Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence

Issue 4 - Evidence - Meeting of May 3, 2010

OTTAWA, Monday, May 3, 2010

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day at 4 p.m. to examine and report on the national security and defence policies of Canada (topics: the role of our forces in Afghanistan and NATO currently and post 2011; and Canada's role in NORAD).

Senator Pamela Wallin (Chair) in the chair.


The Chair: Honourable senators, welcome to this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. We have three witnesses with us today. Our last witness this evening will be General Victor Renuart, Commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, and United States Northern Command based in Colorado.

We will also hear from Colonel Gregory Burt, Director of Future Security Analysis for National Defence. He has recently returned from Afghanistan where he served from February to November 2009 as Commander of the Operational Mentor and Liaison Team, OMLT, in Kandahar Province, on which we will focus.

We begin today, with our first witness, by video conference from Kandahar, Afghanistan, retired Brigadier-General Serge Labbé, who is currently working as Deputy to NATO Senior Civilian Representative, SCR, in Kabul, Afghanistan. Prior to that, General Labbé served as Canadian Forces Deputy Chief of Staff to General Rick Hillier, commanding International Security Assistance Force, ISAF, troops in Kabul, Afghanistan. He last served as Commander of the Strategic Advisory Team — Afghanistan, SAT, which we have heard much about in our testimony to date.

Welcome, General Labbé. We appreciate your being with us at this awful hour. We will have about 45 minutes in which to hear from you today.

Do you have opening comments?

Brigadier-General (Retired) Serge Labbé, Deputy to NATO Senior Civilian Representative (SCR) HQ ISAF Kabul, Afghanistan, as an individual: No. I would rather go straight to questions if that is all right with you, Madam Chair.

The Chair: Could you explain your job for the record?

Brig.-Gen. Labbé: The Office of the Senior Civilian Representative, SCR, for Afghanistan was established in 2004. The first SCR was Minister Hikmet Cetin, from Turkey, who arrived in Kabul at the same time as General Rick Hillier arrived in his capacity as Commander ISAF. The purpose of the Office of the Senior Civilian Representative, OSCR, is to provide the Secretary-General of NATO and the NATO ambassadors with a representative in theatre who can provide the bridge between theatre and NATO headquarters in Brussels. The OSCR represents the interests of the alliance with the Government of Afghanistan; with members of the international community; with international organizations, such as the UN; the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA; the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP; and others, as well as with the ambassadors of various nations in Kabul. By the same token, the NATO SCR, an ambassador — currently British Ambassador Mark Sedwill, former U.K. Ambassador to Afghanistan — then reports back to Brussels to provide NATO's Secretary-General and all members of the North Atlantic Council with feedback from theatre in terms of what is happening from a political perspective.

More recently, the OSCR has received a strengthened mandate with a view to becoming much more involved in enabling and bridging the very strong, very capable ISAF security capabilities of General Stanley McChrystal with the international community, UNAMA — the UN mission here in Afghanistan — and with other international organizations and agencies to include NGOs with a view to ensuring that there is greater coherence and synergy between the development and governance aspects of the mission and the security component in support of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

The Chair: Thank you for the opening comment. I will make one correction. Of course, you are in Kabul, not Kandahar. I do not know why we said Kandahar.


Senator Dallaire: General, based on what you have seen, both in your previous position as well as your current position with NATO, do you think Afghanistan's capacity building can be done by civilians without the presence of the Canadian military and without the prospect of any military presence?


Brig.-Gen. Labbé: The answer is no, but allow me to expand. There is no doubt that we should be doing much more to promote Afghan national development programs with a proven track record. There are many. The Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, MRRD, is outstanding and well led; it has five national programs. For example, the National Solidarity Programme is a development program that provides small-scale development to communities throughout Afghanistan but also promotes governance and human security. At the present time, because of that dimension, about 70 per cent of rural Afghanistan practices grassroots democracy on a daily basis. As well, 38 per cent of the democratically elected members of community development councils are women. The Afghans have got it right. At the grassroots level, they are capable of doing this but for smaller programs and projects.

There is still a requirement for the international development community to engage in larger-scale projects, such as the Dahla Dam project north of Kandahar City, where expertise and program and project management are absolutely essential. They have to be brought in with a view to ensuring that these projects, which are vital to the livelihood of Afghans throughout the country, are provided. Therefore, international and governmental development organizations, such as the United States Agency for International Development, USAID; the Canadian International Development Agency, CIDA; the U.K. Department for International Development, DFID, and others are absolutely essential. These clearly need to be supplemented by consultants, contractors and non-governmental organizations that bring the full spectrum of specialist skills to assist these governmental aid organizations as well as Afghans and Afghan ministries with a view to ensuring that these more complex jobs are done properly. In so doing, it is necessary to ensure that any contracts and assistance brings in and has a capacity-building clause to ensure that rather than simply bypass Afghans all together, they involve them in the process. In that way, over time, they can assume increasing responsibility for larger- scale projects.

I will make one last point in this regard: To date, it is still the case that approximately 80 per cent of development assistance coming into Afghanistan circumvents the Afghan core budget. In his inaugural speech last November, President Karzai challenged the international community to reduce that number. In recent months, he has referred repeatedly to the fact that he would like to see 50 per cent of international development assistance come in through the core budget, which his government is allowed to manage. It is difficult for them to manage their affairs if their arms are tied behind their backs and they can play with only 20 per cent of the funding that comes into the country.


Senator Dallaire: Based on your security and development experience, you determined that it was critical to develop an approach that addressed not only the needs of the various departments and organizations, but also a strategy for change. Is there an organization that takes your experience and findings into account in developing a doctrine or theory?


Brig.-Gen. Labbé: The international community has struggled in Afghanistan until very recently in terms of supporting this government because we have not been very good strategically, operationally and tactically at all levels, including the central government in Kabul, provincially at the district level and at the community level. We have not been good at integrating in time and space security operations with development and good governance.

When I say ``good governance,'' I refer not only to district-level governors but also to the judiciary and judicial sector reform as well as police forces as part of security.

This inability to do this at all levels — because there has been no strong coordinating influence at the central level here in Kabul, because it has been impossible to bring this together at the operational level or at the provincial level and because we have been unable to do it at district level — has made any independent security operations or any independent development activity very fragile. As a result, it has not been able to take root, particularly in the provinces of the south and east of this country. There have been some successes in the north and west, but those have been in areas where the security situation has been relatively benign.

Since beginning the stabilization operations that were launched in central Helmand almost two months ago now, in the Nad Ali and Marja districts of Helmand, we have rectified that. It has been recognized that at the district level, it is absolutely necessary to ensure that Afghan-led security operations, led by the Afghan National Security Forces supported by the International Security Assistance Force, are immediately followed by a development and governance package that is fully integrated and Afghan-owned and Afghan-led. There can be no daylight between the security operation and the hold-and-build phases that are conducted by civilian Afghan-led development and governance activities to include, very importantly, the judiciary. This is a fundamental problem that we have faced.

The second part to your question has to do with capacity building. I still maintain, just as I did in the briefing you referred to earlier on that I gave to the Conference of Defence Associations Institute, CDAI, in January 2008, that the biggest problem in this country is lack of human capacity. We have, for instance, in Kabul and throughout the country, 320,000 civil servants that cannot provide a civil service.

It is fundamental to the ability of this government to be able to take up the responsibilities it has at all levels here in Kabul. However, particularly at the sub-national level, at the provincial and district levels, almost no capacity exists whatsoever.

This is what we are finding in Marja, for instance, where we have to bring in talent and have to train people in an emergency mode with a view to then insert them into Marja at the district centre so that they can take on their responsibilities, but that is not ideal. It is very difficult situation, and there is a real need for nations, donors, to focus on increased capacity building across the spectrum.

I can come back to one of the recommendations later on because I do have recommendations for what I would see as a post-2011 Canadian footprint here in Afghanistan. However, on the governance side, I would very much like to see the Canada School of Public Service partnered with the Afghan civil service commission and the Afghan Civil Service Institute with a view to providing a more integrated approach to the training of professionals and professional development of civil servants, right across the continuum. This would be fantastic. It would provide a lead nation looking after this civil service commission and the institute and would incorporate other donor contributions. However, there has to be a more holistic approach to how we deal with capacity building of, for instance, in this particular case, the civil service.

The Independent Directorate of Local Governance is responsible for the district delivery program, that is, those packages of development and governance that follow immediately on the footsteps of security. It is responsible for fielding those but has no strategic communications capability. Communicating the successes are vital, both to the people of this country and to the external audience — the nations, the donors that want to see and hear success, that want to really hear what is happening. They need that capacity and do not have it. Right across the board, every single aspect of government needs assistance in terms of capacity building.

Senator Segal: I have two brief questions, but, first, I wanted to express my appreciation for the work that you have done for this country abroad in difficult circumstances over a very compelling career, and for the fact that you are acting as a civilian in support of our major military alliance in a difficult circumstance. I do not want you to think that any of us take that for granted.

It is the nature of the media to cover the bad news and not be terribly impressed with the good news. Can you give us your perspective now, as a civilian working on behalf of NATO, of what the ledger is on the good news and the bad news with respect to economic development, agriculture and progress on governance? Please be as frank as you can in giving that assessment.

Also, clearly the Canadian position has changed from the early days when our forces were in Kabul basically protecting the birth of a new democratic government — the loya jirga and that whole process; the SAT, which I think was something designed under a previous administration but was very supportive to the Karzai administration.

We now have a somewhat different approach in terms of our relationship to governance. I am interested in your perspective on that. Most helpful would be your sense of how our NATO allies view the Canadian role on that governance and security side.

Brig.-Gen. Labbé: Thank you very much, senator. I appreciate your comments. This is the problem; I keep hearing on television and in the media the fact that we are losing. The comment that we are losing is predicated on the old definitions of campaigns, where we talked only about security operations. In today's environment, there is no such thing as just security operations. It involves governance, development, the judiciary and all aspects of government. Therefore, to say that we are losing is a misnomer and reflects old thinking.

This country has had some fantastic successes, and every day there is forward movement. I would highlight public health as being a tremendous success story in this country. Education grows with each passing day. Rural development has been a tremendous success.

I mentioned the National Solidarity Programme a little while ago. There is also the national area-based development program that provides district-level activities of a similar nature — larger programs that are Afghan-inspired, Afghan- owned and Afghan-led — empowering communities and districts. For the first time in their lives, they have a say in their future in small programs and projects, which are nevertheless sufficient for them. You do not have to give rural Afghans a great deal to make them self-sufficient.

