THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL SECURITY AND DEFENCE
OTTAWA, Monday, September 19, 2016
The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day at 10 a.m. to study on issues related to the Defence Policy Review presently being undertaken by the government.
Senator Daniel Lang (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Welcome to the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. Before we begin, I would like to introduce the people around the table. My name is Dan Lang, senator for Yukon. On my immediate left is Barbara Reynolds, acting clerk for the committee. Adam Thompson, our clerk, will be back tomorrow when we reconvene.
I would like to invite the senators to introduce themselves and state the region they represent, starting with the deputy chair.
Senator Jaffer: My name is Mobina Jaffer, and I’m from British Columbia.
Senator Kenny: Colin Kenny, Ontario.
Senator Dagenais: My name is Jean-Guy Dagenais. I come from Quebec.
Senator Day: Joseph Day, New Brunswick.
Senator Beyak: Senator Lynn Beyak, Ontario. Welcome.
The Chair: Today we’ll be meeting for five hours to consider issues relating to the defence policy review that has been initiated by the government. On April 21, 2016, the Senate authorized our committee to examine and report on issues related to the defence policy review presently being undertaken by the government. We are considering issues around Canada’s possible participation in future UN peace support operations, as well as other items related to the review.
Our study commenced on May 30, and we have heard from 17 witnesses to date, including the Minister of Defence, senior UN officials, Canadian non-governmental organizations and experts with strong backgrounds on defence issues.
Since our last meeting, the government has announced the deployment of 450 Canadians to Latvia as part of the multinational NATO battle group; the deploying of a frigate on a rotational basis to work with NATO multinational forces in the region; and an air task force, including up to six CF-18 fighter jets, to conduct periodic surveillance and air-policing activities.
Additionally, the Minister of Defence announced in late August that 600 members of the Canadian Armed Forces will be available for deployment as part of a UN peace support mission to Africa, as well as up to 150 police officers. The government has not confirmed which specific UN mission it will participate in. However, serious consideration has been given to Mali, where some suggest that Canada could possibly replace the Dutch peacekeepers.
Over the next three days, we will be focusing our attention on the defence policy review, with special emphasis on Canada’s renewed participation in UN peacekeeping.
Joining us on our first panel of the day is Ms. Jane Boulden, Associate Dean of Arts, Royal Military College of Canada, by video conference; and Mr. Walter Dorn, Professor and Chair, Master of Defence Studies Programme, Royal Military College of Canada and Canadian Forces College.
Dr. Walter Dorn was Chair of the Canadian Pugwash Group, an organization that provides academic insights into the resolution and prevention of armed conflicts, and he remains a member of its board of directors. He was appointed to the United Nations Expert Panel on Technology and Innovation in UN Peacekeeping in June 2014. The panel released its final report in February 2015. Dr. Dorn’s area of interest and research includes peacekeeping, peace enforcement and international law, arms conflict, conflict prevention, world religions and the United Nations.
By video conference is Dr. Jane Boulden. She holds the Canada Research Chair in International Relations and Security Studies at RMC, and from 2000 to 2003 she was a fellow at Oxford. Her main area of expertise is the United Nations and UN efforts to resolve conflicts in the post-Cold War era and address terrorism. She is the author of a number of works, including "The Rise of the Regional Voice in UN Security Council Politics" and "International Crisis Response and a Canadian Role."
Dr. Dorn and Dr. Boulden, welcome. I understand you each have an opening statement. Dr. Boulden, perhaps you could begin. We have one hour for this panel.
Jane Boulden, Associate Dean of Arts, Royal Military College of Canada, as an individual: Thank you for being willing to have me via video conference.
My background, as you said, is having studied peacekeeping for many years, with particular emphasis on the use of force, and then more recently on how the United Nations and regional organs and actors have responded to conflict in Africa.
Dr. Dorn and I have some crossover in our areas of expertise, and so I’ve geared what I’m going to say by anticipating a little bit what he might say, so hopefully we’ll avoid too much overlap. I tried to stay focused on the question of how National Defence — DND and the Canadian Armed Forces — can contribute to Canada’s renewal of support for UN peacekeeping.
Given the nature of the mandate and the fact that this is the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, I focused primarily on areas where DND and CF can make a contribution. I hope, nonetheless, that the government is thinking in terms that are broader — that the commitment will encompass more than DND and the Canadian Armed Forces and that it will extend beyond to other areas such as justice, police support, development, and political and government support in conflict situations. I would add to that list mediation and conflict prevention, which are two areas that aren’t at all exclusive to DND and the Canadian Armed Forces but are really crucial to peace support, in general, these days, and they are areas where Canada could make a contribution.
The requirement for a broadly conceived response to conflict reflects the changing nature of the peace support operations on the ground. I know you’ve heard from others on this, including the minister, so I’m not going to dwell on it too long, but I did just want to highlight it.
I’m going to proceed by first setting the context in which we’re looking at the question today, and then, second, I’ll make some very specific proposals. I’ll be brief on both counts, and hopefully if there’s anything you want to pursue in questions or want more detail on, we can do that.
First is the peace support operation context. The mandates come from the Security Council; the Security Council sets the broader mandate for the peace support operation. They have, since the end of the Cold War, been gradually, and in some cases not so gradually, making these mandates much more complex and multi-dimensional.
There are some key items that add to that complexity. Mandates now very often include — in fact, the vast majority of the time include — the requirement to protect civilians, which is a difficult task, especially in ongoing conflict environments. They very often include a Chapter 7 mandate. This means that there is an authorization for the use of force beyond self-defence. That’s both in recognition of the risky environments that are being addressed on the ground and the wide-ranging nature of the tasks. Human rights monitoring, government stabilization and support are also very difficult, because we’re talking about a lot of situations in which the government is quite tenuous. Last is security sector reform, which includes disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of troops.
There are lots of other characteristics, but those are the ones that have become a staple element of Security Council mandates for peace support operations.
The other two contextual items I just want to highlight are that the number and types of actors in any given conflict have increased since the days of classic traditional peacekeeping during the Cold War. In addition to official government parties, we’re sometimes also looking at a large number of warring groups, not all of whom come to the negotiating table to negotiate the ceasefire or peace agreement. Even those that do come to the negotiating table don’t always feel obliged to stick to their commitments once they go back out into the field, which adds to the complexity of the environment.
Some warring groups don’t get asked to come to the negotiating table or refuse to come, so you can’t assume that they are going to abide by the commitments that are being implemented in the peace support operation. Also, any number of actors in this equation don’t have any desire or willingness to abide by the principles of international law and the terms of reference for the peace support operation on the ground.
The third contextual factor is that the number and types of actors that respond to conflict have also changed and increased, and what I’m thinking of in particular here is the role of regional organizations and other actors. This is particularly the case in Africa. In fact, Africa is where we have seen a change in that regard. We can talk about the African Union as the continent-wide regional actor that plays an increasingly important role in partnership with the UN in responding to conflict, but there is also a host of other regional entities and actors, ranging from ECOWAS in the west, which is now quite an experienced response institution, to quite small regional and sometimes very ad hoc and impromptu actors who respond to a given conflict.
So in summary, the world of peace support operations is an extremely complex one. In that context, what kind of contribution or what are some specific proposals about how we might contribute, particularly how DND and the Canadian Forces might contribute?
The first idea is one that is exclusive just to the CF and DND, which is simply to spend more money to sustain and develop our capacity in this regard. The United Nations is desperate, even having over 100,000 troops on the ground, for more troops, and particularly desperate for capable troops like Canadians. Our ability to contribute in this way is limited by our own constraints in terms of financing and budgetary requirements.
My first proposal is a straightforward one, which is to spend more money on the military. To continue with the status quo, either the status quo or reduced budgets, is to reduce our capacity to contribute and respond to peace support operations over time.
The second proposal has to do with rapid reaction. All the research and all the lessons learned by our previous operations support the idea that what we do in the first six days, six weeks and six months in a conflict response is crucial to success over the longer term. Canada has played a leading role on this in the past. In the aftermath of Rwanda, the Canadian government took a lead in establishing an international study to determine and discuss ways to make the United Nations more capable in terms of rapid reaction. That idea returned recently. At the London conference, for example, the idea of having a 30-, 60- and 90-day response capacity was affirmed. So this is an area in which Canada could, again, work to take the lead, and it has the capacity to do that.
The third area is capacity building for regional organizations. In the African context, as I’ve said, regional organizations are key players. They have become the first responders. They are the heavy lifters. They take on the burden of the conflict response on the ground, and they are the ones that take on the highest risks. They do that even while they themselves are struggling with significant capacity challenges, both as individual states and in terms of regional actors. There’s a lot Canada could do here that would contribute to better peace support response over time.
The fourth and last idea is to get more focused and knowledgeable on broader trends of conflict in Africa. If we’re going to focus on peacekeeping in Africa, and it seems we are for the moment, we should be getting more knowledgeable not just about the specific conflicts that we hope to influence but also about the broader situation of conflict in Africa. I really like that the minister is taking his time doing the groundwork before making a final decision on where we’re going. But let’s make this part of a broader strategy, a broader effort to develop our capacity base about conflict in Africa. It will make for a more effective contribution over time with a higher likelihood of success. Canada is one of a group of countries who can make a key contribution here. We don’t have colonial baggage. We have capacity. It’s a role that is very important in terms of conflict in Africa generally.
So that’s where I’ll stop. I know that was a very quick overview, but hopefully we can have some time for discussion and questions. For anyone who wants more information on that, I’m happy to talk about it.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Dr. Boulden. We’ll move to Dr. Dorn, and I notice we do have a copy of your presentation. I would like to ask you to keep it to five to seven minutes so that we have time for questions.
I would also just note for the record there are a number of presentations that I believe have been brought in to the administration that we have not or may not have received. This is an observation I want to make because some senators have brought it to my attention that we should be getting these presentations well in advance, before we go into the formal hearings, and I’m going to ask steering to deal with that issue in the foreseeable future. Dr. Dorn, please proceed.
Walter Dorn, Professor and Chair, Master of Defence Studies Program, Royal Military College of Canada and Canadian Forces College: Mr. Chair, thank you for the privilege of being able to talk to you about peacekeeping operations. This is a subject that is dear to my heart as a professor of defence studies and a subject of prime importance for Canada and for the whole world, in particular for those afflicted by terror and by the misery of war.
UN peace operations carry out vital functions in war-torn areas of the world. They give combatants opportunities to cease their fighting and killing. They support peace processes and negotiations. They verify peace accords and build confidence. They protect civilians from attack. They build stronger communities and nations. They reform the security sector and create new economic opportunities in areas emerging from war. These lofty and important goals desperately need more support because peace is under siege in many parts of the world. The UN needs much help because peace operations are currently under-equipped, under-resourced and underappreciated, especially when one compares the meagre means with the lofty goals.
Despite the limitations and setbacks, history has shown that peace operations do work. They helped bring peace and stability to Central America, to over a dozen countries in Africa, to the former Yugoslavia and to newborn countries like East Timor and Asia. They helped end several wars in the Middle East, though they have not, unfortunately, yet been given the chance to work in Syria.
For sure peace operations are no panacea. They are not an easy solution, but they are an important part of the solution, and some missions have failed spectacularly, but even those failures have shown that peacekeepers provide valuable assistance. General Dallaire’s mission in Rwanda showed how with just 200 peacekeepers on the ground they could save over 20,000 to 30,000 lives during the reign of the genocide.
In Bosnia, after much effort with the UN, the European Union and NATO, the peace was able to finally create stability, eventually bringing peace where many had thought that it was impossible.
The premature withdrawal of peacekeepers from Somalia in 1993-94 shows how leaving a land to desperation is no solution, because left alone, Somalia experienced chaos, terrorism, famine and the revived practice of piracy.
In a similar lesson from Afghanistan, when the world, Canada included, withdrew UN peacekeepers in 1990 after verifying the Soviet departure, the world missed an opportunity to prevent a vicious civil war and the rise of the Taliban and al Qaeda.
It’s in our interest as a Western nation to find ways to ease the suffering in faraway lands. These conflicts are open wounds on the world body that hemorrhage problems to the rest of the globe. They yield massive refugee flows and the spread of diseases, piracy and terrorism, and they can cost literally trillions of dollars, as witnessed in Afghanistan and Iraq. If peaceful solutions are not found, then we are going to see more disaster.
So it was welcome news that the Prime Minister announced on election night that Canada is back. However, almost a year later, we still have only 30 military personnel in UN peacekeeping. Canada remains at an all-time low while the UN is at an all-time high with 92,000 military personnel in peacekeeping in the world today.
What can Canada do for peacekeeping? Well, in my two-page handout entitled "Back in the Game: Potential Canadian Contributions to UN Peace Operations," I make about 20 recommendations on how Canada can once again become a champion of UN peace operations. In my short oral testimony, I have only time to highlight the larger, bolder proposal.
As the person most involved in instructing at the command and staff level on UN peace operations for the Canadian Forces, I will focus on training and education.
Canada needs a centre where police, military and civilians train together. This capacity was lost with the demise of the Pearson peacekeeping centre in 2013. It is essential that these communities learn about each other and learn to work together in war-torn areas of the world under multi-dimensional UN operations, not just Canadians, but people from other parts of the world training alongside Canadians. This requires not just a whole-of-government effort but a whole-of-world effort, and Canada can create a world-class institution.
My proposal for a Canadian international peace operations centre, CIPOC, would help civilians and uniformed personnel not only to train on peace operations but also to prepare for actual deployments. At present, such training opportunities are lacking in Canada, and an integrated approach — military, police and civilian — would not only help civilians become better aware of the methods and tasks of uniformed personnel, but also vice versa, overcoming institutional stovepipes and bridging the civil-military divide.
Unfortunately, the amount of military training for UN peace operations has declined to less than a quarter of what it was a decade ago.
In addition to ending the Pearson peacekeeping centre, the military courses and activities at the officer level diminished substantially. This was primarily because of the focus on Afghanistan and lack of government direction to train and practise for peacekeeping. But the skills that were gained in Afghanistan could still apply, and there are many things that still need to be learned, such as UN command and control, how to be effective in the UN environment, how to be interoperable with contingents from the developing world, how to use UN procurement systems, how to stop people from killing each other, how to support local ceasefires, how to implement comprehensive peace agreements and how to serve as a soldier diplomat when all around tensions are high and war might break out.
Besides training, there are many areas where Canada can lead. This includes technology, where I simply refer to a paper being published at the end of this month by the Honourable Lloyd Axworthy and me entitled "New Technology for the Protection of People: Expanding the R2P Toolbox."
As this Senate committee is tasked, among other things, to look at peace support operations, there is so much to innovate, to improve and to implement. There is room for cutting-edge ideas to help the war-affected populations of the world. This committee can provide not just sober second thought but also imaginative first thought, and I hope that I can provide some assistance as you go about this process for the sake of your work and for the sake of our world.
The Chair: Thank you, Dr. Dorn.
Senator Jaffer: Thank you both for your presentations. I have the same question to you both.
Dr. Dorn, in the list of recommendations that you created in the submission for the defence policy review called "Back in the Game: Potential Canadian Contributions to UN Peace Operations," one of the main things I believe you talk about is the involvement of women. And as both of you know, the UN and Canada were a lead on this, as Resolution 1325 emphasizes that women should be involved in decision-making roles. The UN has said that, but it is not following, to my understanding, its own resolution on including women in decision-making processes.
I would like, Dr. Dorn, for you to comment first, because you have said that women — especially Canadian women — who have been in leadership roles should be more involved in peacekeeping. So I would like your comments on that, and then from Dr. Boulden.
Mr. Dorn: Sure. Thank you for the question. At present, only around 4 per cent of uniformed personnel in peacekeeping are women. In the Canadian Forces around 15 per cent of the regular force are women. I think we can make major contributions to providing women leaders, staff officers and peacekeepers patrolling on the ground in peacekeeping operations. Women peacekeepers can reach out to the women and children in the local communities in a way that’s better than what men can do. I think they can also take leadership positions. In 2014, the UN had the first woman force commander, a woman officer from Norway commanding the force in Cyprus, UNFICYP, which Canada once had command of.
The UN is making a major effort now, so they’re calling on nations to provide more women. We can definitely do that. We can also be proud that the first Deputy Secretary-General was a woman, Louise Fréchette.
Right now, unfortunately, at UN headquarters we don’t have women or any Canadian in the Office of Military Affairs, an office that we once headed. That would be an excellent position to put women into at UN headquarters in New York, some of those key positions so that they can be part of the planning process for peacekeeping and also be a set of eyes and ears for Canada.
Senator Jaffer: Dr. Boulden, I want you to answer that question as well. In your presentation you spoke about including civilians, so I would like you to extend your answer in talking about how we could involve more civilian women in peacemaking and peacekeeping.
Ms. Boulden: I would just echo and affirm everything that Dr. Dorn has said. I think he put it all very well.
Yes, I do think there’s a role Canada could play, a particularly strong role, in providing civilians. There is increasingly, because of the multi-dimensional nature of peace support, a requirement for civilian actors. We could certainly play a role there by encouraging and drawing on the Canadian expertise we have and pushing that into the UN system.
That also goes to Dr. Dorn’s point about the absence of Canadians within UN headquarters these days. It is a notable absence, because we had previously been quite present and quite effective there.
One of the other roles Canada could play on that side of the equation is to push with others to hold the UN itself to account for its own internal decisions on bringing women more effectively into the system.
In terms of the Canadian government, I would say that is an area where we could and should play a role bringing more female civilians into the system. It could be through mediation. It can be through leading the civilian aspects of the mission. There is a whole host of ways in which we can contribute.
Senator Beyak: Thank you, Dr. Boulden and Dr. Dorn. Excellent presentations. Thank you for your knowledge and research.
I wonder if you could each tell me whether Canada should be prioritizing UN peacekeeping operations ahead of NATO and ally nations. Why and why not? If you would elaborate, I’d appreciate it.
Mr. Dorn: I think the two go together. They have to both be prioritized. If you would like my opinion, I would say about equally that I feel hesitant to try and compare those two institutions that are really vital for the security of the world. NATO and the UN want to work more closely together, and I think we should be looking at bridging those two institutions so that they have a means to work together.
NATO has done some peacekeeping in the past. They were very successful in Bosnia after the Dayton peace accords of 1995, and there is a possibility there could be hybrid missions. Just like the UN has partnered with the African Union on some missions in Africa, we could see that NATO could provide a component for some future peace operations.
Senator Beyak: Thank you. Dr. Boulden?
Ms. Boulden: Like Dr. Dorn, I’m also a bit hesitant. That’s partly because I think it’s very context-driven. It really depends on what’s happening in a given situation as to which one you might prioritize. If we were in a particular crisis, it might be most appropriate and we should definitely prioritize NATO. But if it’s a different kind of situation, maybe they are more equal.
The one thing I wanted to say is that, as Dr. Dorn said, there are lots of situations where we might consider a hybrid operation or where in the past and in the future the two organizations might work well together. But it really is hard to underestimate the power of being under blue helmets. Not to take away from the operations, but often if we’re working in a coalition situation, we are in that environment. We are not under a blue helmet, although we might be in a UN-authorized operation.
For those on the ground in particular types of conflicts, it matters that it’s a blue helmet operation. That’s what I mean by being conflict-specific. In a given situation that might be a call for a prioritization of a UN mission. It really depends.
I know that’s a very academic answer, "it depends," but I would make it context-specific rather than saying every time, in principle, one should be above the other.
Senator Day: Thank you very much.
Senator Dagenais: My question goes to Mr. Dorn and to Ms. Boulden. I will then have a supplementary question for Ms. Boulden.
I feel that we do not know all that we should know about the deployment of peacekeeping forces in Africa, as announced by the government. With your long experience, can you identify for us the five principal threats awaiting us and tell us how, in your opinion, we should prepare ourselves to face them?
Mr. Dorn: I can try to make a list of five.
The first, the most obvious, is the safety and security of our own personnel. If you go to a country like Mali, which is very likely for Canada, we risk attacks on UN peacekeepers. Thirty to forty die every year. The risk level is not as great as in Afghanistan. I would estimate 10 times lower, based on the rate of fatalities, but it is still substantial.
There is also a risk that you might be in a situation where you feel powerless, a sort of Rwanda situation, where there is killing going on and the peacekeepers are finding they don’t have the means, even though they might have the mandate, because all multi-dimensional operations created by the UN have a mandate for protection of civilians, but they need to operate within an effective mission. It’s a terrible risk for a country to be in a mission and then find itself without the capacity to act when your humanitarian imperative calls you to intervene.
Another risk is that the peace process may fail and you may go from a peace agreement to more of a war-fighting situation. Then it doesn’t look like you’re in a successful operation. So that’s a risk of operational failure.
Since you’ve asked me for five, I have to add one more. We want Canada to do well, and I think we’ve had our embarrassments. We were extremely embarrassed with the Somalia affair, and there is a risk that there may have been some misbehaving in the Haiti mission. We had some police officers who had some misconduct. That is a risk, but I have huge confidence in the military of Canada, and I think we comport ourselves extremely well. We did that extremely well in Afghanistan. So I would put that down as the last of the risks.
Ms. Boulden: I’m not sure I’m going to come up with five different ones from Dr. Dorn.
I would agree, absolutely, to put on the top of the list the same as his, the safety and security of troops and other personnel on the ground, police and civilians and so on. The fundamental, overall risk in these conflicts, any of them, is that a sudden turn of events, unanticipated shift of some kind, either by a different group or by some kind of external event, prompting a shift in the situation on the ground, creates a completely different situation, and one that’s more dangerous, more fluid and in which the mandate you started out with no longer really applies.
