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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence

Issue 4 - Evidence - Meeting of February 27, 2012


OTTAWA, Monday, February 27, 2012

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day at 4:30 p.m. to examine and report on Canada's national security and defence policies, practices, circumstances and capabilities; and for the consideration of a draft budget.

Senator Pamela Wallin (Chair) in the chair.

[English]

The Chair: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome. Today, we have with us the commanders of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army, and the Royal Canadian Air Force, and we will hear them in order and give each of them about an hour to bring us up to date on where we stand. It was an incredible last few years, and now it is time for folks to regroup.

I think it is fair to say that the Canadian Forces are at a bit of a crossroads. The Afghan combat operations are over, and so is Libya, but our training mission continues, and the world situation is extremely complex. There seems to be no prospect of that getting easier with Syria, Iran and other issues.

In the meantime, here, the transformation process will likely mean doing a little bit more with less, and this is a fact confronting all of our allies, particularly the U.S.

By way of explanation, I should say that the army, the air force and the navy are what are described as "force generators." The commanders of each are responsible for recruiting, training and keeping their forces and equipment in a state of readiness. They do not command forces in the field. That job falls to the force employers, the Canada Command, the Canadian Expeditionary Force. There are two chains of command there, and I just wanted to mention that because I think it will help you in your questioning of the three gentlemen joining us today.

Vice-Admiral Maddison is our first witness today. Only seven months into his job, he is busy. Her Majesty's Canadian Ships Charlottetown and Vancouver recently traded places in the Mediterranean, where Vancouver was part of the NATO arms embargo on Libya. Our submarines are either engaged in sea trials or undergoing repairs at this point. Over the next 10 years, the navy he commands will have completely recapitalized, have a reconstituted fleet, and that is in part due to the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy announced in 2010 by the government.

Admiral Maddison has served with both Canada's Atlantic and Pacific fleets. He served at sea with NATO's naval force and served during the first Gulf War. On shore, he was been an aide-de-camp to a governor general, commanded a joint space control crew at NORAD and was development and assistant chief of military personnel. Most recently, he was Commander, Maritime Forces Atlantic, Deputy Commander, Maritime Command, and now after all those titles, he is the commander of the newly renamed Royal Canadian Navy.

I understand that you have an opening statement to make, and we would also like to welcome joining us today Chief Petty Officer Claude Laurendeau. Welcome to you as well. Please go ahead with your remarks.

[Translation]

Vice-Admiral Paul Maddison, Chief of the Naval Staff, National Defence: Madam Chair, thank you for providing me and Chief Petty Officer Claude Laurendeau this opportunity to report on the state of the Royal Canadian Navy. I will do so by speaking to our purpose, our ships and submarines, our sailors, and our pride. Let me begin with purpose.

[English]

Last weekend, the Chief of the Defence Staff and I were in Victoria to welcome HMCS Vancouver back to Esquimalt after a seven-month deployment. It was a great, emotional homecoming. She had departed last July to relieve Charlottetown, which was then participating in NATO operations off the coast of Libya, where the RCN, for the first time since Korea, drew enemy fire. As part of that campaign, Vancouver enforced a maritime embargo, performed maritime intelligence and surveillance, defended NATO mine hunters operating to keep ports open for resupply, conducted sea combat operations and protected civilians ashore by enabling precision targeting of air strikes against pro-Gadhafi forces.

That mission was a crucial one for Canada's navy as it foreshadows the types of operations we envisage will become much more typical in the coming decades, a consequence, I believe, of the massive social disruptions and change that we are witnessing today in the Middle East and elsewhere.

That process of change has already begun. In today's globalized era, Canada is ready to employ its joint land, air and naval forces to relieve distress and render humanitarian assistance, as it did most recently in Haiti, recognizing that our security and prosperity is tied closely to the general welfare of other societies. Canada regularly deploys its ships, submarines and maritime patrol aircraft to combat the illicit trafficking of drugs by sea in the Americas, while the Canadian Forces as a whole is working with regional states to improve their capacities for defence and security. Off the Horn of Africa, a remarkable international armada has gathered to counter the menace of piracy, an acknowledgment of the crucial economic importance of good order at sea.

[Translation]

The Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force maintain a vigil in Canada's maritime approaches, to ensure not only that our coasts are defended from seaborne threats and challenges that can originate from anywhere touching upon the high seas, but also to safeguard our sovereign rights and obligations as one of the world's great coastal states. That is our most fundamental duty.

[English]

In this overall context, our frigates are among the government's most agile instruments of national power and influence across the spectrum of operations. That is essentially why Vancouver remained in the Mediterranean upon completion of her Libyan mission, until she was relieved by Charlottetown to support NATO's regional counterterrorism mission. She is also there to demonstrate Canada's interests, to reassure our allies and to help prevent conflict. Her presence overseas contributes to the safety of ocean commerce, upon which our prosperity as a trading nation vitally depends. Finally, she is there to provide to the government a "Swiss army knife" set of immediately available options in a volatile part of the world.

Turning briefly to our ships and submarines, the Chief of the Defence Staff and I sailed in HMCS Victoria last Monday in the approaches to Victoria, as she pursues a readiness program that will see her fully weaponized, crew- certified and operational later this year. The submarine Windsor will follow the same readiness program on the East Coast later this year.

Our third submarine, Chicoutimi, is undergoing deep maintenance with the Canadian Submarine Management Group out west, and she will return to service in 2013, as planned. Our fourth submarine, Corner Brook, is currently in an initial maintenance period with the Victoria shipyard and will be turned over to the Canadian Submarine Management Group once work on Chicoutimi is completed.

[Translation]

Meanwhile, modernization of our frigates is ramping up. 2012 will see 7 of our 12 frigates either preparing for or in their midlife refit, or being readied for a return to operational service.

HMCS Halifax will be the first frigate to return to the Atlantic fleet next year with impressive new capabilities for the next decade and beyond, with HMCS Calgary returning to the Pacific Fleet shortly thereafter.

[English]

Three other projects — the Joint Support Ship project, the Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ship, AOPS, and the Canadian Surface Combatant — are progressing steadily as part of the Canada First Defence Strategy road map. That road map is crucial, as is the machinery of policy, know-how and industrial infrastructure that will be delivered by the government's unprecedented National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy.

The AOPS is a particularly important project, as it will give to the RCN, when it delivers in 2015, the ability to conduct sustained operations during the navigable season, not just in the low North of the Davis Strait but rather in the high North, beyond the ice edge, within the Arctic archipelago and the Arctic basin itself.

However, while individual ships or submarines must periodically enter refit, a navy cannot do so. The challenge we face in the next few years is to refit the navy while also keeping it in the order of battle.

[Translation]

Nonetheless, I am confident that we will succeed. I trust that this committee will come to the same conclusion. When you travel to Halifax and Esquimalt, meet with our sailors, gauge what they are accomplishing and witness the tremendous pride they take in their work.

[English]

I expect they will inspire you, just as they inspire Chief Petty Officer Laurendeau and me every day, in their sense of calling to a higher purpose of service, to their shipmates, to the nation and to the values they not only espouse but have sworn to defend.

Thank you, Madam Chair. I look forward to your committee's questions.

The Chair: Thank you very much. We look forward to our trips to Halifax and Esquimalt. I think we will learn a lot. Several of us were at a conference last week where many of these issues were discussed. Some of these things are staggering when you think 90 per cent of the world's economy moves around on the water. What the navy does is key.

Everyone agrees, even your colleagues in the other forces, that this is the navy's moment of truth. This is your time; the 21st century is the naval century. Is that because of the nature of the perceived threats because of particular circumstances in the Arctic? Why has everyone come to this conclusion?

Vice-Admiral Maddison: Thank you for the question. It is not so much about the threats as about the system of the world upon which the globalized economy, and from that economy the wealth from which the wealth of Canada is derived, rests. As you just said, with respect to 90 per cent of global trade by volume floats, what happens at sea is of real strategic national interest to Canada. What happens at sea is very much a function of a rules-based international maritime legal regime founded on the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea. That permits all of this trade to flow unfettered in this just-in-time globalized economy. Any pressures that come onto that system should be a concern not only to Canada but also to our allies, and there are pressures. The pressures include, for example, illegal and illicit activity at sea, be it piracy in the Gulf of Guinea or in the Somali Basin, the flow of narcotics out of South America, illegal human migration, potential conflict over access to seabed resources or regional states putting pressure on this international regime and extending their claims seaward in aggregate.

I would also add that when you look at 80 per cent of the world's population living within 100 miles of the ocean, and most of that population existing on fish protein for its sustenance, as well as the increase in climactic events in the littoral that bring risk to populations, there are a number of pressures in aggregate that could have an adverse impact on how Canada depends on this globalized economy that floats. That is why I argue that we are arriving in a maritime century.

The Chair: Thank you for that setting of the stage. We have a long list of questioners today. As I did last week, I will ask senators to keep their questions short and brisk and to ask only two. We will have another round if we have more time, but understand that we have three important people here today.

Senator Segal: Welcome, admiral. We are delighted that you are able to fit us in with your demanding schedule.

We often see comments in the media questioning why we need a submarine program. This one has had its challenges. I am one of those who supported the then Minister of Defence's decision to make that acquisition, because I think the choice was these submarines or no submarines, and I think he made the right choice for Canada.

What strategic risk in terms of our capacity and our overall naval obligations would we face if someone were to cancel the submarine program, using whatever pretext they thought appropriate at the time?

Vice-Admiral Maddison: I would consider it a dire day if Canada were to lose the ability to know what is happening under the sea in the three ocean approaches to our country. Submarine capability gives you the ability to know what is happening at sea. It gives you a stealth capability that no other platform gives you. At the end of the day, if naval forces are required to engage in combat and prevail, which we will, a submarine gives that strike capability.

Over 40 nations in the world have a submarine capability, senator. There are over 450 submarines, and the number increases every year. More nations are developing or aspiring to develop a submarine capability. The best counter to a submarine is a submarine. In terms of our surveillance of our ocean approaches and the protection of our own sovereignty, I consider submarine capability to be critical. For a G8 nation, a NATO country like Canada, a country that continues to lead internationally and aspires to lead even more, I would consider that to be a critical loss of a fundamental capability and a very difficult one to regenerate at a future date.

Senator Segal: Admiral, we have seen over the last 12 months Russian ships using Syrian ports. We have seen Russian ships sailing with Venezuelan ships in the Caribbean to show the flag, in a sense. Venezuela is a bit of radical actor in the hemisphere these days.

I do not want to get into intelligence and other issues, which you may understand better than we do and are probably not supposed to share, but can you give the committee a sense of how you deal with the kinds of contingencies reflected by those sorts of activities, Iranian ships in the Mediterranean, for example? I assume it is an allied issue, not a simple Canadian issue but a broader issue. I think Canadians would be reassured if they understood the extent to which these sorts of issues are part of the framework that you and your colleagues in the navy plan to address as the government of the day may direct when and if the time comes.

Vice-Admiral Maddison: The global ocean commons are free for all to use lawfully. When Russia deploys its navy, it does so in a way that Canada would when we deploy, whether it is to the Mediterranean, the Southeast Pacific or into the Caribbean. My strong belief is that a dialogue and relationships are key to understanding the motives of other nations. We can use that trust, if it can be built, as a currency to help pave the way when things might become a little tense in the future.

As an example of dialogue, Chief Petty Officer Laurendeau and I had the opportunity to meet with the commander of the Russian Navy, Admiral Vysotsky, at an international gathering of heads of navy late last year. We talked about the future in the Arctic, cooperation at sea, international efforts to deal with piracy and about the fact that General Natynczyk had recently visited his opposite number in Moscow and that the Russian navy would welcome a visit from me in the future. We talked about the Murmansk Run. We have a lot of common ground.

Having said that, when Russia deploys into the western Atlantic, that certainly gets my attention and that of my colleagues to the south. Vice-Admiral Jon Greenert, the commander of the United States Navy, will be visiting me tomorrow to talk about a number of issues of common interest. That is the kind of thing we would talk about.

When Russia deployed a year or two ago, we followed that deployment carefully. When Iran deploys up through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal into the eastern Mediterranean, we watch carefully to see what they are doing and we try to discern why.

At the end of last year, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy published a maritime strategic paper in which he asserted that by 2025 the Iranian navy would expand its capability and be able to exert sea control west from the straits of Bab-el-Mandeb in the Gulf of Aden east across the Indian Ocean all the way to the Strait of Malacca. That is a very aspirational and potentially disruptive vision for a country like Iran, so that is something that we watch carefully. We discuss that with our allies.

