you sit, you list one of them first. Then it became 3Ds plus C, all acronyms.

Senator Moore: What is C?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: C was commerce at the time. We found that term did not do justice to the full range of Government of Canada engagement in Afghanistan. You would have seen what we have in Afghanistan right now with the provincial reconstruction team, so I do not need to dwell on this engagement, but it includes Correctional Service Canada, RCMP and other police from across Canada, CIDA, DFAIT, and I am probably missing some as I rush to answer your question.

Whole of government was judged to be a better term, but it is about the Government of Canada effort. Whole of government means the effort is about more than only the military. It is important for us to recognize that. From a pure military perspective, we cannot take Afghanistan to an end state in which it is a self-sustaining government. It will require all instruments of power and Government of Canada capabilities for Canada to have an effect, or to have the effect that Canada wishes to have.

Senator Moore: We are in Kandahar province.

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: Right.

Senator Moore: It is a big country, centred in Kabul. Are other nations approaching this with a whole-of- government approach, or is this only the particular way we are approaching it in that province in which we are operating?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: One of the challenges, of course, is that the ISAF mission is a military mission. The ISAF mission enables others, and those others vary from province to province. The value that Canada adds is that it has, and will continue to take, a more concerted, coherent and national approach that will enable results, and hopefully lead to coherent and visible effects in Kandahar province.

Senator Moore: By national, do you mean the Afghanistan nation?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: Of course, the mission is about Afghanistan and supporting their priorities, without question. There is no argument there at all. However, the Afghans do not want to deal with 17 different Canadians representing 17 different government departments to receive different priorities or statements of priority from each of them in different areas of focus. The Afghans want to deal with a more cohesive whole, which is what we are getting at with this whole-of-government effort in Afghanistan.

Senator Moore, this is not new or unique in Afghanistan. In Helmand province, the British talked the same way. In Oruzgan province, the Dutch speak the same way, and likewise elsewhere. Whether it is whole of government, all of government or comprehensive approach, any number of terms are used to describe essentially the same approach, which is about coherence.

Senator Moore: Do the Americans approach it that way?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: By and large, they do. Certainly 10 years ago, when I was a student at the U.S. Army War College, the flavour of that time was inter-agency cooperation. The function is exactly the same.

Senator Moore: Do you hear that on the ground in Afghanistan? It seems to me that the American approach is primarily militaristic. They are not too concerned about some of the other things you talked about here.

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: It depends on who you ask. If you ask the U.S. ambassador in Kabul, he would have a view on that. I am sure he would tell you that, absolutely, his job is to ensure that the approach is inter-agency.

To go back to what you said about what their focus is, an interesting article published in The Economist last week refers to the great perceived successes that Americans have had in ISAF Regional Command East by virtue of not only their military approach but the fact that they link together so well reconstruction results with military results.

Senator Moore: Connected with that issue is the matter of the representative of Canada in Kandahar. Does that person report to the ambassador of Canada in Afghanistan? You are nodding yes. Do you have, or need, a day-to-day working relationship with that person? I do not know where all these pieces fit in terms of these pillars, this whole-of- government approach and the military mission. I am trying to get a handle of what the need is.

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: I do not want to speak for David Mulroney, but I will because you have asked the question and I am here answering. Elissa Goldberg, the representative of Canada in Kandahar, has an office in the headquarters building at Canadian Armed Forces right next to General Thompson's. She reports through the ambassador to the Afghanistan task force and Privy Council Office. She is not a DFAIT representative. She is a Government of Canada representative in the south of Afghanistan. Arif Lalani is the Government of Canada representative in Kabul, and they both report, one through the other, up to David Mulroney.

Senator Moore: What sort of things would that person discuss with our general in command there?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: I am pausing not because I am stumped but there is so much that they have to discuss.

Senator Moore: That person was not there when we were there, and it is a new appointment. Was there a void? Was there something we were not covering?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: I think early in the mission there was not enough civilian capacity deployed in the theatre to deliver on the full range of things the government would like to deliver on; reconstruction capacity building and so on. By the way, security conditions were not necessarily conducive, as you saw over there.

General Thompson will discuss daily with Elissa Goldberg to develop a shared view of what needs to be done on a daily, weekly and monthly basis; on which communities and districts they need to focus; what is achievable and what is not; and what the programming priorities should be in a district, for example, all based on discussions that occur initially in the PRT, but also increasingly at the CAF Liaison Office.

There has been a relatively small civilian staff there. The good news is that the staff will grow in the coming months, and hopefully we will see more of those discussions. The weekly report I receive from Afghanistan is co-signed by Ms. Goldberg and the joint task force command. They now produce a joint report, which they did not do previously.

Senator Moore: In response to Senator Day, you mentioned that Commander Michael Day is the commanding officer of what?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: Canadian Special Operations Forces Command.

Senator Moore: Does that include Joint Task Force 2, JTF2?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: Yes.

Senator Meighen: Thank you, Lieutenant-General Gauthier. My question is with regard to the concept of whole of government and relates to those Afghans who have cooperated and worked with the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan, in many cases at the risk of their lives. I am thinking, in particular, of people we met during our time in Afghanistan, such as interpreters who always keep their faces heavily covered in public. I imagine it is possible for locals to figure out who these interpreters are, and they are taking a considerable risk.

When their contract is over, many of them find it difficult to continue to live in their local community, for many reasons, not the least of which is their personal safety.

Within the context of whole of government, is there anything that you, as CEFCOM commander, can do to initiate a discussion on how best to protect these people? For example, can the process be accelerated for them to come to Canada as landed immigrants?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: There may well be. Those discussions may have occurred over the last couple of years. It is not something I have had direct visibility into.

These people are incredible. Although the interpreters are in the forefront, many others work with us. We could not do what we are doing without them. We do anything we can to help them. Longer term, we should discuss their wishes with other government departments.

Senator Meighen: Perhaps at an opportune occasion you can raise it with those who have responsibility in the immigration department or otherwise. It would be greatly appreciated.

A case was referred to me of an interpreter who wishes to come to Canada because he fears for his life, and the normal process may take too long.

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Department of Citizenship and Immigration would be better placed to answer the specifics of what they can do. In principle, absolutely we should do something. What policy constraints might stand in the way of that and how many of those cases should be looked at are good questions.

Senator Meighen: It might make hiring interpreters easier for you if there was some follow-on in terms of ensuring their safety afterwards.

The Chair: We also have the case of an individual who is a Canadian-Afghan who has asked for an extension there, which also gives us a sense of commitment.

Senator Meighen: From his Canadian employer.

The Chair: Yes: We think that if the person using the translators makes an issue of it, there is more likely to be results throughout the system. We think it is less likely to be successful if someone in Citizenship and Immigration Canada generates and pushes this issue.

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: I have presented commendations to some of these people over the course of the last two years. As I said, we could not do our work without them. These are Canadian citizens who did not sign up to the unlimited liability clause that we in uniform did. They are amazing people. Some of them have been back a number of times performing these jobs.

The Chair: Can you assist the committee by keeping us informed on what progress is made on this issue?

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: I will.

Senator Day: There is another side to this issue. These people are well-educated. If we start raiding well-educated people from Afghanistan, it will take the country much longer to rebuild its society. It is nice to have a program for the extreme situation, but I can see why President Karzai might be concerned about Canada having an open, liberal program to bring people to Canada.

The Chair: We wanted to trade for some lawyers from the Maritimes.

Lieutenant-General Gauthier, I thank you on behalf of the committee. You have been helpful. We are grateful to you for the information you have shared with us today. We wish you and your colleagues every success in the difficult task you are undertaking. You have our admiration and our fondest hopes for success.

Lt.-Gen. Gauthier: Thank you again for what you are doing for us and for Canada. It was a pleasure.

Honourable senators, before us today we are fortunate to have Vice-Admiral Drew Robertson, who joined the Canadian Forces in 1973. His initial posting included tours as a warfare director in HMCS Nipigon and HMCS Kootenay as an instructor at the Canadian Forces Officer Candidate School and as a combat officer of HMCS Skeena.

From 1988 to 1992, he served in both Maritime Command and National Defence Headquarters. In 1993, he served as executive officer of the replenishment ship HMCS Provider, before assuming command of the destroyer HMCS Annapolis in January of 1995. He was promoted to captain in 1997 and became director of NATO policy. In 1999, he assumed command of the destroyer HMCS Athabaska. In 2001, he took command of the Atlantic fleet and sailed as the first commander of Canadian task group deployed to southwest Asia for six months. That deployment included command of a multinational task group of ships from seven nations.

Vice-Admiral Robertson assumed his current duties as Chief of the Maritime Staff in January of 2006.

Vice-Admiral, welcome. We are pleased to have you here. We understand your time is limited.

Senators will be pleased to know that he is hosting a dinner for a friend of this committee, Vice-Admiral Glenn Davidson, who hosted us in our last trip.

Vice-Admiral, we understand you have a statement to make. The floor is yours.

Vice-Admiral Drew Robertson, Chief of the Maritime Staff, National Defence: Thank you for the opportunity to come here and say a few words to help advance the work of the committee. The timing is useful since, as we discussed at the break, two of your members are about to head out to sea, doing it the gentle way, beginning in Quebec City and then arriving in Halifax aboard the Ville de Québec, that ship, of course, preparing to deploy for NATO duties later this summer.

I will begin with a quick review of what I think are some important features of naval operations of late and then turn to the Canada First Defence Strategy with a bit of an appreciation of what it means for the maritime forces.

Clearly, the navy has been hard at work in securing Canada's defence and security interests since I was last before the committee. A number of firsts have occurred that I think you might find of interest when taken together.

Late last summer, Corner Brook, an operational submarine on the East Coast, went on the first deployment to the Arctic by a Victoria class submarine during Op Nanook, the exercise series that occurs annually and that we will contribute to again in the coming year. A month ago that same submarine, Corner Brook, returned from a successful deployment to the Caribbean where she conducted covert counter-drug surveillance operations in support of the American-led Joint Interagency Task Force South, another first for submarines in our service.