Linked to that is a situation we’ve often come across or that has occurred in the past where, in the complex mandate environments and when the environment on the ground changes, you might be in a situation where different aspects of the mandate actually conflict with one another. Like Dr. Dorn suggested, you maybe are in a situation where the humanitarian imperative takes priority but puts you in a situation where you will violate some other part of the mandate, which puts troops at risk and also makes the possibility of success harder.
You also asked us how to be prepared for the five main risks. One is to be over-prepared and to go militarily with the anticipated situation on the ground but then plan and be ready for one level up at least, possibly more. So if the situation does change, you are actually ready for it, and you are not waiting for more equipment, different equipment, more support and so on. You’re actually maximally prepared.
I know that is hard to do. It is the same as conflict prevention. It’s hard to make the case for spending more and committing more resources when it isn’t absolutely required in that moment. Like conflict prevention, this is a way in which, when things do come off the rails, you can really get the payoff because you’re ready for it in that moment, and it can stop the situation from really falling apart.
A second way to be prepared, which links to one of my last recommendations, is that we’re pretty good at this but we need to go the next step in developing our knowledge base about what’s happening on the ground, so that we anticipate the possibility of those risks even while they’re not necessarily present when we first go in. I mean that in a multi-faceted way, and not just on the military front but the political situation as well.
Conflicts and shifts in political situation drive the upsurge or the reduction of conflict on the ground. The more knowledgeable we are about the specifics and the broader conflict trends and what signals tell us about where a conflict is heading, the more we can minimize our risks.
Senator Dagenais: Ms. Boulden, in your opinion, would our troops be currently ready to intervene in Africa, with the soldiers’ safety guaranteed as well?
Ms. Boulden: That’s a big question. I’m not sure it’s a question well suited for me, because I don’t have exact knowledge of which troops and what situation we’re going into. I would guess yes, and it would be a guess.
I think the second part of your question is about minimizing risk. Again without the specifics, that’s hard to gauge, but I hope so.
Certainly, if we go by past experience — and this is not something I advocate, and it was what I was trying to get at with my recommendations — peacekeeping in general, Canadian peace support operations troops in particular, are known as doing more with less and creating miracles on the ground, but we cannot continue to expect that to happen. We need to ensure that they don’t need to create a miracle in order to generate success. Whether we’re there vis-à-vis a specific operation in Africa right now, I’m not in a position to say yes or no, but I would hazard a guess that the answer is yes.
The signals from the minister and what the minister has been doing in terms of preparing and making a decision are good in that respect, but again I’m only making a guess.
Mr. Dorn: Very briefly, we need to do a lot more training to prepare for these kinds of operations. It’s quite different from Afghanistan. The modus operandi is different. There is a lot to do to be truly prepared for these kinds of things.
I would also add that going to the African-francophone countries would put an extra burden on the francophone units in Canada, the Royal 22nd Regiment and 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group. They will be called upon to play more often because of the nature and areas in which the UN is involved in Africa.
Senator Carignan: My question is quite simple, and it is one that Canadians are asking. My colleague asked you about the five principal threats to which Canada will be exposed when it decides to become involved militarily, or in peace operations abroad. I am going to take away two of them and ask you what would be three advantages for Canada in increasing our participation in peace operations, or anything else.
Mr. Dorn: Three advantages: I would say first we’re contributing to the peace and security of the world, because in the end we live in a global village, and we just can’t allow humanitarian catastrophe to occur in other parts of the world. We have to make a contribution. It’s the moral component of it.
For self-interest, I think in the end we help to prevent the flow of refugees, the spread of disease, crime and terrorism, if we can create these areas which otherwise become hotbeds for these kinds of flows of bad things that can come back and haunt us. That’s in our interest.
Third, it helps Canada to have a role in the UN, to actually create an identity for the country, a current identity. We are widely viewed in the world as an honest broker, as a middle power, as a helpful fixer, and by contributing to UN peace operations we can solidify that role and make Canadians more welcome wherever they travel in the rest of the world.
Ms. Boulden: I would echo the first point. I think national security has to be tied to international security. The whole basis of the creation of the United Nations is the idea that you make that connection, that every individual state’s national security is fundamentally tied to everybody else’s national security. If we start to unpack that and get focused on national interest, then the whole idea falls apart. As Dr. Dorn said, the first advantage is simply that we are contributing to our own national security by ensuring the security of others.
The second is that more specifically in the conflicts in question, the advantage is that we would be contributing to the resolution of a particular conflict. It has all kinds of knock-on effects. Dr. Dorn identified refugees and other associated issues. I think a lot of Canadians identify with that. We are essentially a country where many people have come from other places, and many of them come from other places that were in situations of crisis — so, yes, solving a specific conflict.
The third is another one that Dr. Dorn touched on. There are lots of knock-on benefits to increasing our role in the UN in general, not just with respect to peacekeeping. It gets us a role in other venues. It gets us advantages, a number of them that we aren’t always able to articulate, but advantages and perks in all kinds of other forums but also within the UN itself.
Senator Carignan: My second question is about the level of investment in the armed forces.
Canada is back, but is back with what?
I have nothing against the principles that have been expressed, but one must be able to afford one’s principles. Do you believe that Canada is currently making sufficient investments in our armed forces to attain the objectives you are proposing? If not, what should the level of investment for the Canadian Armed Forces be? Specifically, should we respond to the appeals from Mr. Obama and from our NATO colleagues to increase our investments substantially?
Mr. Dorn: I think we can look at the Canadian capabilities presently and see which areas would need to be augmented in order to do more UN peace operations, but I think that we actually have a really good set of equipment for UN peace operations now. With the Coyote Reconnaissance Vehicle and the TAPV that’s coming online, we can provide the technological backbone for a mission. We can help with communications and with signals, realizing that the UN is not nearly as advanced technologically as NATO is, that Canada can make a huge contribution in that area.
A lot of equipment is less used in UN peace operations than in NATO war-fighting operations. So you still have a role for tanks but a much reduced one, and hardly a role for fighter jets. So it means that there’s less emphasis on the very expensive platforms and more emphasis on things like UAVs, night vision devices and those kinds of things.
I would say that we have excellent capability. We will have some person-power challenges if we want to sustain a deployment to the UN for a long period of time. With the other deployments that are going on, we have to look at the issues of how you can keep that many people in the field, but the commitment up to 600 I think is definitely sustainable, and it can be done with current resources, in my opinion.
Ms. Boulden: Yes. I concur that we can do what we’re saying we can do now. But looking over the medium term, and even short to medium term, we need more people. If we want to do much more than that — that is, having the commitment in the Baltics, having a commitment to peacekeeping, having the ability to still have some reserve capacity in case something comes up — we need more person power, absolutely. But can we do what we’re committed to now? Yes.
Senator Day: Thank you both for being here. My first question flows from the fact that you are both involved in teaching at the Royal Military College — you, Dr. Dorn, at the graduate level, I believe, and Dr. Boulden at the bachelor level.
The proposals that we’re reviewing here now, we initially thought we were looking at a white paper discussion of defence policy, but I think now we’re reacting to government announcements in relation to participation as peacekeepers with respect to the United Nations and how that fits in with the other things that we’re doing.
Assuming that we proceed along the lines that the government has already announced — so it’s going to happen, at least for this mandate — is there going to be a need for a fundamental change in the education of military personnel and officers, in particular from the Royal Military College and the Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean? Is there going to be a requirement for a fundamental change, or is that already part of your teachings at this stage?
Mr. Dorn: I’m of the opinion that there will need to be a huge augmentation of training and education in the forces, including at the officer level, for peace operations.
I teach the only course in the Canadian Forces on peace operations at the command and staff level. In fact, because I’m going on sabbatical, I won’t be teaching it this year. There need to be backup plans and other courses offered.
There are so many tasks involved in peace operations that are not similar to war fighting. There’s even a shift in mentality that’s required, where war becomes your enemy and you don’t have an enemy in the field. It requires training in terms of working with developing countries and doing training with other people, with other civilians and military and other countries. So it’s not just an issue of the current structures we have, but we will need some new institutions to do this.
The International Association of Peacekeeping Training Centres was founded at the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre in 1995. Originally it had 20 people in it. Now 200 organizations are members. It has expanded so much, and Canada became absent from the IAPTC. We had some contribution from our Peace Support Training Centre, but that was solely on the military side. We don’t have a civilian component, nor a police component, that’s contributing to that larger effort. Now is the chance for Canada to resume the lead in this area. There’s a lot to be done in training and education at the unit level, the command and staff level, and the national security level.
Ms. Boulden: This is, as you can tell, really Dr. Dorn’s area of expertise. I would just add that at the undergraduate level — so here at RMC in Kingston — we also have a program in war studies at the MA and the PhD levels. In both programs, we do teach about the changing nature of peacekeeping, peace support operations, how those have evolved, what that entails. From a strictly undergraduate — we’ll stick with that for the moment — education perspective, we’re always updating our curriculum. We’re always building that into the framework of education, but that’s a different question from the kind of issues that Dr. Dorn addressed very effectively.
Senator Day: Thank you. The second question goes back to a point made by my colleague earlier on in relation to the relationship between NATO and Canada’s commitment and the major leadership role that we play there. Canada is back peacekeeping within the United Nations context. Can the role of Peacemaking and peacekeeping be divided, the NATO role being a more aggressive, military role and then the United Nations being more peacekeeping in the traditional sense if that’s possible with the new international realities? Is that possible?
The second aspect of that question relates to funding. Dr. Boulden said we need more dollars as one of the commitments. We’re into the early mandates of a government. Therefore, it’s a little easier to talk about spending. But as time progresses in the mandate, it’s going to be more difficult for the government to be committing dollars, and it’s always the military where governments look to save money.
The method of operation of NATO is that each nation, in its commitment, pays its share on an ongoing basis, whereas we have heard from other witnesses here that for some of the nations that are putting up soldiers in the United Nations, it’s almost like mercenaries. They’re putting them up there because they want pay from the United Nations to pay for these soldiers. Is there a solution to this? Is there a possibility that the United Nations could find at least halfway to a NATO model, or is this always going to be a completely different kind of role between NATO and the United Nations?
The Chair: Mr. Dorn, if you could be brief. Ms. Boulden as well. We have a couple of questioners.
Mr. Dorn: Yes, very briefly, the term "peacemaking" is often used in two completely opposite senses. In Canadian Forces doctrine and NATO doctrine and in the U.S., "peacemaking" means the negotiation of the peace. It’s creating the ability for a sustainable peace. Some people use peacemaking as opposed to peacekeeping as being enforcement. In the context of UN operations, we usually say "peace enforcement" or just plain "enforcement, Chapter 7 enforcement." I think the two organizations have separate roles in the world, and they can work together, like in Bosnia, where NATO was doing part of the enforcement while the peacekeeping was done by the UN on the ground from 1993 to 1995. The UN is now moving toward more robust operations. The Security Council has given UN missions the mandate in Congo for offensive operations for the first time in peacekeeping history. We are seeing that the two are coming closer together, and there’s lots of opportunity for the two to work together.
On the mercenary issue, for some nations, there’s a profit to be made in peacekeeping because the soldier now gets paid $1,300 per month. For Canada, that costs us money. For some countries, it benefits them, but I wouldn’t say that’s the sole motive. There are a lot of peacekeepers out there who are doing it for very altruistic and very non-self-interested reasons, and the money is a secondary factor.
Ms. Boulden: In order to stay brief, I’ll just pick up on that last point about the division of labour in terms of some states contributing peacekeeping troops for a profit motive. I think you’ve touched on a broader issue, which is the division of labour that has emerged, where, for the top-contributing states to peacekeeping, you have to go quite far down the list — I would guess 20-something — to find a Western, developed nation. The top contributors are all states that are from — not all of them 100 per cent — from a developing part of the world. As Dr. Dorn said, they are contributing to peacekeeping for a variety of motives, not just profit. But there is a problem in that the Western nations are opting out in that respect. Not opting out, but they’re low on the list in terms of contribution, and we’re sort of contracting out to the developing world. I think that that’s the wrong position to be in. So how do we get around that? Countries like Canada need to do more.
The Chair: Colleagues, I’d like to ask a question, if I could, as time is coming to an end here.
I would like to ask each witness their thoughts on the present debate that’s under way in the country on whether or not the decision to deploy in Africa should be made by a vote in the House of Commons, and the question I have to each of you is this: Would you agree that there should be a parliamentary debate in view of the magnitude of the decision that’s going to be made?
Mr. Dorn: I believe it would be healthy to do that, but it should be done in an expeditious fashion. The UN desperately needs forces on the ground, and, if Canada says, "Okay, we have to go through more debate, more discussion, more looking at the pros and cons," then we can’t respond quickly. We want to be in there with the people responding within 30 days, if not three days. If the debate bogs things down, then I would avoid it.
The reason, in this case, that it could be valuable is that we plan, I think, for a major contribution, like several hundred forces going to a certain country. Of the 600 that we are deploying, there may be a dozen here and a dozen there. I don’t think we can debate where the dozen go, but, if there’s a major deployment, then that’s worthy of debate the first time that it goes in.
Ms. Boulden: In the interests of time, I could just say I agree and leave it there, but I think debate is important and healthy and, in the context of an important contribution and coming back to peacekeeping, it is probably an important thing to do. Like Dr. Dorn, I would be wary of anything that drags a decision out, from the UN perspective in particular, because timing does matter.
The Chair: Colleagues, I would like to thank our two witnesses for appearing and for the time and effort that you have put forward in your presentations here. We certainly appreciate the fact that you’ve agreed to come to be part of this public conversation, which is starting here and perhaps goes even into the House of Commons.
I would like to welcome our next witnesses here as we examine the defence policy review requested by the Government of Canada.
Joining us in our second panel today are Lieutenant-General (Retired) Michael Day and Lieutenant-General (Retired) Charles Bouchard. Lieutenant-General Day joined the Royal Canadian Forces in 1983 and served in the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. He served as a commander of Joint Task Force 2, JTF2, and Canadian Special Operations Forces Command. He also served as the Canadian Armed Forces senior military officer in the defence policy group, as well as the chief strategic planner for the future of the Canadian Armed Forces. He retired in September 2015.
Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard is the country lead for Lockheed Martin Canada. He retired from the military in 2013, after more than 37 years in the Royal Canadian Air Force. His military career includes many senior leadership roles that illustrate a strong understanding of national security and stakeholder relations. He is an officer of the Order of Canada and most recently served as the commander of the combined joint task force that led NATO operations in Libya. Lieutenant-General Bouchard is here as a private citizen, and any views he brings forward are on his own behalf.
Gentlemen, welcome to committee. We are pleased to have you here. We understand that you each have an opening statement, and I would invite General Bouchard to proceed.
Lieutenant-General (Ret’d) Charles Bouchard, as an individual: Thank you, Mr. Chair. It is an honour and a pleasure to appear before the Senate committee that considers matters of the security and defence of Canada.
I come before you as a private citizen, as you so rightly said, Mr. Chair, after having served in the Canadian Armed Forces for a little over 37 years, particularly as commander of 1 Air Division in the Canadian NORAD region, as deputy commander of NORAD, as deputy commander of the NATO Joint Force Command in Naples, Italy, and recently, as commander of the Libya theatre of operations.
On one side it gives me an insight into a lot of aspects of the defence of this country, but, on the other side, it also is the filter through which I look at such a great undertaking. It is important that we look at the defence and security of this country, and the efforts that you are providing are welcome, sir, to you and your group. Congratulations.
When looking at the defence and security of this country, I think first it’s important that we consider the optimum objective, which in my view is the protection of Canadian interests. And these interests, be they political, economic or security, at the end of the day are all entwined with one another, and one affects the other. Therefore, when we look at defence on one side, we have to look at it holistically to be able to understand. To me, an end state for Canada is a globally peaceful and secure environment. Why am I saying this? Security will bring stability. Stability will bring good government wherever we can and enable strength and bring prosperity upon which we can build.
We live in a great country in Canada, but we are intertwined in our security with anything that happens overseas as well. Therefore it’s important that we have capable and credible armed forces, but it’s only one part of the entire security and defence apparatus of this country.
The three main roles in defence have been stated several times. Let me offer a few comments. The defence of Canada, of course, is a fundamental role, but I would propose to you, ladies and gentlemen, this question: Where does the defence of this country start, and where does it end? I submit to you that it extends well beyond our borders, our air space and our maritime environment; and given the fact of being part of the global village, it’s important that we extend beyond that.
The defence of North America under the umbrella of NORAD is also clearly understood — I have lived it in several iterations — and it’s important that we exercise sovereignty over our land and sea and air, especially as climate is changing and the Arctic takes on an even greater strategic importance.
However, any attack on North America comes at a very high risk for any potential aggressor. NORAD and, indeed, Article 5 of the NATO alliance provide assurances for this country. Also, any aggressor that would come through North America would face a rapid and very significant deterrent response. I’ve lived through those, and I’ve seen them personally; therefore, I would assess the risk to our sovereignty is low at this time considering the response and deterrents that we have.
Therefore, the key to our security is our contribution to international peace and security. To me, while defence starts at home, it extends to overseas, and this is where we need to go. I believe a stable and secure world requires our active participation, and staying at home may be an option, but it’s often not a realistic one. I will offer that there are places in the world where peace support operations are required, but my own experience in Libya taught me to understand also that in some places we may have a responsibility to protect others, as was the case in Libya, and in several other places as well.
Therefore, it’s not only a question of getting between two belligerents, but also protecting those who cannot protect themselves.
General Day has supplied great insights into the peace support operation, and therefore I will not go much further into detail. I will just add that it’s important that we understand the end state in any operation that we do, whether it’s a peaceful environment or a globally secure environment. Military is not the solution; military is part of the solution.
In the case of Libya, it was to create a space where diplomacy and democracy could start taking place, but it’s important we understand that when we look at the entire approach, military plays a role, but there are also political aspects like electoral reform, constitutional reform, and so on, that must follow as well. And if we go and look back at Kosovo, Bosnia, Iraq and Libya, I think we all find the same lessons there, that the military can play a role, but it’s not an end unto itself.
I have much more to offer, Mr. Chairman, but I will stop my comments at this point and hand the floor back to you for further comments, and I will be ready to answer your questions. Thank you very much.
The Chair: Thank you.
We’ll go next to General Day.
Lieutenant-General (Ret’d) D. Michael Day, Fellow, Canadian Global Affairs Institute, as an individual: Thank you, Mr. Chair, ladies and gentlemen, it’s a pleasure to be here, and I do appreciate the opportunity to pass on a few of my thoughts with regard to peace support operations.
I have forwarded an initial draft of my comments. I adjusted them a little bit and there were a couple of additional elements.
I would say initially when you look at my comments it would be easy at first glance to believe that I’m not actually in favour of deploying on peace operations; however, that’s not the case. Very much I think that Canada does play a vital role. My concerns, as I shall lay out, are not actually with the idea of a military deployment in and of itself. In fact, I think it is a necessary and crucial tool for bringing stability and security and, eventually, safety and prosperity to foreign lands. Rather, these deployments by any country, in my experience, have rarely, if ever, been accompanied by the equally if not more important diplomatic, economic and indeed international effort needed to achieve even a modicum of success. Furthermore, such military deployments are too often seen as an end state in and of themselves. "We have deployed" is not an objective, and they’re never seen as part of a larger picture derived from an analysis of Canada’s national interests.
So as a consequence, peace support operations have frequently, I would argue, almost universally lacked the clarity of strategic direction, which in turn has hobbled the development and execution of a viable operational construct, further inhibiting the chances of success. This lack of clarity has been further exacerbated in the past by frequently adjusting the scope and scale of our involvement based on political expediency vice thoughtful and exhaustive analysis and debate, both internal to Canada, as well as with essential allies and, most importantly, the host nations in which we operate.
Engagement and consultation are actually key and central to the preparation of these types of operations, as well as any subsequent adjustment. So before coming to some specific points, I would also say that any proclamations of objectives have also been unassociated with the reality of achieving them. We cannot, in most cases, bring democracy and security, as we know and experience them here in Canada and define them, to some of the countries in which we serve. What we can do is immeasurably improve a nation’s lot in life and give them breathing space to create their own form of democracy and security.
With this being said, I do think that Canada should be active in the world, have forces deployed constantly and continue to look at places where we can make a difference.
I would talk about why we deploy on peace support operations and my views on that. It’s a populist view that Canada does good things around the world. As a Canadian, I’m actually proud of that reputation, but I don’t want it to inform the decision-making process when it comes to choosing where and what we do on those peace support operations.
Our government, I believe, must remain bloody-minded in its decision cycle. It must remain focused on Canada, and although there are countless places in the world that might benefit from Canada’s presence, we must choose those places which are important to Canada and its interests, and we must be explicit and public why we have chosen the mission at hand. Expending the coin of the realm and, potentially, and much more importantly, the blood of the realm must only be done for those issues which have a direct impact on Canada and Canadians. The harsh reality is there are dozens of places where people starve or are repressed or are fighting and dying. This cannot be the most important metric, let alone the sole metric, for determining our involvement.