That is another reason why I think it is important for Canada to be deployed, to be seen to be alongside our allies where it matters and to be part of that international leadership that would help to ensure that everyone, globally, is working together to ensure the system of the world that floats is sustained and not compromised.

Senator Lang: Thank you very much, Madam Chair, and welcome to our guests here. Perhaps we could follow along a little bit in respect to the submarines and where exactly we are. They have had a somewhat checkered history, as we know. I know it was not anyone's fault. It was the way it came down, and, unfortunately, we had to deal with the purchases that we had bought. I notice that they are all in the process of being refitted. In fact, some are operational. I believe there is still one that is undergoing refit at the present time — and has been since 2004 — because of the fire. Perhaps you could tell us where exactly we are in respect to the condition of these submarines. Are you satisfied that they are at the point where they should have been when we bought them? Also, I noticed that we are talking about looking at replacing these submarines in 15 years. Is that correct? What plans do you have for them?

Vice-Admiral Maddison: Thank you very much, senator, for that question. I am quite comfortable with where we are. In fact, I am really enthused by where we are in the submarine program. Where we are today is where we really wanted to be a few years ago. I am the first to say that it has taken a lot longer than we had hoped, and, without providing what could be perceived as a litany of excuses, I can say only that there are very good reasons why it has taken the time it has. I would also say — and Chief Petty Officer Laurendeau would, I am sure, support me on this — that huge amounts of leadership, determination, sheer will, and ingenuity have gone into dealing with some of the complex challenges that we faced as we introduced this new class of submarine into the Canadian Navy.

Having said that — and I will use a phrase that I am probably wearing thin these days — we are at the end of a long beginning. I mentioned in my remarks that Chief Petty Officer Laurendeau, General Natynczyk and I sailed and dived in HMCS Victoria a week ago today. She is undergoing work-ups. She looks great. She is clean. Her crew is happy and working hard. Next week, she will fire, in an instrumented torpedo firing range off of Nanoose, near Nanaimo, the MK-48 heavyweight torpedo for the first time. She will continue her training up to high readiness and be deployable for Canada in 2012.

Following Victoria, later in 2012, will be HMCS Windsor on the East Coast. She will come off the syncrolift in Halifax in about two months. She will be in the water shortly thereafter. She will commence her sea trials in the fall, become certified on the torpedo, and be deployable for Canada early in 2013. Then Chicoutimi, the third boat, will come out later in 2013. By the end of 2013, we will achieve the steady state we have been driving at the last few years, which is one high-readiness submarine, weaponized and ready to deploy for Canada, either in our ocean approaches, in the Caribbean, or anywhere in the world where the Government of Canada deems it appropriate to do so. We will have a third submarine on either the East Coast or the West Coast, depending where we are in the rotation, and the fourth submarine, in this case Corner Brook, will be in that deep maintenance period with the Canadian Submarine Management Group, through the Victoria Class In-Service Support Contract. We are on the cusp of achieving a steady state, which we will then drive through to the end of life of the Victoria-class submarine, which is anticipated to be around 2030. We are currently going through a submarine life-extension sort of analysis to see what it would take to extend the submarines beyond the originally forecast end of life, and I expect we will run these submarines until about 2030.

To go back to Senator Segal's question, assuming that Canadians will continue to see submarine capability as a critical capability for our Canadian Forces, I would envision initiating a next-generation submarine discussion within the next three or four years, in order to go through the various procurement and project planning approval and funding gates to ensure that there is no gap in submarine capability. That is what we faced in the 1990s, which caused a few challenges.

Senator Lang: Could I turn to another area, the question of the utilization of the Canadian Space Agency? Also, there was an agreement made — I believe with the United States — about the satellites that was announced just a number of months ago. I am wondering how that particular type of technology fits in with you, as the navy, in respect to the satellites and how that operates. Perhaps you could expand on that.

Vice-Admiral Maddison: I will just say that the Canadian Navy is very technological in how we are built and how we operate. We are very much a networked system of systems, as ships and task groups work together with aircraft. We are very much enabled by space in a number of key areas. From a maritime domain-awareness or a surveillance perspective, we certainly need to rely upon overhead imagery, radar SAT, for example. It is a key set of sensors that we use as part of that whole sensor fusion in our marine security operation centres and in our ships at sea to give commanders as transparent as possible an understanding, in real time, of activities that are happening at sea.

Chief Petty Officer Laurendeau is a naval communications specialist, so he could speak to this much better than I, but we depend upon space-based capabilities to enable us to exchange data at a high rate — intelligence data, situational awareness, orders and reports and whatnot. Much of that is a function of access to military SATCOM assets. It is very important for us.

Senator Plett: Vice-Admiral, our government and our country have made great strides — in the last little while at least — in furthering our relationship with China. I read, with interest, part of a speech that you made on February 16. If I could, I will read one paragraph of that and ask you to explain that. On February 16, in one of your speeches, you said that of far greater significance to the maritime order than the tensions regional maritime disputes have created in the South China Sea, is the expansive interpretation of its rights as a coastal state that China advocates, an interpretation of sovereign authority well beyond what the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea permits. Could you explain what you meant by that statement?

Vice-Admiral Maddison: Yes, absolutely. China is a signatory to UNCLOS III, which talks about territorial waters — 12 miles. It talks about economic exclusion zones — 200 nautical miles. It talks about a continental shelf extension beyond 200 miles.

In an area like the South China Sea, which the Filipinos refer to as the western sea and the Vietnamese refer to as the eastern sea, there is a proven seabed of hydrocarbon riches. One hopes that UNCLOS Part III would be what nations would focus on in their bilateral or multilateral dialogues around the issue. The point I am making about China is that their assertion that the South China Sea is an historic asset that predates UNCLOS Part III establishes a precedent that, if not at least discussed, could allow, enable or encourage other coastal states to begin to make similar claims, and other nations are making similar claims.

The point I was making with Senator Wallin at the beginning of the discussion was that pressures on a free and open global ocean commons are not in Canada's national interests. I believe that Canada, more than any other country, relies upon this global ocean order to enable the economy that brings such wealth into our country. That was the genesis of those remarks.

Senator Plett: You said in your opening comments that you are meeting with your American counterpart tomorrow. Maybe some of what I will ask now might be discussed tomorrow. I am sure it already has been discussed.

The United States recently announced its Strategic Defense Reviews, which place greater emphasis on Asia-Pacific operations to counter China's growing power and influence. Should the Canadian Navy also be making a shift as a result of the American shift because of China's growing ability to project military power via its navy?

Vice-Admiral Maddison: I would argue that the Canadian Navy has been as present as we could be in the Indo- Pacific, specifically Southeast and Southwest Asia, for many years — decades. Looking at our fleet on the West Coast and its deployment history, you will see that in 2011 HMCS Ottawa deployed to an exercise called Talisman Sabre 2011, off the East Coast of Australia, working with the Australian navy and the American navy. HMCS Ottawa then transited to Singapore, whence she went north, east of Taiwan, with an American carrier battle group in the vicinity and engaged at the strategic level in South Korea and Japan. Japan hosted staff talks between our deputy ministers of national defence and foreign affairs and international trade and their colleagues from Japan.

This summer, the largest naval exercise in the world will occur centred out of Hawaii, called the Rim of the Pacific Exercise. Canada is the only navy that has participated in every RIMPAC Exercise since they began, which I believe was in the late 1970s. The first time I deployed into one was in 1982.

That is a long way of saying I believe we have balanced, to the best of our ability, the ships that we have and the sea days that we have with the opportunities to work alongside our allies in the Pacific, in the European NATO area and, of course, in other areas of the world, such as, increasingly in the past 20 years, the Persian Gulf; the Indian Ocean; the Caribbean, especially in the counter-narcotics mission; and in the Arctic. It is a question of balancing all of these priorities to get the maximum strategic effect for Canada.

Senator Plett: Thank you very much.

[Translation]

Senator Dawson: My question is about the increasing use of narco-submarines, off the coast of Colombia in particular. Accepting that our capacity is limited, are we still part of the collaboration to watch for and restrict the operation, or are we on the sidelines waiting for the equipment we need?

Vice-Admiral Maddison: On two occasions already, we have sent a submarine on a mission to the Caribbean as part of the war on drugs. In 2011, Corner Brook was countering the threat by patrolling the waters off Colombia, at both ends of the Panama Canal. The best tool to use against a submarine is another submarine, and our adversaries have built a capability to transport drugs by submarine.

[English]

We call these self-propelled, fully submersible capabilities. We are working together with our allies out of headquarters in Key West. It is called the Joint Interagency Task Force South. We have repeatedly deployed ships, submarines twice, and aircraft from the air force to work with the American Coast Guard, and our American Navy, Royal Navy, French Navy and Dutch Navy colleagues to beat back this threat.

As well, as recently as last year, we have had to embark United States Coast Guard law enforcement detachments that allow us, when we come across a threat and when we find the bad guys, to insert the Coast Guard law enforcement detachments to do the arrest. I am actually quite proud of how much and how frequently the navy and the air force are working together with our allies there. We are making a difference. We are keeping significant quantities of cocaine off our streets, but we need to continue to do more.

Senator Dawson: Coming back to Senator Segal's initial statement, you have a PR problem in the sense that many things are being done, but I do not think Canadians are being told enough about that work and the good stories. They hear about the troubles with submarines, and many ministers of defence have had to live with that.

On the success of the Libyan experience, we heard testimony here last week about the air force, but the cooperation and partnership of the different navies was also a great success, which should be promoted. We saw the air side of it promoted quite easily. Can we do the same thing in Somalia with the same cooperation that existed in Libya? Can that type of model be used to control piracy off the southern coast of Africa? Economically and politically it creates problems and instability in a part of South Africa that needs stability. Is something being done, or should something be done in cooperation there?

Vice-Admiral Maddison: I would be loathe to compare Somalia to Libya or either Somalia or Libya to Syria. Every littoral state's challenges are unique and different, and it is up to the Government of Canada to decide how they will approach each and every one of these.

If I can make a quick comment about Libya, when Lieutenant-General Bouchard, a good friend of mine, came to see me after his successful command of the NATO Libya mission, he said to me, "I must apologize." I said, "Why, Charlie?" He said, "Because after 36 or 37 years in service, I did not appreciate the capability, the flexibility, the professionalism of our navy and what you bring to an air-sea campaign," and that is what that was.

The Chair: You will be pleased to know he says that publicly too.

Vice-Admiral Maddison: I told him to. I said, "Charlie, you go out and tell people that."

You talk about getting the right messages into the public domain. That air-sea campaign off the coast of Libya and what Charlottetown and Vancouver brought in terms of generating that strategic effect, whether it was precision targeting, or dealing with some of the threats that Gadhafi was sending towards the ports of Misrata, or a number of tasks, they did very well. It was such a pleasure, a thrill for us to see how that was recognized by you and your colleagues in the Senate back in November. That was an extraordinary event, and I thank you for that.

Regarding Somalia, I would agree with most folks who say the key is obviously ashore. It is influencing those who would continue to do illegal, criminal actions that are not to the long-term positive effect of Somalia and Somalians. However, the piracy itself I see as another example of criminal activity at sea that brings pressure on that international order I described, especially in the vicinity of such key strategic choke points like the Gulf of Aden, the straits of Bab- el-Mandeb, the Gulf of Oman, and now increasingly as they extend their range, within sight of the west coast of India.

I applaud the world's shipping industries for having introduced a number of force protection actions that have helped to deter in a significant way the ability of pirates to be successful in their attacks. I would also say that over the past several years what NATO- and European Union- and U.S.-led and other independent naval deployments have done, and Canada has been there, is to show international resolve to ensure that we are taking this seriously, that it is not something that will be allowed to become the status quo.

I would say that one concern I have is that we see the piracy extend its capability in the Indian Ocean in a way I compare to how the narcotics exporters in South America have increased their capacity and technology over the years. I am concerned that if this is allowed to expand in an unfettered way there are those criminal elements around the world who would be quick to adopt similar practices in other parts of the world. Of course, one of the concerns I see is in the Gulf of Guinea on the west coast of Africa, which is closer to Canada.

Senator Day: Thank you for being here and for your comments. I was going to ask a question with respect to piracy, but in light of the time, I will ask my second question.

Before I go to the question, I just wanted a point of clarification. In your introductory remarks you talk about being out on the West Coast with the minister welcoming back the HMCS Vancouver. You indicated the Vancouver had relieved Charlottetown. Later on, you said Charlottetown is back over there again. Are we to read something in that, that Charlottetown has been home for six or seven months and now they are back over again? That seems to be a rather quick turnaround. I wonder if you could comment on that.