HMCS Toronto, as part of the NATO's High Readiness Maritime Force, circumnavigated Africa in the latter part of 2007, a NATO first of significance as the alliance pushed further from its normal operating waters and a Canadian first as well.

HMCS Charlottetown returned a month ago from the Persian Gulf where she had been deployed with the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Striking Group. Charlottetown was the twentieth warship to deploy to the region in the global war on terror since 9/11. Charlottetown contributed to the full range of operations, building maritime security and projecting our interests by contributing to intelligence exploitation that reached all the way into southern Afghanistan and conducting counter-narcotics, counter-piracy, defence of shipping, and support to allied naval forces that generate the air power over Southern Afghanistan. For the Canadian Forces, this truly is one theatre.

Charlottetown was replaced in the region by the government's first regularly scheduled deliberate deployment of the Canadian Task Group.

The three-ship task group we sent is a composite of ships from both coasts under the command of Commodore Bob Davidson. The task group is made up of Iroquois from the East Coast, Calgary, a frigate from the West Coast, and Protecteur, the supply ship from the West Coast.

Having passed through Suez last week, they are now operating as part of an international coalition of 14 ships from six nations that are all under Commodore Davidson's command in the waters from the Red Sea to the Gulf of Oman. He assumed command from a French rear admiral last week when Iroquois called in Aqaba.

Within hours, Calgary, in the Gulf of Aden, was involved in anti-piracy operations, briefly covered in some of our papers, when she responded to a distress call from a large commercial container carrier. By being engaged, she managed to drive the pirates from the container ship back into the territorial waters of Somalia.

On the other coast entirely, our two frigates, HMCS Ottawa and HMCS Regina, are deployed to the western Pacific, having recently completed exercises with the United States Navy and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force, and conducted a number of port visits in support of our international diplomatic efforts overseas, including a successful visit to Singapore to support the minister's engagement at an international security symposium being conducted there.

Having competed the diplomatic program, those two ships and the task group commander who leads them are now in transit towards Hawaii to participate in the world's largest maritime exercise, the U.S. Navy-hosted Rim of the Pacific exercise, RIMPAC 08.

Finally, senators, we also have about 100 men and women deployed internationally in land-based operations, including 75 in Afghanistan and a similar number preparing for the next rotation to fill a number of general support and staff functions, to work with the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kandahar and also conduct some of the work that our clearance divers undertake in countering improvised explosive devices.

Much else that we are doing is of daily relevance to our security and there are some areas where we are expanding our efforts.

Let me turn to the recent government announcement.

When the Prime Minister presented the Canada First Defence Strategy, he noted: ``If you want to be taken seriously in the world, you need the capacity to act — it's that simple.'' That was a message that sailors certainly understand.

Along with other announcements made over the past year, the government has undertaken now to renew all of Canada's maritime forces over the next 20-plus years: investing industry with the capacity for long-term in-service support of the 4 Victoria class submarines in the years to come; modernizing the 12 Halifax-class ships, truly the bridge to our future fleet, ensuring that these ``workhorses'' remain as combat capable in the second half of their service lives as they have been in the first half; introducing the Cyclone maritime helicopter — when these aircraft are introduced to the modernized Halifax-class frigates, that team of ship and helicopter will be among the most tactically capable combination in any navy; modernizing the existing Aurora fleet and providing for its eventual replacement; acquiring new capabilities and added capacities that we have not had before for operations both at home and abroad through the acquisition of six to eight Arctic offshore patrol ships and three joint support ships; and finally, acquisition of 15 new Canadian surface combatants, initially to replace the Iroquois class destroyers that quarterback the Canadian task group and eventually to replace the Halifax class when these ships reach the end of their service life in the 2020s and well beyond.

It is worthwhile to take a second to think about what that renewal means for the navy. With this fleet renewal program, the government has defined what Canada's navy will look like for the next half century. When some contracts are signed, some of these decisions are what my British counterpart describes as ``50-year decisions.''

We are standing literally on the threshold of the most intensive modernization and replacement program the navy has undertaken. It begins in about two years' time when the first of the Halifax-class frigates enter into the modernization refits.

What Canada First will deliver, aside from that list of renewed and replaced capabilities, is a well-balanced fighting fleet capable of acting at a time and place of the government's choosing, with a capacity for sovereign and independent action in contested waters, able to control events at sea and influence events ashore. It is a force sized to maintain two lines of operations simultaneously, one at home and one abroad, and it is structured to secure Canadian sovereignty at home, defend the continental maritime approaches and contribute to worldwide maritime and global security.

As important as all this renewal is, it is perhaps even more important that the government has set it within the context of a 20-year planning framework since a long-term, stable approach to defence funding is particularly important for naval acquisition, easily one of the most complex, large-scale enterprises in the public sector.

As was noted during the Canada First Defence Strategy announcement, it will permit industry to better position itself to meet our requirements, based on an ability to plan strategically and coherently to well-understood needs. The industry will be able to align itself well.

While building the future fleet will involve the building of ships, it is not simply about shipbuilding and shaping steel. Modern warships are among the most complex platforms and machines on the planet. Delivering the future fleet will draw on the full range of national and defence industrial and high-tech sectors.

The naval service was born over 98 years ago in modest circumstances, but its ongoing successes are a source of pride to our sailors at sea and back home today. As we look to our future, I am optimistic, even though I know full well that there are profound challenges ahead that will give us much work to do in delivering on the government's priorities.

Thank you very much. I will be pleased to take questions.

The Chair: Admiral, they are a source of pride not only to the sailors; they are a source of pride to all Canadians. I congratulate you on this presentation.

Senator Moore: I was interested in your comments with regard to the Canada First Defence Strategy, which I understood was to be funded by a budget estimated to be between $45 billion and $50 billion. I did not know it included the submarine midlife upgrades, the Arctic vessels, the joint support ships, the Sea King helicopter replacements and the new and used Chinooks. What about those items? Are they somehow covered in this budget? Where do you see that renewal fitting in here? I did not think they were included in that budget.

Vice-Admiral Robertson: You are right. I provided a summary of previous announcements and the Canada First announcement that, when taken together, add up to that list. Joint support ships, Arctic offshore patrol ships and the maritime helicopter project, all having been previously announced, were all included in the budgeting work done by the vice chief of the defence staff that lay behind both the announcement and his appearance here last week.

Senator Moore: Do you see the funding being there? Do you see all these things happening as forecast? We are talking about a lot of money here.

Vice-Admiral Robertson: It is an enormous amount of money. In the case of the navy, there is a certain unique element, which is that some of the program will extend well beyond 20 years. We are operating ships today, such as Protector and Iroquois, that are both over 35 years in service. Some of the replacements for the Halifax-class will be commissioned in the 2030s and serve easily into the 2070s, I would think, to give you a sense of the scale implied here.

Senator Moore: The life of these vessels.

Vice-Admiral Robertson: Correct.

Senator Moore: If all this activity were to happen as scheduled, there would be a lot of activity in shipbuilding, ship repair and maintenance. Do you think we have the capacity in Canada to do this work?

Vice-Admiral Robertson: Industry has a certain capacity today and it has the ability to create capacity in response to government demand — government announcements followed by government requests for proposals, competitions and contracting.

The shipbuilding industry appears eager to embark on this plan. The word from industry is that they expect to have the capacity to undertake this project.

Senator Moore: I know this item is not under your command, but there is the matter of the Canadian Coast Guard and the vessels that they have been promised. Taking all that building into consideration, do you think our yards can produce?

Vice-Admiral Robertson: You are right on the first point; it is not my area of expertise.

Senator Moore: No, it is under the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which is peculiar.

Vice-Admiral Robertson: Beyond the demand from the Canadian Coast Guard or the ferries, the issue of shipbuilding broadly is something that the Assistant Deputy Minister, Materiel, Public Works and Government Services Canada, and the Department of Industry are most interested in. An interdepartmental group is addressing that broad issue of shipbuilding. We have managed to deliver this kind of capacity previously in this country. It seems reasonable that industry can respond to well-defined government requirements.

Senator Moore: When we built the Halifax-class, they had the Saint John shipyard; that has been closed down. I am thinking about the yards available in the Atlantic region, Quebec and the West Coast. You are confident there is the capacity to do this well, correct?

Vice-Admiral Robertson: It is not so much a case that I am confident, but rather that the industry has indicated that it wants to meet this demand.

Senator Moore: Lt.-Gen. Natynczyk was here last week; he is now the commanding officer of CDS. We asked him questions with regard to financing. Someone asked him if he built in the item of fuel for aircraft, for vessels, for tanks, and so on. He said yes, that has been covered off.

There is a story in the media today with regard to our navy, and comments that we have 34 vessels in total on both coasts. I do not know if that is accurate. The bottom line is that apparently, we have had only the budgetary capacity to provide fuel for our vessels on each coast to be at sea for a total of 81 days over the past year.

I do not know if that is true, and I do not know if 81 days is more or less than normal. I do not know if it is a full 24 hours or if it is an 8-hour sailing. I do not know what the budgetary forecasts are or what you have included in your wish list, given that the cost of fuel has jumped markedly and quickly.

Can you comment on that situation? First, on the 81 days: Have you been able to take your ships to sea? You mentioned these various exercises, and so on — which are all commendable — but did you want to do more? Were you constrained by a lack of funding to pay for increased fuel costs?

Vice-Admiral Robertson: The amount of money that has been made available to generate naval forces over the past two years has grown every year.

I indicated two-plus years ago that, with modestly greater investment in operations and maintenance money, we could obtain more effect out of the navy. That suggestion led to the vice-chief responding to that request for funds over both of the last two years. The result is the program that we are executing today, which is about the most the navy can handle. We have ships such as Iroquois, Protecteur and Calgary deployed that will spend 180 to 190 days at sea.

Senator Moore: They have to go there as well as do their work.