I would like to talk about the subsequent objectives and the time needed when deployed on operations. Recent history has demonstrated that there is no single example of a region that is at risk or a failed or failing state that has been turned around in a reasonably short period of time. It’s reasonable to assume that the future will continue to repeat this pattern. In fact, recent history suggests that we make things significantly worse when we lack long-term commitment or lose focus. My experience is, and any reading on the subject would lead me to believe, that in order to change decades of behaviour that have resulted in the problem, there is, in turn, a requirement for subsequent generational change to address both the symptoms and the causes of said conflict.
Now, I’m not suggesting a multi-decade commitment at the front end, but rather that if and when we engage we do so understanding that the progress will be unsteady and intermittent, that there will be setbacks, and that real progress needs years and years of commitment.
Claiming public success or victory early on will be not only wildly inaccurate but, more importantly, harmful to the actual success. We must be strategic in our approach and our patience and therefore communicate accordingly. Public support is essential, and promises of progress, and then failure to achieve it, have a direct impact on the morale and effectiveness of the men and women in harm’s way.
So let us be realistic about what those operations mean. Following on the theme of why we deploy, we must analyze and accept that there are few, if any, regions of the world — I cannot name one today — where potential peace support deployment is actually in a region where there is peace. The old and utterly useless term "peacekeeping" not only doesn’t apply but in fact misleads.
Peace support operations in their most simple form require two macro activities. Firstly, we must help good people do good things. Secondly, we must be willing and able to stop bad people doing bad things. It is overly simplistic, but that’s the harsh reality of what it means on the ground.
These two imperatives must be actioned militarily, diplomatically and economically as well as being executed by a coherent international force which involves all regional stakeholders as well as the host nations. Furthermore, a review of a host nation’s inability, or more often a disagreement with these strategic objectives, results in a latent or sometimes active unwillingness to use their powers for good to achieve the objectives that we have laid out. This by itself will actually condemn a mission to failure before the very first military members lay one single boot on the ground.
So lacking any one of these necessary ingredients, success, however we define it, will be at best suboptimal and, more likely, impossible to achieve. Let me be clearer still: Hoping for or counting on best behaviour by belligerents and/or antagonists and not being able or willing to compel compliance has, in our dark and recent past, only resulted in Srebrenica, Rwanda, Aleppo and the Tripolis of the world.
It will also undermine the emotional well-being of our troops and result in mission failure. Having been to most, if not all, of those places, let me tell you that the scars on the Canadian Armed Forces personnel in many cases have been because they’ve been restricted from doing what they’ve seen to be necessary on the ground.
We will fool ourselves if we think or act differently. It is absolutely okay to not deploy based on a reluctance to do those things; I have no argument with that. It is not okay to deploy and refuse to do those things. Such an approach is ineffective tactically and operationally. It further undermines Canada and the UN strategically by underlining the view that the latter is toothless and ineffective, and that Canada is merely demonstrating tokenism.
So we should either accept that there is difficult, dangerous work to be done, or we should not deploy. Provocation and ifs are insufficient. A clear, focused mandate, detailed by policy support with associated authorities, must be present at the front end so as to inform the construction of the mission and its conduct as opposed to incorporating the necessary and inevitable chain step that will occur quickly post-deployment.
I want to quickly hit some things about mission creep, oversight and reporting, which I think will be of interest or concern to the committee. I don’t fear that the mission will evolve and change, nor that the military chain of command will be on top of those, but one of the great things about the Canadian Armed Forces is their willingness to do anything and everything within their ability. Looking for a way to make a difference is critical to that, and the military chain of command should be entrusted to ensure that stays within parameters.
However, there needs to be greater political oversight and transparency. It’s been the tradition for parties when in opposition to decry the opportunity to be exposed to, let alone understand, what is actually going on in various deployments, and I would argue their analysis and policy statements have often demonstrated and underlined that lack of understanding. As we consider launching on these types of operations, it would be useful to consider a mechanism that provides a parliamentary committee to be briefed regularly, albeit in camera to protect classified information. This may allow for an appropriate, respectful airing of the issues that hitherto have, I think, come subject to small "p" politics and therefore potential misrepresentation. Canadians deserve a more open, transparent debate on how their military gets used in this world.
In summary, there’s clearly much more I might say, but a focus on Canada’s national interests, resulting in a clear set of objectives that are to be achieved by a broad range of national, military, diplomatic and economic interests nested within a wider coalition, is the start point for a successful peace support operation. A willingness and associated authority to do the difficult and dangerous things must not be ignored, and being strategic in our understanding of time associated with the root causes allows for the potential of success.
We must also recognize that these types of operations are no longer merely executed in the physical domain. We must widen our gaze; the issues of cyberwarfare, cyber-threats, et cetera, must be included at the front end with the authorities to properly prosecute the types of operations necessary. We’re no longer dealing with an adversary that just walks around a dessert and waves an AK-47. These are highly sophisticated, well-financed, well-prepared global actors, even if they only exist on the basis of a particular region.
We have an opportunity, should we be politically and collectively brave enough to seize it, to make a difference. I do believe that Canada has a role to play, and I believe that the world benefits from more Canada in the world. But we must be clear at the front end on the requirements of a successful operation, and set Canada and its Canadian Forces members up for success.
Thank you very much.
The Chair: Thank you, General Day. We’ll go to questions now.
Senator Jaffer: Thank you for both your presentations. There are so many things you have raised, and I have limited time to ask you questions, so I’m going to limit to one question to each of you. I’ll start with you, General Bouchard. You brought up Libya, and from what you were saying, you have a lot of knowledge about this. My preoccupation with Libya — I work with a lot of women from that region — has been what you said: Military going in and then what?
We are trying to give recommendations to the minister — and you may want to think about this and send it in later — but I’m interested in hearing from you. You said something that, for me, was very profound when you said that just the military is not enough; you have to look at other areas and involve other partners. Can you expand on that idea, please?
Lt.-Gen. Bouchard: I can expand so much, as it took nine months and many years off my life, but it also enlightened me in many ways. I will give you a few small examples of it. This was a different mission. For the first time, the mission was not to search and destroy an enemy. It was "go and protect the population," which is using whatever force is used.
We used the principle of minimum use of force. I established a few things, one of which was that we must create an environment — or we must accomplish a mission without breaking everything out there. If you break it, as Colin Powell said, you own it, but we did not. We left all of the infrastructure standing. It was part of us.
The second part that I looked at was the importance of ensuring that we didn’t get ourselves in a position to create a hearts-and-minds campaign, as was in past theatres. We had a hearts-and-minds right from the start. That means that whatever you do, you must keep the people that are going — those people that you’re protecting, you must understand that.
But I’ll just continue to that. Therefore it affected my time and my thinking — how we ran the operation. At the end of the operation, Mr. Jalil stood up and had this long speech about how they’re going to have sharia law. With sharia law you can have more than one wife. I was totally distraught by that, because I thought, is this what we completed? So I got through some contact to the right place, and I was told that his spouse — he has one — was truly mad at what he had said, and that he would never say that again. Then all of a sudden it enlightened me, and I said, "Okay, what we need here is to create the environment." That’s what the military did. But after that is the empowerment of all the people who are there, whether through social reform, educational reform, health reform — these are all related.
In the case of Libya, we stopped the killing. I can assure you that orders were given to go and kill everyone between 17 and 40 years old in Benghazi when we got into it, and we stopped them from doing that, so I am confident we accomplished the mission.
But halfway through the mission, I was already thinking, "Who do I pass this mission to? Who will then take over?" It takes some thinking about that, because NATO was fulfilling a very narrow mandate. But so be it, we did that. But I didn’t know who to turn it to. In fact, in the case in point, I turned it to the team from the UN with six people, and all they were concerned with was unexploded ordinance, which we gave them all the reports on.
To me, it was essential that we do that, but also it was essential to understand that they did not necessarily want Westerners to come into their country. It’s that understanding of their culture and saying, "Okay, how can we enable them to come up with what they believe is the right thing?" They need assistance, but how do we build that architecture with them to empower them? To me, part of it was the empowerment of women through education and the like.
When we look at it, we do the military mission, but we should have that already in mind as the mission goes: How will we do education? How will we sort out health? All of these are important. Be careful with the infrastructure; they’re going to need it later on. Oil production is up, so they have a source of revenue.
All of these are intermingled, and a lot of times when the military is done, they think the mission is over, but it’s not. It just started. Therefore, it’s a long-term commitment.
Senator Jaffer: Once you leave, what should be in place? We know Libya is a mess, and we can go on for hours talking, but I would appreciate it if you could send us something short.
Lt.-Gen. Bouchard: Yes, ma’am, I will.
Senator Jaffer: Thank you.
General Day, when I listened to you, the thing that comes across to me, and mostly from what I read and what you’ve written, is that when we go, we have to finish the job. We can’t go there and say, "We can only do so much and we can’t do any more."
The mandate changes, the objectives change and to be able to get the proper mandate, one of the biggest things that has to happen is we have to be on the ground or at the UN setting up the mandate and not taking on the host country’s pressures.
What minimum things should Canada have in place before they go on the ground, for example, the influence they have in setting up the mandate?
Lt.-Gen. Day: I would just presume to answer the question that you asked Charlie: Don’t leave. First of all, don’t leave.
I had the opportunity to follow Charlie, three people after him, in the job in Naples, and we spent a great deal of time looking at Libya. I would argue — and I won’t say it just because he’s sitting here — that it was an unheralded success for what the mission was entrusted for, but a complete and utter failure for the fallen activities, because there were no fallen activities. The fallen activities were not a military responsibility. So the answer is just don’t leave. Get back to the idea that you require generational change in these countries in order to bring an understanding of what we talk about.
To more specifically address your question about how we can set that up, first of all we need to be realistic about what is in the art of the doable and achievable. I always said, regardless of where I’ve deployed and the places I stayed, you cannot turn those countries into Sweden or Canada or whatever the case is. So objectives and direction that force whatever organizations on the ground to try to mirror what we have here in Canada are going to fail. So the set-up of the mission needs to have a thorough understanding of the environment in which you’re going to operate, and that environment is a cultural one more than anything else. That informs what you can and can’t do. That informs the speed at which you can do it.
Then I would say let’s not try to swallow the elephant all in one go. The mandate needs to recognize that there are very significant phases through the evolution of a country moving from being in a crisis, whether it’s at risk, failed or failing, to the point where it has some latent inherent indigenous capability to maintain itself. That’s a continuum. That’s not a "Today we’re this, today we’re that."
The first would be to understand that you have to probably embark on all those activities on day one. The idea that we’re going to create safety and security and then we’re going to move to education, democracy, human rights et cetera in the second phase no longer works. If you don’t conduct your activities — and I don’t mean military activities, I mean all activities — if the mission isn’t set up, if the discussion doesn’t accept that on day one you have to have military activities, security, economic activities, cultural activities and government-based activities, the first thing I would always recommend is we look at being holistic on day one as opposed to being sequential. Don’t bolt on activities when somebody has the bright idea, "Hey, we should look at a school system."
If we accept that generational change is really the key to fixing the problems or the ills that many of these countries experience, you’ve got to start that on day one. Because everybody will then have that unity of thought, purpose and action. It will determine, as Charlie said, how you actually conduct your military campaign, which was done exactly right in Libya. There was no infrastructure damage. It was about protecting the people. The problem was that the supporting pillars weren’t there.
At the front end I would suggest a holistic look that looks at all functionality and requires, before any activity takes place, that there is a plan that is resourced in all those domains from day one.
Senator Kenny: This has been a terrific presentation, gentlemen. What I’m taking away from what you’re saying is that really peacekeeping as it’s discussed now is impossible. I can’t think of a single incident or instance when we have had a successful all-of-government approach. The likelihood of getting clear government goals is very small. The ability to stay in a region for however long it takes to fix things, you’re talking about 30- or 40-year commitments — not politically acceptable. We’re all certain that it doesn’t matter which party is in. The party that’s out is going to ask what the exit strategy is, and the exit strategy seems to me to be something for losers.
I don’t see, given what you’ve said, a possibility of this government proceeding with anything that relates to peacekeeping because the other elements that you’ve described — and I agree with — aren’t going to be put in place.
Lt.-Gen. Bouchard: Thank you very much, Senator Kenny. Sometimes we have the tendency to approach this by trying to do everything ourselves, and the power of this is in the coalition. I’m not talking of coalition in terms of military because I truly support Mike’s comments with regard to concurrent activities taking place.
It’s that forming of whatever package you will require. In military, you think of a force package, but to me a force package at the strategic level is, what will I bring with us as well? The United Nations Secretary-General representative, what power does he have? What is the relationship? And it’s important with the sort of military while our operations are going on, and while we’re talking about concurrent activities, then it’s important to round up the team, if you wish, and say that Canada doesn’t have to lead everything or to do everything because the whole world needs to look at this, or at least those who can help.
I believe there is a solution, but it’s more than a whole-of-government approach in Canada and looking at it holistically more on a global basis, sir.
Senator Kenny: Can you give us an example, general?
Lt.-Gen. Bouchard: Well, the United Nations has a tendency to appoint a Secretary-General representative in theatre, and this person will do the work on behalf of the government and deal with the government authority. The military will come in and have its own mandate to prevent the situation, but below that it’s that first analysis but also having that team prepared, and saying, "I need electoral reform." Who will take on that lead? We will need to look at constitutional reform in that part of the world. So who are those teams? You’ve got the defence team, the offence team, the political team, the diplomatic team and bringing them all together because it’s more than one.
Let me add, at the end of the day, they all work together, but it has to be clearly defined whose lane is what so you don’t step into each other, so prepare the package adequately.
Senator Kenny: Give me an example. You haven’t given me an example.
Lt.-Gen. Bouchard: I don’t know of an example where we have done all of this. I did not answer your question. Let me answer your question: I don’t have an example, but we’ve learned enough from the past to make sure we can create an example of the next opportunity, perhaps.
Lt.-Gen. Day: I went through that rather depressing list that summarized my comments, although I was momentarily tempted to stab myself in the eye and get it over with.
There are two reactions. You kind of feel like a Maple Leafs fan. You either give up hope completely and you become fatalistic that’s it’s never going to happen. It won’t. Or you say it actually just informs the scope of the challenge and for us to be a little more realistic.
I’m not a fatalist. The reality is we could pack up all our toys and go home, but the fact is it’s not going to make a difference. It’s not going make the world better. The world will become a worse and worse place if countries like Canada don’t decide to do these things. Notwithstanding that history says we haven’t got it right, I’m just not convinced that that should lead us to give up.
So I would say to you there are three very specific things that come out of that. Hopefully, at some stage we’ll learn some of those lessons, and I don’t disagree with your summary there, but it should inform how we approach it going forward. If we’re 10 per cent better this year and as long as every year looks better, then we’re moving in the right direction.
Look, the gap between where we’re at today in an anachronistic world and where we would be in 20 years’ time where we did nothing, I know it’s difficult to prove a false positive, but the reality is that doing nothing, the world will get worse. Maybe we can keep it on a level playing field. Maybe we can make a difference. I believe that Canada prospers because the world is a place where we get our citizens. I believe that we can do good around the world.
We’re going to stumble. It’s not going to be perfect. There is absolutely going to be failure, but I would think less of any of us if we decided not to engage as a result. I’m not sure challenge means saying no.
The Chair: Colleagues, Senator Kenny has a follow-up question. I would ask the witnesses to be shorter in their responses and the preambles to be brief because time is marching on here.
Senator Kenny: I like what both of you are saying, but our job here is to try and translate what military experts say into a political reality that we think can be sold in Canada. For example, Mike, when you talked about having a briefing in camera with a group of parliamentarians, they can’t talk about it after that. They can take the briefing, and that’s fine, but it ceases to be a dialogue with Canadians. It’s persuading Canadians that you may have to have a group of people overseas for 30 years, and that’s just about an impossible political commitment to make.
I don’t think any government is going to be in a position to describe honestly to the population what really is required to make the difference. Meetings like this help. We’re televising what challenges are there, but in reality, I certainly don’t expect this government or any government in the near future to be able to really make the sort of commitment that you’ve described to be successful.
The Chair: Senator Kenny, your question?
Senator Kenny: I’m asking questions in the form of statements.
Lt.-Gen. Day: I have a very short response to that. Make a five-year commitment and say publicly that we’ll review in a longer-term perspective whether we’re making progress, et cetera. Be very public about it.
For the in camera issue, have a public, transparent debate in Parliament. Have operational updates in camera where parties can have their say in exposure.
I don’t think these are either-ors. It merely informs how you get after the problem, not whether you get after the problem.
Senator Dagenais: My question goes to Mr. Day. I would like to take advantage of your long experience in the field to discuss three questions with you.
First of all, even in peace operations, we can expect some hostilities. What conditions need to be established in order to allow our troops to react to those hostilities? It is also possible that the soldiers will be wounded. Have evacuation rules been set up? How do we go about finding out whether all those rules have been clearly established before troops are sent to Africa?
I will have a supplementary question later, if I may, Mr. Chair.
Lt.-Gen. Day: Thank you, senator. I am going to answer your question in English, because in French, I may miss some shades of meaning, and I apologize for that.
Question number one, the authority piece is tremendously important. It has to start with a policy that not only informs the mandate but also identifies at the front end friendly forces. The identification of friendly forces allows for a legal construct to allow the men and women on the ground to act not only in individual self-defence but collective self-defence and therefore inhibit those adversaries, antagonists and lawful and unlawful combatants from acting.
Many of the problems we have had previously on a range of missions has been a lack of clarity of what we’re allowed to do on the ground based on not identifying the legal status of the people in the surrounding area. There are no front lines. There’s no good space or bad space. It’s identifying which group they belong to. So policy statements backed up by a legal designation of what individuals belong to which group is essential. That’s number one.
In terms of the evacuation piece, I actually haven’t been in all of these places. I would say to you that Canada by itself relies on, like almost every nation in the world — with the exception of the United States, so we’re not different in this regard — we rely on a coalition, as Charlie has said, of built-together capabilities. We contribute to that medical system in a very meaningful way. Our medical corps is brilliant. We now have a series of enhanced mobile surgical team capabilities, but by itself, Canada would require us to feed into a coalition.
So as part of the set-up and agreement to join a coalition, we would have to pay in kind, but we would provide a portion of that evacuation chain, and all nations would be participating in that.
For us to think that we should have a purely national chain is not only grossly inefficient but also distracting in theatre, and it’s unachievable, unless you want to provide many billions of dollars to build that up. It’s not needed. What is needed is the building of the coalition.
The last question was with regard to troops?
Can you repeat the last part of your question, please?
Senator Dagenais: It was about making plans to evacuate troops. However, you have given me a partial answer.
If there had to be a reaction to hostilities now, who would make that decision? Would it be the Government of Canada or the UN?
Lt.-Gen. Day: There are always two levels at the same time. The Government of Canada and the operational commanders in each area have to make a decision.
So we always have national cards to play about the decision to be involved or not. Regardless of what operation any country is involved in, the national card, which every senior national Canadian commander in a theatre knows, he has the responsibility to actually ensure that the activities that our country’s military is involved in adheres to his national direction. That trumps any operational direction.
In theatre, an operational commander will decide what needs to be done. A national commander won’t and cannot go further than that operational direction, but he or she can go significantly less far. It’s a dual turnkey system here about where the decision lies. It lies with the operational commander in theatre and with the national authority, starting with the senior national commander. Depending on the level of decision, it stops with that individual, it comes back to National Defence headquarters, and it goes to a political system.
You should think about it as three circles. A national commander on the ground has this size of a sandbox to make his decisions. The chief or his designated senior general would have a slightly bigger one, and obviously our political authorities have the largest one. It just depends on what level of authority you want to give.
At any stage, either the political chain or the national command chain can insert themselves at any time and in any part of that decision.
Senator Beyak: Thank you, generals, for your exceptional defence of Canada and for your stellar careers. The honour of your presence here is ours for sure.
In the constituencies, the government’s defence policy review has elicited a lot of comments. They’ve been on the positive and the negative. I’m amazed at how much Canadians know about our past peacekeeping missions and how proud they are of that, but they do share Senator Kenny’s concerns about our role and how we are able to set the rules on the ground.
I wonder if you could comment on how much authority we give up as part of a UN mission and if our sons and daughters are protected. The comment I heard most was collateral damage, and of course we heard about the men, women and children on the ground in these nations, but we also care about our own sons and daughters who are being deployed there. How do we make sure that the rules are ours?
Lt.-Gen. Bouchard: The first part ties into Senator Dagenais’s question about level of authority. I look at it from the point of view of I was a theatre commander, so I was responsible for everything going on inside that. I appreciate national limitations that may be imposed — and I understand that everyone has them. We call them caveats. As long as you clearly identify those, I can work around that. But there is a time when you need to let the military do their job. The aim is not constant involvement in it as much as giving clear directions and then letting those people you have empowered actually do that.
I don’t see it as giving up authority or anything. It is part of that agreement that comes in and says Canada will provide these forces with the following limitation or caveats or others. It’s fair and it’s understood. Everybody has them to varying levels, and each mission will bring its own.
So we can operate inside of that. But once we do that, then I would strongly recommend that we do that at the beginning, on day one, and try to stay the course as much as possible. Because that commander in the field that’s responsible for all of these countries and balancing all the requirements does that every day and that’s part of the job, but there has to be some level of consistency so that we understand.
I think it’s not giving your authority away. It’s delegating it to someone you trust that can do it and is responsive, responsible and accountable to those governments. I don’t think you’re giving away your authority. You’re delegating it to an appropriate authority.
One last point with collateral damage, and no matter how you work it, it is the most difficult part. We have clearly stated rules that say zero collateral damage, but there are belligerents who will surround themselves with young children.