Vice-Admiral Maddison: Thank you for that very perceptive question. I would start off my answer referring to another comment I made in my remarks, which is that we are progressing through the mid-life refit and modernization of the Halifax-class frigates. In 2012 I have seven that are either preparing for the refit, in the refit or coming out of the refit and because of that are not available for deployment.

When we looked at sustaining the Libyan mission and as we flowed Vancouver in as the other high-readiness frigate in that task group that is always ready to deploy, and as we saw Charlottetown coming home, we decided to conduct a complete crew change of HMCS Charlottetown. When they arrived home just before or after Labour Day weekend in the fall, the planning had already gone in for that crew. They were posted to other ships, coasts ashore, to Ottawa, and a whole new crew was posted in, and we took that ship right through another deliberate high-readiness training cycle. We also added capability in that we integrated an unmanned air vehicle capability for the first time into the ship. Charlottetown then went back out the door, new captain and new crew. That is what we did. It is all about innovative ways of approaching traditional problems or challenges that we have with generating readiness.

Senator Day: Thank you for that. That clarifies that point.

The other point I wanted to ask you about is the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy and the policy statement that was made that we were all very supportive of, but it was a policy statement and not a contract, not a legally binding arrangement. What do you see as a timeline when some contracts will be signed and when steel will start to be cut at the shipyards in relation to this matter?

Vice-Admiral Maddison: The first thing I would say is that the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy is a huge step change in the right direction, in my opinion, for Canada. I am not trying to sound tongue in cheek, but we are cutting steel with the modernization program with the frigates now in that it is such a substantive and extensive upgrade of these frigates, as planned when they were designed and built in the early 1990s, that I like to say we are introducing a new capability, a new class of ship.

Having said all of that, the Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ship and the Canadian Surface Combatant will be built in Halifax. Regarding the Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ship, the umbrella agreement with the shipyard and the Crown I understand was negotiated recently. This activity is led by Public Works and Government Services Canada. That is all very positive. I would expect to see the specific contract to build the AOPS negotiated this year such that steel would be cut in 2013 with that first ship arriving in 2015-16 and one ship thereafter.

The Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ship is being built first in order to be a lead-in and to enable the growing of capacity in that yard on the East Coast, for them to build and deliver a much more sophisticated major warship, which will be the Canadian Surface Combatant. We are expecting the first to be delivered in the 2022 time frame.

Senator Day: This is a new fiscal year about to start in another month. Should we anticipate any appropriations that will be required to vote on and supply a significant amount for new activity, new ships being built, or is it too soon in 2012-13?

Vice-Admiral Maddison: That question would be best posed to the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff because I do not have that information.

The Chair: We will do that. Thank you very much.

[Translation]

Senator Nolin: I am going to have a question for the Chief Petty Officer, but first, Vice-Admiral, I would like to ask you a question about the reserve.

Last December, our committee published a major report on the reserve and the public relations associated with reserve activities. Your testimony interests me in that you have a specific concept — for the naval reserve, I assume. You mentioned the concept of a "marine unique." Could you talk to us about that and why you chose that concept? You can answer in English, though your French is very good.

Vice-Admiral Maddison: When you say "marine unique," is that a translation?

Senator Nolin: Yes, it is a translation of your term "one navy."

[English]

Vice-Admiral Maddison: One navy; thank you very much. I will use that.

First, thank you very much to the committee for your interest in the reserves and the report from December. It is of great value to us senior leaders.

Senator Nolin: We are touching wood, you know.

Vice-Admiral Maddison: The Naval Reserve is a vital part of the Royal Canadian Navy. I tell my leaders in the Naval Reserve that their role, first and foremost, is to be the face of the navy, to be a strategic reserve. In the 24 Naval Reserve divisions across Canada, where mostly you do not see saltwater, Canadians do not typically have exposure to their navy, to sailors, to an understanding of Canada's maritime nation, to some of the strategic concepts we are discussing here.

Senator Nolin: It is critical.

Vice-Admiral Maddison: This year I have said to each of the reserve divisions, through the Commander of the Naval Reserve, Commodore Dave Craig, that I want them to develop a strategic engagement strategy unique to the region and the municipality where they serve in order to develop enduring, trust-based relationships with the community they are a part of across the political, the academic, the corporate, the arts, the sports, the philanthropic sectors and to build a demand signal for more curiosity about our navy. That will generate a greater understanding, a greater dialogue, a greater appreciation and respect for who we are and what we do.

I also say to our Naval Reserve that, at the end of the day, no one who wears this uniform, regular or reserve, is not someone who needs to go to sea or who needs primarily to be ready to go to sea. As we look at one navy, what I really mean by that is moving away from a navy in Halifax, a navy in Victoria, a navy in Ottawa, a navy in Quebec City, and moving to one holistic navy, regular and reserve, where all are fused on a commander's intent, who are all driving towards the same place, much more aligned and therefore more efficient.

In terms of the Naval Reserve, I am looking at blended crewing, providing more opportunities for our naval reservists when they have the time as students or on a full-time contract not only to sail in the Kingston-class coastal defence vessels but also to have opportunities to sail in our frigates and, as we modernize the navy in the Canadian Surface Combatants in the future, to build a greater interoperability between the Naval Reserve and the regular force.

At the end of the day, having achieved that strategic effect in our communities and having trained to go to sea when the call comes, we are able to surge the Naval Reserve into our ships to sustain operations at home or abroad, similar to what we saw with such success executed by the army and the air force, but primarily by the army in the air and land mission in Afghanistan over the past several years.

[Translation]

Senator Nolin: Chief Petty Officer, I have a quick question on our vulnerability to cyber attacks. You are a communications expert. We are becoming more and more worried about our vulnerability, given how significant our communication networks are, and how fragile.

What is the navy doing to protect those fragile networks?

Chief Petty Officer Claude Laurendeau, National Defence: Thank you for the question. It is very relevant, with everything that is going on these days.

Senator Nolin: That is why I am asking.

CPO Laurendeau: Of course, we follow the rules to restrict access for those who do not need access. Our networks are very well protected, but anything is possible.

Senator Nolin: You know that the Iranians are saying the same thing and we are busy trying to get through their defences.

CPO Laurendeau: I agree totally. I am sure that you are aware of what happened on the weekend when the chiefs of police network was hacked by the group Anonymous. There is always a possibility that someone or some organization is going to try to intercept the traffic in our networks. We are taking the necessary precautions that the industry tells us to take. We are no different from your networks or the networks of any organization in terms of the protection at our disposal, whether it be to detect a simple virus or an infiltration into the network. We have specialized systems and organizations precisely to prevent infiltration into our systems.

Senator Nolin: I hope that Morse code and semaphore are still popular.

CPO Laurendeau: They are still popular, but they are no longer used.

Senator Nolin: They are Plan B.

[English]

Senator Eggleton: I did have some questions that were already asked by colleagues, particularly on submarines. I do have one more on submarines, and then I would like to talk about what is on the back of the frigates.

One of the ideas floating around at the time we bought these submarines was the possibility of using them in the North. You have this new ship that is coming out that is obviously part of your plans in the North, but can submarines play a role in the North? We recognize that the technology in the diesel submarine, as opposed to the nuclear submarine, is a disadvantage under the ice floes. However, the technology that was being developed through Ballard Engineering — I do not know what happened to the technology — was to counter that.

Do you see any role for the submarines in the North, playing part of a role there?

Vice-Admiral Maddison: Yes, sir, absolutely. I see our focus in the Arctic taking place during the navigable open water seasons. That is when maritime activity increases, and that is where it is prevalent. Only a few nations have the ability, from a submarine perspective, to patrol under the ice. There are very few nations, and we know who they are.

The Victoria-class submarine is the ideal system to have at strategic choke points, operating with our other government departments up in the Arctic. We have done that twice already. HMCS Corner Brook has deployed twice over the past four years during Operation Nanook, which is our annual operation in the Arctic in the month of August.

Senator Eggleton: Is that without any change in the technology?

Vice-Admiral Maddison: That is correct, sir. As we look at the next generation of submarines, for example, we will look at emerging technologies like the air independent propulsion and new battery technologies that allow a submarine with a non-nuclear propulsion system to spend more time submerged without having to come up for recharging of the batteries. If appropriate, we would look at those technologies as we go forward.

Senator Eggleton: If I was around later I would ask my other question of the Chief of the Air Staff, but I will ask you, because it is about the back of the frigates, and that is the helicopters. When do you anticipate the new helicopters will be replacing the Sea King? You are going through these retrofits and life extension programs with the frigates, but you need something on the back that will match that modernization.

Vice-Admiral Maddison: Just like taking the frigates through this mid-life refit and modernization, we are going through this transition from the Sea King helicopter to the CH-148, the Cyclone. This really is a good question for the Commander of the Air Force. However, I expect to see these helicopters arriving in an interim capability this year and in 2013 and 2014. They are already training helicopter aircrews in trainers, in Halifax and out west, and I expect to see the transition from embarked helicopter air detachments from a Sea King base to a Cyclone base all to occur in that 2014, 2015-16 time frame as we are bringing the frigates fully out of the modernization program.

When that happens, as I know you are aware, we are talking about such an improvement in capability in terms of sensors, electronics, avionics, weapon delivery, data link and exchange that this will really be a key, critical enabler of our frigates as they operate in this increasingly congested, sophisticated joint maritime operating environment. I am eager to see the new capability delivered, as I know the air force is.

The Chair: We are encroaching on the time of our next witness, but we have two senators left to ask questions.

Senator Mitchell: Admiral, in answer to the chair's question and comment about this century being the century of the navy and a marine century, you alluded to one of the key elements of that being the pressure for increased humanitarian assistance in the world. Speaking of public relations has many good things about it, but it certainly is an admirable thing to do. It is also true that you said that this may be enhanced because of climate events.

Do you need special equipment? Do you need special training for that? Do you have them, or do you have plans to get them?

Vice-Admiral Maddison: Thank you very much, sir. The first thing, to go back to the prelude to your question, is I am not saying that this is the navy's century or the navy's time. I am very much a Canadian Forces officer, and I have worked side by side with the Commander of the Army and the Commander of the Air Force responding to my CDS's intent and priorities. It is all about having the right balance of air, land and sea capability to work in an increasingly joint operating environment. I just want folks to know that I am not parochial in that respect.

To get to your real question, I believe that a sea-based, joint humanitarian operations and disaster response capability would be an appropriate one for a G8 nation like Canada. What does that mean? It means contemplating introducing a new platform into the mix, one that would have the ability to embark what we call "surface and air connectors," landing craft and helicopters for utility lift; and for the Cyclone helicopter, about six years ago, the spec was amended to allow for rapid at-sea change of the aircraft to a 22-seat utility lift rotary aircraft. In other words, you could put 22 troops in a Cyclone and fly them ashore to do stuff and then come back. It is same thing with landing craft.

To do that you need to develop an amphibious planning and operational capability. It is one that our allies possess. I believe the time is ripe, especially based on some of the lessons learned and the experiences we have had in the Haiti earthquake, in the Newfoundland hurricane last year, and in other parts of world. I think the time is ripe to look at what it would take to introduce a very modest capability, to demonstrate it, and then if success begets success, to allow it to grow based on the availability of resources over time.

Senator Mitchell: I think that would be consistent with Canadians' sensibilities about these things. Thank you very much. That is very interesting.

Senator Manning: Thanks to our guests for your appearance here today and for your service.

Touching on the recapitalization of the fleet, some of our notes tell us that we once had, give or take, 300 submariners; we are down to about 80 now, and there is a need for 240 to 260, especially with the new submarines coming on stream and, as you touched on earlier, the emerging technologies. I know there has been an increase in interest in the forces. With regard to the navy side of it, in particular to the submariners, is there a strategy in place? Would those submarines come on in 2013 that had the personnel? My understanding is that you need to have a crew at sea and a backup crew and training. Maybe you could elaborate on what the plan is to address the personnel concern there.

Vice-Admiral Maddison: The submarine establishment necessary to support the steady state I have described of submarine high readiness on either coast and a third available for operations is about 385. We currently have 275 qualified submariners, so the 80 is not accurate. I think it is because I misspoke at a previous appearance before another committee. What I need to do is grow the submarine force from 275 to 385 over the next three years.

We are growing the force. We are seeing positive, forward momentum. We have been driving hard to get Victoria to sea and to demonstrate her success in operations and to use that shamelessly to encourage not only members of the surface fleet to volunteer for submarine service but also to encourage Canadians to walk in to recruiting centres, and say, "I want to enrol in the Canadian Forces and I want to become a submariner." I believe that is what will happen here. We are watching this very carefully. I do need to grow the force. I am confident that we will.