Vice-Admiral Robertson: That is in that one deployment alone. They will have worked before going on the deployment. They had sea time before, and within a couple of months of returning from this deployment they will be back at sea again. There are other ships such as the two I mentioned in the waters of Southeast Asia. They are well over 100-plus days this year; it is similar on the East Coast.

Fuel, as a major expense, comes down to those ships that consume a lot of it; namely frigates, destroyers and supply ships. The coastal defence vessels and the submarines consume a small fraction of the overall total. In fact, submarines are probably the most economic platform to run by far.

On the major combatants — frigates, destroyers and two supply ships — we have about as many sea days as we can handle — certainly enough to be able to maintain the professional competencies that are important to pass on from year to year.

I am not sure where that article found its facts, but I have received funding.

Senator Moore: Were you aware of it before I mentioned it to you?

Vice-Admiral Robertson: Yes, I was aware of it. I have received more than enough — in terms of money — to be able to drive the experience into the fleet, and contribute and achieve effect abroad. Two aspects are important. One is to go and do something important and useful; the other is to ensure that the sailors have the experience necessary to move on to the next rank, to be qualified so that we have a professional, self-sustaining institution.

I have a concern about the time frame when we enter Halifax-class modernization, so the 2012 or 2013 time frame. As more ships go into Halifax modernization, we will have a dip in capacity in our fleet. I want to drive as much experience into the fleet over the next couple of years as possible without reaching a point where the sailors say, ``enough.'' There is only so much sea time that can be asked of people before their family members start looking for other lines of work for the sailor. There is a balance.

Senator Moore: Let us talk about the Halifax-class upgrade, the mid-life upgrade.

When can we expect an announcement and for work to begin on the first ship? This upgrade has been discussed for a couple of years now around this committee, and so on. You mentioned it the last time you were here, I think.

Vice-Admiral Robertson: Indeed, the request for proposals was open. I should break it into two parts. The first part is the standard work of refitting the ships. That contract has already been awarded to shipyards on the two coasts.

A second piece is modernizing the ships. That is, replacing some of the radars and the command and control system. This work has been put out to industry for several months and teams are submitting bids. That process is designed to yield an announcement in the months to come. That is something in the hands of the Department of Public Works and Government Services; the ADM, Materiel, Dan Ross. It is designed to yield an announcement in the coming months, with work to begin in 2010.

Senator Banks: Good to see you again, admiral. You mentioned that Commodore Davidson is in a job that you once performed, I think. You were the commander of a NATO Atlantic fleet, if I recall collect correctly, were you not? He is in the gulf?

Vice-Admiral Robertson: He is in the gulf, as was I. He is doing the job over a much larger area. I dealt with the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz. He now covers that region all the way to the Red Sea.

Senator Banks: When you dealing with the present fleet now, the command capacity to command a fleet of 14 or 15 ships exists in our destroyers?

Vice-Admiral Robertson: Yes, it does.

Senator Banks: I presume we will not refit or renew our destroyers for any length of time. You talk about fleet renewal and new ships and, I presume, new design coming on. Will there be a shortfall time when we do not have a command capability, or will you refit some of the Halifax-class frigates to function as a command ship?

Vice-Admiral Robertson: The Halifax-class have a modest capability to be able to undertake this function now.

Senator Banks: They would not be able to do what you did, or what the Commodore is doing now?

Vice-Admiral Robertson: It would be a stretch to do what he is doing now, and not for a prolonged period of time, and not to provide the capabilities resident in the Iroquois-class, especially in the area of air defence capability.

Senator Banks: Will we be without that capability for a while?

Vice-Admiral Robertson: We will have a modest capability for command and control in the Halifax class, and the only changes that are foreseen are to make a modest change to allow for the accommodation of more people.

Bringing a commodore imposes a burden of 30 to 35 staff to allow the commodore to execute the mission. The frigates cannot take that large a staff without the ship bursting at the seams with people.

You are right; there is no concept of changing the weapons suite in the Halifax class to allow them to embark air-to- air defence capability. That is simply not foreseen. We will move as quickly as we can toward the Canadian surface combatant that was spoken of in the Canada First Defence Strategy.

Any examination of how quickly one can deliver ship-building programs that add complexity — in the experience of our allies — indicate eight to ten years.

Senator Banks: I assume the destroyers will not last that long.

Vice-Admiral Robertson: They will last close to that long. The activities of HMCS Iroquois indicate that she is still a capable warship because of the modernization done in the early 1990s. However, after 36 years in service, she is considered to be getting on. After 40 years in service, there will be open questions about obsolescence of some equipment, and we will look at those questions.

The aim is to maintain that capability until we make the traditional handover, whereby we decommission one ship and the crew trains for the next ship and takes her to sea. There will be a time gap and the question is: How short can we keep that gap? We need to move on construction programs and focus our effort on the next ones down the line, in particular the lead ship of the next class, to get them in the water as quickly as we can.

Senator Banks: Have they been designed yet?

Vice-Admiral Robertson: No: Having said that, it is probably the wrong answer on my part. No one begins a design for a warship from a blank sheet of paper. Rather, they look at industry standards from around the world. They take an existing platform and begin their design work from that platform. We can trace the lineage of ships back through existing ships. Any design for a replacement ship will be based, almost certainly, on the design of ships in existence today.

Senator Banks: How soon do you expect to receive the new helicopters that will begin work on the Halifax-class frigates?

Vice-Admiral Robertson: I do not have the latest detail. Lieutenant-General Watt is the right person to answer that question with precision. I will leave it at that and let him speak to it.

Senator Banks: What is the helicopter called?

Vice-Admiral Robertson: It is the CH148 Cyclone.

The Chair: In your comments, Vice-Admiral Robertson, you talked about the tail end of the Halifax-class frigates lasting into the 2030s. How old will the vessels be then?

Vice-Admiral Robertson: The HMCS Ottawa was the last of the 12 frigates commissioned, and that was in 1996-97. She will be 35 years of age in 2032, which might be a little soon to retire her.

The Chair: Do you expect the frigates to be identical or to evolve as they are built?

Vice-Admiral Robertson: Are you referring to the replacement ships?

The Chair: Yes.

Vice-Admiral Robertson: I expect the weapons systems to be different, depending on the purpose of the ship. The command and control ships will feature an air-to-air defence capability and command in control capability and so on.

The Chair: Like destroyers have now?

Vice-Admiral Robertson: Exactly: The ships to replace the frigates will have more modest capabilities, as befits frigates. I expect there might be some evolution in capability over time but it depends whether those ships are batch- built quickly to recapitalize the fleet or built over a longer period of time, which has certain advantages in terms of stability for the shipbuilding industry. Over a longer period of time, it is normal to build them in batches in the same way that we built the stream-driven ships of the 1950s and 1960s. We tended to build them in groups of four to six, with each batch of ships having slightly different capabilities.

Senator Mitchell: Vice-Admiral Robertson, my first question concerns the upgrading of the fleet, specifically the destroyer replacement project. There might be a point at which the existing destroyers are no longer operational and the new ones are not yet commissioned. Will there be a gap? How serious will that gap be? Do you have mitigative measures to deal with a gap?

Vice-Admiral Robertson: The aim is that there will not be a gap but a handover. Naval engineering is a science that I do not control. There is always the potential for ships of a certain age, once they are into their 40s, for surprises. For example, HMCS Protecteur, which is deployed in the Mideast, was commissioned 38 years ago. It will be 39 years by the time she returns from her current deployment. That age takes us beyond our previous experience. One can always be surprised in theory. We have had great success in maintaining these supply ships but that does not mean there cannot be surprises. The aim with the destroyers is to keep them operating so that we achieve a handover at some point. We aim to minimize the gap in that way.

By way of mitigating measures, the Halifax-class frigates will have command and control capabilities that are more modest but will allow us to undertake domestic operations completely and operations abroad more modestly. There is no way of mitigating the air-to-air defence capability for that ship.

Senator Mitchell: There is huge pressure on personnel to upgrade ships. What is the state of your personnel projections? It will not be easy to find the people you need, I am sure. What are your considerations?

Vice-Admiral Robertson: There are two aspects to this question: First, how are we doing with sailors today? The navy is modestly under-strength and we have fewer sailors than I would like. That is because of a lack of success in particular occupations, certainly the ones that are in high demand across Canada in technical occupations over the past four or five years. We are starting a little under-strength there. Therefore, Operation Tempo that we are running this year is about as demanding as we would want to maintain. Sailors want to go to sea and if we do not put the ships to sea for an appropriate amount of time to accomplish things that they think are of value, then they leave the service. Certainly, they have the chance to make their own decisions along the way.

We have to work on attracting and recruiting personnel to help the Canadian Forces. You can see part of that effort in the most recent advertising campaign. It is also one reason that we will have one of our frigates come to the Great Lakes this summer. It is an opportunity to showcase the navy in that corridor from Quebec City to Hamilton and beyond. We will showcase the ships and try to go after the people who are in high demand. We need to accomplish that recruiting through outreach rather than waiting for them to come to our door.

Second, who are the personnel to deliver on the future navy? There we have a bit of a challenge in that currently, we are at our smallest size since the Korean War. The downsizing in the mid-1990s meant that our staff and headquarters capacity was decreased to a level that allowed us to get on with the business of the day with modest development work for the future. We will find this capacity a bit of a challenge as we try to stand up the project teams necessary to deliver on the government announcements.

Business is conducted differently than it was 20 years ago when the Halifax class was delivered. The project teams do not need to be as large as they were back then. The experience of the United States navy and the United States Coast Guard in two of their projects, the Coast Guard's deep water and the United States navy's littoral combat ship, both show that if we do not put the effort into uniform folks or civil servants to run the projects, if we do not have enough people there and we think we can throw requirements at industry and industry will deliver, we will wind up disappointed. It is a team effort between government and industry, and both sides must do their work.

I have a challenge to find the number of people that the materiel group will need to manage the project teams, and I will work on that over the next couple of years. It will mean restructuring some of what we do inside the maritime staff and inside the navy as well. I will also need help from the vice-chief in terms of freeing up people with particular skills to turn to this capitalization.