Let me give you an example because it gives me chills every time I think about it. Imagine an artillery piece shelling a hospital in Misrata. There are 2,000 people, doctors and patients and nurses, and it is one artillery gun surrounded by 12 children, and the belligerents know that. That’s the kind of decision that a field commander has to make. That’s a decision I had to make, and that has to be left in the hands of someone who is accountable. That’s the kind of trust you will give that person. Canada can play a leadership role in that. We don’t have to relegate ourselves to being support only.
Lt.-Gen. Day: I’m happy with Charlie’s answer.
The Chair: Colleagues, will it be okay if we run over a bit?
Senator Day: The majority of my questions have already been answered very well, and it’s that question of the continuum.
I wonder, Lieutenant-General Bouchard, if we can understand the relationship between NATO and the UN in relation to Libya, for example. How did you and your soldiers get involved there? Was it a NATO operation, and what was the relationship with the United Nations?
Lt.-Gen. Bouchard: In this case, it was a UN-sanctioned, NATO-led mission. The Security Council put two resolutions forward, 1970 and 1973, and they gave the authority to stop the belligerents from threatening the population, and it gave the direction to establish a no-fly zone and maritime-exclusion zone. That was the aim of the UN and the directions I received from the UN, to protect the population.
This was then given to the military arm of it because the solution had to be a military one, to stop the regime from doing it, and NATO took it on. It could have been NATO; it could have been a coalition of the willing. Actually, it started with a coalition of the willing under Odyssey Dawn with the U.S., the French, the Canadian and the British, and then that was transferred. That was done this way because of speed, to get NATO rolling. We had one month to get the rest of the NATO team, so we got that and transferred it over to NATO 30 days after the beginning of the first mission.
Then NATO gave me the direction through the military commander, and these directions were given to me. I defined my mission. I had my clear role of engagement, and I went on and did my job.
My task was to do my job and go back to the North Atlantic Council and give them updates on my activities and answer any questions they may have. We did a lot of that. It’s a dialogue ongoing every day.
When it came to operational decisions, this was not done by the North Atlantic Council. These were done by me. My commander was aware of it, and never was I told to do or not to do something. These were the decisions of a theatre commander.
So I’m responsible and accountable, but also I have a responsibility to inform the North Atlantic Council, and of course the North Atlantic Council informed the UN of what was going on. It was a balance of all these activities.
Senator Day: Lieutenant-General Day, you’ve indicated the importance of acting quickly when something is seen to be brewing and that there will be a lot of lives saved if you can act quickly. Is it reasonable to meet that military urgency and to work out, after the military activity, the government as a whole, the after-effect planning that you’ve talked about very convincingly here? How is that worked out and who works it out? Is it NATO’s responsibility? Is it the United Nations’ responsibility?
Lt.-Gen. Day: I think you can do and think about this in two different ways. In terms of the response and the urgency element that you talk about, every Western social democracy that we work with, as friends, allies, et cetera, all have what are referred to as high-readiness forces. All of them maintain a high level of training, and they’re equipped slightly differently. So they’re essentially ready to go out the door on a very short timeline. We keep a ready duty ship here in Canada.
General Bouchard will be able to tell you about the number of jets that we have on standby at any given time. My son is in the high-readiness infantry battalion in Edmonton. We are no different than any other country. It is a matter of political will about the ability to respond. Military forces, certainly within NATO, all have an element of that.
There is, of course, a double-edged sword in that you’re going into an environment that you are not specifically prepared for; but that’s really a balancing of risk, isn’t it? What risk are you willing to take on, in order to stop a greater calamity? The analogy that Charlie alluded to about collateral damage, are you trying to save 2,000 or 12? We have to think about that.
In those instances, should there be a political decision that something needs to be done, I remain totally convinced that there are military capacities and capabilities around NATO, including in Canada, that are in a position to respond.
Now, that doesn’t allow for, quite frankly, that more thoughtful approach, et cetera. Those are two different responses. One is a deliberate engagement, built up over a coalition to look at an environment that you know is at risk, failed or failing. The other one is an emergency-type response.
You can pivot from one to the other, because as you’re responding you would initiate that whole-of-government response that I’ve talked about, the economic, diplomatic, international. But also, quite frankly, most militaries and most governments do significant contingency planning. So behind the scenes there are a series of plans that would look at those types of things that could be triggered.
I don’t think they’re robust enough at the intergovernmental level. I think they’re tremendously robust at the military level. And maybe one of the initiatives that this committee should consider is whether Canada should have a whole-of-government-type response on the shelf that is generic enough that it isn’t irrelevant to look at a particular area but useful enough to garner all of the levers of national power for those types of things.
The Chair: If you could be brief.
Senator Day: Given your experience, primarily through NATO and the interplay with the United Nations, do you have a view as to whether the functionality or otherwise of the United Nations, and the manner that it functions now, is adequate to deal with the situations that have arisen and will arise in the future, where a political decision — to give up control of their armed forces for this group? Can we expect the United Nations to be reliable enough to deal with that kind of situation?
Lt.-Gen. Day: The first thing I would say is that we would never give up control of the Armed Forces — at no stage — and I think this gets to the previous comment about authority. At no stage does any Canadian military element ever give up authority from national authorities. We maintain that here in Ottawa, militarily and politically. So there’s no trade-off: Here are our forces to the UN; we don’t have any say. We maintain a say, as a nation, every second of every minute of every hour of every deployment. That doesn’t address the wider concern: Is the UN structured, does it have the process, and does it have the will to create the conditions for success?
I think that as NATO and coalitions of the willing have evolved over the last 5, 10, 15, 20 years, essentially dating back from Iraq, Bosnia, et cetera, the UN has not been fully tested, in these types of operations, on whether or not it has evolved in sync with some of the coalitions that General Bouchard and I have worked within. I think that’s an unanswered question. History would suggest that they’ve got a long way to go, but I come back to the point that if we don’t start, we don’t make the progress. I admit I am pessimistic about the UN’s capability to get the job done. However, I don’t see an alternative international structure that could be created that would garner global support. So our job should not be to say, "I don’t believe; look, the UN can’t do it." It should be, "Where are we failing? What can Canada do to try to improve those processes?" Otherwise, stay at home.
Senator Carignan: I understand that it may be difficult to determine the places where there may be some success in terms of the UN. You also said that our commitment should be made in places where there is a benefit for Canada.
In your opinion, what kind of benefit would Canada get by leading peace operations? In the options you are talking about, could a political benefit be a reason? For example, the government focuses its peace operations in Africa in order to improve its sphere of influence as part of its campaign to obtain a seat on the Security Council. Is that the kind of benefit that we should be considering?
Lt.-Gen. Day: I will answer in English, if I may.
I think it’s an excellent question. What are the objectives if they’re truly targeted towards Canada? I would bucket them in four broad categories. One would be economic gains. One would be cultural. One would be security objectives, and the last would be political. The question is, are they the ultimate objective? Are they an interim step to get us to a better place? For the political objective — and I’m not an apologist for any political party or government ever — I would say I could make a reasonable argument that says that that is quite frankly grandstanding. I could make an equal argument that says that if we’re truly interested in making a difference, we have to be in a leading role to change the UN, and the only way you get there is if you’re on the Security Council. It depends where you want to fall out on that argument, but if you’re going to play in that, you need to be a player. You need to exert influence. The way it goes in the UN is that if you’re not contributing and if you’re not playing, nobody listens to you. That’s the harsh reality. So we can decide one or the other.
As I said, there are a number of different ways within those buckets to express objectives. Let me give you some concrete examples. I could talk about drug trade. I could talk about terrorism, extremist terrorism. Not, by the way, only Islamic extremist terrorism. An interesting report came out today that homegrown terrorism in the United States is actually a greater threat to them than Islamic terrorism is. I would not want anybody to infer from my words that I’m targeting. I’m not.
But it depends what’s important to us. I look at the most recent issues about fentanyl on the West Coast. We’re facing a scourge. We understand the trafficking circles and the routes around the world. We understand them very, very well. You can go to any intelligence agency, and you can say where nations are at risk or there are failed states or there are great swathes of geographic land that are ungoverned, that’s where criminality, that’s where those extremist groups, that’s where illegal drug trafficking, et cetera, all take place. Contributing to the minimizing of that threat actually is not a bad national objective. Culturally, we’re a country of immigrants. You don’t have to go very far back before each one of us, our families, came to this country. My grandparents are four different nationalities. We have interest in where those immigrants come from. We reflect their values. I don’t think it is wrong to say we have a national objective to demonstrate fairness and equitable treatment of every human being, regardless of where they come from, what they look like. That’s not a bad national objective. So I wouldn’t make an argument for any one of those specifically, but I would want it to be articulated by the government. Then, I would want it to be mapped out — how the mission is created, how it’s set up — answering some of the questions that we had previously, where we would contribute to achieve that objective. I think that’s reasonable.
Is there some political artifice in that? Maybe, but it’s like poker. You can’t win if you don’t play. That would be my view.
Lt.-Gen. Bouchard: I understand the thrust of your question, but it is also a matter of defining the national interests we are seeking. There are political and economic interests but there are also interests that are a little more focused on protecting people, interests designed to create a more stable environment that will bring about change in the country. It is in our best interests to do that.
As has been said, if we want to change the world, either this way or by environmental regulations, we have to play a leading role. Our choice means that we have to ask ourselves these questions. Is the grand strategy to create a greener environment, a better world in which human rights will be protected? What are the steps we need in order to get there?
I do not see it as one or the other, but rather as one circle among all circles, such as human rights, national security, the environment that will make the world more stable, and Canada’s needs that will push us to seek certain benefits.
In my opinion, that is part of the grand strategy, but we also have to have a public discussion on that grand strategy so that everything can be understood.
Senator Carignan: I understand the objective of increasing the number of peace operations, but Canada is already having difficulty meeting our NATO obligations. We have to increase the funding and the support for equipment. I am sure you will agree with me when I say that we have to increase our strength and our participation in NATO.
Are we not putting our commitment to NATO in jeopardy in order to take part in peace operations, the results of which will be difficult to measure, except in terms of making political gains in order to perhaps obtain a seat on the Security Council?
Lt.-Gen. Day: I don’t think it’s an either-or. I don’t think we put one or the other in peril. The size of the Canadian Armed Forces allows us to do multiple things. I certainly don’t speak for the chief. I am retired, so I would not want to talk about capacity, but my experience would lead me to believe that given the size of our force, its broad-range capabilities, we can do a range of different things concurrently. And we don’t have to rob Peter to pay Paul, if in fact that’s the question.
My experience is it doesn’t matter, quite frankly, if it’s 50, 500 or 5,000 Canadian forces members; when we answer to a mission, we add value. You will take a young Canadian service member, regardless of the background, and on day one of their presence on that deployment they’re already in that top 10 per cent of that unit or headquarters.
We do have political choices. Do we focus here? Do we give 1,000 people here or do we parse them out to 100 little groups in different agencies, NATO, the UN, et cetera? But my sense is it’s not an either-or, and from a military perspective, there is a number below which, quite frankly, our influence diminishes. There’s a number above which our influence doesn’t increase.
If we give 1,000 people to a coalition in Afghanistan out of 100,000, and we double it to 2,000, that’s great for Afghanistan; it’s great for the coalition. Does Canada get twice the influence by giving twice the number of troops? The answer is absolutely no. There’s a calculus that determines what is enough to get Canada the influence it needs, because it’s always going to be value added to the operation and where you can contribute somewhere else to gain even more influence.
When I sent my special forces teams in, we could spend eight guys in this one area, or we could spend four in this area and four in this area, and we’ve doubled down our influence for the Government of Canada. I wouldn’t say it’s a binary either-or. The numbers are important, but it needs serious thought before you automatically half or double a number. It should be about Canada and Canada’s influence.
Lt.-Gen. Bouchard: First, the fundamental question is knowing which capabilities Canada wants to have. Do we want a powerful navy, an air force with a strike capability or one that simply provides transport, a well-armed and multifaceted land force? Second, once that conversation has been held, we have to then decide what kind of structure we want. Do we want flexibility so that we can move quickly and easily? Sometimes it is more a matter of quality than quantity. It is incredible to see how a small group can exercise leadership at all levels. I understand that very well because I have seen it and experienced it in a number of places.
The third point is to decide what equipment must be sent: special forces, the air force, or something else. Then we can make our contribution with adequate equipment and cutting edge technology in the years that follow. It is not just a question of considering what we have today, but in planning for a force that will last a long time in all aspects, ships, aircraft, weapons and other equipment.
We must not think just about what must be done today; we must plan where are going in the future. Do we have that strategic long-term vision and are we debating that question seriously?
Senator Carignan: Do we have those capabilities?
Lt.-Gen. Bouchard: That is a matter for the Chief of the Defence Staff. The country has to assess its capabilities and make them known to the Canadian Armed Forces, which have to do the best they can with their inherent strengths and weaknesses. It is up to the Government of Canada to decide on the capabilities needed to meet our national and international objectives in the unpredictable world, both today and for the next 30 or 40 years. As I was just discussing with Senator Day, in 1976, we were up against the Warsaw Pact. At that time, we would never have believed that we would be going to Libya or Kosovo. We have to look at the future strategically. Where will we be in 30 or 40 years?
The Chair: Colleagues, we are coming to an end here. I have a question about the financing of the military. I’ve heard today that what’s being provided will be sufficient to take on these new deployments if the decision is taken to go in that direction. Over the last number of years, we have been informed that our navy, air force and military, in some cases the army, are being under-financed in areas because of the budgetary effects put in place over the last five years.
In order to meet our current and future obligations, is it going to be imperative for the Government of Canada to increase the financial commitments to the military in order to proceed with the new fighter jets? We know they are going to have to be replaced. And also the submarine fleet, which is becoming a question mark as we move forward, and now we’re talking about high-altitude drones. Multi-millions of dollars are going to be required. It’s one thing to talk about this mission by itself, but there are so many other conflicting or additional responsibilities that we’re going to be asking from the military, yet are we going to be able to provide the necessary technology? I’ll put the question of ballistic missile defence to General Bouchard. Should we be part of that, and is there going to be a cost attached to that?
You both have extensive experience, so in view of the fact that we’re expanding our responsibilities, are we going to need more financing over and above the normal day-to-day commitments we have on the books at the present time?
Ms. Boulden: It’s evident that over the years our equipment has reached a state where it needs to be replaced, be it maritime equipment, air or land forces. We’re facing significant challenges on that. It is in the open how much the surface combatant replacement will cost. These things cost money, and the price will continue to increase; it is a fact of life. It’s not only a replacement of one bit of equipment, but we’re adding new capabilities from drones.
We have a tendency to want to replace one thing by another. We need to approach this in terms of capability again and to say what I need as part of this weapons system, which is part of a bigger weapons system. What role will a drone play? What role would a fighter play? What role would a ship play? You bring it all together in a balancing act. I believe that an increase in funding is going to be required to meet all these points.
As far as ballistic missile defence goes, if I go back to my days in NORAD, and as I look at the latest development in North Korea, for example, which two weeks ago detonated what appears to be a five-kiloton nuclear weapon, and we know they have the capability to merge these into missile defence — if we look into the future, that’s one of the threats we will have to face. If we analyze the threats we’re facing, how can we get together with that?
Finally, there is already a well-established system in the U.S., but to join that system is an important one. As we watch Europe equipping with ballistic missile defence, it becomes an important point. I believe that in the future ballistic missiles will be a threat to this country. Therefore, how do we respond to that? Through membership in the ballistic missile defence. To what level? It’s something that needs to be discussed with NORAD and the U.S.
Lt.-Gen. Day: I would make a brief comment on BMD, having looked at that seriously in one of my previous appointments, as we looked at capabilities. I have always been puzzled as to why we have not had an open debate. We are involved in ballistic missile defence. We are just on the receiving end of the consequences; others make a decision for us. We’ve consciously decided to essentially contract out this capability, but do it in such a way that we have no visibility in the contract. We don’t understand the price, we don’t understand the capability being delivered, and we have absolutely no say in how it will be executed.
If I said to any of you that’s how we’re going to run any other part of the security apparatus of Canada, you would be appalled. We’ve been doing that for years.
This is not Ronald Reagan’s space wars. This is a fundamentally different system, and we have wilful blindness and ignorance on this issue. I find it appalling, just so we’re clear.
With regard to financing, how many apples do you want to buy? We talk about financing as if it’s a finite number. I would say to you that when we think about military financing, you must think about three horizons. You must think about today, and that really is the financing of our people. It’s today’s training and the equipping of boots and uniforms and meals and everything else. You must think about horizon, which is the sustaining of what we’re currently doing, but you also must think about the future.
Now, financing in any military is and should only be measured against demand. Should we give it more money? Well, it depends on what the government demands of it. But what we fail to have a conversation about is if I give you, say, $15 billion, how do we understand what it means not just to today? I can quantify that. The chief can quantify that. His three stars can quantify that tremendously well. The problem is that there is little or no debate about what it means about the conversation in 15 or 20 years when you’re reaping what you’ve sowed today by not reinvesting in the capital.
I would not make a plea for more money or less money. I would make a plea to understand what the money buys you not just today, but to sustain near-term activities, operations and training, and what it means in 15, 20 years’ time when our children and our grandchildren will be inheriting the investments we’ve made. Unlike infrastructure when it falls apart, you can’t build it overnight because we can’t afford it.
The answer to your question is, based on my understanding of what we’re looking at — and I’m the one who wrote the Defence Acquisition Guide about the potential portfolios of capabilities we’re looking forward to — it will require several tens of billions of dollars of investment over many decades. That’s the time frame, that’s the size, but it needs to be relative to demand.
We tend to have a conversation lacking what demand is. If you want your Canadian Forces to go off and do difficult, dangerous things around the world, you have to train them, you have to equip them, and you have to prepare the next generation to be trained and equipped, and that doesn’t come free.
The Chair: I want to thank you, Lieutenant-General Day and Lieutenant-General Bouchard, for your informative presentations. We appreciate the time you’ve taken to join us today and to present your views. On behalf of our committee and the Senate, I’d like to thank both of you for your outstanding service to our country. We look forward to hearing more from you as you transition into your new careers in retirement.
Colleagues, I would like to now welcome Senator Dallaire, who is retired from the Senate.
Lieutenant-General (Ret’d) Dallaire commanded the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda from October 1993 until August 1994. Following his military career, Lieutenant-General Dallaire worked as an adviser for the United Nations and the Canadian government in matters related to genocide prevention, national defence, veterans affairs, and child victims of war.
He was appointed to the Senate of Canada in March 2005. In 2007 he founded the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, an international partnership based at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. The program aims to eradicate the use and recruitment of child soldiers by working with security sectors, military, police and peacekeeping forces worldwide through training, research and advocacy work.
Senator Dallaire, welcome back to the committee as we examine the issues related to the defence policy review in Canada regarding engagement with UN peacekeeping. I understand you have an opening statement, so please begin.
Lieutenant-General (Ret'd) the Honourable Roméo Dallaire, as an individual: Thank you, Mr. Chair and colleagues, for letting me come back, sit at this end of the table and have an opportunity to respond to your questions and put, I hope, a few points into the study that the minister has given this committee. I found it extraordinary to be able to get a minister to ask us to do a study, versus us trying to offer up a study. That was innovative in itself.
When I read his letter, he talked about ensuring that the policies guiding the Canadian Armed Forces are aligned with our current and future security challenges, which in themselves are difficult to define, and that he wants a new defence policy. Obviously that means that we're going for a white paper. I found that the last paragraph, in particular, was notable: "The Canadian Armed Forces can contribute to renewing Canada's commitment to United Nations peace support operations, and to supporting an important multinational activity that makes a tangible contribution to global stability to protecting vulnerable populations and supporting civilian institutions that can help prevent conflicts."
That is the essence of his mission that he describes there, with this review and it is, in my opinion, not only lofty in a positive sense, but a very valid and focused orientation for the future of the forces.
I say that because a few years ago I participated with the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies on the publication of a book called Mobilizing the Will to Intervene, in which we argued that there isn't a conflict in the world today that doesn't have an impact on us here. There is no way we can ignore any of the conflicts, for it is in our self-interest, to start with, if you want to look at it that way, let alone our humanitarian dimension and commitment, to look at these conflicts.
These conflicts create massive movements of populations, so you have huge refugee camps and internally-displaced camps that are the sources of pandemics that spread, and more are coming along. They're also the source of so much dissatisfaction that they're a source of extremism and radicalism. So these continue a conflict and prevent it from actually reconciling.
Often these conflicts are in zones that have resources that we need. They're compromised by being in a conflict zone and, as such, we have difficulty in getting them at a reasonable price, let alone consistently. Look at Coltan out of the Eastern Congo for so many years.
Last, and not least, the diasporas in this country have not necessarily de-linked from their home countries, inasmuch as they have families there who are still suffering. So the conflicts in those countries will influence, right down to the municipal level, the impact of these diasporas and how they're handling the integration to this country and how they hope this country does engage in assisting them. If you remember the Tamils in Toronto who blocked all the roads there because they didn't like the decision by the government at the time, protests like that are possibilities in the future.
I can speak to the fact that the work I'm doing with Child Soldiers right now has now been requested by police forces in Canada. We're doing research with Montreal, Toronto and Edmonton with regard to diaspora gangs and trying to prevent the extreme violence — some use the word "radicalization" — and actually trying to save youths who get radicalized or caught up in these gangs, be they diaspora or other, and as such will destabilize our own country.