Senator Manning: The 110 that you require, will they be new recruits? Would you draw some people from within the system now, or would it be new?

Vice-Admiral Maddison: It would be a combination of both. We traditionally took our submariners from the surface fleet after they had been in the navy for a few years and achieved a certain trade and rank qualification. We changed that a couple of years ago and now, if you join the navy and want to become a submariner, you can; you can go straight into the submarine service. It is a combination.

We have a bit of a cultural issue for which we are ever watchful; that is, if a leading seaman on a frigate with a crew of 220 tells the coxswain that he would like to be a submariner, it takes a good, one-navy-focused senior leader to say, "I can deal with you not being here and working on this important radar that you are so good at maintaining because I see that the submarine service could benefit from your talent."

That is one of my messages at town halls, because I know there are folks who would recommend against being a submariner. You never see the sunset and that kind of stuff. However, when you do embark on a submarine, which I hope all of you will have the opportunity to do some day, and see the professionalism, the teamwork and the skill of our submariners, you will see what I think would attract young Canadians to want to become part of that elite team.

There are two unique strategic capabilities in the Canadian Forces. One is special forces, our JTF2, our special operations regiment, and that attracts a certain calibre and type of Canadian. I think our submarine crews are on that same level. When folks see the challenge and the capability of these submarines, which I compare to space shuttle technology in terms of complexity and sophistication, and the risk they take when they are under water, they see a special type of Canadian.

I think that is what will bring full health back to the submarine establishment and sustain it for years.

The Chair: Thank you so much for those comments. I will give you two bits of advice. You can always recruit in the Prairies. For some reason, they always join the navy. Second, the women tell me that they need one more washing machine aboard the submarines.

Thank you so much. You have been very frank and direct today. We really appreciate this state of the union that you have given us today.

We now welcome Lieutenant-General Peter Devlin, Commander of the Canadian Army. In light of all the changes going on at DND and the Canadian Forces and the operational tempo we have seen over the last decade, not to mention the last year, Lieutenant-General Devlin describes his command these days as "the army reloaded." We will delve into that.

General Devlin enrolled in the CF in 1978. He served in Cyprus, the former Yugoslavia and Bosnia. While commander of 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, he headed up operations at Kabul in the early days of the war in Afghanistan. He went on to serve as Deputy Commanding General of the U.S. army's III Corps and then in Iraq from 2006 to 2008 as Deputy Commanding General.

General Devlin has been awarded the Meritorious Service Cross and the U.S. Legion of Merit and was appointed Commander of the Order of Military Merit in 2010.

We welcome as well Command Chief Warrant Officer Moretti. Thank you for being with us as well today.

I know that you have some opening comments to make. We have a copy of them, and you will give us a shorter version. Thank you very much and welcome.

Lieutenant-General Peter Devlin, Chief of the Army Staff, National Defence: Good afternoon, Madam Chair and members of the committee. Thank you for inviting me to speak about the Canadian army.

[Translation]

It is a great pleasure for me to be here to share a few words about the Canadian army.

[English]

With me is Command Chief Warrant Officer Giovanni Moretti, the army sergeant-major and the most senior serving soldier in our army.

As the chair mentioned, you have a copy of my opening remarks, and I will take a couple of moments to highlight a few points.

Your army is a medium-weight, full-spectrum force, distinguished by exceptional soldiers. By "full-spectrum" I mean that the army is agile and flexible enough to conduct everything from humanitarian operations to disaster relief to combat.

Mr. Moretti and I say that the ultimate all-weather weapons system, of course, is a battle proven, hardened Canadian soldier, and we have grown that way over almost a decade of combat in Afghanistan.

The regular and the reserve force are more integrated than we have ever been, and combat has had a role in allowing that level of respect and understanding to grow.

The last 12 months have been busy. Not only have we force generated for our largest mission, that being the mission in Afghanistan, the Mission Transition Task Force, as well as Roto 0 and Roto 1 of Operation ATTENTION, our new training mission in Afghanistan, we have also generated soldiers for the 15 or so other missions that Canada undertakes around the world. We have done that from an expeditionary point of view. Mr. Moretti and I are proud of our efforts here in Canada to come to the assistance of Canadians when that was needed, whether it was in flood relief in Quebec or Manitoba, tough weather in Newfoundland, or a lot of snow along the London to Sarnia corridor about this time last year. Whether domestically or in an expeditionary sense, it was a busy year.

I talk about three groupings of priorities, all under the rubric of "your army reloaded." The first priority is to recover, reconstitute and reorient. That is taking stock of what we have learned and bringing home our equipment, our soldiers, and all the ideas that we have learned over the past decade.

We also continue to be tremendously involved in force generation of both domestic and international tasks, and we do that respectful of what we have learned, but with a strong vision towards tomorrow.

Lastly, on the people front, we are excited about the opportunity to share some royal designations. We are excited about the opportunity to help Canadians celebrate the two-hundredth anniversary of the war of 1812. Above all, we are excited about the need to emphasize the important readiness role that families have for our army. Mr. Moretti and I say that the strength of our country is our army; the strength of our army is our soldier; and the strength of our soldier is his family.

I would sum up by saying that the army is Canada's force of decisive action. I am exceptionally proud of the men and women who serve in the army today. We stand ready to execute missions and tasks at a moment's notice, with tremendous pride and confidence. We help Canadians in times of crisis here in Canada or overseas, in unstable and dangerous places.

The army's efforts around the globe continue to bring credit to Canada and the Canadian Forces, and I am certainly proud to be the Commander of the Canadian Army and equally proud to stand next to Chief Warrant Officer Moretti.

Command Chief Warrant Officer Giovanni Moretti, National Defence: It is an honour being a soldier because soldiering is an affair of the heart. One of the greatest qualities of a soldier is a soldier's way — to go wherever he is needed and do whatever is asked of him by the Government of Canada and the citizens of Canada — because we have a great nation that we represent abroad. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you for those comments. I do not think we can ever say it enough, as citizens and members of this committee, for what you have all done on this soil, of course on Afghan soil, and in other places. It leads us to that general question. You folks really are the enablers. I think that is how you describe yourselves. You are the force of decisive action. You have to be there. You have said that the focus of 10 years of combat in Afghanistan has made you sharper and more ready.

What do you do now? How do you prepare for the situation where you may not be keeping everyone at the ready?

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: A great point. Thank you very much for that question. I would emphasize that Afghanistan brought to us what we call a warrior's spirit. We bring that spirit to every task that we undertake; it is a special level of confidence and skill. We have also learned the importance of enablers. Those are particularly things along the lines of helicopters, counter-improvised explosive devices, unmanned aerial vehicles, information, operations, and persistent surveillance. We have invested heavily in those enablers because we are very confident that those are the types of skills and capabilities that will be needed tomorrow.

The other really important thing we have learned is the need to be agile and flexible. Our training scenarios today are ones supported by our Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre in Wainwright, ones that bring soldiers to a near peer enemy demanding manoeuvre, with organized crime, with insurgency, with a need to work with local authorities, with international and non-governmental organizations, all on the battlefields of tomorrow. We have grown a lot as a result of Afghanistan. We have brought the lessons home, and we continue to incorporate those scenarios and that learning into our training today with a view to readiness for tomorrow.

The Chair: I am sure that will raise many questions about whether the training can continue at the rate it needs to and with the enablers that you need to use to make you ready and able to go.

Senator Segal: Thank you, chair, and thank you, lieutenant-general and chief warrant officer, for being with us today.

I wanted to ask about those lessons learned from Afghanistan and the outstanding performance of our forces in that theatre, particularly around the integration, on a real-time basis, of intelligence capacity to inform our commanders in the field and the people working under their command and to maximize their efficiency. It is normative, in a battle combat context, that certain skill sets are developed and certain capacities are in place. I think the Canadian Forces are to be congratulated for the outstanding job they did in that respect.

When you are not facing that kind of combat — to build on the question of our chair — how do you maintain that capacity? By definition, it is a multi-source capacity. It is real time. It works with different agencies. It shares information with our allies, as they share with us, all of which is fundamental to ensuring that our soldier in the field is as effective as he or she can be and as well protected as he or she might be by the information that they need. I understand that budget allocations, in the broad, global sense, are beyond the pay scale of any of us around this table. Those decisions will be made elsewhere. I would be very interested, if you might share with us — to the extent that you can — how that capacity can be maintained and continued because clearly, whether our forces are deployed in a circumstance in Africa, as has been the case with the navy and the air force, or in other areas, that intelligence capacity will always be vital and a fundamental enabler.

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: Senator, thank you very much. A great point. One of those enablers that we brought home and have invested personnel into, at the different levels in our organization, is the All-Source Intelligence Cell.

We learned so much about the fusion of information obtained from cooperation with allies, special forces assets, and whole-of-government partners, coalition and multinational. This all fused to provide a real, rich understanding of the complexity of the battlefield and the threats, and we continue to put a great emphasis on that.

We may be training in a command-post, simulated scenario and invite whole-of-government partners and our allies. Just a couple of weeks ago, at the Canadian Forces Experimentation Centre at Shirley's Bay, we did a command-post exercise — a joint exercise — where there was whole-of-government and allied participation, all with a view to ensuring that there was an awareness and an understanding of those enablers, the way we employ them, and the way we continue to grow.

The enablers are probably the most challenging ones in a field environment. However, we have done our best so that when a formation goes to the field in Wainwright, at our Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre, we have injects that challenge human intelligence, source handling, and the fusion of information and that ensure that there are whole-of- government partners, that we have some allies there, and that there are real threats, whether it be from an enemy or organized crime. I emphasize that we have really emphasized that. It is important for us to continue to do that so we will grow tomorrow.

Senator Mitchell: I asked Vice-Admiral Maddison the question of humanitarian aid. That was certainly relevant in the context of what he was talking about for the coming years and decades with the navy, but it is also a critical feature of the prospects that face the military both abroad and in Canada.

Do you feel that you have the resources you need to do that — both the training and the equipment?

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: For humanitarian aid?

Senator Mitchell: Yes, and dealing with natural disasters and that kind of thing in Canada.

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: The most precious asset is a Canadian soldier. So wonderful are the values in the heart of a Canadian soldier, the cultural awareness and the respect for languages and differences, that wherever they go, whether in Canada or internationally, that is number one.

There is more reliance on engineering assets. We have engineering assets in all of our formations, regular and reserve. There is more equipment in the regular formations than there is in the reserve. Depending on the scale of the effort, there would be a need to centralize some of those assets to bring the level of support that the Canadian government is looking for.

Senator Mitchell: The other question is unrelated in many ways. There is a suggestion that with the military being removed from Afghanistan and the intensity of operations therefore in some senses being less, more and more post- traumatic stress syndrome may become evident as the adrenalin drops and people are not focused in that way again.

Are you anticipating that, and what are you doing to anticipate more specifically with the resources? A corollary to that is military family support centres and this issue that in two or three cases in Canada, the funding is always based upon the number of regular force personnel. However, in several centres, you do not have a full regular force base, and most of their families are militia- and reserve-oriented families, so there is a possible funding disconnect. Have you addressed that, or can you comment on that?

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: That is a great point and close to both of our hearts. Certainly, we all read the great article in the Ottawa Citizen, which we are appreciative of because it highlights what an important aspect that is for Canada and for Canadians, certainly for Chief Warrant Officer Moretti and me.

I wonder whether you are aware of a couple of recent studies, if I could make quick reference to them. These, of course, are led by the Canadian Forces health services. You might be interested in having the Surgeon General come and speak.

Senator Mitchell: That is a good idea.

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: I believe you are aware that over 40,000 Canadian Forces members have deployed to Afghanistan since 2001. In a large study done by our health services folks, they looked at various data sources for 30,000 members. Key findings were that 30 per cent of the people studied received some form of mental health care; 8 per cent of those were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and a further 5 per cent with some type of Afghanistan-related operational stress injury.

The important point, as one would expect, is that the incidence was higher the further forward you were deployed, which I think we would all expect. At a combat outpost or a forward operating base at the Kandahar airfield or a support base in the Middle East, the further forward you were, there was a higher incidence of mental health issues.