A new program called the Afghanistan Rural Enterprise Development Program, aims at taking agricultural products and value adding with a view to diminishing reliance on imports and being able to produce exports from the country to be able to further balance payments here in Afghanistan. There are some tremendous successes that people have chosen to simply ignore. I suppose rural development is not something that excites the media as much as other activities.

In terms of governance and other activities, ISAF has focused on the security ministries — the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Interior and the National Directorate of Security. They have invested a huge amount in ensuring that they are capable of undertaking their operations, but also capable of operating as ministries within a government.

There has been no equal civilian, joined up, coherent approach to doing the same thing in the non-security ministries. I will talk about the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development as an example. Although it is probably the best ministry in the government because it was well led by a minister who understood rural development, a huge gap still exists in the capability of the civil servants within the ministry. It is run, essentially, 600-strong here in Kabul, by a handful of individuals — contractors, both foreign and Afghan. About 50 of them do the work of 600. We need to take the remaining civil servants and give them the training necessary to be able to do the work so that they can carry on and produce far more than the ministry is currently doing.

MRRD is actually one of the better ministries. Some ministries are literally paralyzed. They have an excellent minister and a few deputy ministers who are very good, and a handful of contractors both Afghan and foreign, but the civil servants simply have not been given an opportunity to be trained to do the jobs they are meant to do.

I love Afghans because they are industrious, entrepreneurial and want to work and learn. However, they simply have not been given the opportunity. Somehow the international community has to find a way of committing further, in a more coherent way, to the professional development of these civil servants, and enhancing their capacity.

Senator Segal: You talked earlier about the Canada School of Public Service here in Ottawa. Would that be your preference as an instrument over HEC Montréal or École nationale d'administration publique in Quebec, or others across the country? What would lead you to believe that the one in Ottawa would be best suited in terms of public administration over various others that have done some international work in countries around the world on this very same area? I would be interested in your perspective on that.

Brig.-Gen. Labbé: I use it as an example, quite frankly. We need the 70 per cent solution here in Afghanistan right now. That is all we need. We need someone out here now to do the work and to get on with it. It does not matter where it comes from in Canada. I used it as an example of something that Canada could actually do that would contribute tremendously to building human capacity in this country. It does not matter whether it comes from Ottawa or from another part of Canada.

I would add that it needs to be joined up, but it needs to be brought here to theatre under an organization that is capable of running it. I would just highlight the fact that the Strategic Advisory Team was subsequently replaced by the Canadian Governance Support Office. However, certainly the SAT concept was very good and is still a concept which NATO is looking at in terms of creating a multinational strategic advisory team because people have picked up on the fact that it was a very useful capability that was deployed here to Kabul.

Senator Cordy: I am a substitute today on the committee, so thank you, chair, for putting me on the list.

While I was flying up today, I read a political cartoon in The Globe and Mail. It had three boxes. The first one said, ``I support our troops.'' The second one said, ``I support our troops (until 2011).'' The third one said, ``I support'' but the three things were crossed out, and ``I'm confused!!!'' was written underneath.

I am a bit confused. I am not sure if we will pull all our troops just out of Kandahar and the south of Afghanistan or whether we are pulling all our troops completely out of Afghanistan. I wonder what that will do for our role as Canadians in development. You spoke of how important the development role was. I was in Kabul a number of years ago, and at that time, the Canadian government was doing a lot of work, as was the ambassador, together with Italy to try to develop the justice department for the government of Afghanistan.

I am not quite sure what our military will be doing or not be doing after February 2011. In light of that, have we had any discussions with NATO allies in terms of offering protection for our development workers that are needed so badly in Afghanistan? If we pull all our troops out of Afghanistan, will we have a way to protect our development workers and our NGOs there? Will we need to hire a private security firm to look after them?

Despite the good things happening, the reality is that Afghanistan, in some places more than others, can still be quite a dangerous place for unarmed development NGOs to work.

Brig.-Gen. Labbé: If you pulled all the troops from Afghanistan, you would have to find some way of protecting the development experts that remain behind. That would severely limit their freedom of action and their ability to undertake their responsibilities.

You could certainly use private security companies, although, over the course of the last few years, President Karzai has taken a very personal hand in trying to reduce the number of private security companies with a view to ensuring that the ones who do remain behind are of high quality and are registered with the government here. It is an ongoing debate and problem. In fact, they are not well regarded here by government because they have had problems in the past.

I would just make the point that Canada has contributed to this mission. As a result of its commitment in terms of resources, financial commitments and lives and human suffering, Canada has established itself as one of the leading partners in this coalition of 46-some nations, and that number keeps growing every day. It keeps growing every day because nations around the world, such as Colombia, Mongolia and possibly Indonesia soon, are recognizing that this is the right cause to be involved in, and they want to be involved in it. They want to be part of the team that will support this government in winning it.

Part of that commitment involves the development and the governance piece, but also providing security. I am not sure that development workers here in Afghanistan on their own would be an appropriate contribution given that we need more troops. The U.S. is deploying more troops. NATO is currently in the process of sourcing and deploying more troops because we need more troops. We do not need fewer troops; we need more.

At precisely the time when we need more troops to turn the tide with a view to ensuring that we can actually fully support this government in winning the campaign, it seems odd to me that we would be talking about removing all the troops.

It is not just about combat. We have been extremely successful with the OMLT's training of the 1st Brigade of the 205th Corps. They are an outstanding brigade who have been involved in combat operations and have distinguished themselves, and it is because Canadian Forces are training them.

Why do we not train another brigade with a view to ensuring that, the faster we train Afghan National Security Forces, the sooner we can leave? Ultimately, it is about them assuming responsibility for their security, governance and development, but we cannot leave them in the lurch. We need to take it to the end to ensure that they have everything they need across all three lines of operations.

Senator Cordy: Thank you, general, very much for the work you did while actively involved in the military and for the work you are doing in Afghanistan at this time. Canada has an extremely excellent reputation with NATO and our military is among the best, if not the best, in the world. Thank you very much for what you are doing.

The Chair: Thank you. I would like to put on the record — I did not mention it earlier — that for his work in Afghanistan, Brigadier-General Labbé was awarded a Meritorious Service Cross in September, 2005.

Senator Lang: I would like to ask about the SAT concept that was in place at one time, which then was dramatically changed a number of years ago.

The question of governance has been a refrain in all our hearings here in any reference to Afghanistan in terms of how weak things are for the public service. Has the present national government asked for the reinstitution of the SAT concept to help put the government and the civil service back into a situation nationally where they can govern?

Brig.-Gen. Labbé: To the best of my knowledge, senator, they have not in recent times. Back in 2008, when news reached the ministries that the Strategic Advisory Team was working in, that we would not be replaced, there was significant concern by the ministers involved in terms of losing that capacity.

Over the course of the three years of the Strategic Advisory Team existed, it had provided tremendous capacity. It was working at the strategic level, providing executive-level capacity building skills, not to the minister per se, but to the ministry. That involved basic issues. It was not involved in policy formulation or technical activities. We have 1001 technical advisers in this city; we do not need more. SAT helped ministers, deputy ministers and their subordinates to structure the ministry to be more efficient, to organize themselves to produce better outputs and for meetings actually to have meaning, and to have taskers actually come out of meetings with clear tasks that would be tracked until completion. They would look at budgets, budget five years into the future and prepare management plans.

SAT did all things that I used to say that I joined the army not to do because they are not terribly exciting. However, they must be done to ensure that any large organization — a department, military headquarters or a small- or medium- sized business — is able to get things done properly. That is what these officers were able to do very effectively and the reason they were in such great demand.

There was tremendous concern when they were told they would be removed. That was eventually allayed by the creation of the Canadian Governance Support Office, although this latter organization had a different focus that was more on technical advice and not on what SAT had been doing.

Senator Lang: In your opening remarks, you mentioned that you had a number of recommendations. Could you tell us what they are?

Brig.-Gen. Labbé: I alluded to the fact that, from a security perspective, I understand fully the desire to remove the battle group. If we are looking at transition of lead security within Afghanistan and looking at assuring, as President Karzai stated in his inaugural address last November, that he wants, five years from November 2009, to have assumed complete lead for all security throughout the country, then we are on a very sharp timetable to ensure that we can train up the Afghan National Security Forces, the police and the army and other components of the police and the army with the view to ensuring that they can actually assume that responsibility as soon as possible.

NATO launched the transition process in the sense that we now have a framework to be tabled at the Kabul conference in July. Security is paramount. Therefore, it is key that we do more with the allied forces and ISAF. I suggest that we continue to train the 1st Brigade of the 205th Corps and that Canada assume responsibility for a second brigade.

In the realm of development, I suggest we continue to work on signature projects. The Dahla Dam and its irrigation systems can provide water for 75 per cent of the population of the entire province of Kandahar. It will revolutionize the lives of those people. We should invest in Afghan national programs with a proven track record such as the National Solidarity Programme.

In terms of governance, I mentioned the possibility of the Canada School of Public Service or any other school in Canada being partnered with the Civil Service Commission here in Afghanistan.

The last part, in terms of strategic communications, is something the SAT created whilst we were here, that is the Afghan Government Media and Information Center. That is still working, so it is a lasting legacy, but it needs a boost. It would great if we could bring in a few Canadian strategic communications experts to facilitate their activities, to build capacity and to run courses for talented young Afghans who could be deployed to ministries as spokespersons.

The Chair: Could you expand on what you think will happen at the July conference and what you would like to see happen?

Brig.-Gen. Labbé: The Kabul conference is the second part of two conferences. You will recall the London conference that took place earlier this year hosted by the U.K. A series of deliverables from that conference were meant to be tabled at the next conference in Kabul, possibly from July 18 to 21. The conference will possibly be attended by individuals at the foreign ministers' level from a variety of donor nations, bringing in perhaps 70 different international organizations and nations. It will be a significant event hosted by the government of Afghanistan. It is real challenge in terms of security and also in its deliverables.

Therefore, the government has created clusters of ministries to be able to be more focused and to being able to deliver. One deliverable is a joint Afghan-NATO transition plan that would lay out the way ahead in terms of how transition would take place. Transition is not simply about security. It is also about governance and development with a view to ensure that when a province is transitioned, the process is irreversible, durable, lasting and credible for the people of Afghanistan.