There's nothing out there that's happening that doesn't have an impact here. If we do not make that connection, then I believe we are not really looking at the threat. It is pervasive and can, in fact, move across boundaries and has already made its way, too often, to Canada and North America.
The realm of peacekeeping has been going through some changes, and certainly the Brahimi report of 1999 brought significant changes. Also, the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace and Operations brought forward a number of recommendations, as did, in 2005, Kofi Annan, who brought them forward to the General Assembly to make significant changes to the UN, not only peacekeeping but a variety of elements; in fact, he had about 100 recommendations.
My regret is that there's very little being implemented in these recommendations. There seems to be an overt lack of leadership by nations to actually want to engage, support and reinforce the need for these recommendations and changes. So this is an element we should be interested because of the conflicts coming here.
The second reason we're interested in the UN and in this area is the fact that recommendations are on the table for countries to take a leadership role and to make the UN more effective, not only in peacekeeping but in a variety of responsibilities, such as command and control, strategic planning and the like.
There are also innovations that have been brought forward that haven't been implemented, like responsibility to protect. Although we do at times use words of it, we rarely use the four pillars of it, which include diplomacy and, in extremis, the use of force. R2P, which we created and got approved in 2005, has not been the basis of intervention in an early way with boots on the ground and regional capabilities — African Union, Arab League and so on — to prevent and protect the civilians from becoming part of mass atrocities.
However, it is interesting that Resolution 1325 is looking at gender and the protection of gender. Even NATO has adopted that resolution, and Canada is just publishing some of its work. But there's also Resolution 1612, which is children in armed conflict being used as the primary weapons system of all the conflicts out there.
So my third point is that the threat is — and we like to use this term — "asymmetric." The threat, continuity and sustainment of conflicts in the world are very much focused on the fact that they're using generations of children to sustain it, to build them, to create an atmosphere of war within them and give them absolutely no other option than to sustain those wars. Just coming back from Jordan, I've seen them recruiting 13-year-olds in the refugee camps to join the Free Syrian Army.
The threat we face is being sustained by the use of children in every conflict out there. Our ability to influence and reduce that threat and not let it influence the radicalization even back home has been minimal. We've done a lot in rehabilitation and reintegration, but we've done next to nothing to prevent the recruitment through education and, once they're used, to use other means than simply kinetically destroying them.
There are other ways in which we have done extensive work. I bring that point to this table because, in all the discussions that I've read, there's very little talk about the threat out there in UN operations and peace support operations. I would argue that the primary threat is in fact the use of youth. I can reaffirm that by the fact that in 1994 in Rwanda, the slaughter of 800,000 was done by youth militia. What's undermining Burundi right now is a youth militia, every political party, and on and on.
Mr. Chair, ladies and gentlemen, I participated in the 1987 white paper. It was 10 years too late and was supposed to meet the capability commitment gap because the forces were rusting out. It got shot out of the water within two years because it couldn't be funded; it was unaffordable.
In 1994, we produced another white paper, but it really didn't have a name; it didn't have a threat. We didn't really know where we were going in that time frame with imploding nations, failing states, even civil wars. The classic use of military force didn't seem to work anymore. So we created what we called "general-purpose combat capable," which meant everything and nothing. It left us totally trying to figure out what would be the mandate that we could be given.
In 2016, this is a time where this study is timely, because there are threats out there that we can identify, and they are real. We can also significantly influence countries to not fall into conflict and also prevent them from engaging in conflicts by other means than those that are purely military.
That brings to mind a term that is now in vogue — "the whole of government." How we engage in a defence policy cannot be done in isolation of other departments making changes within their construct to be able to provide this country and the world with much safer prevention tools to conflict and ultimately resolution of conflict that will last through reconciliation. That means development work, international engagement of a diplomatic nature.
This brings me to my primary point — and I know my time is limited — and that is building capacity. In the 1960s, the Canadian Armed Forces went throughout Africa and built armies. We sent a lot of people to build armies — Ghana; Tanzania; the countries in Africa; Colombia; Myanmar.
I've just come back from Amman, Jordan. I noted their influence in the whole northern part of Africa. They are seeking extensively to become professional forces with all the capabilities of a professional force and a sense of responsibility to democracies, human rights and protection of civilians.
The primary focus to me is to move the extraordinary assets that we have — people, training, equipment, technology — their way so as to build capacity within nations, changing their ethos in the way they think and look at threats and their responsibilities as nations, and actually build up massively a cadre and an operational capability to move Canadian Forces into the field, in training, developing and in sustaining forces that want to be professionalized and that are prepared to be professionalized. They ultimately will provide the lasting solutions to these conflicts — not us; they will — by becoming that much more effective.
I'll end by saying that although I've spoken extensively about the UN, I speak in parallel with the African Union and with regional bodies, including the European Union. I've met with the German/Netherlands Corps commander and his problems with the Organization of American States, where we did a lot of work in the past in building capacity in South America and who seek our presence. We need these multilateral bodies. We need the regional bodies to work with.
Yes, we also need NATO. But one of the terrible things that could happen is we get sucked into what is called "NATO-itis," which means you can't do anything unless it's NATO. That, to me, is an underlying element in the future of our forces. When we consider that under Chapter 8 we cannot join a regional body and build it up — Prime Minister Martin sent me and Senator Jaffer to Darfur in 2005 to see how regional bodies can be effective and take on the roles without having to go to the UN. We can have significant impacts on their abilities to achieve their missions through technology, training, doctrine and ultimately through a total adaptation of their philosophy and their ethos in regard to what militaries and police forces can do in the security realm. Right now we train police, prison guards and military in regard to a new doctrine of child soldiers and preventing that. In fact, the NATO SOPs were written by us and are being applied now, and we're going to be training all the commands in that regard.
Gentlemen, I submitted to you a paper, which has been translated, with a listing of a series of elements that I think might be more worthy of discussion than my simply reading through them, but I would wish to emphasize in that paper one last thing.
We stumbled in the 1990s because we were an experientially-based military. Our leadership structure failed us, and Somalia was simply the high-watermark of that. We went through a reform of the officer corps and wanted to create a balance of intellectually-based and experience-based officers to meet the complex challenges, ambiguities and dilemmas that we face in the field today. That's why introducing anthropology, sociology and philosophy into the military colleges was crucial to understand the problems, let alone simply participate. We mastered the tactical level quite smartly. We have gained extraordinary experience at the operational level, that is to say command-of-theatre operations, be it Afghanistan or the elements thereof or as I did with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi — a theatre — so the operational level.
But the strategic level, Development Period 5, when generals become promoted and for the next 15 years get absolutely no professional, intellectual or rigorous programs to continue their development as the corporate head of this body in Canada and internationally is, to me, a great deficiency. I always regretted that I didn’t get on the list of studies to study of the depth of military advice to the Canadian government, which meant studying what the generals think strategically in order to provide that advice.
Thank you very much.
The Chair: Thank you very much, senator.
I do want to refer to your submission that you have provided us with. It's very complete, and I want to commend you for the work that you did in order to deal with numerous issues that are facing the military, not just one issue.
I'm going to begin with our deputy chair, Senator Jaffer, and then we'll go with Senator White.
Senator Jaffer: Senator Dallaire, I want to welcome you. Thank you for your remarks. I want to tell you that we miss you here, and this committee certainly misses you very much.
Lt.-Gen. Dallaire: Both sides, right?
Senator Jaffer: Yes, both sides.
I also want to say to you that I just came back from Uganda and a message for you for the work you're doing there is they need you to return soon. They really appreciate it.
As Canadians we're proud of you, and I can tell you that many people around the world are also proud of you.
There are so many questions I have for you, but I only have a limited time.
You mentioned Resolution 1325. Often women are seen as victims, but as you of all people know, young women especially are combatants as well. One of the things we need to look at is women child soldiers, if you can address that.
But my bigger question is that you, who have been on the ground, have paid a big price for some of the things that we were not equipped to support you on. If we are now going to look at peace operations, what three things, for the infrastructure in Canada, have to be in place before we send our men and women abroad?
Lt.-Gen. Dallaire: Thank you very much for the questions. It's kind of you. Yes, my team will be back in Uganda in November, continuing the training of the Ugandan forces and their police forces. We had the pleasure of meeting the President Museveni on the trip with the minister, which was very interesting, particularly when he remembered me and remembered what he had done at that time. Anyway, that's another story.
Resolution 1325, which is gender-based, protection of women, is a humanitarian dimension that NATO also has recognized and has built a complete program of wanting the forces that will be committed to it to respond to, meaning changes within the process. Canada has recently written that instruction. The CDS has signed off on it and they're getting on with the gender dimension, which includes boys and girls, of course, as we know.
However, the girls that you raise in the child soldier issue comes, in fact, with Resolution 1612. Resolution 1612 is what we call "children in armed conflict," the use of children as essentially weapons of war, be it as porters, sex slaves or on the front lines with an AK-47. That, NATO has agreed, is an operational dimension. It's an operational threat. That's what we face. We've taken casualties because of children and soldiers having to kill children in missions because of lack of new skills and how to handle them in this new era of the use of children. So Resolution 1612 has to come out by our force leadership as a directive to change the doctrine in regard to how you face child soldiers, of which 40 per cent are girls, and they're used throughout. The sin behind this crime against humanity is that these girls end up with children and they are shunned by their societies because they've been used. Where the boys are sort of the warrior thing, the girls are totally destroyed. There are wars now purely sustained by the fact that they can keep going after kids. The demographic permits it and we haven't stopped it.
In regard to Canadian infrastructure and our meeting the challenges of the future, I alluded to it, I guess, but I think the dominant one is our ability to be deployable in a timely fashion and to be able to sustain that deployment. It's one thing to get them on the ground, a second thing to sustain it.
First of all, regarding the strategic lift, the previous government did extraordinary work in moving the strategic lift forward and, in fact, giving lift in theatre by buying all those Chinooks, which I think is a national asset, not just a military asset. It's a national asset when you get rainstorms and ice storms and things like that. They can do so much work.
I think the other dimension, however, is our inability to move large quantities of assets and sustain and protect them, such as medical assets and so on. So way back we had the idea of a roll-on/roll-off ship that had the capacity of moving a battle group with ammunition and a level 3, I think, or level 2 hospital in it.
This I have amended in my thinking to go for one amphibious ship that can meet that requirement but also can meet an important requirement here in Canada. There are so many places around this country on the three oceans where there is no port or facilities. If they end up with problems, we will have to get assets to them fast, and only an amphibious capability can do that. So I would argue that having an amphibious capability in Canada is a significant infrastructure need to be able to move the forces.
My last comment is that you have to sustain forces. That means more than logistics. It means that if you are committing a formed unit to a mission, which can happen, of course — maybe not now, but there are missions that certainly can come down the road, as we've seen the Dutch, French and Brits get engaged, and so on — where you don't have enough troops. Your battalions and your combat arms are 60 per cent strength or 50 per cent strength. You have to pull two or three battalions together to put one in the field. So how do you sustain that after six months? How many rotations can you do? We always used to use a ratio one in five. If one battalion was committed, you needed five to sustain it. We don't even have that capability. So the number of qualified troops.
The answer to that is by building up not only the regular force to a certain degree but in producing a far more effective Reserve Force, escalating it and putting inside it what we did at one time in the 1990s, the 10/90 concept — the U.S. Marines use it in their reserve divisions — where 10 per cent of the forces in the reserve unit are regular forces. That gives you depth, experience and the ability to handle a multitude of problems.
The Chair: Thank you. We have 30 minutes left, so I ask those who are asking questions for their preambles to be brief.
Senator White: I just changed my question as a result of your last 30 seconds talking about reserves. Some countries — the U.S. in particular — have been good at drawing down on reserve components at multiple levels, even lower levels than state levels, but state and nationally. We really have not expanded beyond our reserve program and trying to move out into corporate Canada to see how we can draw on certain assets.
In particular, talking specifically about our next UN mission, it will be a different type of person we may need on the ground from a development perspective, the human piece. Not so much where do you see that going or where do you see those people coming from, but more importantly, what human assets from a humanistic perspective do you see us needing in our next mission, whether in Africa or the Middle East, for example?
Lt.-Gen. Dallaire: Remember that my fundamental thrust regarding our engagement is to go into countries, even the stable ones, and build capacity there. That's the essence of it. And those who are stumbling to go in and give them that much more depth and those who may already be in conflict provide specific assets, from training to special forces, in particular, to police forces, not forgetting that you better have a judiciary behind them because it's no use if you don't have that.
In regard to our ability to move significant assets, I would argue that the Air Reserve component is smooth, functional and integrated. It's mostly all ex-regular. The Naval Reserve has just gone through some readjustments and is still doing significant ones. I would argue that they seem to be on a track that will integrate them far more efficiently by letting them on the big ships and not just the MCDVs.
But in the army, there is still this separation that exists. Because of that separation, I argue that we have not really figured out who they really are. First of all, the reserves are the most multi-ethnic, multilingual and multi-skilled force that we have in the Canadian Forces. It is extraordinary when you go to a mess dinner at a reserve unit and see the types of people and their backgrounds and what they offer and what they bring from civilian society.
If anything, you take the reserves and not do like we did in 1970, where we said "one army" and we tried to integrate them all. Actually, no, build on these part-timers. You have permanent part time, temporary part time and permanent force. Take these part-timers and extract from them the incredible civilian-based assets they have in order to expand our ability to deploy far more assets to the field that can cover some of the significant problems we face. If problems are not pure use of force and are not kinetic, they are far more in capacity building, sustaining and solving problems and ultimately pushing the kinetic side as far back as we can.
You build the reserve. It is an untapped, extraordinary potential that has never been looked at as a very specific asset to this nation.
Senator Carignan: Mr. Dallaire, I am listening to your presentation, which has been in English only from the beginning and will probably continue that way, including your answer to my question.
With that said, in your written presentation, you mention the importance of the French fact in French-speaking Africa. In your opinion, how important would be the contribution of Canada, of our armed forces, in French as a strategic element of a peacekeeping deployment in Africa?
Lt.-Gen. Dallaire: Senator Carignan, you have hit a really sensitive nerve. After 36 years, I realize that the institution goes about assimilation very discreetly. When they invite me to appear on Tout le monde en parle, they make fun of my French accent. First, we may well have French rules and units, but too much assimilation is still going on.
Second, 13 months ago, I was in Burundi with Michaëlle Jean, the Secretary-General of La Francophonie, and with the Dutch officials who were trying to negotiate the participation of their army in the conflict that erupted in Africa. The idea was to obtain equipment in order to rehabilitate the militia, all child soldiers, who were about to undermine the country’s security. I saw in the Francophonie a desire to intervene, from countries other than France, Belgium and Luxembourg. This desire to intervene takes on a completely different light.
We are not just bringing a language. We are also bringing forward an ethic, a philosophy and a set of completely different skills. We do not capitalize enough on things like that. For instance, when we went to Haiti for the first time, there were Haitians in Unit 22, even though the authorities ordered us not to send Haitians. We answered that no one spoke Creole apart from the Haitians, who would be extremely helpful. Finally, we convinced the authorities by telling them that these Haitians would serve as a force multiplier for our ranks.
Of course, the Francophonie wants to participate, but there are no takers. Canada, a solid and recognized country, could become a leader in many of these countries that are at the top of the list of those experiencing difficulties, countries such as Mali, the Central African Republic, Burundi and the Congo.
The Francophonie is in demand and Canada is not taking it seriously enough.
Senator Carignan: Exactly. I think we can add the concept of civil law, since many of those countries have a tradition of civil law, which comes from France.
Lt.-Gen. Dallaire: This means that it is not enough to call on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police — for which I have a great deal of respect, by the way; we also have to call on the municipal police forces who would benefit significantly from their experience on the ground.
Senator Carignan: I would also like to look at another aspect. In your presentation, you referred to a number of items, such as the importance of the participation of NATO and some of its missions, Europe and the protection against the "Russian menace" in some parts of the world. There are a lot of needs and objectives.
You also address the need to acquire the necessary equipment, be it aircraft, submarines or drones. My question is this: Since Canada is already struggling to do what it has to do under its strategic commitments, which are needed to protect its territory, isn’t there a danger of doing too many things at once or of spreading ourselves thin by having too many commitments?
Lt.-Gen. Dallaire: We have two options. We can stay home and hope that we will be able to defend ourselves, to see the threat approaching and to get the situation under control. Or, as we have been traditionally doing since the beginning, we can go to where the threat is and face it, equipped with a reserve that still guarantees our security at home.
NORAD and joining the Northern Command and integrating them, as it is integrated in NORAD, as we saw, while the Canadians should also be integrating that capability. So we build a North American defence capability. However, expeditionary requirements of this nation can be done with new defence military-training capabilities that are being done by individuals with expertise being sent to build capacity and also by the deployment of formed units or new capabilities.
The UN provided Canada with a listing. I know the head of the DPKO was here, and I hope he left you a list of all the things he asked Canada to provide. It was not always battalions. It was a whole bunch of other assets that we could provide.
Also, we do not use the reserves enough. We don't use even our veterans enough. Last summer, I trained 15 veterans to be trainers in foreign countries on the child soldier doctrine. A lot of them are prepared to serve, under some new construct, to do a lot of those jobs, without emptying out our battalions of NCOs, officers and the like.
However, peacekeeping in the Cold War was barely 5 per cent of our activities. Ninety-five per cent of our time was how to kill Russians. That has not changed, inasmuch as the threat of high intensity that we thought had disappeared over the last 25 years is starting to see a come-back on the European front.
So where I would have said two or three years ago that we don't need to keep the high-end operational capability, I would argue now that it may be prudent to keep it. But that cannot be done at the expense of letting threats sneak into our country in an asymmetric way or of letting our capability to advance human rights and the rights of individuals and the protection of civilians in countries be affected by not being able to deploy.
In 2002, I went to see the Minister of Defence and Minister of Foreign Affairs and advised that Kofi Annan wanted us to be the backbone in the Congo where 4 million were killed, and we could have been the backbone of the biggest UN mission going, with about 2,000 troops and a commander. And I advised that we could do that and Afghanistan.
In 1992, when I commanded my brigade in Valcartier, I had 5,200 troops under command and 3,600 deployed. How come we can't do that? Where did those troops go? Why did we cut that capability? The overriding factors
— That is because after a massive erosion through attrition in the 1990s, we have never caught up. This limits our options.
Senator Dagenais: I am pleased to see you again, General Dallaire.
Lt.-Gen. Dallaire: The gentleman from the union!
Senator Dagenais: You haven’t forgotten.
In fact, when I was the president of the Association des policières et policiers provinciaux du Québec, I went twice to Haiti, where there was a peace operation in which the officers from the RCMP and the Sûreté du Québec were participating.
I wanted to talk about the UN, because I have met the leaders of MINUSTAH. They told me that it was complicated to work under the UN, because when they received a directive, they did not always know where it came from. It is a big machine, and the police officers were often speculating. In other words, it’s a dog’s breakfast.
Can we hope that this will improve, because in the UN missions, there are people from around the world? The leaders I spoke with told me that they found this complicated, because they did not know the source or the purpose of the directives. Do you think things will improve over time for those working in the field?
Lt.-Gen. Dallaire: Not to mention that they may not be able to speak the language of the local people or know their civil and legal rights. Their skills are often questionable.
At the UN, I met the chief of all police services, and he wants to expand the deployment of all those services. Actually, right now, they are working on drafting the reform of the training and competencies required of the police officers being deployed. This document will be published within one year. It will outline the policies that will serve as benchmarks. We are taking part in this program because of our commitment to protecting the rights of children, who are often forced to become soldiers and are victims of other abuses.
As for police officers, we have to be careful with how they are being treated. Are they being treated fairly by the military, the municipalities, the associations in the places to which they are deployed? Are they recognized for the incredible advantage they are providing to a community because of their experience on the ground?
I remember Ms. Boucher, the mayor of Quebec City, who wanted to stop sending her police officers to Haiti. I appeared before her executive council and, after one hour of testimony, she understood that, of course, although some police officers had been injured, their participation allowed her to communicate with the Haitian community in the city in an unprecedented way.
The time has come for the first responders who work for the UN to be considered like military, like veterans or like RCMP members and to have the same privileges, benefits and support that those groups enjoy. The RCMP has access to those benefits, but does not want to use them. This is part of the charter, even if it needs to be improved.
I was on the National Police Services Advisory Board where we recommended that Canada should keep up to 600 police from all police forces in this country, where we have diasporas throughout the country deployed, and make that an attraction, for diasporas to recruit these young people and send them out and bring them back and provide depth to the community. One hundred and fifty is a good first shot, but not enough.
We need to take care of these people. The police women and the women in the forces have a significant multiplier effect.
They are a significant force multiplier. We have done research out of Dalhousie University where we have seen women on the front lines facing child soldiers that have had an incredible impact on disarming and diffusing the situation and achieving the aim without having to go kinetic. The screaming need for women on the front lines, upfront police and military, is a challenge that I'm sure women would want. Keeping them behind the lines is an absolute catastrophic waste of a very significant force multiplier.
Senator Beyak: Welcome back. It's nice to see you again. We had some wonderful military conversations, very non-partisan.
Could you give your opinion on parliamentary oversight on these missions? Do you think we should have votes, in your military opinion?
Lt.-Gen. Dallaire: Thank you for that question.