Senator Mitchell: This point brings me to my next question. I will ask Senator Nancy Ruth's question, but I have an interest in this area as well. I notice you are accompanied by at least two officers who are women. That is positive and indicative of a movement that I think is important for the military generally. First, what is the percentage of women sailors? Second, do you have a specific recruiting initiative that might enhance the attractiveness of the navy, or at least communicate that attractiveness to women as a career choice? Third, in some senses, you are, of course, a force generator and responsible for developing and training your navy personnel. Do you explicitly, at some point in their training, deal with UN Resolution 1325, which speaks to women in conflict situations and women's role in out-of- conflict situations?

Vice-Admiral Robertson: I do not have the latest statistics in terms of the women we have in dark blue. The number was something around 18 or 19 per cent, but I need to confirm that. It is not at my fingertips right now. More of concern to me is the fact that the percentage has been falling over the last three or four years, partly due, perhaps, to the recruiting effort of the past four years. That is not a good sign, from my point of view. I try to recruit the best talent we can bring through the door.

Most of our products for outreach designed to attract people show the broadest range of people so that everyone can see themselves there. When General Leslie and I were shown the most recent advertisements, my comment was, where are the women? General Leslie's comment was, where are the women leading? As he said, there are women leading in the field, and he has bridge watchkeepers and an executive officer, XO, on the East Coast, and we have already had a woman in command on one of our coastal defence vessels. Part of the problem in that case was that if they film a sequence off the east coast of Nova Scotia in cold weather and everyone is wearing weather jackets with their toques pulled down, we do not see who is who.

Certainly, though, it is a concern for me. We need to do better there, and we need to do better in the navy in terms of recruiting Francophones. The number has been declining there as well over the last three or four years, and I am interested in improving that number.

With respect to UNSCR 1325, the unique environment that is our life at sea means that we really only interact with other mariners. In the Gulf region, for example, we interact with ships that we board. Those boats typically are dhows working the local waters with exclusively male crews. In fact, interacting with pirates, the lot of them off the cost of Somalia will be male. I am not sure that UNSCR 1325 plays a big role for us.

The interaction with civilian populations tends to be when confronting human smuggling or refugee exodus, as you might see across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia up to Yemen, and that is really a search-and-rescue safety-of-life issue, and we treat everyone exactly the same.

Senator Mitchell: I appreciate your answer. Of course, someone from the navy could be the CDS ultimately and could have a profound influence on how the rest of the forces deal one-on-one on the ground with issues that would be confronted under resolution 1325. Inculcating that influence throughout the culture of the military, even in the navy, would not be a bad idea, it seems to me. I know we met naval personnel in Afghanistan who might not be on the front lines but who could end up working in those capacities. I encourage that. I appreciate that you are focused on it.

My third and last question concerns climate change. We were recently in the North with the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. If anyone believes climate change is not occurring, spend 24 hours, if that, in the North, and it is clear. That change has brought to prominence the issue of sovereignty, because the icecap is melting much quicker than even the most optimistic estimates have been. Can you comment on how you calculate into your development plans the pressures of Arctic offshore patrol and how you see the naval role in promoting sovereignty? Is the role gaining prominence, or is it more something to do with the Canadian Coast Guard, et cetera?

Vice-Admiral Robertson: It is gaining significantly more prominence, although the navy has been in the Arctic on and off since the 1970s, that I am aware of. Of course, in the 1950s and 1960s, we had HMCS Labrador. I am going back into history. Over the course of my entire career, the navy has been going into the Arctic on a periodic basis, and we still have the annual operation in Nanook, as was the case with a frigate coastal defence vessel and a submarine last summer. They worked with Coast Guard vessels in the Arctic. That level of activity has taken place for several years now, and will continue into the future.

What will be different, of course, is the acquisition of Arctic offshore patrol ships sometime in the next decade to give enhanced capability in Arctic waters. The key for the navy is that we need to be present to enforce Canada's sovereignty over that period when others might be there. That is where the design of the Arctic offshore patrol ship needs to be clever and to have enough capability to be in the Arctic when others might be there, but not more capability than that or one starts to compromise the whole form. It becomes more and more like an icebreaker, which is fine, but an icebreaker has less utility in the Grand Banks or the Queen Charlotte Islands.

The aim is to find the sweet spot. That engineering challenge is currently being worked on by an engineering firm. The sweet spot allows good sea keeping and speed in open waters and enough ice capability to be present in the Arctic up to the edges of the navigation season.

Senator Meighen: Welcome, Vice-Admiral Robertson. I want to ask you about shortages, not so much in relation to the challenges you face with respect to the capital projects, design and that sort business, but the more traditional shortages. We were told that the army is missing a whole middle management sector, the senior non-commissioned officers and the people who perform the training. Are you faced with a similar type of shortage in the navy?

On other occasions we heard testimony about your challenges not only in recruiting those people who have specialized trades and competencies but also in retaining them.

In the same vein of shortages, will the skyrocketing cost of fuel curtail your ability to sail? Surely, sailing is essential to your training and your successful operational capability.

Vice Admiral Robertson: We have issues that are common across the Canadian Forces and others that are different. The common issue for all is that the force reduction program of the 1990s was carried out over a short period of time and a relatively narrow group of people left. As a result, we have a distortion in the ideal age curve for the Canadian Forces. The age profile with the lowest number of people is one where the personnel are reaching the point at which they can elect retirement and receive appropriate benefits. The decision making is in their hands at that point.

The navy is under-strength by about 400 people now, which is close to two ship companies, although that may be aggregating it improperly. Recruiting has not been as successful in technical operations as I want it to be. We need to work at that type of recruiting to help the overall recruiting effort. That problem is coming at the same time as an already relatively small group of people is arriving at a retirement gate of the 20 years of service. That situation could present us with a challenge. That challenge is not yet clear because retention still seems to be satisfactory. In fact, our retention overall is the envy of a number of other Western forces, but it does not take much to tip it.

We already see a slight increase in the attrition rate. My staff, the Canadian Forces staff and the Chief Military Personnel are working to identify exactly what that trend of a slight increase trend represents. Is it about people making logical career choices at a time when we expect them to do it, at around 20 years of service, or is there another message in the slight rise in attrition?

People on both coasts are telling those of us in the centre to recruit the relatively small numbers of highly capable people who are required in those occupations. They are not trained technicians yet, but we will train them. In that way, we can turn the situation around so we can be at more than 90 per cent of occupational demand rather than less than 90 per cent, where we are with a couple of them. It only takes dozens of people a year in certain occupations to make a huge difference.

We can be successful at recruiting 7,000 or 8,000 people for the Canadian Forces, but if we do not have the dozens of people in a few select occupations, those occupations will head in the wrong direction and we will be unable to put ships to sea at a certain point. We are not there yet. I referred to that situation in my introductory remarks in terms of the number of ships we have at sea. That is my motivation for getting on with fixing the recruitment issue at the national level.

Senator Meighen: You talked about hiring X thousands of people across the board in the Canadian Forces. The concern we have heard in the past is that they cannot be processed fast enough and they become discouraged, or there are not sufficient trainers to train them. We have heard that it does not work; that even if we handed X thousand recruits on a silver platter to the Canadian Forces, they cannot deal with them all.

Do you see any improvement in your area in that respect? In terms of the dozens of people you are looking for in the highly specialized trade, are you able to offer carrots such as pay premiums to induce them to sign up? Can you dangle meaningful incentives, other than a cruise to the Arctic?

Vice Admiral Robertson: I am a customer of the Canadian Forces recruiting system. I was in St-Jean a couple weeks ago to be the reviewing officer for a graduation parade. An efficient system is running there that seems to be able to process an ever-increasing number of recruits. For some time, the navy has had a modest recruiting school designed to train naval reservists in, paradoxically, Borden. We are able to use that recruiting for slightly increased capacity.

We need only between 700 and 800 new sailors a year, and from what I have seen, the Canadian Forces system is able to deal with my demands of bringing the right mix of people through the doors of the recruiting centre, which is where I have work to do.

You asked about carrots. In attracting recruits, perhaps we do not make clear to people all the carrots that already exist in employment in the Canadian Forces.

I need to look at what we might do by way of initiatives to enhance retention, perhaps not to solve an attrition problem but to keep a few more people than might otherwise logically choose to leave. We need to look at that area.

On fuel issues, 6 per cent to 8 per cent of the overall operations and maintenance budget for the navy is fuel. The vice-chief has given some relief in recent years to match the rising costs of fuel.

Senator Meighen: Is that in recent weeks?

Vice-Admiral Robertson: A 10-per-cent increase in the price of fuel will give me a 1-per-cent increase in demand in my budget that needs to be met from somewhere.

Senator Meighen: Is it a challenge for you?

Vice-Admiral Robertson: It is something that we will watch, but this year's allocation is fine.

Senator Meighen: Do you want me to stop now, chair?

The Chair: Yes, because the admiral is going on to press gangs in a moment and I did not want to hear that on the record.

I apologize to Senator Day, Senator Zimmer, Senator Moore and Senator Banks, all of whom had other questions to ask but, in fairness to the vice-admiral, we started late and he gave us notice of his commitment prior to this meeting.

Admiral, it means you will have to come back sooner than you had hoped, but thank you for coming today and for assisting the committee with a great deal of information that we found useful. We wish you every success in closing the recruiting gap that you foresee. We hope that you have a better opportunity in the future to describe the merits of our submarines.

Colleagues, we now have before us today Lieutenant-General W. Angus Watt, Chief of the Air Staff.

Lieutenant-General Watt enrolled in 1972. He flew the Sea King helicopter with 443 Squadron in Shearwater, Nova Scotia; taught helicopter pilots at CFB Portage la Prairie, and later commanded the 423 Maritime Helicopter Squadron. Staff tours have included NATO headquarters in Brussels and a number of positions in Ottawa, Winnipeg and NORAD headquarters in Colorado Spring.