Senator Manning: Thank you for your work abroad and that of the Canadian Armed Forces.

I spoke to a soldier several months ago and asked him what he thought was the most important job in Afghanistan. I expected a military answer, but he told me it was the job of a teacher to teach the people of Afghanistan about opportunities available with your help.

You talked earlier about public health, education and rural development. I come from a rural development background. Please elaborate on rural development. If Afghan people are to become self-sustaining through development of whatever is possible, what efforts are being put forward in Afghanistan for rural development?

Brig.-Gen. Labbé: There is an old saying in the army that when you are not on operations, the most important thing an army can do is to train. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that our officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers in the Canadian Forces are excellent trainers.

As one looks at various nations deployed in Afghanistan, the Canadian Forces have gone the extra mile, as they always do. They do this because of the country and the culture they come from that makes them who they are and what they are. They do not simply do their job, they do it extremely well, and they excel at it. This is seen and commented on by all other contingents in theatre. Canadian soldiers are held in high esteem because we seem to have a knack for being able to coach, facilitate and mentor, and to do so in a way that is not patronizing or arrogant. This approach seems to work very well with Afghans.

In terms of rural development, our contributions are not particularly hands-on. CIDA has done fantastic work in Afghanistan to provide funding. For example, Canada was one of the first nations to contribute to the National Solidarity Programme, which is arguably the most successful development program here in Afghanistan bar none, including any international programs that exist here. From the beginning in 2003 when the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development established the National Solidarity Programme, Canada was at the front of the pack in funding this program. The program is now touted and cited as a success story around the world. Canada was part of that; that was our contribution. CIDA has also funded other programs in this ministry and other ministries with fantastic impact.

The approach of Canadian soldiers and Canadians across the board in various government departments — including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Correctional Service of Canada, et cetera — to working with Afghans, just as they would in any other country, sets up the Afghan government for success. Not every culture is ideally suited to coaching, mentoring and doing the job that our OMLTs do. The OMLTs — and I am sure you will have an opportunity to question Colonel Burt in detail — work well because our soldiers, officers and NCOs have a low-key and friendly, but firm, approach that results in tremendous capacity-building opportunities for the Afghans, whether it is with the Afghan National Security Forces or any other government department.

The Chair: Thank you. We will hear from Colonel Burt very shortly.

Senator Meighen: I think I was the only member of this committee who had the benefit of meeting you in February of 2008 at Kandahar Airfield, KAF, and you gave a briefing to the committee about the SAT operations at the time. We were all very impressed, I recall distinctly.

At that time, one of the clear concerns voiced to us was the deliverability of the aid funds and the difficulty of ensuring that the vast majority of those funds went to the places they were intended to go. We had difficulty finding examples of aid projects that were not delivered directly by the army; and we had difficulty identifying, for monies that came from Canada and were flowed through United Nations or the central government in Kabul, how much of it filtered down to the aid projects. Many changes have taken place in two and a half years, and I am sure it is a different scene today. Clearly, great progress has been made.

However, you mentioned in your remarks that it would be important for the Afghan government — and I can understand this — to have direct control over more than 20 per cent of the aid flowing in. I think that is right and proper.

Certainly, I do not think that Canada — or anywhere else, for that matter — should be in a position of lecturing Afghanistan on morality and probity in terms of handling of funds. After all, when our country was in its infancy in terms of demographic development, all sorts of shenanigans went on.

That being said, do you feel confident that if the 20 per cent were to rise to 50 per cent, given present circumstances, the monies would go to where they are intended and not be diverted in any significant way along the path?

Brig.-Gen. Labbé: No, I cannot say that with my hand on my heart. The World Bank manages the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, which donor nations put money into. The World Bank keeps a sharp eye on the money within that trust fund. Ministries then submit, in accordance with their budget for the forthcoming year, requests for money from the trust fund for a project or a program, which is then deposited into that ministry's float account.

To use the example of the MRRD, if they have a requirement for a certain amount of money for the National Solidarity Programme, they will ask for it and get $30 million put into the float account for that program. The World Bank does verification missions to ensure that the $30 million that went into the float account of National Solidarity Programme is in fact expended in accordance with the various activities in which the ministry is engaged. Every single transaction is registered.

Where you get corruption is when we foreigners get involved. It is our involvement, because we really do not know how things work in Afghanistan, that causes the more entrepreneurial Afghans to be able to take advantage of our naïveté. However, the National Solidarity Programme was created by Afghans, for Afghans, with Afghans. Fortunately, when the program was created, it was done by honest Afghans who knew what the loopholes might be, closed them all, and there are none.

Last year, the U.K. complained about $1.32 million going missing in the National Solidarity Programme in Helmand. Minister Zia at the time deployed a team. They checked all the accounts, and they accounted for every penny. The World Bank performs verification on a regular basis of the various projects throughout the country. They have come back and said that they can account for virtually every single penny of the money spent by the various community development councils that are set up by this program.

Every time the program is audited by third party, international organizations, they come back and actually talk about the fact that they have accounted for every single penny given to the various accounts. We can do this, and this Afghan government can do it. However, we need to monitor them, and we need to let the Afghan government do the work and encourage them to do this work.

Senator Mercer: Thank you for your work on behalf of all Canadians.

You talked about our involvement in training an Afghan brigade and about the need for us to perhaps train another brigade. How many more brigades are needed to provide the stability necessary for the long-term survival of Afghanistan?

Brig.-Gen. Labbé: Senator, I am afraid I cannot answer that question. All I can say is that every time there are ministerials, whether foreign ministers, defence ministers or summits, there is always a plea by the Supreme Allied Commander Europe or by generals from theatre here, saying that we need more trainers. We need more trainers because the sooner we can train the Afghan National Security Forces to assume responsibility for security right across the country, the sooner we can actually re-posture our forces and, in due course, as they mature, be able to slowly redeploy.

I say this only because I know that Canadians can do it probably better than most, and it would be a tremendous contribution by this country. A meeting of foreign ministers was held recently in Tallinn, Estonia, and yet again the Secretary General of NATO said that we are lacking trainers for the police.

We are still lacking trainers right across the board. We need to focus on training the Afghan National Security Forces, the ministries and Afghans' capacity building with to ensure that right across the board, across all ministries, they become capable of being self-sufficient.

Senator Dallaire: With the Combined Training Advisory Group-Army that Major-General Ward is the deputy of, do you see us investing much more in flushing that capability out, and all those schools and infrastructure, et cetera, including maybe bringing Afghans to Canada, to our schools, as an option, versus trying to take on another brigade at the tactical level?

Brig.-Gen. Labbé: Senator, the CSTC-Alpha that you referred to has been subsumed into what is now called, here in Afghanistan, the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, NTM-A, run by Lieutenant-General Caldwell. I am sure that others who are more qualified to do so can give you more detail in terms of that organization.

The NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan subsuming CSTC-Alpha was done to ensure greater unity of effort and purpose in training the Afghan National Security Forces. Major-General Ward is a key player in that organization, working to Lieutenant-General Caldwell.

There are gaps in NTM-A, here in Kabul, to which Canada, as part of a commitment to greater capacity building and the training effort, could significantly contribute, as well as to training teams deployed, whether they be with a brigade, a kandak battalion or mentoring police. That is certainly an area that could be examined by Canada as it looks at its posture beyond 2011.

Training in Canada poses certain issues, as does training in any other country overseas. The preference is to train here in Afghanistan, where the training is standardized and where we can focus in on a common approach to how we train the soldiers of a battalion, or the police constables who eventually graduate and are deployed. Certainly for basic training, the preference would be to do it here in theatre.

Later on in life, as they progress in their careers, courses outside the country, as is the case in any other country in the world, are desirable and useful because they build a useful and professional development mix, which is good for the force.

The Chair: Thank you for your time today, or early morning for you in Kabul.

Brigadier-General Labbé is currently working as deputy to the NATO Senior Civilian Representative in Kabul. He has also worked, as you heard in his comments today, as the personal adviser to the Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development in Afghanistan, and received the Meritorious Service Cross in September 2005 for his work.

Thank you for joining us and for your time and words of advice and wisdom.

Brig.-Gen. Labbé: Thank you, Madam Chair.

The Chair: We are pleased to welcome Colonel Gregory Burt as our second witness today. He is Director of Future Security Analysis. He is originally from Newfoundland — so you can translate for one of our senators here. Colonel Burt is a member of the Royal 22e Régiment, the famous Van Doos.

Colonel Burt has recently returned from Afghanistan, where he served from February to November of 2009, as Commander of Canada's Operational Mentor and Liaison Team. You will hear people talking about OMLTs, as did our previous guest, and that is where the acronym comes from. This particular OMLT is in Kandahar Province, which is where Colonel Burt serves.

Since 2006, our Canadian forces have been actively training the Afghan National Army at the individual and unit level. Headquartered at Kandahar Airfield, the OMLT acts as a liaison between the army and the Joint Task Force Afghanistan.

Colonel Burt, do you have any opening comments for us today?

Colonel Gregory D. Burt, Director of Future Security Analysis, National Defence: I have not tabled any documents. It is important that my tour is dated March to the end of October.

The Chair: We will correct those dates; thank you. You have returned to a new and different job, but we will focus a little on what you did do because we would like to get your experience on the ground there.

Why do you not start by painting a picture of what you actually did when you served with the OMLT?

Col. Burt: The commanding officer of OMLT has at least four major roles.

The first role is mentoring the general commanding the brigade, namely, 1-205 Brigade, in his daily business, how he does things.

The second role is synchronizing with Task Force Kandahar, but while we were there, the Americans came with a striker brigade as well, so we had to synchronize our operations with them. Therefore, I had teams doing that as well.

I also had to ensure that the brigade as a whole was developing throughout, depending on their present capacities at each level, so building the capacity as a whole brigade.

As a commanding officer, I had about 200 soldiers and officers who I had to ensure were commanded by me and were given the direction and resources required to do their job.

Those are four key roles.

In the mentoring role, it is important that we understand how my predecessor set me up for success. As you said, we started in 2006. Every OMLT has improved, not because of people there but because of what our predecessors did for us. We set each other up for success. The OMLT has been a success story because it has, over three years, been built on a very good foundation. Every new commander followed the lead from his predecessor, and it has improved over time.

The Chair: To be clear, you go in with the Afghan forces into combat.

Col. Burt: Yes, we do.

Senator Dallaire: You are training about 200 troops from platoon to brigade level, if I am correct.