Bill C-22, regarding parliamentary oversight on national security, that Minister Goodale is moving, which came out of a bill by Hugh Segal and myself from the Senate, is the first step on parliamentary oversight in our capacity of garnering information and being proactive against possible threats and having the people of Canada hold all those bodies accountable. There are lots of these agencies, and right now there is no oversight by Parliament, and that is a significant deficiency in meeting what Canadians should expect from their security forces.
I think that Minister Goodale's desire to move police forces more into the realm of peacekeeping is great, including their care.
Now in regard to the specific oversight of Parliament in deployment, I believe the essence of a nation's security is the covenant between the people of the country and those members of that population who volunteer to provide its security. So it's a covenant. It's a cradle-to-grave commitment to them and their immediate families in regard to their going with the unlimited liability
— they don’t have a union —
— of having to commit themselves to risk.
If the troops are under that premise, then there must be a continued link between the people of the country and the troops and the veterans and their families. It's a continuum. So if you are committing them to these missions and if the missions do have significant risk, if you see that it will engender the possibility of casualties — and I have to tell you that there is not a mission out there that does not have the possibility of casualties. They are all Chapter 7. I went in with Chapter 6 and took casualties, so imagine they all have that possibility, to varying degrees. So I believe the people of Canada want to participate in the missions. They are Chapter 7; the possibility of casualties is there.
So the government, in its desire to continue to bring support to them by being committed to their families and long-term support, loses nothing in having it presented to Parliament. Parliament in itself could use the realization that when it is committing troops to missions, the mission doesn't end when we haul them back here.
I lost one of my people to suicide 15 years after. Those costs still exist and the families still exist, and we are trying to chop down resources at a time when the wounds are coming much more to the fore.
Yes, I think raise it to a covenant. When you raise it that way, there is no debate on the commitment by the representatives of the people and those who serve.
Senator Day: Good afternoon and thank you for appearing, General Dallaire. I would like to talk about your comments regarding the multilateral and regional groups.
The Arab League and the African Union are examples. If would be helpful if you could explain what you would like to see in a policy statement that relates to Canada's role in helping these regional groups.
Lt.-Gen. Dallaire: Let's use the African Union as one region, although all the regions have them, and I think all the regions should be considered, including the European Union. NATO is there, but the European Union is also there and could be brought to bear as another capability than just doing humanitarian work, as a military capability instead of NATO, and in fact I wouldn't mind that at all.
In regard to regional capabilities — Darfur, Somalia, South Sudan — the first deployed forces were African Union forces with nothing, near bare bone. But they got there and stayed there. Then the UN came in, and then we had these hybrids, which are terrible.
My work at the African Union headquarters with the peace and security directorate in Addis Ababa has brought forward a dearth of expertise and manpower to be able to help it build the five sub-regions. The region is divided into five sub-regions to this African standby force. You have the East, the South and so on. I believe that building these regional capabilities and getting us integrated into them gets us into the front lines of conflict coming down the road, educates us and gives us expertise in what we need and what we should do.
So bringing along Canadians inside of a regional body is not seen pejoratively. On the contrary, it is seen as making those bodies and assets that much more capable and providing more professionalism. So when I hear that we only we talk about the UN, I find that very dismissive because the Organization of American States wants to operate without having to work with the Americans. They want to operate with us and we could be down there up to our ears. In Colombia, we're already working extensively with them. It’s the same thing in Africa, of course, and the Middle East. So I think it's an understated capability that we could infiltrate and build up.
Senator Day: Would these regional groups intervene in their region if they see a problem developing? Obviously one of the advantages is they would be able to intervene more quickly and therefore subdue the problem before it escalates, but would they use a responsibility to protect? Would they require somewhat of a national agreement before they could intervene? A lot of times the government has fallen, so there is no agreement to invite them in, or would they have to wait for United Nations? How would they work to perform effectively?
Lt.-Gen. Dallaire: The only real, hard objection of African forces crossing borders into other African countries or their dismay with the international community in Africa has been the International Criminal Court and its interference in some of these missions.
In regard to the African Union, it negotiates with the sub-regions and the sub-regions with the nations in order to respond to a crisis. What is holding them back is training centres to build command and control capabilities and deployment capabilities and sustainment capabilities to do those jobs, not troops. There are just qualified troops, trained troops and assets to do that. So they are held back far more because they just don't think they can handle the job versus just not wanting to do the job.
That's where the hidden story of us is. As an example, in Africa, where 87 per cent of peacekeepers are deployed, the hidden thing is not necessarily on the front lines but in fact right behind it in building the institutions, the doctrine, the training, the ethos in police and military and security forces so they can be credible and not only meet African Union standards but also meet UN standards, which are a bit different. We are holding them back by not giving what they need to be able to do the job.
I think it's our own fault if it falls flat, and I can give examples from my experiences in Somalia, South Sudan, in the Congo, in Burundi. I can give you a whole piss pot. I can give you the example of Sierra Leone where the President said, "I want my whole force reformed." We are reforming the whole of every course, training program and even in the education system with the curriculum of teaching children how not to get recruited into child solders.
Senator Day: When you say "we," is this Canada?
Lt.-Gen. Dallaire: No, it's my initiative, because we are the only one working in that region right now.
Senator Day: Capability building within the regions but capability building separately within the United Nations’ command and control and other things they need to do there.
Lt.-Gen. Dallaire: Yes.
Mr. Chair, just if I may — forgive me — the guys don't like going to the UN because there is no strategic planning. There's no strategic command and control. Libya ran off with the mandate because NATO ran off with the mandate and never even briefed the Security Council. So until the military committee, and until the Security Council, gets that capability, it will simply have a force provider, which is the DPKO. That's all it does. It puts forces together and takes the mandates that come out of the political affairs and the Security Council and throws them into the field. That's not strategic planning. There are regions where you have four or five missions right beside each other that could be reinforcing each other and that have no capability of doing that. That's why the guys don't like to work with them.
Senator Day: That's very helpful; thank you.
The Chair: Senator, it certainly brings into the question the need for public debate. If we're going to send Canadians over there, in what capacity, what are the authorities going to be, and who is going to be in charge? We've heard a number of times that in some areas within the United Nations the direction isn't necessarily being given and that subsequently the men and women who are out on the ground are bearing the consequences.
Lt.-Gen. Dallaire: Mr. Chair, the big failure on that side is not only strategic stuff back home in New York but the fact that SRSGs and force commanders are not necessarily the best-qualified people to actually take over as a theatre commander or as a political head of a mission. Bringing more discipline and more capabilities to that level will go a long way in solving some of those tactical problems.
The Chair: Our time is coming to an end, unfortunately, senator, but I want to ask you if you would comment on two issues. One is ballistic missile defence — you mentioned that in your written brief — and our participation in ballistic missile defence and the consequences after our report of I think it was almost three years ago now and the importance of that. I'd like your comments on that.
I would also just like your observation on general spending. If we're going to go forward with these types of missions, are we going to need more financial commitments by the government in order to be able to do them?
Lt.-Gen. Dallaire: On the first side, missile defence will call for a few bucks right off the bat. However, whatever is going to come across may never hit New York. It may prefer to hit Toronto. That will have a significant impact on us. Will it call on the Americans to use the limited resources they have to defend Toronto? To what extent will missile defence defend Toronto? In my opinion and what I discussed, if we remember when we were there, is that unless you're part of that umbrella and you're engaged in it, then it's not assured. I think we gain so much more in being part of that whole program. Whether they deployed that radar or not, I don't know. That's another story. But we must be part of it in order to be able to turn to them and say, "Those few assets you have, yes, if it's coming to wherever and it's not an American city, you're going to deploy it for a Canadian one."
I'll end by saying that 10 years ago I was against missile defence because they couldn't hit the side of a barn. That has changed significantly. It is not 100 per cent, as we know, but it is now mature enough that we can engage, yes.
With regard to assets, it's always a question of, "We want more money." I think that what doesn't necessarily always come to the fore is that the military budget is divided into, first, capital equipment, which continues to grow exponentially. Every time you move a project to the right, you add 10, 15, 25 per cent to the cost right off the bat.
Second is O&M. which is expensive with regard to the technology that we're using and sustaining that technology, the training of people to be able to master that technology, and the infrastructure needed to put it under protection with our winters so that you can use it.
The third one is the sleeper. That's using more money. That's the people. You want a professional military. You want an effective Reserve Force that can reinforce it and provide it with new capabilities and new competencies. The personnel side is going to keep eating more and more. So if that 62 per cent or whatever it is — it was 52 when I was ADM; I think it's 62 now — is not fed, which means that you do not get new money to continuously meet that side, all you're going to do is eat away at your operational capabilities, fuel and ammunition and so on, or at your capital program. The people cost should always be considered as a new money engagement, be it increased numbers or be it simply increased quality of life to meet their requirements and those of their families.
The Chair: Colleagues, we've gone past our time, so I would like to thank Senator Dallaire for his time, for coming before us. You're always welcome. As Senator Jaffer said, we do miss you as a member of this committee. I can say that for myself personally. I'm pleased to see the work that you're doing.
Joining us on panel 4 today as we consider issues related to the defence policy review and Canada's re-engagement with the United Nations peacekeeping operations are Lieutenant-Colonel (Ret'd) David Last, Associate Professor, Royal Military College; and David Bercuson, Director of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies, University of Calgary, who joins us by video conference. Welcome.
Dr. David Bercuson has been the Director of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies in Calgary since 1997. He is also the Director of Programs for the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. He was appointed Special Advisor to the Minister of Defence on the future of the Canadian forces in 1997 and was a member of the Minister of National Defence’s Monitoring Committee until 2003. Dr. Bercuson also served on the Advisory Council on National Security from 2005 to 2008. His work focuses on Canadian defence policy, the Canadian military and Canadian security policy.
Joining us in person is Dr. David Last from the Royal Military College. Dr. Last has taught political science and war studies since 1999. Prior to his academic career, he served in the Canadian Army for 30 years, where he participated in a number of peacekeeping operations in Cyprus, Croatia and Bosnia. His research is widely published on such topics as conflict management, peacekeeping and military education. In 2016, Dr. Last was the Fulbright Visitor in Peace and War Studies at Norwich University in Vermont.
Dr. Bercuson and Dr. Last, welcome back to the committee. I understand you each have an opening statement.
David Bercuson, Director, Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies, University of Calgary, as an individual:
The notion that Canada is somehow different from other states which use military power to gain political ends began to take root in this country in the early 1960s. It was the same period that the Canadian media, political leaders and some academics began to extol Canada as a peace-loving, peacekeeping nation, especially alongside our superpower neighbour. In Canada this notion was also connected to the rise of the idea that Canada, in fact, did not engage in the dirty business of pursuing national interests at all.
I hardly need point out today that much, if not all, of the UN peacekeeping we did in the period 1957 to the mid-1990s was, first, a small part of our overall national defence objectives and, second, done to serve the interests of NATO and not because we were placing our military at the service of humankind.
The vast bulk of Canada's defence spending during the Cold War went to land, air and sea forces which were to serve under NATO command to deter the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies from either attacking Western Europe or, just as important, politically dominating Central and Western Europe with military power.
Virtually all Canadian participation in UN peacekeeping missions was aimed, first, at representing NATO interests in places such as the Middle East or Cyprus — the Soviets almost always chose Poland as their representative — and, second, solving NATO problems such as the split between the U.K. and France, on the one hand, and the United Nations on the other during the Suez Crisis of 1956 or keeping NATO allies Greece and Turkey from going to war over Cyprus. These realities have been well covered by Dr. Sean Maloney in his book Canada and UN Peacekeeping: Cold War by Other Means.
Why, then, did Canadians fall in love with peacekeeping? First, because making peace is a lot nicer than making war; second, because successive Canadian governments of both major parties saw it as in their interest to keep the peacekeeping idea alive; and, third, because in the endless pursuit of enlarging small differences which Canadians have exercised vis-à-vis the United States since our founding, it served to develop our national myth.
The fact that most Canadian defence efforts were aimed at waging war against the U.S.S.R. and its Warsaw Pact allies was lost on most Canadians. Besides, what did the Canadian Army do in Europe or the navy in the North Atlantic or the air force in the skies over North America? They exercised and exercised and exercised some more, which was pretty boring stuff compared with keeping Israelis and Egyptians from tearing each other's throats out.
The end of the Cold War marked a dramatic shift in international diplomacy. There was no longer any need to keep the clients of NATO and the Warsaw Pact from confronting each other. But UN peacekeeping went on as before, with little change, and failed miserably in Rwanda, East Timor, and for Canada, most notably, in the Balkan civil war of 1992 to 1995.
Canada went into the Balkans eventually with two full battle groups, something we could not do today, with the best of intentions, but without clearly understanding the human geography in the region. We went initially to police a ceasefire between Croatia and Bosnia, both breakaway states from former Yugoslavia. We did not seem to understand the deep hatred that separated many — not all, but many — of the three chief players in what soon became a three-way civil war between Croatians, Bosnians and Serbs. Nor did we understand when we went in that all three sides distrusted the UN and charged UNPROFOR, which was the mission we were part of at the time, was siding with the other guys.
Canadians there were shot at with rifle, tank, mortar and artillery fire. Canadians were killed by snipers, IEDs and ambushes. Canadians fought a 36-hour battle with Croatian forces at the Medak Pocket. Canadians witnessed the most appalling war crimes committed by all three sides against each other.
Many Canadians came back to Canada badly scarred, physically and psychologically, from the experience. We paid little attention to them or to the bodies of Canadian soldiers shipped home because they weren't "warriors"; they were "peacekeepers."
That era saw the death of the Chapter 6 peacekeeping that Lester Pearson helped create with UNEF I, which won him a Nobel Peace Prize. But because the government of the day did not want to shatter the image Canadians had of peacekeeping, Canadians did not realize what was happening. They were so enamored with peacekeeping that even at the height of the war in Afghanistan, our third-largest war, many still thought Canadian troops were in Kandahar to keep the peace.
To the credit of the Paul Martin government, which sent Canadians to Kandahar, no one tried to pull the wool over Canadian eyes. The then-Minister of National Defence, Bill Graham, and the Chief of the Defence Staff, Rick Hillier, toured the country before the deployment to tell Canadians that Afghanistan was going to be a different kind of mission, just as Minister Dion and Minister Sajjan are doing now with regard to the coming mission in Africa, but many Canadians did not listen and many are not listening now.
The current government, to its credit, is not talking about "peacekeeping"; they talk about "peace operations." I agree with that. We could just as easily call our presence in Korea from 1951 to 1953 a "peace operation" rather than a war. In fact, Washington and Ottawa called Korea a "police action." But there were no police along the front line from the late fall of 1951 to the ceasefire of July 1953. They were all combat soldiers.
I do not support a mission to Africa because any mission to just about any of Africa's trouble spots — Mali, the Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan, to name a few — is a mission to join one of a number of incredibly complex wars, wars way more complex than the one we fought in Afghanistan and none of which show any chance of a peaceful resolution any time soon. We will be entering a mess wherever we go, with no resolution in sight and in pursuit of no perceived national interest.
Of course, we all hate to see the killing, raping and other atrocities which are taking place there. And we seem to bear a national guilt about the fate of Rwanda, but we choose to support in this country a very small military and an even smaller army, and we do not have the resources to save very much of the world.
Our military resources should be preserved to be used in alliance with NATO and the United States in the defence of North America or to make a difference where it can really count in the national interests of this country, such as in the Caribbean Basin.
I am also opposed to splitting our small military to send them to as many spots in the world as we can in order to create the impression that we wield far more military power than we in fact do. We now have 300 to 400 troops in the Middle East. We are sending some 400 to Latvia and now 600 to Afghanistan. That is about 1,400 of the at most 2,500 that we can deploy abroad at any given time. Even then, we would be sorely stretched, as we were in Afghanistan.
It was the Martin government which proposed that Canadian interests were better served by one or two large deployments — preferably one — than many small ones, for reasons I can get into later. In my view, they were correct. In my view, we are hurting our own national interests by turning back to the choice of many small deployments instead of one larger and more significant one. Sending 600 troops to join the 14,000 or so now in Mali, for example, is sheer tokenism.
There are many other issues I can cover, but there's no time to do it, so I'll rest here. I will be happy to take your questions. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Dr. Bercuson.
We will move to Lieutenant-Colonel Last. Please proceed.
Lieutenant-Colonel (Ret’d) David Last, Associate Professor, Royal Military College, as an individual: Thank you very much, senators, for this opportunity to speak. I will make three points on education, experimentation and evaluation.
In 1994, the Government of Canada made a strategic decision to be an intellectual leader in peacekeeping, and it opened the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, the next year. Alex Morrison sold the project as a low-cost, high-impact strategy which would enhance Canada's reputation and impact as our UN troop contributions declined. I was one of the instructors at the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre after I returned from Bosnia and Croatia.
Through the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, through its leadership of the International Association of Peacekeeping Training Centres — which I think Professor Dorn mentioned this morning — through the annual Cornwallis Group seminars, through publication series and international conferences, I think Canada had a disproportionate influence on peacekeeping for more than a decade. IAPTC membership, for example, has grown to more than 265 institutions on every continent and involves many regional organizations. Many peacekeeping training centres today explicitly acknowledge the early leadership of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre.
Reopening a Canadian peace support centre may be necessary and useful, and you heard Senator Dallaire talk about the need for better infrastructure and preparation of personnel. But by itself, it would not have the same impact that it had in the 1990s because the world has changed. Our wider defence policy should focus on peace and security to include research, education and experimentation that deals with today's security challenges. If we think about failed states, social dislocation, market failures, ungoverned spaces, both survival and economic migration, rapid ideological change, dehumanization of victims, these are not problems that we understand well.
To begin with education, I think defence policy has to include the development of the knowledge and skills in Canada and abroad that are necessary to manage violence. This is the central problem facing military forces. Educating leaders at home and abroad who understand violence should be our starting point, both for urgent response and for long-term defence investment.
You've already heard today that Canada has a comparative advantage in cultural diversity. It has a comparative advantage in higher education and in professional development, and we can have an impact with relatively small annual investments over time.
I think defence policy should move beyond a focus on contributing troops or assets to missions. Instead, the government should position the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces assets to develop the human capital for dealing with emerging security challenges. This means investing in new and existing institutions for education, research and training.
When I was developing courses for the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre in the 1990s, I was aware of how rapidly the body of relevant knowledge was growing. It has expanded many times since then, but conflict studies are still struggling to find the coherence of fields like health, education and development. Many of the same insights that emerged in the 1990s are re-emerging now. We're reinventing wheels, this time filtered through a decade of counter-insurgency experience.
We have no international military equivalent of the Cochrane Collaboration on evidence-based medicine or the Campbell Collaboration on evidence-based social policy. So if we are to be engaged in supporting training and education based on systematic reviews of evidence from operations, we could make a major contribution to international and human security.
This brings up experimentation. All military interventions are experiments. They have to adapt to changing circumstances. I call them "experiments" because we have to admit that we cannot know in advance whether they will achieve their intended results. If we engage in coercive experiments like drone strikes or bombing, we should match them with cooperative experiments like community building or local organization, wherever possible.
Are our assumptions about actors, about causes and effects valid? Do we really know what we're doing? I think you heard from Professor Bercuson that in fact we didn't understand the operational environment in the Balkans. He's absolutely right. But nor did we engage actively in studying it.
I've included a list in my notes of experiments from the recent past that are worth exploring, worth developing and repeating as contributions to peace and security. I think you've heard some of them. They include experiments to develop operational capabilities like human rights assessment teams or neighbourhood facilitation, problem solving and experiments to mobilize domestic resources for international assistance. General Dallaire mentioned drawing on multinational populations for policing and experiments to develop Canadian and international conflict management professionals.
Finally, evaluation: Defence policy interventions have to be evaluated, and they have to be revised in the light of those evaluations. Whether they are bombing campaigns, preventive deployments, counter-insurgency or peace support operations, military interventions should be treated in the same way as health, education or development programs. What were we trying to achieve and did we succeed in the short term and in the longer term?
Sometimes the effects that Ottawa seeks are not actually in the conflict areas where we deploy. But if we're making claims about influence in Washington or New York, then we have to have some way of evaluating those claims, and I think that requires more sophistication. We need more sophisticated tools and organizational changes to evaluate the impact of our security policies. The people who are formulating and implementing policies cannot be the same ones who are evaluating them. Their hands are already linked.
I think if we get evaluation right, if we do it well, then the payoff could well be an all-party consensus on defence policy that garners public support and reduces partisan turmoil from electoral cycles.
Lieutenant-General Leslie's support for Dr. Sean Maloney's multi-year history of Canadian operations in Afghanistan, while the operations were ongoing, is an example of an investment in a continuous evaluation and feedback process. But evaluation can also be real time within a budget cycle. Rapid assessment processes, RAP, have been successfully employed in public health by the World Bank and by development initiatives to improve ongoing programs. This takes courage. It takes courage to commit to honest evaluation when careers are on the line, but it's a vital part of effective operations.
To conclude, I am personally and professionally very excited by the government's commitment to peace operations, but I worry that without a commitment to education, experimentation and evaluation of operations, we won't actually see much progress in dealing with evolving security challenges.
I will stop there. Thank you very much.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Lieutenant-Colonel Last.
We will start with Senator Jaffer, and then Senator Dagenais.