Lieutenant-General Watt commanded Joint Task Force South West Asia, Operation Apollo, in 2002 and served as Deputy Commander Air of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in 2006, more frequently described as the air boss. He was appointed to his current position as Chief of the Air Staff in 2007.

Lieutenant-General Watt, I understand you have a brief statement. You have the floor.

Lieutenant-General W. Angus Watt, Chief of the Air Staff, National Defence: Thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the committee, for inviting me to speak with you today about Canada's air force. I know that you have taken the time to study and understand the Canadian Forces and how it contributes to Canada's economic, environmental and physical security.

I know that you have met many of the talented men and women who serve in Canada's air force, both at our wings here in Canada and in operations overseas. I want to express my appreciation for the advocacy and awareness of the Canadian Forces that you bring to the public.

As the Chief of the Air Staff and commander of Canada's air force, I am responsible for the force generation of aerospace capabilities. This means providing the right combination of equipment and appropriately trained personnel to the operational level command; primarily, Canada Command for operations in North America and Canadian Expeditionary Forces Command, CEFCOM, for international operations. The variety of support capabilities that the air force provides to these commands is extremely wide ranging.

[Translation]

We respond to the needs of Canadians, providing round the clock, immediate assistance through our Search and Rescue operations, having responded to over 9,000 cases in 2007. We provide emergency airlift, such as the five CH146 Griffon helicopters, one CH149 Cormorant, a CH124 Sea King and two CC130 Hercules aircraft recently provided to evacuate Kashechewan and Fort Albany residents due to the risk of flooding. We maintain surveillance and control of the airspace above Canada, the second largest country in the world. We conduct aerospace sovereignty patrols supporting arctic, maritime and fisheries surveillance.

Air Force personnel have also been making a tremendous contribution to Canadian Forces operations around the world, most recently airlifting relief supplies to the victims of the cyclone in Myanmar.

[English]

Air force personnel are involved in almost every theatre of operations — providing airlift and surveillance in Afghanistan, providing personnel to the theatre support element, the joint task force in Kandahar, both on the airfield and outside the wire at the forward operating bases and with the provincial reconstruction team and elsewhere throughout Afghanistan and the world.

As you can well imagine, I am tremendously proud of the outstanding work our highly skilled people perform every day, both here in Canada and in dangerous places around the world. Our people allow us to deliver the broad range of capabilities that are so badly needed.

[Translation]

In looking to the future, we recognize that we need to continue renewing our capabilities. We are identifying these required capabilities and are in the midst of an unprecedented level of recapitalization of our aircraft fleets.

The last of four new CC177 strategic airlifters arrived in Canada in May. A contract has been recently put into place to acquire 17 C130-J Hercules aircraft to replace the oldest of the ageing Hercules fleet. A light/medium-lift tactical helicopter will soon provide support to our troops in Afghanistan.

Other capability investments include the Air Expeditionary Wing to be established in Bagotville, the Canadian multi-mission surveillance aircraft, a new fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft and a next generation of fighter aircraft. This revitalization is critical; in 1985, the average age of our aircraft fleet was 17 years; in 1995, it was 21 years. The average age of our aircraft right now is 26 years.

I am working hard to keep the older aircraft operationally relevant, and safe and effective to fly. These recapitalization efforts will help bring the age of the aircraft down and increase their availability and capability.

[English]

This recapitalization represents significant challenges. To ensure the transformation efforts are coordinated and progress toward a single strategic vision, my overall goal is to develop an air force for Canada that is agile and combat- capable, with the reach and power essential to integrated CF operations at home and abroad.

For me, the future air force is envisioned to be a learning organization, effects-focused, networked, interoperable, expeditionary at home and abroad, combat-capable and engaged with Canadians.

To achieve and implement this vision, I intend to group personnel, aircraft capabilities and functions into strategic lines of operation, which are the tools by which aerospace power is applied. The nine lines of operation likely will be first-stage training, aerospace force application, aerospace management and control, air demonstration, air expeditionary support, air mobility, domestic search-and-rescue, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and control and tactical helicopters.

This tool of nine lines of operation is the primary organizing tool for our approach to capability-based planning. By setting out this vision and organizing capabilities in this manner, the air force will be able to convert strategic intent into identifiable objectives.

I mentioned that the recapitalization of aircraft fleets represents significant challenges. The number one issue that affects the air force in all aspects of its operation and planning is personnel. I currently have approximately 11,670 trained and qualified regular force members and 2,300 reservists. However, I face personnel shortages, long training times and unhealthy demographics.

The challenges I face are threefold: I need to attract people, I need to train them and, most critically, I need to retain them.

[Translation]

An important air force objective is ensuring we set conditions that will make us an employer of choice for Canadians. I am continuing to support the efforts by the Chief of Military Personnel to attract and recruit potential personnel. We are: maximizing training, leveraging civilian training facilities, and implementing a robust communications program that focuses on the AF's proud reputation, the exciting aerospace environment and the many benefits that arise from being part of the air force team.

Personnel generation for aerospace forces is a particularly complex endeavour. AF occupations require a high level of technical skill and knowledge, implying lengthy training periods and regular, consistent practice. Skills development starts in basic training and continues through occupation training and the first two operational tours, as individuals develop broader, deeper proficiencies that they are then able to pass on to subordinates.

For the long-term health of the AF, training production must increase. This is currently constrained by the capacity of training units and the ability of AF squadrons to absorb the newly trained individuals. However, I am implementing initiatives to improve the situation.

We are also reviewing the AF occupational structure to ensure that we have the correct force structure for today and for the future.

[English]

It used to take a long time to train our technicians. We have already shortened the duration of training courses and we are working to shorten them further. We have incorporated performance-oriented training at our technician schools. We are investing in training technologies and simulation techniques and, where possible, we use retired aircraft and dedicate them to technician training.

However, air technicians are not the only occupation for which I need to increase training output. Pilot production is also critical. The pilot occupation is currently under its preferred manning level by approximately 13 per cent and this deficit is growing.

Steps are being taken to resolve the pilot production problems, including increasing the throughput of basic training courses and increasing operational absorption capability. Initiatives include changes to the primary and basic flying training contracts, revised training methodologies, better selection tools to reduce attrition and the increased use of simulators.

Once we train these individuals, the most critical aspect is retaining them in the air force. We project attrition to be approximately 8 per cent this year, and I have a large group of individuals entering the range of service at which we expect high attrition. To combat this loss, we ensure we set conditions that will make us an employer of choice for Canadians for two reasons: to attract people and to keep them. Finding ways of keeping existing members in the organization is the focus of my concern right now. In several occupations, a shortfall exists in personnel with 12 to 16 years of service. The challenge I face is that I cannot replace these people directly from civilian life. I cannot hire people at this level of experience directly into the forces, and this level of experience is essential to safe and effective operations. To this end, the retention of those individuals is critical and I am developing a personnel strategy to identify and implement measures to address retention.

[Translation]

Maintaining and generating aerospace capabilities continues to be the top priority for the AF, and will enable the realization of the Canadian Forces vision for the future. However, I do not wish to understate the challenges that remain. We need to have the right number of people with the right skills in the right jobs at the right time.

Meeting these challenges will ensure that Canada has an expeditionary, effects-based air force that can continue to make a meaningful contribution to Canada's defence needs in the 21st century.

[English]

Mr. Chair, and members of the committee, I am happy to answer any questions.

The Chair: Thank you very much, general. That was a comprehensive presentation.

[Translation]

Senator Day: Lieutenant General, thank you for your frank, detailed presentation. It will certainly assist us in our deliberations.

[English]

You have listed a lot of challenges and significant recapitalization. How is that organized? We see an overall global budget for the Department of National Defence. Do you need to fight with your other two colleagues who generate service personnel to say, How much is going to the air force, how much to the navy and how much to the army? Does that process happen on an annual basis?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: As General Natynczyk described when he was here outlining the annual resource allocation process within the department, there is a process that takes about a year and goes through various stages wherein the vice-chief provides an initial allocation of resources to all the service chiefs. We have a chance to respond with our impact, and advocate for various capabilities and needs that we have. Those requests are then responded to by the chief of the defence staff and the vice-chief and the deputy minister. We receive our allocations, turn those allocations into a plan and then we execute it.

Senator Day: That process takes place about a year in advance of the actual budget that we would see?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: It takes about a year to go through that process. It is a cyclical process that we go through every year.

Senator Day: Does it include both the operations side and the capital acquisitions side?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: The process is all-inclusive, yes.

Senator Day: You have a tremendous amount of recapitalization going on in the air force, some of which you have mentioned here. Would it be helpful for us if you could tell us, with respect to the major recapitalization, whether it is wishful, it has been announced, money is available, or the contract has been let? Where are we in the process? For example, maritime helicopters, is that the Cyclone?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: Yes, it is, senator.

Senator Day: Where are we with respect to Cyclone?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: To answer your first question, I could spend an hour going through all my capital projects, but if you want, I can go through them as you detail, and I will start with the Cyclone.

Senator Day: I know you have many, and that is one of your major challenges. Perhaps I can mention a few that have been raised in our discussions.

Lt.-Gen. Watt: The Cyclone is the project to replace the Sea King. We are under contract with Sikorsky for the Cyclone. We have challenges that we are working through with Sikorsky. The aircraft is likely to be delivered a bit late, but I am confident it will be a fully capable aircraft that will meet the entire needs of the Canadian forces, and will replace the Sea King with a true 21st century platform.

Senator Day: When do you anticipate taking delivery with the ``bit late'' built in?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: We are in sensitive negotiations with the company. We have not yet come to a final determination of how late delivery will be. The initial indications are that the delay will be a matter of some months to years, but well within what I view to be acceptable, and well within my capability to keep the Sea King alive and well.

Senator Day: Assuming a 12-month delay, when do you anticipate the first delivery?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: I do not assume any particular delay now, senator, because we are still in negotiations with the company. The initial delivery date was supposed to be December of this year and it slipped to January of 2009. That date is essentially the baseline against which we will measure any delay.