Col. Burt: It is from companies to brigade.

Senator Dallaire: Why do we not have two or three OMLTs there, given the investment in the combat side versus the investment of building capacity for the Afghans to run and build their own army?

Why is it that at your level you were the deputy or adviser to the brigade commander, but as we go higher up, the NATO people are the commanders and the Afghans are the deputies? One day NATO will leave, and the Afghans will have to command. Why are they not commanding with NATO advising?

Col. Burt: Brigadier-General Abdul Bashir commanded his brigade. It was not a deputy role; it was a mentoring role. I was never once upset with any decision he made. As a Canadian, I ensured that he understood all the imperatives around any of the decisions he made, and sometimes he was told from higher what to do as well. We did not command a brigade.

I tried to ensure that what he was trying to do in the area was synchronized with General Vance and what the Canadian task force was doing, and when the Americans came in, I made sure we were synchronized with them as well. It was clear that at every level we tried to do the same thing — not to take over.

I always say that our job as mentor is the hockey coach who tries to stay on the bench, but sometimes he has to get on the ice. That is important to understand. If you do get on the ice, it is not to score the goal. It is to show the example, and that is what our soldiers did at all levels — sometimes move the puck, get someone else to do the job or position or make the right pass to have someone else take over. That was our role on the ground, and only if all else failed did we have much more influence on what was happening on the battlefield. We only did that a couple of times in my tour, and before that we were doing it more. As an example of how good they have become, we are doing this less and less now. They are looking after their own situation.

Do not forget that the guy on the ground must not take over. If there is shooting happening, my officer — non- commissioned officers, NCOs, or soldiers in some cases — will have to, through an interpreter, tell the guy in charge that he may want to move his machine gun to another area while he is under fire himself but not take over. That was a difficult role for our guys.


Senator Dallaire: Why not have more than one?

Col. Burt: Because, given current resources, cuts would be necessary elsewhere, if there were more.

Senator Dallaire: Because of the limit?

Col. Burt: The limit is one thing. In the situation we were in, we started with two kandaks, then a third. We have a lot more kandaks than we did in the beginning — I am talking about Afghan battalions. Working with the Canadian task force also helped. Towards the end, Kandak 2 was working with the second battalion on a number of operations. Right now, there are more ANA units, and we are going beyond our ability to do much with them because it is important to have a Canadian tactical group or a combat tactical group close by given the situation.


Senator Segal: I know you do not want to engage in hypothetical questions, but let me put one to you in this way: Can you give us your sense of what someone who is now performing your function would do if they heard through the chain of command that the Government of Canada, in compliance with the resolution, was pulling combat troops out of Kandahar Province but would make available to your successor 300 to 400 Canadian Forces of different ranks, NCOs and the rest, to be exclusively devoted to the training function? Would that be good news for your successor or would that be unhelpful news? Could he cope? Would he have the infrastructure to broaden the base of training, as Senator Dallaire sort of referenced in his questioning?

Col. Burt: The OMLT as it is right now, hypothetically, has many links with the battle group and the task force. For example, when a shark is going through the water and there are little fish by the side that feed off the shark's scraps. Without the big Canadian machine, we are almost on our own. All the maintenance for the vehicles is from the task force. We need our vehicles, or we cannot follow the Afghans. We need the guns. When you are out there and need some artillery support, we can call out our guns now. Yes, the American guns become available, but that will require the training together on radios and procedures that we do not have. Helicopters for the medical evacuations that we have to conduct come from the Americans, but a whole training bill accompanies that. Also, the medical assistance that we have in Canada is second to none, as far as I am concerned; I would want my Canadian medics with me from what I saw.

Hypothetically, yes, there is a possibility but there are certain caveats, and it would be more of a supply and technical help to support them. We need that chain, I believe. Some Americans can do it, yes, but our vehicles are different from the Americans, so another complete new vehicle set would be required, and that does not train very easily in theatre.

Senator Lang: We have heard, as you heard earlier, about governance and the frailty of it all and the weaknesses of the Afghan government. However, at the same time, Canadians are wondering just how long we should stay in Afghanistan if we were to revise our position that has already been taken. If it was revised, my question would be about the training of the Afghan forces. With the workforce that you have, would the Afghan forces be in a position to take full responsibility within five years?

Col. Burt: That is a very good question. I cannot answer it.

Senator Lang: I would like to hear your comments because you are on the ground.

Col. Burt: It was already announced by Brigadier-General Labbé that at the tactical level, they are very good soldiers. Many young NCOs and young officers are very good. As I said, General Bashir's 1-205 Brigade gets it. I am not convinced that other levels get it yet, but I know a lot of work is being done at the Regional Command South and at the ISAF level to get it joined together.

I am not aware of how much progress they have made at that level. I have not had any communications with my successor since I have been back. He has been quite busy doing his job over there. However, I know that the whole OMLT situation has evolved considerably. Many troops are over there now, so the number of Afghan troops with reference to coalition troops is almost 1 to 1 now — or perhaps even more coalition troops than Afghan troops. It is a very difficult situation to ensure that everyone has Afghan troops to lead in all of the operations.

Will it be five years? I answered this question in Calgary. How long is a piece of string? That is something you cannot predict. For example, an artillery school is missing at the institutional level. Our guys are teaching their people artillery from scratch, and we sometimes lose them to other tasks. These things at the institutional level in Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, New Brunswick, or CFB Saint-Jean, Quebec, are not in combat, but it is preparing them to go. When we get the people, they have already gone through the basic training. We get them and, as I often say, their training is on-the-job training, and the targets shoot back. That is the difference.

Capacity building is going through the drills before you go out, and then you go out, and when you come back, you review how the operation went or how it did not go. From there you improve, and every time you go out, you get better at that. That is what our soldiers are doing in the OMLT, going out there in the face of danger. Providing value as an OMLT is not just about helping make the plan. It is when things do happen that you have the ability to call in third-dimension support: the helicopter to evacuate the wounded from the Afghan National Army, to help patch them up on the ground, to call in artillery or gunships to break the battle or bring it to the enemy. That is what we provide, and the Afghans are not there yet. They do not have their own aviation, and their artillery still has many challenges because many people are illiterate. We have been teaching them math and how to read and write. Can you imagine how much difference one degree of error with the guns makes?

They are doing well. They can fire illuminating for their own operations. They have a while to go because there is no institutional base. They get basic training, and then they are right in. They do not get basic arms training such as we have in Canada.

The Chair: When you went out, were you mostly in a firefight?

Col. Burt: Not me. I had only one experience personally, but I was out right after or within a couple of kilometres of firefights, or sometimes closer. I had at least two groups that, for a period of two months, were being fired at every day. During my six-month period — I did not calculate exactly — I think there was only three or four days or a month maximum that there was not something happening somewhere, and not just firefights but improvised explosive devices, IEDs, as well. As far as I am concerned, that is part of the deal.


Senator Pépin: We have heard from witnesses that it is easier to train a soldier than a police officer. Can you explain that to us?

Col. Burt: For a soldier, of course. I am a soldier; I am able to train a soldier more easily, but I am not trained to train a police officer. Yes, I understand the mechanisms of the rule of law and things of that nature. I can show a peace officer only what I think is right and how to survive on a battlefield because the Afghan police force is sometimes on a battlefield. A soldier will say that it is easier to train a soldier than a member of the RCMP. That is why the RCMP is in the theatre. There is a lot of focus on training the Afghan police force.

Senator Pépin: With the RCMP?

Col. Burt: With the RCMP, yes.


Senator Meighen: Colonel Burt, I think Senator Pépin touched on my question. As I understand it, the POMLTs, the Police Operational Mentor and Liaison Teams, were a unit of the OMLTs. To what extent can you comment on the success of those efforts? It is pretty clear that the OMLTs were quite an inspired concept and have just become better and better. The customer you are dealing with in the POMLTs is perhaps a more challenging customer. How successful has that been, and should we continue with those efforts?

Col. Burt: Until the end of 2011, yes.

Senator Meighen: Well, maybe afterwards, who knows, but you do not have to comment on that.

Col. Burt: When we started the POMLT, it was not just soldiers; it was military police as well. They have police training that bridges at least some of the gaps that we have as soldiers. I trained the group. When we got into theatre, we changed the focus. The second guy in charge would be military police, or vice versa. We have combat experience from the infantry soldiers or armoured, which I had at the time, paired off with military police, which have the peace agent understanding. Those two groups work together. As much as possible, when we talk about policing, it is the military police that gives lectures or training and mentors the Afghans when they go into the villages to speak to the people. When we talk about combat and manoeuvring, that is when the infantry personnel would show them that if we are in contact, this is how we get out of it.

Senator Meighen: The Afghan National Police are used as combat units, are they not?

Col. Burt: Not as combat units.

Senator Meighen: As auxiliary forces?

Col. Burt: They are used as police forces. With any operation we did, as much as possible, the Afghan National Army would not go into any of the houses or compounds first; it would be the Afghan National Police. It is the same in Canada. We would not want our own soldiers going into our own villages. We do outer core. It was always focused on the Afghan National Police. When there was a hostile environment, this would change, but as much as possible we would do that. Before any coalition went into any house, the Afghan National Security Forces would be the priority.

Senator Manning: You may not be able to give full disclosure, but certainly post-2011, with respect to the timelines of training and mentoring to Afghans, in both the police and the army, in your view does mentoring have to continue on past 2011 for these individuals and the country of Afghanistan to be prepared to take care of themselves, more or less? Will they be ready in February 2011 to take control, in your view?

Col. Burt: No, they will not. We have come a long way in three years to build their new capacity and to take the leadership training to the other units being built. The Americans are working with us now. They understand the OMLT role and are training with us in theatre. As the units improve, they have fewer OMLT personnel and work more with the company. A full coalition company will work with the Afghan company, not cutting out but reducing the number of OMLT personnel required to do the job. This will take time. The OMLT personnel, per se, would be moved on to other units that require the basic training.

With respect to the numbers that they talk about having in the future, they will still need some mentoring at all levels.

The Chair: Did I hear you right to say that you are not just training the Afghans but are now training the Americans or other coalition forces?

Col. Burt: When I left, I had an American Embedded Training Team, ETT, come in with an extra kandak. We showed him how Canadians do it. I made sure he learned the same as we did. That is Canada's 1-205 Brigade, and we are proud of that. They were responsible for the elections.