Senator Jaffer: Dr. Bercuson, I listened to you very carefully when you spoke about different missions and numbers. If I am not mistaken, you said sending 600 of our troops when there are thousands of others doesn't have a great effect. But from personal experience in South Sudan and Darfur where we have sent a handful of our men and women — I think 100 in Sudan and even fewer in Darfur — the value was not in the fighting, but in the training and, if I can be so bold, bringing our value system to work with civilians. So we may not have the numbers, but we have the know-how. I would like you to comment on that.
Mr. Bercuson: I agree with your evaluation of the potential impact of training. I don’t think we think enough about that, especially in non-combat areas like communications, transportation, logistics, where we are very good.
We have been tested in combat and our people know what to do. We use the latest high-tech, management and organizational techniques, and we can teach other troops these kinds of skills that are necessary to conduct real peacekeeping or peace enforcement operations and protect civilian populations. And yes, we should do that.
What I'm talking about with regard to, for example, sending 600 troops to Mali, my understanding — and it's still somewhat fuzzy — as to what the government is planning is that 600 means a battalion. It seems to me that the government is planning to send a battalion to Mali or somewhere else in Africa. Well, that's not going to make a heck of a lot of difference to the military situation there.
If we go ahead with this mission, we are going to have three missions: one in Africa, one in Eastern Europe and one in the Middle East. That means three times the number of communications individuals, three times the amount of backup supplies and three times the amount of bureaucratic oversight that will be necessary from National Defence Headquarters. To me, that is simply scattering your forces in different places when you would be best to put them in one location.
Now, we choose as a country to have a small military and what I'm trying to say is that we need to live within that reality. Some of our small military are highly trained in a lot of different areas, and yes we should send them where they are needed to try to help others. But I don't think we should try to overemphasize our ability to have a real military impact in these areas because when you are sending a handful of troops — and 600 compared to 14,000 is a handful — we will not have a lot of military impact.
Senator Jaffer: Lieutenant-Colonel Last, in your recent writing about peacekeeping, you pushed for greater emphasis on a civilian dimension. I think you were in the room when we had General Day speak about a holistic approach. I may be wrong in remembering what you said, but I think that you were also talking about having — these are not your words, but I'm just trying to expand on what he was saying — a holistic approach. If I understood what you were talking about, giving the under-represented voices a place in government that can lead to a lasting peace, as voices that are not heard are one of the reasons for the conflict.
May I ask you to expand on the idea of how we expand peacekeeping? My interest is more that I believe women's voices are under-represented, so how do we get women more involved in peace making processes?
Lt.-Col. Last: Thank you very much for that question. I think it's a crucial issue.
I would agree with Dr. Bercuson that we wouldn't have much military impact, but I don't think it's a military impact we are actually looking for. I think in pursuing stabilization, development and the management of conflicts, it's very much a question of understanding political, economic and social dimensions.
When General Day was talking about the kinds of development of forces that are needed to make them holistic and effective, he might have usefully drawn on the analogy of a combat team. When infantry, armoured and artillery soldiers learn to work together, they learn over the course of their career. A big problem with integrating women and civilians into complex operations is that they get thrown together at the last possible minute. They don't have a common experience to draw on, they don't have common language or vocabulary, and they don't have a common perception. The differences of their perceptions and their skills can only be integrated if they have that common understanding, which is built up over time.
That comes back to the education and experimentation pieces. We have to draw on the institutions that we have: the Royal Military College of Saint-Jean, the staff colleges and the Peace Support Training Centre in Kingston. These are all institutions that can be integrated as a matter of defence policy. So if you are going to develop neighbourhood facilitation teams that involve men and women, military and civilian, and make it possible for human rights assessment teams to deploy in non-permissive environments and be safe doing so, those are the skills that need to be integrated.
Senator Jaffer: We have talked about the military and that's what we are looking at, but the police forces are also part of all of this. For example, in Darfur, I took a number of police officers — men and women — to teach the forces on the ground how to conduct rape investigations, and the police were so effective. We don't just need to look at the military. We have other resources like firemen and police that can be part of this. Could I have both of you quickly comment on that?
Lt.-Col. Last: If I may, I think that's absolutely true. Military, paramilitary and police organizations are part of a single chain and it's only in the largest states where they have a very clear separation. I think it's useful to see them as complementary forces and make them part of the same policy, but also to experiment in the combination and use of them.
One more is the concept of white helmets initiated back in the 1990s by Carlos Menem, the Argentine President. It is an idea that is coming back into its own. That gives us the option of integrating civilians as part of multifunctional teams.
Mr. Bercuson: I agree completely with what Colonel Last was saying first in his opening statement, and what he just said. You have to take a holistic approach to many of these conflicts occurring in Africa and other parts of the world.
Let me talk about our experience with the police in Afghanistan. We did have a number of police operational mentorship and liaison teams that were supposed to be working with the Afghan National Police to raise the standard of policing in Afghanistan, and from all I have heard and read, we failed more often than not. The reason is that the so-called police in that country were simply not capable, as a result of educational levels, cultural traditions or the economic conditions of the country, of operating on what we would call an acceptable level for peace operations.
We had an easier time in the Balkans, although we did have trouble when we were training police there, as well, with our own police.
We have done a lot of police training work in the Caribbean and found it even easier because they do have the traditions of British justice, and so on, that we share. So although their cultures and ours are somewhat different, their basic concepts of approaches to law, the collection of evidence, court systems and so on are much more in line with ours.
We have to be careful; we have to pick our spots. We should pick the spots where we will be more effective because we have more in common with the local police officials that we're dealing with.
Senator Dagenais: My question is for Mr. Bercuson. From your presentation, can we infer that there is a lack of political and military knowledge when a decision is made to send forces to Africa? Mr. Chair, I will ask a second question if you don’t mind.
Mr. Bercuson: Initially I would say that we have had this problem ever since we began to do out-of-area operations that were not peacekeeping. For example, it was important for us to know what the basic divisions were in Cyprus between the Greeks and the Turks, but because there is no act of war involved or insurgency, we did not have to know about the "human geography": what one village has to do with another, how they relate to each other, why one hates the other, which families have issues with other families that go back hundreds of years, and so on. That's what we call human geography.
We didn't know enough about the human geography of the Balkans.
We probably knew more than we did in Afghanistan, but we had particular problems in Afghanistan. We talked about the main tribal groups, such as the Pashtun or the Hazaras. We didn't realize that each of those tribal groups was itself divided into smaller groups and the smaller tribal groups into village groups and into families. There was no consistency unless you studied it long and hard so that you knew where you were intervening and where you were going to do more harm than good. We certainly did not, in my opinion, do enough of that kind of work in Afghanistan.
I don't know, but I don't think we are doing that kind of work in Africa.
Senator Dagenais: Mr. Bercuson, you said that deploying 600 Canadian troops to Africa was "sheer tokenism", which, to me, means a complete waste. Why do you think so? It is quite a harsh view.
Mr. Bercuson: When a country chooses, as we have chosen, to maintain a small military, a small army, and the capability of deploying — I don't really know the size of the regular forces today because they shift back and forth. But try to deploy more than 2,500 soldiers abroad for more than six months and we will stress our military out of all proportion.
We did it in Afghanistan. Everybody was drawn into it. Afghanistan was like a black hole to us. If you were in the navy and in public affairs, you would go to Afghanistan. If you were in the air force and in photography, you would go to Afghanistan. That is what happens why you decide to try to maintain that kind of military force.
I'm trying to say this: We have a small military and obligations to NATO to maintain at least one standing force — a battle group or something like that, which is about 1,000 to 1,200 or it could be a little bit more — and then another, for some other reason that might come up, and that's it. I'm trying to say that we should not be chopping our military forces into micro-sized bits and sending them around the world, because in the event that a large commitment to needed somewhere — for example, I would not send 400 troops to Latvia; I would send a battle group.
That's just the way I see it: We get more political influence and do more things for ourselves. We are more self-sufficient and have a better chance of showing people that we operate as an independent country pursuing our own national interests. I don't see that with 600 troops going to Mali.
Senator White: Thanks to both of you for being here today.
Dr. Bercuson, we are in the middle of a review. I think you were clear with regard to what you would suggest we do. Should we be doing anything heavy? Should we wait a few months to see what our future holds?
Mr. Bercuson: If I were king of the world, I would say that we ought to be focusing on Eastern and Central Europe. There are three main threats to overall global security. For two of them, we can't do really very much about or even anything about. One is the whole South China Sea situation. The other is North Korea and its attempts to develop long-range nuclear-tip missiles. We could do something about that in the sense of joining a ballistic missile defence system with the United States, but we can't do anything about that with regard to our navy or army.
What we can do is shore up the deterrence factors within NATO. We are sending 400 troops to Latvia to be joined by 600 others — a battle group of some kind. That's a speed bump for the Russians, but it's an important speed bump because it's nationals of different NATO countries who would be killed if the Russians moved on Latvia. That means the Russians will think very, very carefully before extending military action to the Baltic states.
That's where our emphasis should be and that’s where we can make a big difference.
Senator White: Just a quick follow-up: It looks like everybody is trying to be everywhere instead of somebody being somewhere. I realize you want to do as much as you can, but maybe as much as you can in one location. It's not just us; other countries are doing the same thing.
Is there a strategy out there, or are we operating independently and hoping it connects? Do you see a world strategy around managing these theatres, or do you think everyone is doing exactly what we are doing, which is trying to put a little bit into every place and saying we are doing our part?
Mr. Bercuson: Let me talk about NATO for a minute because I think it’s a perfect example of what you just said. Each government, each country and each public decides what it's willing to tolerate and contribute. Many of the contributions of the smaller NATO countries — and I would exclude from that, and underline, Denmark — are sheer tokenism. The fact of the matter is that the heart of NATO is the United States, followed by Britain and France.
If we were to contribute as much as we could to NATO's efforts to deter the Russians in Eastern Europe, we would have greater political leverage in London and most importantly in Washington and Brussels than we would by sending 600 troops to, for example, Mali. To me, we have such a small military that we have to be very careful about where we send it and how we use it.
We have to remember at all times that the use of military is an extension of national policy. If our national policy is to shore up the deterrence factors of NATO, that's what we ought to be doing with the kind of military we have. If we were going to expand our military to significantly larger proportions than we have now, then, yes, we could send them to different places at different times, but I think that is dreaming in Technicolor.
Senator Beyak: Thank you, gentlemen, for your perspectives. It is very interesting for us.
I wonder if you would tell me what you think is best: UN peacekeeping missions or NATO peacekeeping missions or both? I have asked other witnesses and had different answers, and I would appreciate your perspectives.
Lt.-Col. Last: I have to begin by saying I see the world a little differently than Professor Bercuson. The central division in NATO versus UN peacekeeping concerns which organization is best able to integrate political, economic and social responses to emerging conflicts, not just military deterrence or a military solution to a problem. We have lots of examples of NATO working effectively with the United Nations, as it did in the Balkans. We have other examples of NATO working "out of area" in Africa, and we have examples of the United States providing effective leadership roles for international peace and security.
So I don't think there is an either/or question. I think it's very much a question of using all of the tools in the array of international organizations, keeping in mind that the United Nations has a lot of tools at its disposal that NATO does not. I think also you have to see Europe as being part of a larger world, and Europe is not going to be in a position to stave off Russian aggression or internal dissolution faced with survival migration and collapse of societies affected by market failures. These are issues that, in fact, without expanding Canadian military, we can expand our security capacity by building on civil/military organization. I'll give a couple of examples.
A larger social footprint for reserves and cadets focusing on a public service role could include the recruitment of women, visible minorities and multicultural communities in order to have the kinds of skill sets that we need for small team deployments that act to stabilize, prevent and develop the regions that are sources of destabilizing radicalization. If you do that in a way that gives hope to people in communities that may be marginalized so that they have a role in Canadian international policy, that's a far more important role than putting a battalion somewhere. Security is not just about putting battalions in places. Security is about building political, economic and social integration both in Canada and abroad. I think we can do that far more effectively than we are, but it requires a defence policy that takes education, experimental deployments and evaluation of policies far more seriously than we have in the past.
Mr. Bercuson: My answer to your question is that NATO is more effective but not as effective as it needs to be. Why it is more effective? Because it was formed as a military alliance and it has primarily been a military alliance from the very beginning in 1949. It has developed ways of its member nations interoperating with each other; it has developed command structures; it has developed communications, transportation, joint operations and so on. Not perfectly, that's for sure, as we saw in Afghanistan when NATO failed on many occasions when we relied on NATO partners whose rules of engagements were different than ours or whose caveats didn't allow them to join us in certain combat operations, and so on, so not perfect.
You heard what General Dallaire said in the last several minutes of his presentation about the problems the United Nations has, the basic issue being that they collect troops, put them in the field and then they don't really have a proper chain of command, communications, logistics, support, medevac and so on that is required to maintain a force in a field in a combat operation.
So I would say the answer to me is definitely NATO.
Senator Carignan: My questions are on two topics: the UN and NATO. For having been there several times, I know the Chinese have a significant presence in Africa in terms of natural resources, mines and the infiltration of governments to trade natural resources. Where does China fit in all this?
Mr. Bercuson: Are you talking about peace operations?
Senator Carignan: Yes, or the control that is being done in Africa. Is it really a peacekeeping mission? We are talking about political, economic and military integration. Are we setting up the pieces that will allow us to be in control of the economic component so that the West has the upper hand over China? Where does China fit in all that?
Mr. Bercuson: I'm not an expert on China, but I can tell you that this is the first time I have heard anybody raise that question, and I think it is a very good one.
From what I know about the situation in different parts of Africa, virtually all of the conflicts that are taking place are indigenous conflicts. There are civil wars, wars of jihadis against non-jihadis, wars against Muslims and Christians, and wars against the south and the north. In Mali you have a particularly complex situation, none of which, to the best of my knowledge, has ever been caused by China, but it would stand to reason that some of these wars might be impacting China's plans for Africa. Clearly, China's plans for Africa are greater economic penetration. Not that there is anything wrong with that. If we want to do something about that, we should get off our high horses and try to do the economic penetration ourselves.
But it is a very interesting question as to what is motivating Peking to send peacekeepers to Africa.
Lt.-Col. Last: Thank you very much for that important question. The Chinese presence in Africa is huge, especially in terms of education.
China has provided for staff colleges. They built the infrastructure for the Namibian staff college. They provided for the Tanzanian staff college. They import more than a thousand African military students a year as of 2011. I haven't seen the figures since then. This is an enormous effort at influencing the next generation of military elites.
They have a significant disadvantage in comparison to the West. When officers go to China to study, they study in English because learning Chinese is too difficult. They are isolated for six months or a year at a time. They have no contact with the local society, and many of the officers that I have spoken to who have taken courses — battalion commander courses, brigade command courses, logistics, air courses — they come away with a bad taste in their mouths about China. They are not friends of China.
That is in contrast to officers who come to Canada, the United States and even France.
They generally have a very good opinion about the West and specific countries in which they have studied.
There is a potential in building networks of education and networks of professionals who see security as a transnational value and see the potential for cooperating across national boundaries. There is enormous potential not to close China out in some neo-mercantilist way but to bring all UN members into the understanding that whatever our national interests, we have a lot of common national interests in international security and in human security, and at that level there is enormous potential for Western security education. I think that's really where our comparative advantage lies, and we don't have to compete with China. We cannot compete with the resources that China has invested in infrastructure, education, trade, and sheer emigration to Africa, but we don't have to. We can focus on the learning, and I think that's a real comparative advantage that should be part of our defence policy.
Senator Carignan: Should our efforts to help some African countries not focus more on education? My son studies at University of Montreal. Many African students, the sons of African leaders, study with my son at the University of Montreal. Should we not build bridges to provide western education to the next generation in Africa? Would that not be a better contribution than keeping a number of pots on the boil and spreading our military resources too thin as we participate in peacekeeping operations?
Lt.-Col. Last: I agree. There is a tremendous potential in Canadian universities. We can also increase the potential of military institutions, such as the Canadian Army Command and Staff College and the Royal Military College of Canada.
But it isn't necessarily diffusing, diminishing or diluting resources to focus on education in many countries. It is possible, I think, to improve our impact by having many countries in one place in Canada. There have been initiatives for Centres of Excellence for joint education. When we have officers from other countries, we see they talk about their national problems in a way that's different in Canada than they would in their own country. So in Canada we build some of the bridges they need in these regions.
It's also possible to identify hubs. Senator Dallaire talked about the five regional hubs in Africa. Each of those hubs has clear leaders in terms of security education: Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa.
There are also some in the francophone world. Senegal is one of the fairly advanced countries.
There are also secondary hubs in Botswana, Namibia and Tanzania. By developing their intellectual infrastructure by exchanges of professors and curriculum, I think we can have a salutary influence that is not dilute and actually builds regional capacity.
The Chair: Colleagues, we're coming to a conclusion here fairly soon, so I'm going to take this opportunity to ask a couple of questions myself.
First of all, I want to put a question to Dr. Bercuson, and that has to do with financing of the military. At the end of the day, as you well know, Dr. Bercuson, the financial commitment of the government will govern what the military can and should do. With that commitment — I believe the number is as high as $450 million for a UN mission in Africa — do you feel the government may be shortchanging other important aspects and responsibilities to the military on the home front?
Mr. Bercuson: I wish I had the total Defence budget picture in my head right now but I don't. I know it's about $20 billion, so $400 million is not a whole lot of money compared to $20 billion.
I'm not trying to change the question, but I think the larger question is: What is the government going to do with respect to the budget in the future, whether it's going to stick to the current course — which is really more or less the course established by the previous government — or increase the Defence budget or find different ways of dividing it? I don't think $400 million is a huge chunk out of a 20-something-billion-dollar Defence budget.
The Chair: That's not what I was asking. I'm trying to narrow it down. Perhaps, Colonel Last, you may have a comment on this.
In view of the fact that we're looking at taking on further responsibilities that we have not had before beyond what we had done up until this last year, my question is this: Is it going to cost more money and are we going to need more money? Are we going to have to cut back in other parts of the military in order to meet those objectives?
Lt.-Col. Last: I think if you're asking whether a more active international policy is going to cost more, the answer is probably yes. My position would be that if we are going to spend more, we should be very careful about the means of evaluation, and we shouldn't be asking the same people who are formulating the policy to evaluate the impact of that policy. I think it's fairly obvious that there are trade-offs and opportunity costs in any policy choice, and we should be using all of the tools for evaluating military policies on as we do on others.
The Chair: I just want to get down to the question I'm asking. Maybe Dr. Bercuson can follow up as well. I want to get this on the record.
If we're going to do these things, is it going to cost more money? For the purposes of our study, we should know that. Or is it going to be a case of taking money from some other asset that we have in order to do what we're doing?
Mr. Bercuson: When we were in Afghanistan, we were taking money from the Defence budget and using it to fight the war in Afghanistan. So if that sets any pattern, the answer is yes, we're going to take money from elsewhere to pay for these missions.
The Chair: I have one other question. Looking at the defence policy review overall, which core areas of our military must be either fixed or significantly improved in the next 10 years, Dr. Bercuson?
Mr. Bercuson: Let's start with procurement. I'm not going to say let's end with procurement, but that's a huge problem, as I'm sure you know, and I don't have to take the time to go into it.
But more to the point is I think we need to decide what our military is for. We know we need one because we have national boundaries and we believe in the sovereignty of our country. Beyond that, we live under the umbrella of the United States. What do we want to use our military for? I don't think we've really tackled that question since the end of the Cold War.
We knew in the Cold War what the military was for. It was primarily as a deterrent and also, if necessary, as a combat-capable force, to add our weight to that of our NATO allies or, in the case of defence of North America, to help the United States defend the continent. The Cold War is now over. What's our role? What are we going to do with our military?
The Chair: Colleagues, I want to thank our witnesses for the time and effort they've put in and for their patience.
Joining us on our final panel of the day, as we consider issues related to the defence policy review and Canada's re-engagement with the United Nations peacekeeping operations, are Vice-Admiral (Ret'd) Drew Robertson, representing the Naval Association of Canada; Dr. James A. Boutilier, Adjunct Professor, Pacific Studies, University of Victoria; and on behalf of the Navy League of Canada, Navy Captain (Ret'd) Harry Harsch, Vice-President, Maritime Affairs.
Vice-Admiral Robertson joined the Canadian Forces as a cadet in 1973. In 1998, he became Director of NATO Policy at NDHQ and assumed command in 1999 of the destroyer
HMCS Athabaskan. In 2001, on promotion to commodore, he assumed command of the Canadian Atlantic Fleet. As rear-admiral, he served as Director-General of International Security Policy at NDHQ. Upon promotion to vice-admiral, he was appointed as Commander of Maritime Command and Chief of the Maritime Staff in National Defence headquarters, in which position he served until his retirement in 2009.
Vice-Admiral Robertson is here on behalf of the Naval Association of Canada, an organization established in 1950 as the Naval Officers Association of Canada, which branded together in a federation of branches of the various naval officers associations that then existed across Canada.
In 2012, the Naval Officers Association of Canada renamed itself the Naval Association of Canada and extended its membership from its traditional base of retired naval officers to all those interested in the welfare and support of Canada's Navy, whether serving, retired or civilian, no matter the rank. The Naval Association of Canada is currently comprised of 14 branches across Canada.
Captain Harry Harsch joins us today as Vice-President of Maritime Affairs of the Navy League of Canada, an organization established in 1895 and consisting of 260 branches located in communities across Canada. Its key mission is to promote an interest in maritime affairs generally throughout Canada. The organization does so through publications, conferences, scholarships and a range of other activities.