Senator Day: That is helpful.

We heard today from the Chief of the Maritime Staff side of things, the navy. He indicated that the frigate that carries the Sea King is going in for mid-life refit. We had heard the discussions in the past of the necessity for rebuilding the hangar on the frigates for potential replacements. Will that rebuilding need to take place with respect to the Cyclone?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: That is correct. The frigates will need to be modified. For instance, we use a landing system we call a Beartrap, which is what the Sea King uses to be captured on the deck so it does not fall off. The Beartrap is different for the Cyclone, a different design, but a similar sort of system. The ship must be modified in terms of its Beartrap. The helicopter is heavier, so the landing deck must be reinforced a bit. The size and dimensions of the helicopter are different than the Sea King, so hangars must be modified.

All this modification means that as we phase in the arrival of the Cyclone helicopters we must also phase in the modifications to the ships so they occur at roughly the same time. Once we modify a ship to take a Cyclone, it is not backwards compatible for a Sea King.

Senator Day: We have now received two of the C-17 cargo aircraft, I believe?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: Senator, we have all four now.

Senator Day: We have all four. Do you anticipate the result of that aircraft will be less reliance on Camp Mirage, if there were such a camp that we cannot talk about?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: It is an apples-and-oranges comparison there. The C-17 provides a capability for assured strategic lift and flexibility that we have never had before. It absolutely has already begun to transform our air mobility practices within the Canadian Forces. We are not even technically at the initial operating ability declaration, which occurs next month.

In terms of the role of Camp Mirage, it is a staging base. With this aircraft, we could overfly our staging base, but it is useful to have a staging base in the area to assemble our people, prepare them and have them rested and ready to go in. Camp Mirage serves other purposes, which I believe will be useful for some time.

Senator Day: The C-17s are based in Trenton, Ontario?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: Yes, all four are based in Trenton, Ontario.

Senator Day: The training is going well with respect to preparing the crews?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: We have had an outstanding level of cooperation from our U.S. Air Force colleagues. We have taken this capability further in less time than any other C-17 operator in the world. We took delivery of our first aircraft last August. It has not even been a year. We are not even at the initial operating capability stage yet and already we have carried over 2 million pounds of freight and over 3,000 passengers. The airplane continues to deliver an unprecedented level of availability all around the world.

Senator Day: Can you tell me of the other platforms, the other aircraft, that you anticipate obtaining? Which ones are at the stage where there is no contract: For example, the C-130Js, the Chinooks, the Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue; where are they in the process? I am looking for the ones that are still at the stage of: We hope we will have these in the future.

Lt.-Gen. Watt: The majority are in that category. The ones under contract right now are the Cyclone and the C- 130J. There are no other aircraft acquisitions currently under contract. However, all of them are in various stages of coming to that point.

I can go through some of them if you wish. For instance, we have a project that we have started calling the Canadian multi-mission aircraft, which is designed to replace our Aurora airplanes. Our Aurora airplanes are wonderful airplanes. They have gone through an extensive modernization program, but they will run out of fatigue life on the structure. We have invested money in the aircraft structure and the mission equipment to keep it relevant and operationally effective until the end of the next decade.

It takes about that long to buy a new airplane, so we have started a project to replace the Aurora. We are at the point right now of defining the mandatory capabilities: that is, the overall set of capabilities that we would like for that aircraft. We will mature that list of capabilities this fall. Sometime in the next year or two, we will take that list out, after government approval, and ask manufacturers what they can deliver to meet those capabilities. We are at that stage with the Aurora.

Senator Day: That delivery would be in 2020.

Lt.-Gen. Watt: Yes, the projected retirement date of the Aurora is 2020. It seems like a long way off but it takes time to field a sophisticated surveillance airplane for the 21st century.

Senator Day: That is, unless we are able to jump the queue with the help of friends, like we did with the C-17. Typically, does it take that many years for the replacement aircraft?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: It depends on the aircraft we are buying. If we buy an off-the-shelf straightforward aircraft like the C-17, then we can obtain it quickly. However, the minimum time it takes to purchase an aircraft from the signing of the contract until the first delivery occurs is 36 months. That is to purchase only a basic aircraft. With surveillance aircraft, it takes much longer because of the intricate equipment such as sensors, computer software and command-and-control equipment that goes in the back of the airplane.

Senator Day: We need helicopters in Afghanistan. We read about it in the media on a regular basis and we hear about it from other witnesses. How are we coming along with respect to helicopters?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: We have two parallel projects underway for Chinooks. As Minister MacKay mentioned, a project is underway to acquire through foreign military sales — a rapid way to buy airplanes — a small fleet of six Delta model Chinooks, which we intend to field in Afghanistan with the appropriately trained crews in time to meet the Manley panel deadline of February 1, 2009.

Senator Day: Did you say ``military'' acquisition?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: Yes: It is a process of foreign military sales that allows us to purchase the aircraft directly from the U.S. Army.

Senator Day: We would purchase it from a country that no longer needs the aircraft.

Lt.-Gen. Watt: It is a special American process that provides us with a way to acquire military capabilities quickly because it comes out of existing inventory, in this case. Our intent is to field those helicopters by the end of this year with our Canadian crews such that we can start a Canadian-owned Chinook capability by February 1, 2009.

Senator Day: Is the aircraft medium-lift?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: The Chinook has tandem rotors, giving it a tremendous lifting capacity. It is probably the best medium-lift helicopter in the world. At the same time, we have a project called the medium-to-heavy-lift project, whereby we will purchase our own fleet of Foxtrot model, which is a newer model, 16 of which will be used in Canadian missions at home and abroad for the next 30 years. Like most aircraft acquisition, it takes three years from the time we sign the contract until we have our first aircraft. We are still at the point of negotiating with Boeing until we sign the contract. We are not yet under contract and we did not want to wait three years while our soldiers were undertaking a difficult mission in Afghanistan, so we have a parallel project to take the six Deltas now and the Foxtrots in the longer term.

Senator Day: Is there a program in place to arm our Griffon helicopters to put them into service to the mission?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: We have the Ingress Project in place as an urgent operational requirement to install an electro- optical surveillance ball, which allows them to see a man at about 15 kilometres, and a couple of high-speed machine guns. That capability will be used wherever we need it. I do not see us using the machine guns much in Canada but having a helicopter with a surveillance ball on it will be useful for occasions such as the 2010 Olympics. We intend to field that project with the Griffon helicopters by the end of 2008. It is progressing well. We can choose to use it in Afghanistan or for domestic operations.

Senator Day: You are involved in many other projects. It is clear, Lieutenant-General Watt, that you are deeply into recapitalization, which is encouraging for all of us. Are all the people involved in these projects under your command or do they fall under ADM (Mat)? You said that you are under-strength with regard to personnel and if many of them are placed in these jobs, it will put you even more under the gun.

Lt.-Gen. Watt: There are challenges. We are experiencing the greatest renewal of capability in the air force we have seen in a generation. Virtually all our platforms are being renewed or replaced in some way. That renewal is tremendously motivating to the men and women in light blue. When I ask them to make sacrifices and work long hours to take on these capabilities, they rise to the occasion.

To answer your specific question, I tend to define the requirement and then it is turned over to ADM (Mat) for acquisition. I do not buy anything. I simply define the need. I have a requirement staff that work hard to put together the project documentation and, once it has achieved government approval, it is turned over to ADM (Mat) for contracting and implementation.

The Chair: Senator Meighen had a supplementary question on helicopters.

Senator Meighen: This committee has been concerned for some time about the state of the Cormorant search-and- rescue helicopter and the long-term challenge posed by the cracks in the tail rotor, which limited their speed, altitude or length of flying time: You would know the answer to that. Where are we in solving that problem?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: We are not as bad as we were but not as good as we would like to be. We had a problem with the tail rotor. This problem can happen when we buy a new airplane at the leading edge of technology and we are one of the first major customers. We end up wearing the shakedown problems.

Senator Meighen: We have been wearing them for a few years.

Lt.-Gen. Watt: The Cormorant is a world-class platform. It is the best search-and- rescue helicopter, bar none, in the world. It has performed wonders for us in that role. The problem has been availability and serviceability. The tail rotor experienced cracks in its hub, which meant we had to land the helicopters, shut down and inspect. That need limited the amount of time we could fly. We have applied various technical measures but improvements have not solved the problem of the tail rotor fully because it will be fully resolved only with a redesign, which the company has been slow to undertake. In the meantime, we have found ways to compensate by inspecting it such that our operational flexibility is not impaired by that tail rotor problem.

Senator Meighen: Is the company committed to a redesign?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: It is committed to a redesign but it is taking far longer than I would like. Augusta-Westland is the company, and I have expressed my dissatisfaction in that regard to them. The other major problem is the supply of parts. We contracted with this company to supply the parts for our helicopter. They have under-performed and have not provided us with the level of service we need to keep our fleet of aircraft at an appropriate level of serviceability. They know this problem. They have come to me and said they will fix it and they will reengineer their processes and achieve, by November 2008, a 10-per-cent improvement, and by November 2009 another 10 per cent. That totals a 20- per-cent improvement in the parts supply. I can measure their performance. I told them that was fine; that I looked forward to that improvement; and that I would measure them against that standard in November 2008 and November 2009.

Senator Moore: Against what per cent of deficiency is that measured today?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: We contracted that helicopter to achieve a 70-per-cent serviceability rate. That rate is how we sized the fleet. Currently, their average serviceability rate is about 50 per cent. We need better serviceability from that helicopter and to do that, we need a better parts supply. The company has promised to reengineer its methods to provide us with that parts supply so that we can bring serviceability up to where we need it.

Senator Day: I will pass to other colleagues because there are a number of other platforms we can discuss, as Lieutenant-General Watt has indicated. In my final question, I ask you to comment on a point you made during your introductory remarks. You are 13 per cent below your requirement with respect to pilot training. I think that statistic is interesting and concerning. Is it because you have more aircraft? Is it because your retention rate is not as good as it should be? Is there a problem with the your civilian training program for pilots?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: We are 13 per cent below the manning level for pilots, which is about 1,500 pilots. That means we are about 250 pilots short. We have been that way for almost a decade.