As we move toward 2011, 1-205 Brigade has to keep some of the leadership there and will not need much mentoring. However, the new brigades that we are building will require mentoring and always the three-dimensional support. They do not have that capacity. They will be there for a while.

Senator Manning: What do you mean by that?

Col. Burt: As I said earlier, it is the artillery, medical evacuation, helicopter support and airships coming in and attacking. They do not have those resources to do that.

When we are talking about an Afghan national brigade that is tactically sound, they are able to do everything: plan, execute and sustain their operations. However, we still provide third-dimension support, which they are still building. The artillery is getting close, but they still have further to go because of the illiteracy, and they do not have an institution. Some of the leadership training that we do for the artillery is required for the new infantry. There is always a cycle going back again. We need to institutionalize some of these support arms to provide that third dimension.

Senator Cordy: Thank you for being with us today.

The OMLT is a wonderful way to go in training the Afghan people. You used the analogy of the hockey coach. As a former teacher, I used to say that the teacher should be the guide on the side and not the sage on the stage, which seems to be what you are doing.

The training, advising, modelling and attitudes are an excellent way for people to learn. However, everyone comes to learning at a different stage. You made reference briefly to literacy, reading and writing. If, in fact, they are going to take over leadership roles in the Afghan army, then they will have to be literate.

Where do you start? I know the part about taking them out and training and working with them. However, what do you do before that, since everyone comes to you at a different point?

Col. Burt: I apologize if I gave the impression that they are all illiterate. The members of the officer corps are very literate. They can write orders, and we made sure that orders were written, as much as possible. They are meticulous in accounting, and especially with personnel. Auditors come down from Kabul to check their books.

The members of the officer corps, as far as I am concerned, are literate in many aspects; it is their planning for operations that we are teaching them how to do. Canada is heading up a staff college in Kabul, which teaches them the military writing style for orders, et cetera. That is one of the things Canadians are doing in Kabul at the moment. Some of their senior officers go through commanding officer courses and learn tactics and operational art at their level. There is a large degree of literacy.

We start at junior leader training, how to train and survive in the field for the young NCOs. We were trying to give the reconnaissance platoon a course, but they did not know how to read. How can you read a map if you do not know how to read? We had to go back a step and start there. A course that should take about three weeks took two and a half months, but we had them reading.

Senator Cordy: Going back to Senator Manning's comment, in February of 2011, will the OMLT be considered military or developmental? Will they be asked to leave?

You talked about explaining to the Americans or almost mentoring the Americans about the type of things that you are doing. Are there other NATO countries that are doing this type of mentoring?

Col. Burt: Yes, many countries are doing mentoring. The British units are there, the Dutch, and the Australians. Many NATO countries are doing mentoring at different levels and in different areas. The French have a team in the north. I do not have all the details of each mentoring team.

Senator Cordy: We are talking about leaving Afghanistan at the end of February. Would OMLT be considered a developmental operation or a military operation? It is done with the military.

Col. Burt: The mentoring team is operations. For training, you go back behind the wire. You do not go outside the wire; you just do training. It is not what we would call pure combat, but you are still in a risky area.

Senator Mercer: Colonel, thank you for being here.

I want to go back to a question that I asked the earlier witness, Brigadier-General Labbé. He talked about our training of the Afghan brigade. My question to him was how many brigades it will take to provide the stability needed to make Afghanistan a stable country.

Do you have an answer to that? How far away are we from helping them provide for their own security? How many more brigades need to be trained before security is achieved?

Col. Burt: That is a hypothetical question in one sense because as we provide stability to a certain area and as the police improve, then that brigade can move to provide security elsewhere. I cannot answer that question with specific numbers. I know that the first step is Afghan National Army units with the Afghan National Police. As the police numbers increase, there is an offset. Each province has different challenges, so I do not know the exact numbers. Certainly, General Bashir would have liked another brigade in the area where he was. Kandahar should have two national brigades in his mind, but that is hypothetical. It is important to have the Afghan National Army in the area where we were.

Senator Lang: I refer to a press statement that was released April 29 in the Washington Post, which goes back to security. Could you explain where we started three years ago, where we are today and where we are going? The article states that of the 121 Afghan districts considered crucial to winning the war, 29 districts are classified as being sympathetic to the government; 48 are sympathetic to the Taliban; and the remaining 44 are waiting to see which way the wind will blow.

In the past three years, we have gone from 5 to 10 sympathetic districts to 29 such districts. What will we do to get over the hump so that a majority of districts support NATO and the national Afghan cause? This is cause for concern. I would not want to be running as a candidate in an election there right now.

Col. Burt: I can speak about the Kandahar region. Remember that when Canadians arrived in Afghanistan in 2006, there were about 500 Afghan National Army troops. The Canadian battle group was alone in an area of 1500 square kilometres plus Kandahar City. From 2006 to 2009, we were basically holding a thin red line. I used to say that we have to mow the lawn and go back to our compounds. The lawn grows back again, so we would go out and mow it again. With the increase in troops, we can start doing proper counterinsurgency, which we could not do until 2009.

We had six kandaks, which equates 3,500 Afghan National Army troops, in the area in 2009, plus the Canadian battle group and the American battle brigade, which was another 3,000, in the same area. As I understand it, they have almost doubled that number since I left. With those numbers, we can begin to concentrate on the people. We used to leave after we cleared the enemy out, but then they would come back. Now, we are living in the villages with the people, the Afghan National Army, the Afghan National Police and the coalition forces.

The people show us where the IEDs are located. We find more than 80 per cent of them before they go off. It is a very high number. Living amongst the people creates the necessary sense of security. That is what we were doing when I left and, as I understand it, there is the same progress in counterinsurgency spreading into the Panjwaii area, where we were. One month after I left, a battle group went up to clear a village but the Taliban had left. The elders showed Canadian soldiers where all the IEDs were in the village, where Canadian soldiers are living now with the Afghan National Army. That presence is required for stability. Without it, the people are afraid because when the soldiers are not in the village, the Taliban come back at night and kill. Our presence has made a big difference.

The Chair: We are told by some Americans that we do that job best because we can move in smaller numbers. Many other countries, including America, cannot do that. I am speaking of moving three or four people into a village to stay with the people.

Col. Burt: I believe the Americans are learning how to do it that way. General McChrystal is pushing it that way. After I left, they embedded Americans with the Canadians at all levels to learn how we do our business in the villages. They have a different risk tolerance, but a number of them would go out with four members of the Afghan National Army. I could go out with two members of the Afghan National Army, but they had to have four at minimum back then. However, I believe that has changed.

Senator Lang: From your evaluation and knowledge, would you say that the statistics I quoted earlier are fairly accurate?

Col. Burt: I could not come close to your answer on that.

Senator Segal: I will ask you to put on your present hat as Director of Future Security Analysis. How important is Afghanistan to Canada's security as we speak? We heard from one witness, retired Brigadier-General W. Donald Macnamara, who said that Canadian allied forces have been busy in that part of the world for a very long time for good, substantial and compelling historic reasons.

Your new role looks at the larger picture of where Afghanistan fits and the whole Afghanistan-Pakistan nuclear process. Do you have a view on this? Is it still a critical issue, or will it diminish in importance over time?

Col. Burt: My present job does not look at events per country. Rather, I look to the future and what we might need in 20 years. Many things can change in that length of time. I cannot say that I have any opinion on that national interest.

Senator Segal: In your judgment, is the capacity that we have built in Afghanistan through your services and those of other fine officers, enlisted personnel, NCOs and others needed in terms of our future security planning, notwithstanding that particular theatre but other theatres that might become important for us?

Col. Burt: I always finish my briefings with the fact that mentoring is training and fighting. Canadian soldiers are outstanding mentors. In my view, the OMLT principle is outstanding for future failed and failing states somewhere else. Yes, that principle should be brought forward.

Senator Dallaire: I once had reports of batteries from my regiment firing between 4,000 and 6,000 rounds of artillery over six months in support of operations in our area alone. Do you see the combat nature, in the context of the movement to greater capacity, of both the Afghan National Army and the American forces continuing at the current level or waning over the next year and a half?

Col. Burt: Over the last couple of months, I noticed that there was much less use of artillery in the area that we have stabilized. Outside of that area, especially in the area of Zari and Panjwaii, there will still be a requirement for lots of lawn mowing.

Senator Dallaire: Will that continue for a time?

Col. Burt: It will continue until we have more people to provide greater stabilization. Remember that the area where many of these actions took place is outside the area of Kandahar Province, where we have 85 per cent support. It is to the west in an area where most of the population are pro-Taliban. It is a very volatile region. Currently, we are trying to protect the 85 per cent. However, a great deal of action will take place in that area to the west of Kandahar for a while, although I could not say how long. It will be until they begin to realize that the tide is turning.

The Chair: We have been asking you tough questions, so I will ask the final one.

Can you give us your insight into what the Taliban is? We all use the catch-all phrase, but you have seen it up close and personal. Could you give us some notions of the grey area?

Col. Burt: Based on my reading and studying, I have learned that different types exist. There are foreigners; young kids from Pakistan refugee camps who were brainwashed; and the accidental guerrilla. Some kids, even in North American cities, do not know the difference. They think it is okay to be part of a gang so that they can shoot at coalition people. We wrap them all together, but a soldier has to understand which ones are the enemy and which are not. Some members of the Taliban are kids that do not know what they are doing. They might realize that things are going wrong, but they feel they have to be in the gang simply because they are part of it. They do not know the big picture, and some brainwashing is happening, for example, saying that we are Russians or invading forces. You have the brainwashing and the foreign fighters coming in, so there is a mix of elements. I cannot give the numbers or anything, but it is a mixture. Right now, we call them the Taliban or the enemy.

The Chair: Of the three camps, who is the most dangerous for us on the ground?

Col. Burt: Anyone who has a rifle is dangerous.

The Chair: Well said. Thank you for your time and your comments today. It has been most helpful.

Col. Burt is currently is the Director of Future Security Analysis. We will have him back when we figure out what we need and what we will do looking 15 and 20 years ahead. He has recently returned from Afghanistan, where he served as Commander of the Operational Mentor and Liaison Team, OMLT, in Kandahar Province.

Thank you for your work.

(The committee continued in camera.)

(The committee resumed in public.)

The Chair: We will change gears a little. We are very pleased to have with us General Victor E. Renuart — commonly known as Gene — who is with the United States Air Force, USAF. For us today, however, he is Commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, NORAD, and the United States Northern Command, NORTHCOM, both of which are headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado. We will be coming down to visit you in July if you are still there.