Also a very interesting study was done over a four-year period of time. It studied 800 soldiers from 2nd Battalion — the Royal Canadian Regiment Battalion Group, which deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 — Roto 3 of our effort there. Of that group of 800, 75 per cent of them were front-line soldiers — infantry, armoured, artillery and engineers — and 75 per cent of them were junior soldiers — privates, corporals, and master corporals. The study was over four years, and 23 per cent were diagnosed with mental health challenges clinically and 20 per cent were PTSD. The trades were associated with PTSD in that the combat engineers had more than the infantry, who had more than the combat service support soldiers. Rank is also associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. A junior soldier was more likely to have PTSD than a senior NCO or an officer. I found it very interesting that 25 per cent of the PTSD folks did not report themselves for the first time until after they had been back for two years. Of the group that sought mental health assistance, one third have been treated successfully. Currently in that group of 800, 9 per cent are on a temporary medical category tied to mental health, 3 per cent have been awarded a permanent medical category, which might affect their ability to operate in their current trade, and 1.5 per cent have been released from the Canadian Forces due to their mental health injury, because they wanted to, I might add.

All of that was not a surprise, but it was neat to have the statistics, and it reinforced what we should be doing. Our efforts are focused on developing a culture of understanding, care, respect and compassion for this challenge. Interestingly, on January 31 this year in Petawawa, 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group hosted a mental health symposium that brought together the mental health experts with the leadership to better understand the results of those studies and some of the things they should be doing. That symposium is moving across the country to be shared with other elements of the army. I will pass the floor in a moment to Chief Warrant Officer Moretti.

The Chair: You will be pleased to know that this is the focus of the Veterans Affairs Committee with Senator Plett.

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: Yes, there is a lot of work with Veterans Affairs. From our point of view, it is important in how morning and dismissal parades take place so that leaders look their soldiers in the eye and develop a level of understanding of what they are up to for the weekend and a sense of whether they are troubled. The results are not as scientifically based, but when Chief Warrant Officer Moretti and I asked folks who we know have mental health challenges whether they self-identified, we found that it was most often a family member or friend that helped them to seek help.

A super-important, vital issue, one that we continue to learn about, and we ask for patience and understanding as we continue to learn more and devote resources to this, is that family resource centres, key to developing the level of understanding and facilitating access to provincial health care, are only good to a point. Once a regular or reserve soldier is identified as having a mental health challenge, he is brought into our Canadian Forces health care system.

Chief Warrant Officer Moretti: If I may, it is a great question, mental health. As we grew up, battle fatigue and shell shock were key things.

In the early 1900s, when Canada came out of the Boer War, we had nostalgia. There was a military hospital just to study that event of mental health. At the same time, the Bellevue in 1910 created another hospital wing for veterans in the process, but one of the key things is to be able to speak about it because our young soldiers, as I have seen, fear stuff that you should not see, but to speak about it gives you that reassurance. When you see your own peers and when the family identifies, it is to get that help. That help is getting stronger and stronger as every day goes on.

The Chair: That will be the focal point, and we will be looking at that later today.

Senator Lang: I commend you for the job you do. We are all very proud of the Armed Forces and what they have done and especially the men and women who have gone to Afghanistan. They did their part on our behalf and on behalf of everyone else who has been there and is still there in some respects.

Going back to the reserves, as you know, we completed that study. I believe you referred to it. I note that in November I believe you were quoted as saying that you were hoping to go to a number of 20,000 for the purpose of reserves. Is that correct? Also, following that, how does that relate to the reorganization of the Armed Forces in view of the fact that we are removing ourselves from the theatre as far as reservists versus those in the regular force?

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: Thank you for that question and for providing me the opportunity to speak about our reserves.

The regular and the reserve force, as I have said, have never been as close as we have been since I have been in uniform, in my view. I thank you for the report and for your interest in the reserve force.

The reserve force offers so much to Canada, a presence in hundreds of communities across the country. If you add the rangers, there is another presence up North with a significant number of patrols and a ranger population now of about 4,700 on top of that target of 20,000.

The reserve force is vital for Canada. It is a connection with Canadians. It is a response to domestic challenges. We saw it last year. With the snowstorm between London and Sarnia, there were 200 reservists on the armoury floor in London, Ontario, in three hours begging to go out and help. There is no threat to that reserve structure. Those numbers of units and those soldiers are funded at 37.5 days per year plus 7 days collective training, plus augmentation to regular force exercise, plus their individual training.

As I have gotten older and grown to understand the army, I have such a healthy respect for the reserve force. They are key. Of the group in the midst of just leaving to go to Afghanistan, 20 per cent is reservist. As I think you know on our other deployed missions, smaller numbers in total, but the reserve percentage is up to 50 per cent in some cases.

It has been that operational experience domestically and internationally that I think has been so important in bringing the regular and the reserve elements closer and fostering that level of understanding and respect. I think we are organized well. I personally am not in favour of a reserve division or a regular division. I think it is divisive. I think it pits from a resource battle and an attention battle regular and reserve. I think we have grown a lot over the years and am proud of the state of our reserves.

Chief Warrant Officer Moretti: We often say our reservists are born in the community. All our reserve units were created in that community 200 years ago. When an individual joins that reserve unit, his community strength becomes even stronger. To me as your army sergeant major, a reservist is another great set of soldiering but not a part of a community who understands sometimes the human behaviour of some of the problems; it is another enabler for the commander to achieve the mission.

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: If I can mention operational tasks, as we were able to see the Arctic Response Company Group from Manitoba and Saskatchewan this past weekend, you could not get a more enthused group of 150 reserve soldiers teamed up with their ranger patrol enthused about operating in Canada's North. There is an operational task as well as that ability to augment and that ability to connect with Canadians.

Senator Lang: To follow up, the concern of our committee when we put that report together was to ensure that the reserves were not the first item that would be looked at from the point of view of cutting back when we were reorganizing the forces. From what you have just said, I take it that is not the case.

The concern I have, and I think other members will have as well, is that if an envelope is not set aside from the point of view of at least the financing for the reserves, it will be very easy one day to move in and remove a substantial amount of money that should have gone to the reserves, if at that time you are looking for, shall we call them, cuts.

I am just wondering, can you assure us, for every regular Armed Forces personnel, are we doing a two-to-one or three- to-one ratio so there is some sense of what we are dealing with as far as the organization within the forces?

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: Sir, I can assure you that the reserve's army structure that exists across the country is one, from our point of view, that is a fixed cost. Those salaries and that training envelope, which come out of our budget, we see as a fixed cost.

I think it will be very interesting as militaries move forward, and they will need to debate the balance between regular and reserve elements. I think the reserve is great value for dollar and also provides things that the regular force cannot. I also point out that the level of diversity that exists inside reserve units is mighty special. Canada is on display in a reserve unit like it is not in a lot of regular units.

The Chair: Our report noted that you can go and get the skills out of the civilian side that you might not need 24-7 but go and get them for what you need.

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: Language skills, cultural awareness skills — it is just precious.

[Translation]

Senator Nolin: I hear you talk about the reserve. We should have used your remarks as support for our report. We are on the same wavelength.

Last week, you took part in that defence conference and you spoke about the integrated infantryman system project. "Infantryman" is my word, perhaps you just say "soldier." Could you explain to everyone what the project is about, where you are with it and what you are seeking to achieve?

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: You are right, I am an infantry man.

Senator Nolin: The name of the program includes the word "soldier." But "soldier" is more generic. I bet the equipment you want to buy actually is for the infantry. It would be an integral part of the army's combat effort.

You can answer in English if you like.

[English]

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: That would be easier.

Senator Nolin: Go ahead.

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: It would allow me to emphasize my points.

We operate as a combined arms team.

[Translation]

It would be for the infantry, certainly, but it would also be for all the elements of our armed team.

[English]

I thank you for that question. It emphasizes the fact that the army, as part of the Canadian Forces, is looking to tomorrow. I will talk about the small arms replacement project.

Senator Nolin: I want you to tell us about your vision. How is this integrated project system the warfare of the future? How are human beings part of the communication exchange? How it is important for you in the future?

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: I am driving towards the army of 2021: a network-enabled soldier, a soldier that is a sensor and a soldier that has access to the information that Senator Segal talked about being fused from all kinds of different sources and shared with the soldier, our best system on the whole battlefield, through communications, through displays that might be on his arm or he might have a heads-up display. He is able to talk with his teammates in his section. He is probably carrying a weapons system that has incorporated things like facial recognition in the sighting. It is a much more stable platform, even from a standing or kneeling position as he is all over the place, so when he pulls the trigger he delivers an effect that is very precise. He is slaved to a vehicle that is digitized and provides a level of protection, mobility and fire power. It is a command and control platform because we operate in chaos, and it links back to other sensors, whether they are satellite, UAVs, persistent surveillance balloons or towers. The soldier is able to talk to allies and is aware of the picture, such as UN-related organizations might have in the battle space. This is an alive, vibrant soldier who is well protected, but more than anything he is a sensor with access to a wealth of information. In the army we say that would allow him to advance with purpose.

Senator Nolin: That begs the question about the vulnerability of the network system, as you know, and we are now faced with. We are doing that as allies in other theatres. Others can do the same to us. What is Plan B in order to be effective if connectivity is lacking?

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: As I mentioned, we train to operate in chaos. The training must incorporate a reliance on other things.

Senator Nolin: They must go all the way to do things.

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: Right. I was pretty good at a map and compass, and I am confident that although it will be a difficult balance to achieve the level of training and understanding to exploit the good that comes from the systems, we are still saving time so there is a basic understanding of the Plan B, which is tied to a map, a compass, an understanding of the ground, the sun, the moon and things like that.

Senator Nolin: Is that Plan B preparation happening now?

[Translation]

Chief Warrant Officer Moretti: It is still part of a soldier's preparation, senator.

[English]

A soldier is equipped with the equipment the army gives him. That is what builds the unit for that role on the battlefield. One of the greatest things in any army is how an individual soldier is taught to use his equipment: man versus machine. As that soldier's skills and knowledge increase on the battlefield or in humanitarian aid, his adaptability to the circumstances will yield a solution.

One of the greatest innovations of a Canadian is his own ambition to find an end state and also the process of finding a solution. If there is electromagnetic difficulty, he will find what he has on the ground to succeed because he understands the commander's intent.

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: What is happening is a delicate balance. I think there is greater emphasis on that in basic training because it is the base from which you grow. As we move into collective training, there is probably less emphasis than you might like to see on that because of the demands of the complexity of your GPS system and everything else.

Senator Nolin: It is like our kids playing with those games. Without batteries everything is dead. I understand the bids are in now.

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: Correct. There is great cooperation with defence R & D and universities.

Senator Nolin: I believe MIT is quite up to speed in the U.S.

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: Canadian universities are as well.

Senator Nolin: I know.

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: How we harness a soldier's energy as he moves around the battlefield to power his radio, to power his GPS —

Senator Nolin: Exactly, together with batteries, if necessary.

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: Right.

Senator Plett: I want to echo Senator Lang's comments with respect to our gratitude for what Canada's men and women in uniform have done in places like Afghanistan and elsewhere. However, we do not give enough credit to what they do domestically. I am from Manitoba, and we certainly were recipients in the last 12 months. In 1997 I recall the army setting up their camp in my little village of Landmark because it is on high ground. The army conducted themselves with professionalism and took pride in doing their job, even though it was not going out and fighting other people but fighting the flood in Manitoba. Indeed, we have every reason to be proud of them for that.

I am wondering about the attitude in people who are signing up for the Armed Forces. Are they signing up because they want to go into some kind of situation of conflict or combat? Now that we are not in Afghanistan, has that had any impact on recruitment of men and women to join the forces because it is possibly not quite as sexy, if you will, to do the work here, even though I certainly recognize how vitally important that is and the great job you do?

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: That is a tremendous point. Fortunately for us, there are still long lines at the recruiting centres. The biggest challenge for a young Canadian who is interested in a career in the CF is hopefully they have the patience to wait until their number comes up.

Our attrition rate is in the neighbourhood of 6 per cent to 7 per cent. I just wanted to point that out as well. For a young Canadian, patience is the real key. I do not think it will be that way for too long though. You raise a great point, and one to which we are very alert. Guys and gals join the Canadian Forces because they want to do good things for their country. They seek a level of excitement and challenge. Often, the challenge in uniform is representing their nation in a different set of circumstances, whether domestically or internationally. Certainly soldiers join because they want to do what they have trained for and they expect to be used. We are alert to that. That means we endeavour to provide exciting and challenging training that tests their soldier skills and tests leaders to be agile and to think in an innovative way and to make challenging calls.

We think we have an opportunity over the next few years without too much challenge. Winter warfare training is something that a generation of soldiers have not done. It is genuinely exciting to learn how to get dressed in order to operate in the winter and to understand how complex it is to operate in the winter. It is unique and different, and there are a bunch of guys and gals who have not done that. We exploit that to provide excitement and challenge for soldiers, as well as other types of training such as an exercise with an ally. A group of soldiers from the third battalion of the Van Doos is at Camp Lejeune with the marines. That is exciting. There is a group going over to exercise Cold Response in Norway next month, and that is exciting too.