It has been a long-term persistent problem in the air force, and part of that problem went back to the 1990s when we experienced a rapid decrease in the number of people in the air force. The airlines were hiring at the time, and we lost more pilots than we could produce.

Senator Day: You were also paying pilots to leave the Armed Forces.

Lt.-Gen. Watt: I know we were.

Senator Day: I remember it well.

Lt.-Gen. Watt: That was not my decision.

Senator Day: We are trying to recover from that decision now.

Lt.-Gen. Watt: Yes, over the last few years, we have suffered the introductory pains of bringing online the NATO Flying Training in Canada. That system is now mature. It is starting to deliver the product. I am pushing it, though, to increase its capacity. Right now, I lose about 100 to 105 pilots a year through normal attrition. The NATO Flying Training program produced about 80 to 85, at its best, over the last few years. I have survived by re-enrolling these people back into the air force after they retired. I am trying to push the number of pilots produced per year up to 105, which is the design capacity of the system, within a year or two, and eventually we will try to increase further, to 120 or maybe even 140. I am pushing at every level to increase that system so that I can have a healthy demographic and start to recover that shortfall in pilots.

Senator Banks: Thank you, Lieutenant-General Watt, for being here. It is good to see you again. I will follow on the procurement line for a minute and ask you about a platform that Senator Day probably wanted to ask about but did not: fixed-wing, search and rescue north. Where are we?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: Fixed-wing search-and-rescue right now is executed by a combined fleet of Hercules and Buffalos.

Senator Banks: The Buffalo is about to go away?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: The Buffalo will not go away any time soon. The Buffalo will be maintained as long as we need it, until we have a replacement aircraft.

Senator Banks: What is the replacement in mind?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: We have not yet determined what aircraft it will be. We are at the point of maturing the specifications so that we have a solid specification for this replacement aircraft to take to government and obtain approval for the specification. Then, we will put it out to industry and invite them to compete.

Senator Banks: Do the specs have anything to say about where the door opens in the back, for example?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: A series of specifications describe speed, range, payload, deployability, cockpit visibility and those sorts of things. With fixed-wing search-and- rescue, we aim to provide Canadians with the same level of service that we achieve now with our combined fleet of Buffalo and Hercules.

Senator Banks: We have heard about the question of visibility from the planes in the search-and-rescue function. Some aircraft are being considered, apparently, that do not provide the crews with the same capacity to see when they are performing search and rescue. Have you heard that?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: Cockpit visibility is a key criterion. Our Western region, particularly where we operate the Buffalos, is mountainous. These airplanes end up at low level in bad weather. They need to have manoeuvrability and visibility from the cockpit. That means that when they are in a turn, it cannot be like a passenger airplane where they can see only out the front. They must be able to see up above so they can see that mountain beside them. We have not yet determined which aircraft we will buy. When putting the specification out, we will invite aircraft manufacturers to compete on the basis of what the specification asks for. I can assure you that the specification asks for an appropriate level of cockpit visibility.

Senator Banks: Is the back-end-load function and style something you can change? Both aircraft now open up at the back end for loading.

Lt.-Gen. Watt: Yes.

Senator Banks: Is that a requirement?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: Yes, it is, for several reasons. It takes 7,000 pounds of search-and- rescue equipment on the fixed- wing search-and-rescue airplane. A lot of equipment needs to be loaded quickly. We have specified the ability to load NATO standard pallets, and they cannot load pallets through a door.

Senator Banks: That answers my question. Thank you. You mentioned Arctic air patrols. What air platform do you use, and how frequently are the patrols?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: Virtually every aircraft in the air force ends up in the Arctic at some point in the year. I am sure you are talking about more dedicated assets.

Generally, the main surveillance asset we use for Arctic patrols is the Aurora. In 2007, the Aurora performed 53 missions. It performed 20 from Greenwood and 33 from Comox; almost 300 hours of surveillance over the North in various shapes and forms. There are other aircraft. There are twin Otters up there all the time. Hercules aircraft are flying, as are F-18s and C-17s. There are many airplanes up there. We maintain an active presence in the North with our sovereignty patrols.

Senator Banks: I will go completely off the page now and ask you to comment on a personal opinion that I have. As far as I know, and you can correct me, this country is the only country of significance in the world in which the forces — the army, navy and air force — for all intents and purposes, are part of a government department. I do not mean subject to a government department but actually part of, and integrated with, a government department to the extent that ours is. Do I have that wrong? What is your reaction to a suggestion that perhaps that integration is not the best idea?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: I think you are beyond the purview of the Chief of the Air Staff there. Those organizational matters are far beyond my responsibilities.

Senator Banks: You are being modest.

Lt.-Gen. Watt: The Canadian Forces is an entity that forms part of the Department of National Defence. I am subject to the orders of General Hillier, the CDS. That is who I am commanded by, and he is responsible through the minister to the government.

Senator Banks: I understand that. Do you know of any other country in which the Armed Forces are part of a government department?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: In the U.S., the U.S. Department of Defense has a similar arrangement and relationship with the military.

Senator Banks: There are ways in which it is different.

You talked about shortening the training period. We have seen that firsthand. We saw people in Cold Lake. For example, they train electronics technicians and bring them to a point where they function well, and then someone down the road offers them literally double the money to work for them. When you say you have shortened the length of time in the pipe to become capable, can you do that without lessening the rigour of the training, and is what comes out the end of the pipe still what you need in every respect?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: We have undertaken for the last few years a successful project called the Air Technician Training Renewal project. It was to achieve exactly that goal: better quality with less time. However, the key element is costs. It costs money. We have taken advantage of new technologies and computer-based training. We have also taken advantage of contracted instructors instead of rotating people through constantly. We have re-engineered the technician training to the extent now that when the kids arrive on the flight line, instead of facing a couple of years of on the job, training, OJT, before they can sign for their first inspection, they arrive with basic abilities from the get-go, which is motivating for them. It allows them to fix aircraft right from the start.

It has not been easy. It has had some challenges, and it has cost us resources, but it has turned out to be effective. As a result, we have started to recover our technician demographics.

The Chair: To clarify a couple of questions that came up with Senator Banks, it sounded like the fixed-wing search- and-rescue aircraft were in the definition stage.

Lt.-Gen. Watt: No, we are still working on the concepts. We are pre-definition right now.

The Chair: My understanding is that this particular platform has been approved by cabinet on three different occasions by two different governments. Am I right?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: We have not yet achieved specifics. There has been a general commitment on the part of the government for fixed-wing search-and-rescue, and specific mention is made in the Canada First Defence Strategy, but we have not yet achieved specific cabinet approval to move this project to the next stage. Obviously, our intent is to bring it to cabinet as soon as we are ready.

The Chair: Was the situation the same with the previous governments that looked at this project?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: This project has not yet achieved specific cabinet approval.

The Chair: Why is this project dragging on? Is it not unusual for something to go to cabinet three different times?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: We had not made it to cabinet. We have not yet achieved a specific submission to cabinet with this project. It has always fallen short for various reasons of matching the competitive environment with the specifications of the aircraft.

The Chair: I was astonished at the number of sovereignty patrols. How many did you say there were?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: Fifty-three.

The Chair: How many did we have last year?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: Fifty-three is the figure for calendar year 2007.

The Chair: This committee has heard reports in the past five years of one and two sovereignty patrols.

Lt.-Gen. Watt: Yes, I think the confusion is that dedicated deployments of the Aurora to the Arctic, to either Yellowknife or Iqaluit, are relatively rare. In other words, the aircraft spends a week or two doing nothing but patrols. Those numbers are, have been and will continue to be, relatively low.

The Aurora has a tremendous range. The figures I provided represent aircraft operations that occurred anywhere in the North in calendar year 2007, including dedicated missions, and exercise and training missions; anything that allowed a presence, which is essentially what we want with the Aurora. Any time an Aurora is in an area, it looks for things that should not be there.

The Chair: If I understand you correctly, you have aggregated the numbers, and the figures we heard previously understated the Aurora presence in the North?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: Exactly.

Senator Zimmer: Thank you for your presentation and your appearance today. I will refer to Senator Day's final comment.

Currently you need to attract, train and retain people. You indicated that years ago you gave pilots buy-outs. Why was that? Did you have a saturation of pilots at that time?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: In the mid-1990s, we rapidly downsized the Canadian Forces. As a result, we had the force reduction program, FRP, which targeted certain occupations that were over-strength based on the revised need for the Canadian Forces after the downsizing.

At that time, the pilot occupation was over-strength because the air force was being downsized. By the rules of the day, pilots were included in that forced reduction program and were given bonuses to leave.

We paid people to leave and quickly overshot our target. We went well below it and have never recovered.

Senator Zimmer: Of all the disciplines in the Canadian Forces, air is my favourite. I love those fly boys. They must move on to flying private jets and so on. What is the problem currently in retaining them?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: We are doing well now, but I never take it for granted. The situation is different than in the 1990s. Our pay and benefits are vastly better than they were then. The military as a whole had difficulty competing with civilian industries, which were hiring our people.

Currently, in most areas across the forces, people are reasonably satisfied with pay and benefits. There are a few problems with housing costs in a few areas of the country, but other than that we are doing all right. We are competing well on the economic side and also on what I call, quality of profession. We offer a career of excitement, challenge and personal satisfaction like they will never find elsewhere. In addition, the infusion of new capabilities into the air force is particularly well received by my people. There is nothing pilots like to see more than a new aircraft sitting on the ramp. Although it is new capability, it is also a key retention tool for me.

I do not stop there. A week ago, we had an Armed Forces council meeting and spent two hours talking about nothing but retention. To be clear, retention is not spelled B-O-N-U-S, as many people think. Retention is a series of programs and initiatives to ameliorate pressures that military life imposes on individuals and their families. We believe that if we can ameliorate some of those pressures, people will be more inclined to stay because the pay and benefits are good, the job is exciting, there is a sense of mission and there is new capability.