General Renuart entered the USAF in 1971 and his many accomplishments include commanding the 76th Tactical Fighter Squadron during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm and overseeing the planning and execution of all joint and allied combat operations for Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. General Renuart assumed the command of NORAD and NORTHCOM on March 23, 2007.

We have already heard from Lieutenant-General Duval, the Deputy Commander of NORAD, and so now we will big picture and begin.

Did you have any opening statements for us today?

General Victor E. Renuart, USAF, Commander, NORAD and United States Northern Command, North American Aerospace Defense Command: If I may, I do have a short statement I would like to share with you. Chair and honourable senators, thank you for opportunity to spend some time with you today and address some of the questions you may have.

As noted, I am the Commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD. In that role, I report to both the Canadian Chief of the Defence Staff, my good friend General Walt Natynczyk, and to the American Secretary of Defense, Dr. Robert Gates. To them, I am responsible for three principal NORAD missions: aerospace warning, aerospace control and maritime warning. I also serve as Commander of the United States Northern Command, NORTHCOM, which has as its mission those of homeland defence and defence support to civil authorities.

First, I will speak a moment about NORAD. While NORAD and U.S. Northern Command are separate commands, their missions are complementary as both often support the same events, for example, the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, space shuttle launches and the North American Leaders' Summits. Our consolidated command centre allows me to direct their complementary operations from a single centre. Both of my commands work regularly and well with our partners at Canada Command, Canada COM.

At NORAD and U.S. Northern Command, our focus is on North America, but our perspective really must be global. This includes the Arctic, the Caribbean and the great oceans to our east and west. It also focuses on global sources of aircraft missiles, nuclear weapons, terrorist threats and other vehicles and means of bringing threats to Canadian and American homelands. These threats can come from anywhere in the world, in any domain: in the air, on land, in the sea, space and cyber.

NORAD learned on September 11, 2001 that its traditional tactic or procedure or history, of looking outward was no longer enough. Since that day, not only have U.S. Northern Command and Canada Command been created, but NORAD has been transformed. Today, our working relationships and information-sharing with NAV CANADA and the American Federal Aviation Administration, FAA, are much closer. NORAD has many more air sovereignty alert sites and is approaching full operational capability in its maritime warning mission. NORAD is working closely with U.S. Northern Command and Canada Command to increase interoperability, information and intelligence-sharing, collaborative command and control and mutually supporting exercises across a whole spectrum of activities, to include focus on the Arctic.

Today, the business of aerospace warning control remains a steady one. During 2009, NORAD had 1,789 so-called ``tracks of interest,'' or aircraft really deviating from the rules of the road. We diverted 93 of our fighters that might have already been in an air patrol to intercept these, plus scrambled 98 additional aircraft for separate events from alert positions. In these areas, we had 59 intercepts, some resulting in diversion of that aircraft to a civilian site to be met by appropriate law enforcement officials.

Because NORAD and NORTHCOM are operational military commands and not sources of national policy or funding for either the governments of Canada or the U.S., I will try to talk about NORAD's future strictly from an operational perspective.

Legacy fighters, tankers and airborne warning control aircraft in use today adequately meet the operational needs of the NORAD air sovereignty mission. However, recapitalization of these legacy aircraft is critical to the future success of NORAD.

While it is not the business of the commander of NORAD to tell Canadian or American armed services which aircraft to provide, it is my role to make our operational requirements for the future clear, and I have done so with services of both governments. Similarly, for the future, we must fix the current lack of an integrated air and cruise missile defence capability to counter threats from low-flying aircraft, unmanned aircraft and cruise missiles.

In the past year, NORAD and U.S. Northern Command, partnering closely with Canada Command, have worked in the American Joint Air Defense Operations-Homeland Joint Test Team, which is the operational sponsor for developing tactics, techniques, procedures and exercises for a deployable, integrated air defence system. Other initiatives underway include strengthening NORAD's future role in the integrated air domain awareness area. Next Generation Over-the- Horizon Radar Technical Risk Reduction Initiative is a keynote program that we are engaged in this year, as well as a long-range radar Service Life Extension Program, SLEP. Finally, building a collaborative interagency process for managing radar interference, such as from wind farms, has become a key initiative for our commands.

Our Tri Command Study process has made clear that there are potential opportunities to further expand the NORAD mandate. These might include air security, which is really being done de facto as part of the NORAD air defence mission, and maritime surveillance. These are areas where the governments of Canada and the United States are working to grow the long-proven advantage of mutual cooperation within the NORAD terms of reference.

Building on progress such as the U.S. Northern Command-Canada Command Civil Assistance Plan that we signed in February 2008, the commander of Canada Command and I have signed the Tri Command Vision, approved the Tri Command Communications Strategy, and signed the Framework for Enhanced Military Cooperation among NORAD, USNORTHCOM, and Canada COM. We developed a Tri Command Strategy that will implement this vision, among other actions in the coming years.

The three commands are working closely to grow our collaborative exercise program in the maritime domain and in the Arctic. As an example, U.S. Northern Command has accepted Canada's invitation to participate in Operation Nanook this summer, 2010.

Finally, as one small indicator of the importance of NORAD in the United States, I would like to mention that, just a few days ago on April 28, 2010, I had honour of presiding over the a ribbon-cutting for the new NORAD corridor and its permanent exhibit site in the halls of the Pentagon. The exhibit showcases the development, operations and success of the enduring NORAD relationship that has protected Canada and the United States for nearly 52 years. Chair, thank you for the opportunity to be with you today. I thank Canada for its support of NORAD, and I look forward to answering your questions.

The Chair: Thank you.

Canada decided not to be part of the ballistic missile portion of NORAD. We are now talking about tri-command visions and strategies. Was life not easier when we only had NORAD?

Gen. Renuart: These relationships reflect the world we live in today. In some ways, life was rather simple in the ``good old'' Cold War days when the world was easily divided into east and west. Today we see that the threats that face all of our nations come from a broad variety of nation-state and non-nation-state actors.

For example, the Tri Command Study was a way to acknowledge that we had a more irregular world in our future. We wanted to find ways to collaborate more effectively across that broad spectrum.

With respect to missile defence, our two governments either had some or chose not to have discussions on the specifics of missile defence. However, within our operational headquarters every day, the very elements that made NORAD successful for 52 years — that of ballistic missile warning — are key in providing me, in my U.S. national hat, with an ability to respond in the event of a missile attack against North America.

Senator Dallaire: You referenced maritime warning. My question relates to both of your hats. NORAD is aerospace and not air defence command. This relates to space assets and the collating of intelligence from a variety of sources, which is of great interest to me. You now also have a ground responsibility.

For example, have you the ability to scramble U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aircraft in maritime surveillance? In NORTHCOM, have you authority to issue rules of engagement and to deploy ground forces with your colleague in Canada?

Gen. Renuart: Senator, you hit on an important point. No matter whether we are defending against an aerospace or maritime threat, fusion of intelligence is critically important to success.

We worked aggressively and increasingly in the last few years to find better ways to share intelligence — I speak primarily of the maritime domain because it is a good example of an emerging mission — about so-called ``threats'' in the maritime domain. This requires an understanding of who may generate those threats. The ``we'' in this case is a tri- command we, including U.S. Northern Command, NORAD and Canada Command.

In today's world, it is less about a former member of the Warsaw Pact sailing their navies toward us — although we have seen some of that — and more about how weapons proliferation might allow a weapon of mass effect to be moved to our ports via commercial shipping.

Therefore, we have begun to grow this collaborative intelligence process into the private sector, to a degree, to share information with commercial shipping companies about ports they have visited and crew members. This is comparable to what happens with the commercial aviation industry.

This is a growing process. The National Maritime Intelligence Center, NMIC, run primarily by the United States Navy and United States Coast Guard, routinely shares information with the Canadian Navy and Canada Command about so-called ``vessels of interest'' at sea.

I have authority wearing my U.S. hat to ask the U.S. Secretary of Defence for forces to use in the maritime domain. We primarily, for air, continue to use our NORAD alert air forces because they are readily accessible. Currently, our United States Navy and United States Marine Corps do not sit on alert per se. That would not preclude me from asking, if I knew, for example, that there was a carrier strike group at sea, the secretary of defence for temporary operational control of those resources.

Rules of engagement become critical, especially if you begin to consider action against a non-military target in a law enforcement role. We consciously made a decision not to grab routinely whatever aircraft might be available. For this reason, we want our crews to be trained in the rules of engagement and the rules for the use of force. We want to ensure we have an apparatus to move intelligence information to those crews in a way that will be successful.

I am not limited by authorities. It is a function of the dialogue with national leaders on national intent to take action against some of these less traditional threats that might develop.

Senator Dallaire: I am glad to hear that the effort to be able to handle drones and long-range cruise missiles is now of technological interest to NORAD and other commands. Training of your front-line and dedicated forces presents a significant ethical and moral dilemma for those who find themselves having to open fire on a civilian target.

Within your command, have you the responsibility to work out those ethical dilemmas and to provide special training, or is it part of training your pilots from the outset?

Gen. Renuart: Baseline training is done with all of our aircrew on both sides of the border — Canadian and U.S. — on rules of engagement and rules for the use of force. We modify training for the unique air sovereignty mission conducted for both Canada and the United States. Every pilot sitting on the alert line or launched into those missions has been tested and evaluated on his or her understanding of those rules of engagement. I am comfortable that both nations have invested the time in preparing for both the legal and personal impact of being asked to conduct such an operation.

Training does not make the task any easier. I have the responsibility for NORAD in both countries to make a recommendation to either the Chief of the Defence Staff or to the Secretary of Defence on whether we should interdict, engage or, ultimately, to shoot down an airliner. I do not look forward to that day; I hope we do not get there. However, it is a decision each nation will make, not the pilot in the cockpit or the individual commander.

Senator Meighen: Senator Dallaire asked a question about maritime warning that interested me.

First, I have a note here, and I am not seeking to find problems where there are not any. The notes suggest that, in the view of at least one Canadian naval captain, everyone agrees we have to share more information, and it is a great thing to do, but we have trouble figuring out how to do it. Would you agree with that?

Second, what is your view of the increased testing of NORAD defences by Russia, particularly in the North?