I think you raise a great point, one that we are very alert to, and we counter that by providing exciting training for our soldiers, one that we think provides appropriately the skill sets they will need to be agile, flexible and innovative on the battlefield tomorrow.

Chief Warrant Officer Moretti: One of the greatest things with soldiers is the unknown. How to prepare for the unknown is to train them, whether it is jumping, parachuting in the jungle, how to survive, how to take a group of soldiers and challenge them mentally and physically to achieve an obstacle. Once they have achieved that obstacle, they get a sense of pride.

Just over the weekend I was in Yellowknife with the commander, and I talked to a young corporal who will be part of a trial on an upcoming vehicle. He was so proud to be part of that program because he knows tomorrow eventually he will become the sergeant of that section and that piece of kit. He was enthused with the challenges ahead.

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: This is a young guy involved in the testing and the evaluation of the close combat vehicle. He was so excited. This guy found him, and it was so inspiring to talk to this young man. He was pumped up and had a big belief in all of the vehicles that were part of that evaluation, but also a level of confidence in the process.

Senator Plett: Congratulations and keep up the good work.

The Chair: Some of us went to Wainwright last summer. You do some realistic training there too. That was great fun.

Senator Day: At the bottom of page 2 of your written comments, you say "the army has invested," and then you list a number of different things. Could we have our clerk liaise with you and get an explanation of what these are? I did not understand them all. For instance, what does "realize Chinook helicopter" mean? If we could get an explanation of each of these and circulate it to everyone, we would understand more about what each one is.

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: That refers to the army's contribution of people to allow the Chinook squadron, 450 Squadron, that will stand up in Petawawa next summer.

Senator Day: For each one of these, I have some questions. I will not ask them now.

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: I would be delighted.

Senator Day: That would be helpful to understand those.

I have two or three things floating around in my head from earlier testimony we have had, including from General Leslie, when he was in your position.

One of them was that the equipment that reservists had was being taken to Wainwright so the battle group could train, and, therefore, the reserve units did not have any equipment to train on. I would like to be reassured that that is being rectified as the equipment is being brought back.

We were told that the reserve units were cutting down on the number of training days to meet the reduced amounts they had in the units, and, therefore, students who were reservists and who were relying on a certain number of training days to help pay their university were dropping out because they were not getting that. I heard you say in your watch that will not happen, but I need you to acknowledge that that was a problem in the past.

The third one that I wanted you to comment on was with respect to rolling equipment. I think General Leslie was talking about heavy trucks and that type of thing, as opposed to — or maybe in addition to — the LAV 3 contracts and the Leopard 2 tanks sitting in Montreal and not being worked on, even though they had arrived from Europe and we had bought them but nothing was happening. Can you reassure us all that is being looked after now?

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: I am happy to assure you that all you are concerned about is in hand. We have moved away, as an army, from whole-fleet management, which was sending a significant chunk of our stuff off to Afghanistan and then managing the fleet here. It will not be perfect. I think you will find with regard to reserve units that they will access new vehicles, like the tactical armoured patrol vehicle. We are hopeful for an announcement this summer and that we will start to take delivery in 2014, that they will be pooled at the area level because of the complexity and the maintenance. Reserve units and reserve soldiers need to understand, have access to and be trained on the vehicles and need to go to the field to understand how to employ those vehicles.

Training, including 37.5 days, a week of collective training, access to augmentation to regular exercise and individual training, is a fixed cost for the army to ensure that we have reserve units that are proud, with well-trained soldiers.

With regard to those Leopard 2s, I think 14 are currently in Edmonton, with the LDSH. It will actually be 2016 until we have all the Leopard 2s. There are 100 chassis, 80 tanks and 20 armoured engineer vehicles and armoured recovery vehicles. It is 2016 until the AEVs and ARVs are part of our fleet.

The Chair: We appreciate that and your willingness to expand on some of those other points. You and I were at a conference last week. The question was this: If you do not ask the right question, you will not get the right answer. Do you believe that the strategy going forward for the army is in place?

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: The strategy moving forward for the army — I am so hugely proud of our army and soldiers and that we are advancing with purpose, that we have a structure that is flexible, one that is respectful of the past but looking to the future. I am training soldiers for a complex set of uncertainties for tomorrow, one that is demanding of flexibility and agility and a means to operate in complex environments. Yes, madam chair, I am hugely proud of our army and the road we are on for readiness for Canada for tomorrow.

The Chair: Thank you very much for your time, General Devlin, and also to Chief Warrant Officer Giovanni Moretti. This is an important process we go through to get a state of the nation from each of our key forces. We appreciate your time and comments.

Lt.-Gen. Devlin: Thank you for the opportunity to share a few thoughts.

The Chair: We will continue our discussions with the head of the three forces today. Our final witness is Lieutenant- General Deschamps, Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force. I still like saying that. The RCAF finished its highly successful operations with Libya recently. Like our army and navy, the air force is facing some challenges. There is the issue of the Cyclone helicopters that are not yet operational; new fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft are needed; and, while it will be getting new F-35 fighters, there are questions about how long our CF-18s can keep flying.

General Deschamps joined the CF in 1977. In Europe, he flew the CF-104 Starfighter, the so-called "rocket with a man in it." He then switched to transport aircraft flying the C-130 Hercules, and a tour on NATO AWACS. He has commanded squadrons, as well as air support in Afghanistan; he served as chief of staff for the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command, CEFCOM; and was Assistant Chief of the Air Force Staff before becoming the CAS, Chief of the Air Force Staff, in 2009. Now, of course, he is known as Commander of the RCAF.

Welcome. Thank you for being here, along with your two other colleagues. I gather you have an opening statement. Please go ahead.

Lieutenant-General André Deschamps, Chief of the Air Force Staff, National Defence: Thank you. Being the air force, we will adjust to my other colleagues, who sometimes are not on the plan. I will make up time as best I can.

Members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to speak here about the Royal Canadian Air Force today. Our mission is to provide the Canadian Forces with relevant, responsive and effective air power to meet the defence challenges of today and into the future.

[Translation]

Over the past 12 months or more, the Royal Canadian Air Force has been tested in its ability to fulfill that mission. I am pleased to report that the men and women of the Royal Canadian Air Force have passed the test with flying colors.

[English]

Delivering excellence in operations is my top priority. Our recent missions in support of Canadian government priorities have circled the globe. Most recently, Operation Mobile, our participation in the NATO-led mission to protect the people of Libya, tested our readiness as never before, as we deployed our CF-18 fighters fewer than 24 hours after the UN resolution was passed.

The effect delivered by our CF-18s, our Airbus and Hercules tankers, and our Auroras, which were deployed for the first time in ground surveillance and targeting support, was simply outstanding.

[Translation]

Our success brought credit to the Royal Canadian Air Force, to the Canadian Forces and to Canada on the international stage. During this period, our air wing in Afghanistan was still very much active. Our ability to integrate aviation, tactical airlift, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities ensured that we delivered joint air effect to Canadian and allied commanders under extremely demanding conditions.

In that operational petri dish, we developed new doctrine — for example, air-to-air integration — that will shape our future capabilities such as the Air Expeditionary Capability located in Bagotville, Quebec.

[English]

Moreover, around the same time that OP mobile's combat mission began, we deployed CF-18s to Iceland to carry out an air policing mission under the auspices of NATO. Last August we deployed Gryphon helicopters and crews to Jamaica to conduct search and rescue training and to support the Jamaican defence force during hurricane season. Closer to home, we responded to threats from Mother Nature: We evacuated residents of several northern communities in Ontario and in Saskatchewan who were threatened by wildfires, bringing more than 1,600 people to safety, and we participated in flood relief and evacuation efforts in the Richelieu Valley and in Manitoba.

At the same time, we continued to deliver on our domestic no-fail task of protecting Canadians from air threats through NORAD.

[Translation]

And we continued to fulfill our very demanding search and rescue mandate, responding to maritime and aeronautical incidents throughout our vast nation.

In this extremely busy and unprecedented period of activity, we delivered excellence in every area of responsibility. I am so very proud of our personnel for their professionalism and resilience in the face of adversity. My next priority is integration of our new fleets.

[English]

There is a tangible mood of excitement in the air force as we continue to bring into operation a modernized fleet — one that will bring tremendous benefits to the Canadian Forces and to Canadians alike.

We have already seen the tactical and strategic advantage that our new Hercules and Globemaster airlifters have brought to us, and I am looking forward to receiving the last of our 17 J-model Hercules later this spring.

In the next horizon, we will be begin testing an operational evaluation of the Cyclone, a world-leading maritime surveillance and control helicopter. We are actively tackling right now the ways and means to transition from the venerable Sea King to the new platform.

The new F-model Chinook medium-to-heavy lift helicopter scheduled to arrive in Petawawa in 2013 will enhance the level of support we can provide to the Canadian army and increase our capacity to respond to operational imperatives both at home and abroad.

[Translation]

We are working actively to prepare the Royal Canadian Air Force to receive the F-35 Lightning II, which will introduce a new generation of fighters with the latest advances in the areas of sensors, data fusion and crew survivability. The F-35 will establish and maintain the Royal Canadian Air Force on the leading edge of many new technologies and capabilities.

At the end of the day, our ability to deliver excellence in operations and face the opportunities and challenges associated with our fleet modernization program, rests on the shoulders of our airmen and airwomen. Our people are our strength.

As we look toward the future, it is clear that the Royal Canadian Air Force will need to continue meeting a wide range of responsibilities.

[English]

We will continue to provide persistent air control of Canada's airspace and approaches. We will ensure our continuing mobility and ability to independently respond rapidly to domestic and international events. We will continue to be interoperable with our allies. We will continue to be expeditionary at home and abroad. Our operations in the Canadian Arctic will grow in importance. We will continue to provide one of the best search and rescue capabilities in the world.

The RCAF has proven its ability to deliver robust air power and, with our ongoing modernization, I am confident that we will continue to provide the high degree of service that Canadians expect from us in a fiscally responsible manner.

I understand that some of you will be visiting our wings in Comox and Shearwater next month. The men and women of the RCAF look forward to welcoming you and showing you first-hand the outstanding capabilities we generate for the Canadian Forces.

Thank you again for the opportunity to speak with you today. I am ready for your questions.

The Chair: Thank you. At a conference that we both attended last week, when you were asked about the biggest challenges — and I know we will get into some of the equipment acquisition — you said basically people and demographics. Can you explain?

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: Yes. The air force, like you said, is in a state of transition. We have some great capabilities already delivered to the air force and many more to come. In fact, this decade, we will probably see the most amount of transition in equipment that we have seen since World War II. The challenge with all that is to ensure that we have the right human resources to deliver success, both in transition and in operation of the air force in this decade.

Our demographics right now are a bit challenged in the sense that we have a bit of an uneven curve of population. Given the adjustments we did in the 1990s, namely, 1995 and 1996, where we reduced the air force dramatically, a lot of people in the early part of their career in that 10-year period left the military. We find ourselves, 10 years later, with a gap of experience in the 10 to 20 years of experience levels. We are currently well below where we should be in terms of that demographic.

We have a lot of keen, smart young individuals joining the air force in great numbers, but it causes a bit of a challenge to be able to mentor all these eager newcomers to the air force with the right amount of leadership and experience. The pressure for us right now is to be able to train all these new arrivals in the air force, prepare ourselves to transition new fleets, conduct operations at home and abroad, and also do the institutional work that we need to do in the headquarters, all putting pressure on a certain demographic of the air force. That is the part we are managing carefully, to ensure we do not burn our people out as we try to cover all those bases. The pressure will remain probably for the next several years, and probably close to the end of the decade, before we rebalance the demographic in a more sustainable fashion.

The Chair: When you see some of the cuts, particularly in Britain, and I know this issue was discussed briefly, can you imagine using our allies to help train and mentor while we build up that part of the curve we need?

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: Thank you for the question. In fact, that is exactly what we are doing, working closely with the RAF, Royal Air Force. As they do some of their downward adjustments, we are actually borrowing some personnel from the RAF to the RCAF, to fill out some of those empty billets that we have been challenged to fill given our demographic pressures. That releases some of my key personnel to go and do these important projects and that mentorship piece that needs to be done.

This year I believe we are currently up to 16 loaned officers from the RAF. We will probably get to 20. They will all be pilots, filling key positions on the training side of the house and some of our new fleets we need to build experience on. It has been helpful to us to bridge that gap and also helpful to the RAF as they try to manage their demographic change as they reduce capabilities.