Senator Zimmer: That strategy is good.

The types of mission that the Canadian Forces have been called upon to execute in the past few years have changed from Cold War deterrence and traditional peacekeeping to coalition operations, and from a metric threat environment, on one hand, to nation building, on the other. Is the air force structured properly to meet these types of missions in that transition?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: The air force is in the midst of transition from the Cold War to the 21st century. In many cases, the capabilities we have are a legacy, because it takes a long time to change those capabilities.

Having said that, we are adapting them rapidly. For instance, the Aurora, which was originally purchased in the height of the Cold War to hunt Soviet submarines, has been refitted with a series of 21st century surveillance capabilities that allow it to do more than chase submarines. It can now look over land with a new electro-optical system. It has evolved into a true 21st-century platform, and we are looking to take it to the next stage with its replacement.

The same is true of the transition from the Sea King helicopter to the Cyclone. The Sea King is another good example. We bought it in the 1960s. I am a Sea King pilot so I know a lot about the Sea King world. That platform has evolved in not only its equipment but also its capabilities and deployment such that the pilots of the 1960s would not even recognize it now.

We continue to adapt our current capabilities and we look forward to replacing them with true 21st century ones.

Senator Zimmer: On Afghanistan, I understand that the CC-130 fleet is currently stressed. What impact does the commitment in Camp Mirage have on your ability to conduct domestic operations?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: It is always a careful balancing act with airlift. The demand for airlift always exceeds supply. It is a matter of competing priorities and we carefully balance those priorities. The mission in Mirage has a high priority, because it is of such crucial importance to Canada. Also, there are few available substitutes whereas elsewhere in the world there are available substitutes. If they cannot use a CC-130, they can use another platform to carry.

Senator Zimmer: What impact, if any, has the mission in Afghanistan had on your funding level and your ability to conduct air operations? Approximately how many air force personnel do you send on each rotation to Afghanistan? As the government increases and expands its commitment to Afghanistan, I presume you have to redo your budgets.

Lt.-Gen. Watt: The mission in Afghanistan, as described by General Natynczyk in his testimony to you, has not affected my core funding. I am still funded at healthy levels, and incremental expenses associated with the mission tend to be reimbursed through the normal business planning process.

In terms of the number of people, currently the air force has about 350 people on each rotation. I expect that number to double nearly by the end of this year as we start to field new capabilities in Afghanistan, which will be a challenge for the air force, but one that my people are eager to take up and are fully capable of meeting.

Senator Banks: Do those new capabilities relate to helicopters?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: They do. For the moment, the only clearly expressed government intention is for the Chinooks. Other decisions have yet to be made by the government, and will be announced in due course when they are made.

Senator Zimmer: I think you have the greatest job in the world, being a pilot. I am envious and I wish you luck in your endeavours.

The Chair: To clarify one of Senator Zimmer's questions, you talked about refitting the Aurora and their capability over land. Does this mean they potentially have a role that can be value-added in a place such as Afghanistan?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: The Aurora can be used anywhere in the world that is deemed necessary. It has capability that is evolving rapidly. It can be used in Afghanistan, Canada and South America. It is a question of two things: what the mission commander needs in terms of an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, ISR, aircraft — and what the government feels is the appropriate mix of capabilities to be deployed.

The Chair: The aircraft has moved away from being principally involved in coastal protection?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: We are evolving the Aurora to meet a full spectrum, 21st century set of capabilities.

Senator Tkachuk: You mentioned a number of important issues for you on the recruitment level and maintaining a healthy number of recruits. You partially answered but, to be more specific, is it a question of money, of not having a sufficient number of resources to train, or of the demographics that we are experiencing where there are not enough young people to fill the jobs in this country?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: That question is complicated. Money generally has not been the problem. Part of the problem has been the capacity of our training system, which, as I mentioned earlier, was in the introductory phase of new programs. Those programs are now starting to mature so the capacity is increasing. Part of the problem is the evolving demographics of our society. We are competing for an ever-shrinking slice of the Canadian demographic distribution to recruit those 17- to 24-year olds that are at the core of where we target.

We have been reasonably successful in attracting people into the air force. It remains a high-tech, attractive proposition for Canada's youth. People are interested. As the senator mentioned, aviation as a career remains at the core of the Canadian spirit, and we are doing well with attraction. My challenge now is to ensure that once I have them in uniform, I provide them with the various courses. Part of the problem has been lining up all those courses so that when they complete one course they do not wait a long time for the next course. That matter is one of coordination and optimization of the total pipeline of courses that our people must take. We are working hard to make that situation better.

Senator Tkachuk: Was the recruitment situation a surprise to the military? The demographic problem has been around for about a decade. Ten years ago people said how difficult it will be 10 years from now. At any time, was there a plan by the military or the Department of National Defence about how to address this problem once they face it? It is difficult to recruit immigrants into the forces.

Lt.-Gen. Watt: That is the perfect question to ask the Chief of Military Personnel, who is responsible for recruiting. I am not trying to avoid the question.

The reality is that we were in survival mode in the Canadian Forces for a long while. We are no longer in survival mode. It took a little time to reorient the attitude. We have gone from 5,000 recruits a year that were accepted into the Canadian Forces several years ago to almost 8,000 this past year. We have significantly increased our game in terms of bringing new people in. We are also attempting to recruit from all the minorities to have a truly representative Canadian Forces that shows the world what our country is like.

Senator Tkachuk: What is the cost of aviation fuel doing to your budget? Is it affecting training, hours of operation and so on?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: As all Canadians do, we look at the gas pump prices with a certain amount of trepidation. Prices have been rising. About five years ago, we spent $93 million a year on aviation fuel. Last year, we spent $137 million. This year, we will spend probably somewhat over $150 million in aviation fuel. There are mitigating factors that allow me to continue to operate. Every year when I face these pressures I go to the vice-chief and say, this amount is how much you have given me for aviation fuel; this amount is how much it has cost me; I need you to provide me with the difference. So far, so good: Every year he has given me that difference.

Senator Tkachuk: You have not needed to ground aircraft?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: I have not needed to ground aircraft. At the year end, we generally have a bit of money. Rather than lose the money, we tend to spend the money and fill up our aviation fuel tanks all across the air force. We end the fiscal year with all our tanks brim full, which cushions the shock of price fluctuations during the year as well.

Senator Mitchell: General, my first question is a continuation of the capital projects issue. Can you comment, please, on your future fighter project? I think Canada is part of a joint fighter development project that includes the United States and other countries. Do you think that project will end up with a fighter? What are our fighter requirements? As you mentioned, this is the 21st century and we have moved out of the Cold War era, perhaps.

Lt.-Gen. Watt: There are about five questions there.

To start at the beginning, we have the F-18 right now. That platform is wonderful. It has gone through a mid-life upgrade with the Boeing company. They put new helmet mounted sites on it, GPS-integrated weapons, new communications, radar, targeting pod and weapons. It is in good shape. It is a good fourth-generation fighter. It will run out of structural life in about a decade, though. Once we run out of structural life, we will have expensive repairs. A decade from now, we will need to replace that airplane.

We started a project called the next generation fighter capability, which aims to replace the F-18 in around the 2017 to 2020 time frame. We are now also at the early initial conceptual stages, like some of those other projects, of defining the basic performance and capability requirements that we want from that aircraft. We are at the early stages of those requirements now and have not yet brought them outside the department. The aircraft will provide the ability to apply aerospace interdiction and force where we need it in support of Canada's objectives both at home and around the world.

As to your specific question on what is called the joint strike fighter, we have a memorandum of understanding with the joint strike fighter, but it is a memorandum of cooperation for industrial purposes now. It does not commit us to purchasing the aircraft. It allows Canadian industries to have access to the program and to compete for some of the business that is huge from that program.

Ultimately, when we mature those specifications that we want from the aircraft and we go to the various aircraft manufacturers, one of the competitors will be the joint strike fighter, but there may be others. If there are more than one, we will compete the program and choose the best one for Canada.

Senator Mitchell: Speaking of fighters, in the mid-1990s I had the opportunity to go to Cold Lake. I was hosted there by the base and was able to ``fly'' in the simulator. That was not a particularly memorable experience, but what was memorable is that I experienced that after a fighter pilot was tested in that simulator. She came out and walked by me, and I will never forget the intensity on that person's face. Apparently, one of her engines quit as she was landing. I often wondered what became of her career in the military.

I think the military has made a great deal of progress in integrating women. I notice that you have a woman officer with you here today. She is not from the air force, though.

In particular, given the pressures of personnel and so on, what is the percentage of your personnel that are women? Is there an opportunity to attract more women to this career? Are you taking steps in that regard?

Lt.-Gen. Watt: The air force has 18 per cent women, which is one of the highest percentages in the Canadian Forces in the regular force, and 28 per cent of our reservists are women. We have women at every level and in every occupation; pilot, maintainers and engineers. We have a Brigadier-General, Christine Whitecross, who is the commander of Joint Task Force, North. She is a construction engineer from the air force. We have Lieutenant-Colonel Tammy Harris, who is the wing commander in Gander, Newfoundland, another fine officer. At every level in the air force, we welcome females and enable their success.

We have done other things. For instance, we had what we call anthropometric standards, which define for air crew the length of various limbs on your body to ensure that you can fit into cockpits. The anthropometric standards that we used dated from the 1940s. About four years ago, we undertook a modern program to come up with a true set of anthropometrics, which represent exactly what we need in the cockpits and not something from the Second World War. We have come up with a world class system that has redefined those anthropometrics and allows for a greater proportion of females, who tend to be a bit smaller, to qualify now for air crew.

The Chair: General, on behalf of the committee, it has been an instructive period with you. We are grateful for your candour — how readily you have answered our questions and provided your assistance to us in this study. We appreciate your time and the preparation you have made to come to see us.

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The committee continued in camera.