Gen. Renuart: First, about information-sharing, I think information-sharing is at the crux of everything our two nations do together. I have some technical frustration because I cannot always put my Canadian and U.S. team mates on the same computer system. Our U.S. SIPRNet — Secret Internet Protocol Router Network — has a releasable version. We are working technically to put the right software on that so the planning tools we need every day are available.

Having said that, we, the U.S., have some unique challenges as to who is on that from our civilian side as well, and we are working through the interesting discussion, from the civilian side, of including our closest military partners routinely on that.

Senator Meighen: Do you have a problem as well with releasing information to foreign nationals, or is that covered under the NORAD agreement?

Gen. Renuart: We have truly very little problem releasing information back and forth between our U.S. and Canadian partners. I have done this routinely. When I have information that I believe is important for either the Chief of the Defence Staff to know, or my Canadian deputy, I bring them in and brief them. By the way, there is also Canadian-only information that is resident in the headquarters, but we have worked out a method to share that to ensure that both have the information they need.

For me, the frustration is the technical piece, not the national desire or our operational desire. However, it is frustrating — I will use my maritime domain as an example — when I have a wonderful Canadian commander sitting next to a very capable and wonderful U.S. commander, and we have two separate systems to move information to them.

I do not want to go too far back into history, but I was the director of operations at the United States Central Command during all of the build-up to Afghanistan and to, then, Iraq. One of the real frustrations there was information-sharing, again, among our closest partners. Eventually, General Franks said that he was doing it. At that time, because of the urgency, he was supported. Now in a less urgent period, the people who do computer security, et cetera, have taken a more deliberate approach.

I will tell you that I am committed and continue to work every day so that we do not have gaps in information. I am very comfortable that we do not. In fact, what I find sometimes is that our civilian intelligence talk to each other, and our military intelligence agencies talk to each other. Sometimes the two of them do not meet in the middle. We are working through that. By the way, that happens both north and south of the border, so it is a challenge.

Technically, there is a version of so-called SIPRr, releasable SIPR, which will have all those planning tools, and it should be fielded in the not-too-distant future — I hope in the next year. In effect, that will eliminate what today are minor gaps in information-sharing.

What is interesting to me, and frustrating as well, is that the information actually moves, whether it is our space people working closely together, our intelligence agencies working directly with each other or our military working directly with each other, sometimes we just compartment among them, and this will help us in that regard.

With respect to your words, ``testing by the Russians,'' first, I have more than enough resources to deal with that. My personal view is that it is not a threat to our national defence. However, it is certainly an intrusion and a testing of our sovereignty and the airspace surrounding our nations. We have tried to find a balance between the days of the Cold War, where it was viewed as a direct threat, and today's understanding, where we deal with a couple of different Russias out there. Without being overly provocative, we want to ensure that no one approaches the sovereignty airspace of either of our nations without knowing who they are, what they are doing and where they might be headed. That is the approach we have tried to take.

In fact, our most recent mission was more over the North Pole. Canadian CF-18s intercepted those Russian bombers, and those aircraft continued west and went home, handed off between Canadian and U.S. forces as we monitored them. I do not want to overreact because, in some ways, we have a collaborative relationship with the Russia Far East aviation. As an example, we will host a great counterterrorism exercise this summer called ``Vigilant Eagle,'' where NORAD, both U.S. and Canadian forces and the Russian Far East aviation will collaborate on a simulated hijacked aircraft that will fly between Canadian, U.S. and Russian airspace. We will coordinate the command and control procedures necessary to monitor that, going in both directions; so from what would be U.S. airspace into Russia, and then Russian airspace into U.S. airspace and then on into Canadian airspace.

There are real opportunities for engagement with one of the Russias. However, it is prudent for us to continue to understand that there could be some development down the road where we have to be more cautious.

Senator Meighen: It seems in the early part of your answer on the matter of information-sharing that silos are still the great enemy of us all.

Gen. Renuart: Yes, senator, on both sides of the border.

Senator Cordy: NORAD certainly has been a true success story. When I hear you say that you had over 1,700 targets of interest that you followed up on, I am not sure whether to be nervous or happy that you have dealt with them. Sometimes I think the public does not realize the work being done every day.

You talked about cooperation and communication between Canada and the United States, and I know that you were a director of planning for the NATO Combined Air Operations Center in Italy. I am wondering how much communication and cooperation NORAD has with NATO allies.

Gen. Renuart: Again, the world is getting smaller in some ways, and certainly the relationships that we have in our NORAD role have expanded as well.

As an example, the U.S. drew down its permanent presence in Iceland, and the operations centre that had been established there for quite some time has been stood down as a permanent presence, and NATO then rotates aircraft in and out of Iceland on a regular basis — it is not permanent — to provide for some of the air sovereignty and security that Iceland needs. However, one of the elements of that was an intermittent, common operating picture for activities that were ongoing in that region. We have worked with Iceland to provide them better visibility on the NORAD mission so that they can fuse that with the NATO Combined Air Operations Center who deals with the European airspace in a NORAD-like role, namely, air sovereignty and security, so that Iceland can have a better common operating picture.

We routinely share information in the air and the maritime domain with NATO. The NATO Combined Air Operations Center deals with those Russian out-of-area aircraft that come around Norway and down into the Greenland-Iceland-United Kingdom gap. We share that information back and forth routinely, so that we at NORAD are not surprised by those aircraft, as they may fly in that area. We then hand that information back to them as they complete their circuit of Iceland, if that is their mission, and head back home.

Increasingly, in the maritime domain, we share a great deal of information with the NATO headquarters. You might recall, close to a year ago two Russian submarines on so-called training missions came down along the east coast of the United States. We and NATO worked closely to share information back and forth on what we knew and what we thought those submarines were up to.

We are seeing that relationship grow. I would be careful also to say that we should not assume to replace the relationship that the U.S. and Canada have in the NORAD agreement with the broader NATO participation that we have. Certainly NATO has allowed us to train to standards that are common across all the nations. That is very helpful.

The NORAD relationship between the United States and Canada is unique among any two nations' relationships in the world, and it is economic. It is certainly military. The NORAD relationship has allowed us to really forge ahead of many of the types of security activities that NATO is maybe still working through at a much slower pace.

Senator Cordy: I agree. Canada and the United States have a unique relationship; we are very fortunate. I believe it was John Kennedy who said that geography has made us neighbours and history has made us friends, and I think that is true. However, the world is getting really small, as you made reference to earlier, and you are absolutely right. While Canada and the United States have this relationship with NORAD particularly, but in other areas as well, you cannot ignore other countries and what is happening.

If someone was in Iceland and detected something and let NORAD know, or if NORAD detected something and let a NATO ally know, is there a plan worked out? I am taking Senator Banks' place today, and I think his phrase is always ``who will be driving the bus?'' Who would be in charge? Have you worked that out for different scenarios that might happen?

Gen. Renuart: Senator, we have worked through a number of scenarios, probably not all that one could think of. However, one of the successful elements within our NATO partnership is that we have drawn some relatively clean lines on maps, and we practice that over time, even during the Cold War days of transfer of authority as you move across those lines. With respect to air, we are very clear on where we would transfer, if you will, the authority for action from a NATO force to a NORAD force.

In the maritime domain, of course, coming from the NATO world crossing into the U.S.-Canadian part of the world, the response to a maritime activity is really a national response. NORAD does not have the role to go out and impose its will on a threat that might come in the maritime domain. NORAD's role is to warn of that threat so that each nation can then take unilateral action to defend their sovereignty. That sounds as though you begin to create a scene. In fact, in my other hat, U.S. Northern Command, our partnership with Canada Command, whose mission statements are virtually identical, we have a day-to-day, information-sharing relationship. For example, you might recall a ship was boarded at sea off Vancouver probably last summer that had a number of refugees from Sri Lanka.

Senator Cordy: Right, yes.

Gen. Renuart: Both nations, through Canada Command and NORTHCOM, shared information on that vessel. We both had resources available to find and track that vessel, and when it appeared that its proposed destination was Canada, NORTHCOM shared information but stood back. We facilitated whatever we could, but Canada Command supervised the long-range surveillance and the ships that went out and conducted that at-sea boarding.

There is a growing relationship in the maritime domain, and the opportunity during Operation Nanook this summer will give U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard the opportunity to continue to refine those types of activities.

We have become relatively sophisticated in the way we can share information but cede responsibility to national authorities when that is appropriate, take advantage of the binational relationship where it makes sense. In addition, we have a good command and control structure that allows us to keep national authorities informed and ensures that government leaders make national sovereignty decisions. However, we can implement those decisions, taking advantage of the best of both, if you will.

Could I regress on a question from you for just a second? You talked about the 1789 targets of interest in 2009. I want to make a point that we should feel good about that. On September 10, 2001, we did zero because we did not look inside the borders of our country as well as outside. We sat in our traditional Cold War alert posture of looking out there, waiting for those invaders to come. We realized that an integrated approach to national air space sovereignty and security is the most appropriate way forward. Therefore, we have restructured that. We have built relationships. We did not have a relationship with NAV CANADA and the FAA before that day. We very much do today. All of our radars are integrated. We are much more likely to determine when someone is not doing something correct. I will go to one example.

You might recall a young man who stole an aircraft in Thunder Bay and flew south into the U.S. hoping that he could commit suicide because NORAD would shoot him down. Much to his chagrin, we have a very deliberate process, so we almost knew immediately. Information was handed off from our Canadian Forces, from our air-op centre in Winnipeg, to us in the U.S. on the southern side. We intercepted that aircraft, a small airplane that was probably not going to knock down the World Trade Centre, and so we continued to monitor that with a shared process for information-sharing, command and control, et cetera, until he almost ran out of gas and decided that clearly we were not going to shoot him down. He did not have the courage to end his own life, so he landed.

It is that deliberate process that we go through to ensure that you feel comfortable that we are out watching.

Senator Lang: I would like to go back to the chair's opening reference to the U.S. ballistic missile defence program and the fact that it was six or seven years ago that Canada decided not to participate, and subsequently the U.S. is basically doing that program by itself. That is the way I understand it.

In view of the fact that we are living in a changing world and security is obviously becoming more and more paramount for all our countries, is the U.S. considering maybe revisiting the idea of Canada participating as a partner in the U.S. ballistic missile defence program?

Gen. Renuart: It would be premature of me to determine what the U.S. might want to do, senator. I believe the real issue is that it is a Canadian national decision from my perspective each day. I will give you an example: When the North Koreans fired their space launch vehicle not too long ago, we were in our operation centre. Seated at my right hand was Lieutenant-General Duval, and his role was to manage the missile warning and space mission awareness, which has been NORAD's role for years, and to advise the Canadian government on what was occurring and what the U.S. intended.