Senator Plett: My question is based around the Cyclone helicopter. In 1992, there was a contract signed by the government of the day to buy some EH-101 helicopters. This deal was scuttled after the subsequent election. One of the reasons was that apparently these were Cadillacs and we could not afford Cadillacs. Scuttling the deal cost about half a billion dollars. We ordered some 28 Cyclone helicopters. Since then, of course, the costs, as many things do, have ballooned, doubled, tripled and quadrupled.

Would you consider the CH-148 Cyclone a Cadillac helicopter? How does that compare to the EH-101? Is one better than the other? Are you happy with the Cyclone?

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: Thank you for that question. The best way to characterize the long-term procurement of a maritime helicopter is that the basic requirement has not changed as far as what is needed to be delivered in terms of capability for the navy, which is a robust platform that can fly off the back of our frigates and destroyers, can go the right distance, stay airborne, and deal with the nasty weather that the navy has to face in our domestic and international waters. The basic performance is pretty much the same as it was maybe in the 1990s, when we did the initial look at it.

What has changed dramatically is the sensor technology that goes with these platforms. As you well know, things have moved along briskly since the 1990s in the evolution of computing and the technology that goes with it — hence, some of the change we have seen in the last few years.

The Cyclone is probably the most balanced technology platform coming out from maritime helicopter. I would certainly not call it a Cadillac. It is what Canada needs to operate in the most demanding maritime environment in the world. We have the largest ocean space to monitor and be ready to respond to of any nation in the world. We unfortunately live in an environment that has, for many months of the year, probably some of the worst climate to go with it. The platform has to be able to operate in all weather conditions and be able to detect surface and subsurface contacts in demanding conditions. The development of the platform has evolved, as you have mentioned, over the last couple of decades.

I think where we are now is the platform that will be delivered will have a degree of technology integration that will be world-leading, and it is required for Canada to be able to do its job for the next several decades.

Since the Sea King is going on to its fiftieth year of service, I am hoping the Cyclone does not have to go as far, but the technology on board the Cyclone will have to be relevant for several decades to come, and I think it will be. Implementation has been a challenge because of the degree of technology integration that needs to occur. We are trying to resolve this as quickly as we can so we can get an operational fleet in the next couple of years.

Senator Plett: When do you expect that we will take delivery of the first Cyclone? When will the first one be on the back of a frigate?

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: We are still aiming at an initial operating capability in late 2014, which means we have to start taking possession of airplanes to start training on soon. We have dealings now with Sikorsky to get an interim maritime helicopter transferred to us so we can get on with the initial training, both for the maintainers and the aircrew, and start doing the test evaluation, waiting for the final fully compliant platform, which is the one we will use to go to the operational capability level.

As you know, some of those challenges have been prominent this year. Both the company and we are working hard to resolve them. We both need to get this project out the door.

Senator Plett: I would certainly agree with that. People are flying on a wing and a prayer with the Sea King. Thank you for that answer.

Senator Mitchell: The Sea Kings do not actually have wings. They probably have prayers.

I wanted to point out that Senator Plett forgets a couple of things. If we had bought the helicopters that time, we would have had to borrow a lot of money. If you do the math on the money we have saved in interest — you cannot answer this but I am making a point — you will find that it did not actually cost us all that much. Not only that, that decision was made coincident with something unique to Senator Plett's government — a balanced budget. They have not done it, and I actually believe that they probably will not do it.

The Chair: Let us have a question.

Senator Mitchell: That brings me to another issue much like that, and that is the F-35s. There is a lot of controversy. First, could you clear that away and tell us where you are on that? Second, do you have contingencies in mind? Are you assessing those, if in fact the F-35 simply does not materialize at some reasonable price, and that is at least a possibility? Those will be my questions.

I have seen a report that Boeing has announced or is actually developing a package to upgrade the CF-18s in light of the possibility of a delay or a collapse of the F-35 project and program. Could you give us insight into that?

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: The best way to encapsulate the issue of the F-35 is that it is a big, complex program. There are a lot of moving parts; there are many partners. Therefore, complexity will remain part of the context we will have to deal with here for several years to come, until we get to the certainty point of taking possession of aircraft and getting on with the process.

I remain confident that we will get to that initial operating capability in the end of the decade, which is our window of transition that we have been planning for.

To do contingencies and Boeing working on the other option, F-18, what is important to understand is that different militaries make different decisions based on where they see themselves transitioning to the F-35. One of the things you do when managing fleets and life expectancies is to try to cost-avoid. Much like when you have an older car, you reach a point where you just do not want to put any more maintenance in it; it is cheaper to buy a new one.

Many of the nations made the decision to not reinvest in their legacy fleet, knowing that they were going to transition to F-35s at a certain point in time. Delays in the program, especially at the front end, where some of the nations are, are causing some concern because they do not have a lot of flexibility with those legacy fleets, as they cost- avoided the investment in upgrades and extending life. Many nations right now are going to their legacy fleets and, unfortunately, they have to put money into the older fleets that they were trying to cost-avoid. That means their program overall will start to cost them more because they have to add up both sides, the old fleet and the new fleet.

Canada, fortunately, made the decision in 2001 to do a major re-lifing of the F-18 fleets, not the full 136 airplanes, but 80 airplanes. Over a decade, Canada has invested over $2 billion in renewing the F-18 fleet, both structurally and the brains of it, the avionics, the radars, communications, targeting pods, all the things that make a fighter viable and reliable. We just completed that in 2010. The F-18 fleet, for all intents and purposes, was refreshed over that decade. Therefore, we do not have quite the same urgency and pressure that the other allies have perhaps with some of their fleets. We can afford to look at the windows of opportunities for us to get into the program at the right time, versus we must get in now or we will have major problems with existing fleets.

We have some flexibility. It is not forever. For us, the end of the decade remains a window of transition that we need to get to. The fleet life is being managed on a yearly basis by the engineers. Depending how hard we fly the fleet, we can keep adjusting that window based on usage rates and other issues. Right now it is in good shape. They just came back from Libya. The airplanes performed very well — excellent performance by the new technologies. It was the right investment given what they had to do. They will keep the airplanes relevant to the end of this decade for certain.

Senator Mitchell: Can you push them out to 2025 if you had to?

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: We can deal with that as we look at it. Fleet management is not something that is absolutely terminal. It depends how you use the airplanes. Right now the fleet transition is at the end of the decade. We need to start transition at the end of decade, short of making any other decision on investment. We are not in that position right now.

Senator Segal: I wanted to ask a question about the future and one about a part of the past I think we are moving away from.

The Americans and our NATO allies, with the Rapid Arrow test in Germany with respect to missile defence, were having a better technical success record than was the case in the early days. I understand that none of us around this table gets to decide whether Canada gets to join that program; that was a decision made by a prior government.

My question to you is a tactical one. Should the government decide — in view of rogue states, instability in Pakistan, concerns about North Korea, concerns about Iran — that Canada did have to make the decision to step up, is that something you feel comfortable the air force could engage in constructively if it was ordered to do so by the duly elected government of the day? Do you see technical issues that are deeply problematic? Do you think there would be benefits should a government decide to do that? I understand that is the government's decision and not military leadership's decision, but I was wondering about your perspective on that.

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: I would not want to speculate as to what could be, and I am not sure what part of the question I would need to consider. Getting into anti-ballistic missile defence, depending on what part, requires a fair amount of resource consideration. I am not sure what you are asking here.

Senator Segal: I do not think Canada was asked by anyone to have an actual ordnance capacity here. Perhaps support would have involved sharing information from various data resources, or perhaps having some radar located in Canada to assist with sighting and tracking and that kind of issue. I am not asking you to have a view on whether we should or should not. That is not a fair question. From the point of view of the seamlessness of NORAD and other issues, I wondered whether you think there might be benefits should the government decide to engage.

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: Should government decide that is an avenue they want to explore or participate in, we are well positioned within NORAD to support those kinds of initiatives.

Senator Segal: I think you were involved in the NATO AWACS mission out of Geilenkirchen, and I saw recently that Canada was withdrawing its company-level strength from that joint operation. I do not want to second-guess operational decisions; those are made by military experts and not by politicians. However, I take it that is one of the decisions that dealing with our resource issues sometimes puts in front of someone with the difficult burdens you have to carry.

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: I guess the issue revolves around implementation of certain strategic review initiatives. Those have yet to unfold fully, so at this point I would not want to speculate as to the full range of issues that have to be looked at.

However, with NATO AWACS, we still have people there. We remain engaged and were fully involved in Libya through both the U.S. and NATO AWACS. We are still fully engaged.

Senator Lang: I would like to go back to the F-35s and follow up on the last question by Senator Mitchell.

It seems to be a moving target at the present time when you read about it in the media. I do not know how much you can believe. What is the time frame for decisions with respect to the purchasing of these aircraft, especially in view of the fact that some of the allies are obviously having to make some decisions because their fleet is in the situation that you described. Are we talking within the year whether this will firm up, or what is going to happen?

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: It goes back to nations being able to plan their entry into the F-35 program at the right time for each nation. As we know, the U.S. has recently made the decision to re-profile some of their acquisition to later in the program, which caused other folks to reassesses when they enter the program. We are looking at how Canada gets into the program. We are committed to getting into the program. The issue of finding the best time for value is still what we consider carefully before making a commitment to purchase the first series of aircraft.

I believe last year, or when I was before another committee, people were asking about 2016. However, 2016 was not a fail point. It was a start point for discussion on transition at the end of the decade. We can start when it is required to get to that transition point. We have flexibility in how we introduce the fleet either in a gradual way or in a more compressed fashion.

Again, I am not overly concerned at this point in time. We have flexibility in our program. The point is that we remain confident we will get to initial operating capability by the end of the decade.

Senator Lang: Is every country that has committed to the program continuing with that commitment, or is anyone withdrawing?

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: I am not aware of any country withdrawing from the program.

Senator Lang: Could I move on to one other area, search and rescue?

The Chair: Yes.

Senator Lang: Perhaps you can update us with what is happening in the search and rescue program. I know it has been under review, and decisions have to be made in the next little while. It is a huge responsibility you have in the North and a very difficult one to be able to meet all your obligations in that area. I notice that you called to the private sector for ideas as to how they could contribute to search and rescue. Perhaps you could update us as to where that is, and if you do not have anything definitive, when would you?

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: There are a couple of components to search and rescue. The current one that is more of interest is the procurement of a fixed-wing replacement fleet for our older fleets, such as the buffalo and the CC-130 Hercules, or legacy Hercs, as we call them. The program we are currently engaged in is to replace those older fleets.

Speaking to the same points I spoke to about F-35 — which is cost avoiding and replacing old fleets before they cost too much — the Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue Program, or FWSAR, was meant to replace legacy fleets before we had to invest a significant amount of money to keep them flying and maintain a viable search and rescue capability. The program has had some delays, as everyone is familiar with, but I am confident we have worked through some of those process issues that were challenging us. I think we will be in good position this year to get on with it. I am probably more confident than I have been for the last while that we had reached agreement across various departments and with industry that we are finally at a place we can proceed with the process. I am hopeful we will get on with it shortly.

Senator Lang: An area I wanted to pursue a bit further was the relationship with the private sector as far as working out some sort of joint arrangement, especially in the North because of accessibility.

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: Right. To give you a bit of an overview, search and rescue is a system of systems. The military operates a certain component of it, the air force being the provider of air search and rescue services for the federal government. The Coast Guard provides the maritime component of that federal response to deal with maritime incidents and air crashes. Ground search for lost persons, for example, is a provincial and municipal responsibility. However, we do get called out occasionally to support them if they feel they need more resources added to their search effort. It is a bigger system than just the air force.

Of course, we have a fairly large volunteer organization called CASARA, the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association. It is about 300 to 400 private aircraft. They volunteer their time. We do training with them to ensure they are at minimum standard so they do not compromise their own safety. There are procedures. We train with them. When we have searches we call them and they get on the Hercs or fly their own airplane depending on the nature of the search to augment our capabilities. We pay their direct expenses. It is a low-cost solution to grow the search capability of Canada rapidly. They do a lot of work for us regionally.

In the North it is a bit more challenging. There are not a lot of private aircraft owned in the North because of the nature of the terrain. There are a lot of commercial operators.

Last year we reached agreement with the commercial operators in the North to participate in CASARA. We now have a growing nexus of operators in the high North who are expert in the Arctic and willing to participate in this volunteer organization, using their resources when called out to augment our search capabilities. I am very encouraged by that because they know the terrain very well since they operate there commercially.

Of course, again, this gives us additional eyes and ears out in the high North to augment the capabilities we can bring north when required.

The Chair: I think that is an answer to the question you wanted.

[Translation]

Senator Nolin: General Deschamps, thank you for accepting our invitation. Could you talk to us about drones? We are seeing drones used more and more in operational situations.

First, I would like to know where drones fit in our fleet of aircraft. Second, if they are in our plans, are they a priority? Finally, I would like to know your opinion about the armed use of drones.

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: Thank you for your question. To put things into context, we used drones in Afghanistan, as most people know. We leased them. It was an arrangement with the industry, to tide us over a period where we had a lack of operational capability.

Senator Nolin: So we needed them.

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: Yes. In the long term, we have a program to have a permanent drone capability in the Canadian Forces. That program is at draft stage. The research phase will soon be over and we hope to be able to ask the government for support to implement a drone purchasing program for Canada, for domestic and foreign operations. That means, depending on the mission, capable of covering territory both at home and abroad.

As for your question about whether the drones should be armed, it will probably be part of the identified need that the drones should have an armed capability. Clearly, in foreign operations, during complex missions like in Afghanistan or Libya, for example, the advantage of drones is that they remain in position for long periods of time and they see a lot. The capability for action is also very important, as opposed to waiting longer to call in a fighter or something else in order to solve a problem on the ground. So being able to have a short- or medium-range weapon — depending on the capability of the drone — and being able to act is very important. As we know, during an insurrection, you have to act almost instantaneously.

So the capability to be armed, if required, especially internationally, will be part of the needs identified for the drones.

Senator Nolin: Let us talk about a domestic scenario. Given the size of the territory that requires surveillance and protection, do you see a future for the use of drones in Canada?

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: Yes, drones are part of an arsenal of systems that we need to be able to cover Canada; that is, to know what is going on in our territory, by sea, in the air or on land. Drones in themselves cannot do all that. The arsenal includes space, manned aircraft, drones and ground-based or ship-based systems. All those systems must be able to work together, and drones can have a place in an environment like that in which we want a more sustained presence and the ability to conduct patrols. The cost of operation and the flexibility gives us the option of manned or unmanned aircraft, depending on the area we want to cover, the environment, the distances involved.

Having drones gives us options that we do not have today. We must still have a manned capability, which is more costly. We just do not have enough of that capability to cover Canada at all times.

That is why drones are going to become important, to oversee Canadian airspace.

Senator Nolin: When do you think that report will be in the government's hands for a decision?

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: We are hoping to move forward this year, 2012. There are other programs that we have to get out of the way, but the JUSTAS program, the drone program, is coming along quickly and we hope to be able to provide the government with a recommendation this year, so that we are able to move forward.

[English]

Senator Day: I have just two or three points, general, that I would like to clarify. First, with respect to the AWACS situation, I heard Senator Segal's question that you replied to, and I just want to make sure it is clear on the record.

Our understanding is that the consortium of several NATO nations had joined together to buy and operate AWACS aircraft, and Canada was part of that consortium. I also understand there was a political announcement made by the Minister of National Defence that Canada would be withdrawing from that consortium within the year.

Your answer was that we are continuing to participate, and I know we are continuing to participate. However, in one year is it not true, that is the current announcement, that we will be withdrawing? I am wondering, from an air force point of view, are you trying to reverse that decision internally or are you planning to withdraw in one year? I could not understand the way you were answering that.

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: Thank you for that question. Our phasing out of any NATO capabilities for us will be done in a fashion that is consistent with NATO's needs. In other words, we will do it over a period of time, not necessarily over one year. We are discussing with our NATO allies the best way of doing this without creating any gaps. We are looking at a phased withdrawal over time, not a year.

Senator Day: Just so we understand, this consortium operates AWACS, but the United States has their own AWACS aircraft that are also used by and loaned to NATO from time to time.

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: There are separate systems. The British, French, American and Turkish air forces all have separate AWACS capability that participate in their national events or can be contributed to NATO. NATO has its own fleet of AWACS that is paid for through the NATO consortium.

Canada participates in both programs. We have personnel on board U.S. AWACS as part of our NORAD defence commitment, and of course we have personnel in Europe under the NATO AWACS program. The one we are currently looking at phasing out is the NATO AWACS, not the U.S. one.

Senator Day: The only other question of clarification I have relates to drones and the uninhabited, unmanned aerial vehicles. Canada has not, up until now is my understanding, armed any of these. All of our discussion has been with respect to surveillance and the role that can be played from that point of view. Do you see us moving into the Reaper or Predator type of UAV?

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: The way I contextualized it when I responded the first time was that drones themselves need to be multi-roled. In other words, if we need to arm them they need to be capable of accepting whatever type of weaponry is applicable for their size and operational environment.

As we look at our requirements, that will certainly be something we would want considered in the procurement of this platform. However, if we are doing business offshore and that requires us to operate in a dangerous environment and there are troops on the ground that need our support, it would probably be the most efficient way of having it where you can sense, see and act in the same platform.

Senator Day: That policy decision has already been made that we will move in that direction?

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: That will be part of the definition. Once we get the requirements and the government accepts, that would be something they would have to consider before we go to procurement.

Senator Day: As a sub-question to that, we had the army in here and they talked about small, uninhabited aerial vehicles under their responsibility, whereas you have presumably the not-so-small ones. Are we looking at a duplication of effort here? How do you divide the responsibility?

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: The air force is involved in all air space issues that have to do with UAVs. They are called micro-UAVs, the small ones that operate in a very limited regime of air space, typically below 500 feet. They are battery-operated, backpack-mounted UAVs. We work with the army to make sure they are safe and effective. There is an error certification process that we do with the army. We look at their procedures. Those micro-UAVs are operated by the army and eventually will be by the navy if they have those platforms off the back of their ships.

Anything that will operate in complex air space, in other words, that can operate with other airplanes in integrated airspace, the air force will operate to ensure that we are consistently applying the same safety rules and procedural knowledge that we have in the air force now. There is an agreement on the layers of where UAVs can be operated autonomously.

Senator Dawson: This is an embarrassing question, and I would rather have asked it of the minister, but as you know he has escaped questions on this issue. It is about the use of military services to undermine the credibility of a member of Parliament who is asking questions about the use of search and rescue capabilities. That question was put on the table last week, and the minister did not respond. I do not know if you can say whether at some time we will be told exactly what was done in trying to undermine the credibility of the MP who asked a very commonsense question about the use of military aircraft to transport a minister.

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: I am not sure I understand the question.

The Chair: I am not sure this is appropriate.

Senator Dawson: The credibility of a member of Parliament is important.

The Chair: But he is not answerable.

Senator Dawson: The RCAF is on the record in the media as having cooperated with the minister's office in giving information about an MP's training or participation in a formal program and trying to undermine him by saying that since he used aircraft, the minister should be allowed to use them as well.

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: I can answer that in a very general sense. Anyone in the CF, or the RCAF in this case, can be asked by committees, by the public through ATIs, or by the minister's office to provide information that is public record. If information requested is accessible and releasable under ATI, it is released.

I am not sure of the gist of the question, but as far as the RCAF providing information, we provide information when it is requested of us by anyone requesting it, as long as it is not classified or does not cross the boundaries of protected information.

The Chair: When you spoke at the conference last week, you talked about the importance of equipment allowing networked communications. You said that you have to be able to talk not only to yourselves and each other in the CF but also to allies. This is about interoperability.

Is the F-35 one key to that because of that connection? I know we have talked about the different parties coming in at different times, but is that particular piece of gear key to that future plan?

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: It is fundamental to the future of the Canadian Forces. The architecture by which we share information will be vital to us as we try to leverage new technologies and platforms. We have been talking about platforms, but the crux of success will be based on the architecture for command control we can build to leverage information. Where does the information go? Who does the collection? Who does the fusion of the information, and what do you do with it? It is a large and complex problem.

We are acquiring more powerful sensors. As we acquire new platforms, be they navy, air force or army platforms, the sensors will all be capable of processing far more information than we have today. How do we collate, where does it go and what do you do with it? It is a fundamental problem we must resolve in the next few years as these great sensors come on board so that we employ them to their full effectiveness versus dumbing them down if we do not have the architecture in place to communicate and push data where it needs to go.

A good example of that is the high North where we currently have challenges in the architecture of communications to be able to push data where it needs to go. That is being addressed through programs in the space segment where we will put more architecture into space to communicate. Global Mercury is the program to provide communications abroad so that we have reliable bandwidth available to us to enable us to do that work.

That is our challenge. We need to build that architecture fairly quickly as we start hooking up these great sensors that we are purchasing.

The Chair: Our forces, the different commands, and our allies are working on that together. The days of "you buy this and I will buy that" because it seems to suit our own domestic purposes seem to be behind us.

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: Everyone is struggling with the same problem. It is just a question of scale, depending on the size of your military. Some nations have found some novel solutions. Our challenge is geography. I had a chance to visit Israel and watch how they integrate information. It is an impressive process. They can link everything by fibre optic land lines because their geography allows them to centralize and fuse information in an efficient fashion. Our challenge is our geography. We are so massive that to bring that information in at the operational strategic level requires a huge amount of infrastructure, land-based or space-based. We are still struggling to find what will work.

We are capable of doing it tactically, as we did in Afghanistan. We did it in Libya with some effort. To expand that theatre would be challenging for us because that architecture is struggling to find itself. Our allies in NATO have similar challenges. Everyone needs to be able to join up or plug in to a common architecture to share information.

Progress is being made, but for us, domestic is more challenging than when we deploy offshore.

The Chair: We have the global picture. Do we need our own space agency to do more to separate that collection and fusing domestically?

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: We are working hard through our space program with the Canadian Space Agency to put the right resources, shared across government, into our domain in Canada to ensure that we can do our business at home in a more efficient fashion. We are working with the space agency.

Senator Lang: To some degree the new satellite system coming in and PolarSat meet the challenge you have with geography.

Lt.-Gen. Deschamps: That is correct. A range of capabilities will be fielded in the next few years. One is called Polar Epsilon and it is based on RADARSAT-2 technology that Canada pioneered and owns. Several more platforms will be launched in the next three or four years to build a three-satellite configuration that will give us good coverage of Canada, especially the high North, and also other global areas that the satellite will cover, therefore giving us options to contribute to our national needs offshore and also with NATO. This satellite constellation will serve the home game and the away game also.

We eventually need to build communication satellites around that so that we can exchange that data at home around the domestic operational strategic environment.

The Chair: Thank you for that. We have that topic on our agenda coming up. Thank you for opening it up for us.

Thank you for being here today, for your very successful operations in Afghanistan and Libya, and for the picture you have painted for us going forward.

Colleagues, we will continue to look at the draft budget for the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs. This will cover expenses for 2012-13. We have to do this in a timely fashion because of the deadlines. This committee and the subcommittee, because of travel, do not meet much in March, and we have to be ready, with this approved, to go before Internal Economy. That is why this is here.

Senator Plett, did you have anything you wanted to say about this in the absence of Senator Dallaire?

Senator Plett: No, not really, chair. It is self-explanatory. There are two very small trips. We are making only one in this fiscal year and that is to Prince Edward Island, to Veterans Affairs. I think we have been very modest in our expenditures. I certainly hope the committee endorses or supports it.

The Chair: You are proposing a trip to Valcartier and to Saint-Anne-de- Bellevue. That is $2,480, and the total of the other trip to Valcartier is $19,885. That was a postponed trip.

Does anyone have any questions on this?

Senator Day: Thank you, Madam Chair. My understanding is that the chair of the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs, Senator Dallaire, who could not be here today, has reviewed this particular budget and is in agreement with it.

Senator Plett: I do not think he reviewed it. He and I came up with it.

The Chair: They invented it. They wrote it.

Senator Day: There you have it.

Senator Nolin: What is important is that he agrees with it.

Senator Mitchell: I want to make a couple of comments. I think this is good. It is laying something out. I think it will strengthen our case when we go to Internal Economy for funding and so on. I just had a couple of points. I would like to sort of pick out some themes or some broader studies. A lot of this is one-offs; we meet and talk.

The Chair: Are you talking about the draft budget for Veterans Affairs?

Senator Mitchell: Oh, sorry, no, I am not. Never mind.

The Chair: Any other comments on the draft budget for Veterans Affairs?

Senator Plett: I will move.

The Chair: It is moved by Senator Plett that the proposed draft report be adopted for submission to the Internal Economy Committee. Is it agreed, honourable senators?

Hon. Senators: Agreed.

The Chair: Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. That will be the end of our public session, and we will now go in camera to continue the rest of our business.

(The committee continued in camera.)