On my left was my NORTHCOM deputy, who was managing the consequence-management portions of this. If it was really a ballistic missile, who would be targeted; where would that target be; should we begin to marshal forces that could deal with that in the event that our missile defence system did not function properly? From the beginning, both were integrated into that process.

Lieutentant-General Duval has full visibility on each of the elements of the U.S. ballistic missile defence capability, but I understand the Canadian national position is that it is not quite ready to engage in that just yet.

In the last year and a half, we have had to rethink the role of defending the homeland because the threat could be a cruise missile, a small radar cross-section vehicle, or an unmanned aerial vehicle. We have seen drug smugglers using ultra-light aircraft to come across the border to deliver their wares. I have a concern that neither of our nations is positioned properly for an integrated air and missile defence capability. Therefore, we began a process in the last year and a half to redefine defence as integrated: It is air and missile and could cover a broad spectrum.

My most critical element is whether I have a command and control and information system that will identify whether it is an airplane, a ballistic missile or a small missile so that we can see it, react to it, and, if need be, interdict it.

We have had that discussion both here and in Washington in our respective headquarters. At some point, the world will continue to evolve, and Canada, at its choosing, might decide where to go on this issue. I want to ensure that no matter what the choice is, there will be a way to stay connected, to share information and to ease concerns about the mystery of this missile defence.

The final point I will make is that the North Korean missiles are not terribly accurate. Within a few hundred miles, I am not sure if I could tell you exactly what it might hit. My role is to ensure that if it is a threat and we have the capability, we will use our missile defence system to shoot it down. Whether it falls on the north side or the south side of the U.S.-Canada border is irrelevant to me because it could fall on our side, making it a threat to U.S. territory. That is really my mission.

No decision process exists that involves consideration of which side of the border it might fall on. We take the approach that, because of the inaccuracy of systems, we do not know where it will land. Therefore, we would rather defend ourselves and go from there.

Senator Lang: Earlier, you talked about two computer programs and trying to coordinate everything so that everyone could look at the same picture and be notified at the same time because time is of the essence when dealing with something such as this. Going back to the U.S. ballistic missile defence program, would it make your job easier if Canada were a full partner in that program?

Gen. Renuart: Senator, I will not speculate. My job is very achievable today, and I am comfortable with the partnership that we have. I think I will leave it at that.

Senator Manning: General, this is a most interesting discussion. I understand that even after 52 years, NORAD continues to evolve and look for new opportunities. In Newfoundland and Labrador and across Canada discussions always take place about the future operations of 5 Wing Goose Bay. The Minister of National Defence was in Newfoundland this past weekend. I live within 20 minutes of the former Argentia base, which played a crucial role during wartime.

In any of these discussions, have you heard about any strategic places of defence against incoming missiles, in particular, in the context of defending the Arctic? Do you think that Happy Valley-Goose Bay might have a role in that? Have strategic defence locations been part and parcel of future planning? I know you are not in a position to say specifically what we will do.

Gen. Renuart: Senator, we do that. I will use air sovereignty as an example. Obviously, we have changed the nature of our air sovereignty alert since September 11, 2001, but we continue to evaluate it to determine whether our alert sites are appropriate. For example, during the Cold War days, you were not scrambling a fighter to protect downtown Montreal or downtown Ottawa; rather you were trying to scramble a fighter to find those invading forces well north before they entered our air space.

September 11, 2001, proved that the threat exists of someone taking a commercial airliner and turning it into a missile. Therefore, we very much have to think about how we are positioned to respond to threats to metropolitan areas. We have done a good bit of that in the United States. Canada has done that as well, but we want to continue to refresh and analyze our posture. We have done that a couple of times over the last few years. My role is to go back to Canada's Chief of the Defence Staff to advise on the future vision, what we think the posture ought to be and to pose some thought. It is not my role to say which base is critical but rather to advise which areas require protection to some degree. Then, the Chief of the Defence Staff and the commander of each of the services determine what base structure meets that potential operational need.

We see more activity in various places throughout the world than we ever expected to see. We spend quite a bit of time in the Gulf of Mexico in the U.S. Certainly, we see a potential for increased activity in the Arctic. Perhaps not so much in the context of national defence but rather in the context of security and competition for economic resources, such as fishing and other natural resources.

As the commander of NORAD, part of my role when given a mission, in particular maritime warning, is to try to make some coherent recommendations to the Chief of the Defence Staff and the Minister of National Defence on how we might best provide the resources and locate them. How the nation then takes that and translates it to basing is a national decision.

Senator Mercer: General, we appreciate what you do and your time here. I will try to consolidate my questions.

I will continue on the discussion of maritime warning. Has NORAD done a detailed analysis of all the major ports? In particular, I want to focus on Canadian ports and mainly Vancouver, Prince Rupert, Churchill, Montreal, Saint John, St. John's and Halifax. If that analysis has been done, are we vulnerable? Assuming that some things need improvement, what are they? What do we need to focus on?

Gen. Renuart: Senator, the short answer is that NORAD does not have that role to assess ports, per se. NORAD's role is to look for potential threats outside the country that might be coming toward our ports. We try to share information on successful activities so that each nation has an advantage. In that role, we work closely with Canada Command and U.S. services to assess port vulnerabilities and share the information. Obviously, nations make the decisions on how they are to deal with those assessments.

We have not looked at those ports, but I am very comfortable that Canadian resources have looked at some of those ports. We have seen good sharing of information, for example, between the U.S. Navy, the Canadian Navy and Coast Guard. We have seen good law enforcement communications back and forth on port security issues. We are somewhat of a bystander there. If we see something that is of concern, we can raise that, but we do not have an active role in that today.

Senator Pépin: General, if NORAD disappeared tomorrow, what other mechanisms would the U.S. ballistic missile defence program use to provide early warning information?

Gen. Renuart: First, NORAD will not go away tomorrow. It is a critical and valuable resource to both nations.

One of the things we are doing over time is that we have created an investment strategy for sensors for the future. The early NORAD warning infrastructure was based on a series of radars around the world. Today, we are trying to incorporate better satellite technology, newer, more effective radars where they are needed, taking advantage of the investment, even in the commercial sector, in creating a better picture of ballistic missile attack.

We want that warning system to evolve and mature in the coming years, which will require some investment by both countries. The good news is both have committed to that. We have three different programs that are specifically focused on developing new technology.

Senator Pépin: That is reassuring.

Senator Dallaire: What is your most critical legacy capital equipment? Would it be the Canadian F-18s? With more activity in the Northwest Passage, should Canada Command move a headquarters or more capability northward rather than a forward deployment?

Gen. Renuart: Canada Command needs to make some decisions for itself, and certainly the Chief of the Defence Staff will be involved in that. I think the reality is that they see importance in the North. The Prime Minister has made a strong statement about importance in the North. Over time, I think you will see more activity.

I had a chance to visit with the Rangers up in the North and was extremely impressed with what they do. They provide support to me in my Northern radar sites. They are the eyes and ears there. Canada Command will evolve over time.

Legacy systems are a real challenge for NORAD because, on both sides of the border, we have aging weapon systems. In fact, I would say that the Canadian F-18s, having just about completed their mid-life upgrade program, are probably the more modern aircraft that I have. Our U.S. F-16s and F-15s are older than most of the Canadian F-18s that we are flying, and we need to replace all of them in the future.

For the United States, we will replace all of those aircraft — the F-15, F-16 fleet — with the F-35 as it comes aboard. We are using the F-22 in some places for air defence alert, mostly in Alaska, but legacy systems extend beyond just the fighter force. Our radar sites are significantly aging, and we need to replace them, as we talked about here. By about 2017, 2018, we need to have an acquisition program in place to replace those.

With respect to our air refuelling tankers, Canada has invested in some new tanker technology. That has worked very well. The U.S., I hope, soon will have a tanker contract so that we can refresh our tanker fleet. However, increasingly, our Airborne Warning and Control System, AWACS — the E-3 — is beginning to age.

All of that enterprise must be replaced over the coming years, between now and perhaps 2022 or so. That is a concern for me. We continue to advocate with both governments to ensure that we do not lose sight of this mission, at least as long as our nations believe it to be important. I think it will survive well into the 2020s.

Senator Dallaire: What about the P-3s?

Gen. Renuart: P-3s do not fall under my NORTHCOM role directly. I can ask for assistance if needed. They can be added to the mission if there is a specific requirement.

For example, the P-3s we used out over the Pacific to find that ship were actually a NORTHCOM-Canada Command relationship between the two, as opposed to a NORAD. Those were under national control. We certainly knew that and were monitoring them, and we share information from them. However, those were really done under national authority through Canada Command.

The Chair: Thank you very much, General Renuart. We could have easily spent another hour at this. I have just come back from Elmendorf. I had some questions about some of those pieces of equipment up there, and the computers.

We would like to thank General Gene Renuart, Commander of NORAD and Commander of U.S. Northern Command, for being with us here today from Colorado. Thank you for your time.

Gen. Renuart: Thank you very much. Would you permit me an extra 30 seconds?

The Chair: Absolutely, I will.

Gen. Renuart: I believe, if our Senate works, I will change command at NORAD on May 19. This has been a special three years and a little extra for my wife and me, unique in that I have Manitoba roots. My father was born in St- Pierre-Jolys and, similar to some Manitobans, found Florida a wonderful place to move to. However, three of my four grandparents are Canadian-born, so this has been a unique opportunity for me to sort of be back to family, and to share this partnership.

I must say, Canadian Forces are doing a spectacular job overseas, as well as here at home. The support that you give, and the nation has given to your forces is extraordinary. Thank you very much for the support you have given to them and their families because I know many of you work very hard at the chief's military family programs, and I compliment you on that.

Finally, the first intercept of the Russian bombers, when we had to ground our F-15s and borrowed CF-18s to come to Alaska, was by a Canadian fighter pilot and his wife, also a Canadian fighter pilot. I sent a little note to the Russian commander of the long-range aviation. I said, ``It is good to see you out training. We are happy to have you come, just let us know. By the way, the young lady that was in this airplane sends her regards.'' That is not for the record.

The Chair: Now we know why NORAD's been functioning so well: We had two Canadians in control. Thank you very much.

(The committee continued in camera.)