In addition to promoting an interest in maritime affairs, the Navy League of Canada is also actively engaged in the delivery of two youth programs, the Navy League Cadets and the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets. The Navy League Cadet program is open to boys and girls aged 9 to 12, and there are more than 3,500 Navy League Cadets in 102 communities across Canada. The Royal Canadian Sea Cadets program, on the other hand, is delivered in partnership by the Navy League of Canada and the Department of National Defence. The program is open to boys and girls aged 12 to 18 and there are more than 5,000 Royal Canadian Sea Cadets in 237 communities across Canada.
As background, Captain Harsch has served in the Royal Canadian Navy for over 36 years, ending his distinguished naval career as Chief of Staff to the commander of the navy in Ottawa and is Naval Adviser at the Canadian High Commission in London, as well as the Canadian Defence Attaché to Denmark. He was appointed an Officer in the Order of Military Merit in October 2007.
Finally, last but not least, Dr. James Boutilier, Adjunct Professor, Pacific Studies, University of Victoria, and also a very good friend to this committee. Dr. James Boutilier has served as Special Advisor (Policy) at Canada's Maritime Forces Pacific Headquarters in Esquimalt, British Columbia, since 1996. In that function he was largely responsible for advising the Commander of Maritime Forces Pacific on matters of defence and foreign policy and maritime security in the Asia-Pacific region. He also participates in and promotes the coordination of community events and public forums that raise the general awareness of the Canadian Navy.
Dr. Boutilier is also the lead behind the successful biannual Maritime Security Challenges Conference held in Victoria, which attracts over 200 delegates and focuses on Canada's maritime interests and with special emphasis on the Indo-Asia Pacific region.
I understand that you each have an opening statement, and I believe we are starting with Vice-Admiral Drew Robertson.
Vice-Admiral (Ret’d) Drew Robertson, Naval Association of Canada: Thank you very much, sir.
Thank you very much to all of you for the opportunity to appear on behalf of the Naval Association of Canada to convey its views regarding peace support operations and the defence policy review. I know that Captain Harsch will focus on peace support operations. I will make my focus on the defence policy review.
The topic of peace support operations is an important one since, whether conducted under UN-Security Council authorized missions, resolutions, fundamental global treaties like the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS, or the UN Charter have been the core business on which our governments have deployed the RCN, amounting to dozens of deployments globally by our ships, submarines and aircraft and task groups over the last 25 years, even while the fleet at home secured our sovereignty.
Governments have ordered such deployments because supporting the international rules-based order, anchored by the UN Charter, treaties and conventions, has produced the peace and security on which our trade and prosperity depend. Governments do so fundamentally since acting as a force for good is in Canada's abiding national interest.
Notwithstanding this unbroken record of success, the navy's capabilities and capacities have eroded steadily over the last 20 years incrementally, increasingly compromising its ability to defend Canada while also acting as a force for good abroad. I would like to describe where this could lead and the strategic risks governments and the country will face.
I would like to start by saying that there has been some progress. The frigates, now well past mid-life, have been successfully modernized and our submarines are operational. Further, the National Shipbuilding Strategy that we've been looking forward to for years is an important undertaking of considerable promise.
The question isn't whether Canada will successfully build ships. It always has. The question is whether the number and capabilities will be adequate to the rising challenges we see.
The key issue for the Naval Association of Canada is that over the last 20 years a succession of previous governments and eight parliaments have been unable to sustainably resource the defence outcomes they set out in policy, with the effect that this G7 nation, with all its maritime interests at home and abroad, has seen its replenishment ships and its destroyers age into their mid-forties before being forced out of commission, not merely without relief, but without governments having even entered into contracts for their replacements.
The navy's success over the last 20 years was due to investments in the fighting fleet to defend Canada made decades before, from the 1960s onward. Here I include submarines, frigates, destroyers and maritime control aircraft. But the ability of this government and those who follow to live off the legacy investments is rapidly coming to a close, even as the strategic risks it has had to assume deepen. As a result, beyond having lost capacity for operations, Canada no longer has the ability to independently control events at sea due to the loss of its task group air defence capability. It no longer has the ability to independently sustain deployed task group operations and must rely on others for at-sea refueling and logistics support, even in home waters.
Consequently, Canada is unlikely to be able to conduct a prolonged multi-rotation response to international events, as it has done repeatedly over the years, nor is it likely to be offered a significant leadership opportunity at sea that such a response enables, particularly in complex international operations, as has also been done repeatedly, including for several years supporting our American allies after 9/11.
Looking ahead on the present course, future governments face greater reductions and rising risks. Today's navy fighting fleet of submarines and surface combatants is already smaller than research has shown is required to meet enduring policy outcomes. Yet, as the Parliamentary Budget Officer and others have noted, the Armed Forces is unsustainable over the coming decade, likely to an amount in the tens of billions of dollars.
So plans aimed at restoring the fighting fleet's capacity, including extending the life of Canada's Victoria-class submarines into the mid-2030s and then replacing them, as well as to replace our Aurora maritime patrol aircraft, are not just in jeopardy; I would say they are headed hard aground.
At current budget levels, you can anticipate the fighting fleet being further reduced over the coming 15 years toward a figure — if I was to take a figure that was in the press — of 9 surface combatants, which would be a significant 40 per cent cut from the 15 of just two years ago, while the submarines and the RCAF maritime patrol aircraft will not likely be affordable or replaced.
Such changes would each compound the risks I cited earlier by significantly eroding the maritime capabilities and capacities required to contribute meaningfully to continental or international operations.
While for decades the government has often had major warships deployed to two separate theatres, that would no longer be sustainable with a smaller fleet. But, most importantly, such a force would not be suitable or likely adequate for the vast challenge of defending our soon-to-be three ocean home waters.
The Naval Association believes that this much smaller and unbalanced future force consequently would not be adequate to national need, especially given the rapid changes under way in the global maritime order as nations throughout the world, but notably Russia and China, continue narrow or close the technological gap that Western navies have enjoyed for decades and make investments in maritime forces, particularly in the Asia-Pacific; as great state cooperation gives way to confrontation at the expense of the rules-based international order, especially at sea and particularly in the waters of South and East China Seas; and, finally, as Canada's third and largest but least accessible and most fragile open space opens to commercial shipping and resource extraction and the navy secures our sovereignty in a time of significant nation building in the Arctic.
For the Naval Association, the success of the DPR depends on bringing expected defence outcomes and spending levels into balance over the medium to long term through fundamental adjustments upwards or downwards to either or both.
The Naval Association would argue, as I have, that the new strategic environment will require increased investment in defence to secure its current expectations rather than less. In making such investments, the Naval Association would observe that in addition to securing Canada's defence there is no better insurance against strategic risk and unforeseen global shocks than a balanced, multipurpose and combat-capable maritime force.
But the association also believes that this DPR presents a moment of strategic opportunity, an opportunity to not only bring defence outcomes and resources into an urgently needed balance, but to allow the Armed Forces to be restructured for the challenges this 21st and increasingly maritime century presents. The force structure of the 20th century that several reviews of defence policy reconciled themselves to can be reshaped for the challenges of the decades ahead. Such strategy-driven measures will take vision, courage, commitment and effort over many years, but the result will be an Armed Forces better prepared to defend Canada at home and act as a force for good abroad.
With that, I thank you very much for the interest in the navy in particular and with the Armed Forces more generally, and I look forward to answering your questions.
The Chair: Thank you, Vice-Admiral Robertson.
Next is Captain Harsch.
Navy Captain (Ret’d) Harry Harsch, Vice President, Maritime Affairs, Navy League of Canada: Good afternoon, senators, and thank you for the opportunity this afternoon to represent the Navy League of Canada at today's hearing.
In my remarks I would like to make three points, all of which I believe are interrelated. First is the concept of Canada as a maritime nation. Our belief is that that needs to be better understood. Second, as we work toward the future fleet, flexibility with respect to fleet capability is crucial. And, finally, we must have sufficient resources and a willingness to continue to deploy in operations across the spectrum of conflict, and in particular complex peace support operations.
Canada is bounded by three oceans and has the world's largest coastline. As a trading nation, I think it is fair to say that we depend on the oceans. That means that Canada is by definition a maritime nation, although it seems that few understand that and what it means in terms of capability.
The potential challenges to national security that exist as a result of that dependence are complex. As a consequence, we have not always equipped our naval forces accordingly.
A properly equipped navy is inherently flexible. It provides the government with a range of policy options across the spectrum of conflict, including the often-complicated and murky world of peace support operations. We believe a balanced, multipurpose and combat capable fleet is the key to that flexibility. The navy must be able to protect Canadian sovereignty and interests whether for domestic situations, forward-deployed operations or the plethora of contingency operations we find ourselves in today.
The RCN has been busy for pretty much as long as I can remember, from my early days as a Cold Warrior to commanding a frigate in the Arabian Gulf during hostilities in 2003. While one could argue that the Cold War threat of nuclear annihilation kept the stakes relatively high, it is my opinion that Canadian naval operations over the past 20 years or so have been become increasingly more complex and more dangerous, just as the post-Cold War world has become more complex and dangerous.
We often hear the phrase "the world needs more Canada," and as one who served abroad with allies and partners, I have seen first-hand how Canadian Forces always excel when working and leading in a collective international environment, but we only get credit when we show up. Diverse deployments in support of the international campaign against terrorism, counter drug operations, providing protection to the World Food Programme and addressing the menace of modern-day pirates off the coast of Somalia are all examples of what our navy has been up to recently.
We are concerned, however, with the steady erosion of the fleet both in terms of capabilities and numbers. It seems that just as the number and complexity of operations involving naval forces is increasing, such as multifunctional and multinational operations conducted in support of UN mandates, Canada's ability to deal with them is waning.
I would like to highlight a few specific operations to illustrate the breadth of missions Canada is capable of and has conducted over the past 25 years, from single ship deployments to large task group deployments and in both supporting and leadership roles around the world.
In 1993 and 1994 Canadian ships deployed to support the enforcement of UN Security Council resolutions designed to compel the military leadership of Haiti to return power to the duly elected authority.
From 1993 to 1997, Canada joined NATO and WEU allies in the Adriatic Sea to enforce UN economic sanctions, as well as an arms embargo, against the former Republic of Yugoslavia and rival factions in Croatia and Bosnia.
In 1999 Canada contributed to the international force in East Timor, providing replenishment to the multinational naval force positioned visibly offshore, both to reassure the newly formed government in East Timor and to dissuade others from attacking it.
Between 2001 and 2003 Canada deployed virtually the entire navy then available for operations in Southwest Asia, conducting maritime interdiction operations to deny al Qaeda the use of the seas and to enforce UN Security Council resolutions. In fact, Admiral Robertson at the time was the first commander of that Canadian task group; I was the second-last ship, as Captain of HMCS Fredericton, to deploy on that mission.
In 2008, the frigate HMCS Ville de Québec
redeployed at short notice from a NATO mission in the Mediterranean to escort vessels chartered by the UN's World Food Programme to deliver aid to Mogadishu, and in 2011 Canada contributed to an international intervention in Libya in support of a UN Security Council resolution.
Of course those missions continue today with Canadian ships forward deployed with NATO and our allies to promote regional stability and security and to be in theatre in the event they are needed.
With their ability to sail with very short notice, navies can also be leveraged to effect in support of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. The RCN has frequently been at the forefront of these operations. A few of the many examples are the 1998 search and recovery operation in response to the crash of Swiss Air Flight 111 into the sea near Halifax and the 2010 deployment to provide relief to earthquake-stricken Haiti.
However, our ships are not necessarily best equipped for that particular role. In that respect, the Navy League believes that ships like the Royal Netherlands Navy Rotterdam and Karel Doorman classes or the U.K.'s Royal Fleet Auxiliary Bay class ships have been used to meaningful effect in a variety of operations, from humanitarian and disaster relief to supporting operations ashore. The Navy League believes that such a capability would significantly add to the flexibility of the RCN, but this should not come at the expense of combat-capable frigate-type ships which have consistently proven their utility in more complex and dangerous operations.
In conclusion, Canada is a maritime nation. Not maintaining effective and flexible naval forces is tantamount to surrendering our sovereignty at sea. We believe a properly equipped navy is a prerequisite of statehood. It is not an optional luxury. The RCN has traditionally been able to deliver on its commitments. However, the steady erosion of the fleet does not guarantee the ability to continue to do so.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to present.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Captain Harsch.
James A. Boutilier, Adjunct Professor, Pacific Studies, University of Victoria, as an individual: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. Let me divide my comments into three, but before I begin formally, let me congratulate each and every one of you around this table. Your committee is absolutely vital to the integrity, to the muscularity of the defence review that's being undertaken.
I have to admit that I have some deep reservations about the defence review. Absent a foreign policy review, I'm quite not sure how we can, in fact, locate the defence review within a proper context. Parenthetically, it strikes me that there is a deep intellectual aversion in Canada to grasping the mettle, to coming to grips with the truly challenging issue of: What are our national priorities? Without that, it is very difficult to position a defence review.
I draw your attention, of course, to the extended defence review that unfolded in Australia. It was broad, deep and comprehensive. It's important, of course, to realize that defence is a bipartisan issue in the Australian context. There may be blood and fur on the walls, but in the final analysis the parties pull together. Here, they tend to hold defence to ransom for cheap and short-term political advantage, which is a tragedy.
Peacekeeping or peace support operations: I commend the government in terms of the "Canada is back" strategy. I think we have deluded ourselves dangerously — let me say that again — deluded ourselves dangerously in terms of our standing internationally. We imagined that because Canada was a G7 nation and because, not to put too fine a point on it, we are all nice people, we enjoyed an international reputation. It has become increasingly threadbare. We have lived in a sort of bumper sticker world of punching above our weight, and we have made "making do" a strategy. This is simply not adequate for a nation as endowed and as proud and capable as Canada. We have deluded ourselves dangerously in terms of our standing.
I would observe in passing that soft power has much to recommend it, but in many cases it is hard power that matters when it comes to the councils of greater authority, whether it's NATO or elsewhere. When we show up, we show up increasingly threadbare. I would, in fact, echo the comments of my two senior colleagues in terms of our defence posture.
In terms of peacekeeping, I think that the government, in its pledge before the election, was in fact selecting a theme that resonates deeply in the subconscious of Canadians, but in many cases I think Canadians have this mythological view of peacekeeping as walking the green line in Nicosia in the 1970s. Now we can see in Mali that the country is predatory. It is complex. It is lethal. It is the most dangerous UN peacekeeping operation in the world. Tiny, postage stamp Togo has 18 times the number of peacekeepers deployed as Canada does. We live in a fantasy world in terms of peacekeeping.
Is there something to be done in peacekeeping? Absolutely, but it will take two decades to re-establish our reputation as peacekeepers that are serious and committed. We do bring some real talent, whether it's in reconnaissance, intelligence, logistics, transportation and so on, to support, for example, the African Union forces in Mali, but there are already 12,000 or 13,000 people working in Mali in peacekeeping roles. If you believe the Danish commanding officer, Major-General Lollesgaard, he said, "Well, we could add 2,000 or 5,000 more, but it really wouldn't make much difference. The issue is political."
What I have seen in the defence review is an emphasis on transparency and consultation, but I have yet to see a single word emerge from these consultations in terms of what it is that the government is going to embrace in terms of the way forward. What are we going to do if we go to Mali? I think the decision is exclusively political, not military, and one of my deep and abiding anxieties resonates with one of the points made earlier — indeed, I think by you, Mr. Chair — that is, my anxiety that we are going to deflect critical resources from recapitalization.
We have a scandalously dysfunctional defence acquisition culture. I squirm with embarrassment when I see the way in which we conduct ourselves. The Singaporeans wanted a maritime helicopter. Thirty-six months later, it was identified, purchased, trained, modified and operational. Now, more than 30 years later, we are waiting for a defence maritime helicopter. I need to ask myself, "What is the matter with us?" We're breathtakingly privileged. We're informed. We're type-A personalities. We have lots of experience. What is the matter with us? We can't afford to delude ourselves in this way because it's a come-as-you-are world. You show up, and you show up with the right kit. That's what matters in the political realm. Can you, in fact, bring the assets to bear?
I would echo my senior naval colleagues: The navy is in a state of, to my mind, disastrous decline. I have watched naval affairs for more than 40 years, and I am deeply dismayed by the state of affairs. Every day that drifts past is another delay in terms of construction.
I would suggest to you, in conclusion, that this is an oceanic age. This is not simply hyperbole. I would argue that probably at no other time since the great age of exploration have the oceans mattered more in terms of commercial transport, in terms of great power conflict, for example, between the United States and China in the offing, the reemergence of Russia and so forth. But the larger naval architecture is changing and changing profoundly, and it is not working in our favour.
When I was a young navigating officer in the Royal Navy, the RN had 152 frigates and destroyers. It now has 19. When Ronald Reagan was in office, the USN was 580 ships. It's now 275. Our own navy is shrinking commensurately, and we must act and act with resolve and act now.
The vessels that we are going to acquire are 40-year undertakings, and they are the key to international flexibility in terms of our ability to support other nations in alliances, to support operations ashore, to support peacekeeping and so forth. It is a profoundly new era, and sea power is one of the keys to protecting the shores of Canada and to, in fact, becoming an influential player in the international scene.
The Chair: Thank you very much, gentlemen. We will start with Senator Kenny, and then we will go with Senator White.
Senator Kenny: Are any of the members of the panel concerned about the Arctic/Offshore Patrol vessels, AOPS, that are now being built? Are you concerned that given the likelihood they are not going to be very good at breaking ice or patrolling offshore, they are going to eat wastefully into the navy’s spending envelope?
Vice-Admiral Robertson: Not very good at breaking ice. I guess I'll take that one on since I was the one who established the requirements many years ago, which was simply the idea that naval forces did not need to be in the Arctic at the point when the only forces that could be in the Arctic were icebreakers. Since icebreakers are only owned by sovereign nations, we know who they are. We know where they are, and they move, as you would appreciate, very slowly. Other naval forces need to be in the Arctic on the margin of the seasons when commercial vessels can arrive, when other types of warships can arrive. The Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships will be able to arrive before others do and remain until after others do, and that was judged to be adequate to the requirement of that kind of a vessel. I'll leave it at that.
The Chair: Senator Kenny?
Senator Kenny: I'm waiting to see if anybody else has a comment.
I understand your bias, admiral, but my message is simply this: If you could choose, are you going to choose service combatants or go for the five or six Arctic/Offshore Patrol vessels? If you don't have any views, I have another question.
There is silence. Okay.
Next question: Given the interest that this committee has in peacekeeping, what value, if any, would the Mistral class be to Canada?
Vice-Admiral Robertson: I'll take that as a general question rather than a specific class, which isn't available. In general terms, a number of capabilities could be added to the navy of the Canadian Armed Forces that would enhance its capabilities, but remembering that the current navy, on the government's present funding, given that we have, as I said, a bipartisan approach to defence in this country, which is to steadily decrease the amount of resources assigned to the Armed Forces over time, the future force structure is going to be smaller than we have today.
With that, there are other capabilities that could be added, but there would have to be more resources. I would rank them in terms of those things that contribute most to defending our national interests. One could begin with the ability to provide, from maritime forces standing offshore, support for Canadian Armed Forces ashore, either through what is called precision fires — that is, NATO forces providing fire of direct use to the forces ashore — or potentially through fitting theatre-level air defence capabilities that would permit protection of joint forces and populations ashore from short- or medium-range ballistic missiles.
In case it sounds incredible, both of those capabilities are fitted in ships of NATO navies quite similar to ours. They are already fitted and operational. Depending on how the security environment unfolds over the next 30 years, the latter capability might wind up being of some value even in home waters.
The second would be to speak of better Arctic capabilities. That is to say, the Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships are useful, but other things will be required given that the Arctic is at a strategic distance from both of our coasts. You can see there will be infrastructure and other things required, as well as considerable investments in dealing with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance at high latitudes with systems that work well at low latitudes.
The third point would be some form of humanitarian assistance ship, although I take it that the Mistral is more than a humanitarian assistance ship. It is indeed far more capable than simply something conventional, as we say, taken up from trade, converted to the purpose to be useful in humanitarian assistance.
Would that be useful? Would it find employment at far more than humanitarian assistance and disaster response? Yes. It could be used in a variety of undertakings, from support to forces ashore to building theatre cooperation, building cooperation with coastal states and so on.
I only offer that to provide the ranking in my sense of the national interest and caveated by saying that, while useful, the current fleet isn't set to be recapitalized, so choices have to be made.
Mr. Boutilier: I think your point resonates with what General Dallaire said in his comment about the need for some sort of support ship, and what Captain Harsch has said about the Karel Doorman or Bay class examples from the Dutch and Royal navies, that some variation on the Mistral would probably be extraordinarily valuable.
Capt. Harsch: The Mistral is a very capable ship. It is a hard amphibious ship. It is projecting power ashore. It would be groundbreaking and dramatic for the Canadian Forces to acquire that type of vessel, even if it's done on an opportunity-buy basis.
It isn't as simple as buying a ship that's available. We would have to put a lot of thought and resources into the purchase of the connectors, of the aircraft, of the amphibious capability that we would have to create, in many respects, for us to effectively use that ship. There are other ships that we could convert and potentially buy or build that would just as effectively fulfill that role, but without requiring a fundamental change in how the Armed Forces is constructed and the cost associated with that.
Mr. Boutilier: Again, the Australian example in their ambitious and wide-ranging defence plan is illustrative in terms of what can be achieved by a country that's two thirds our size in terms of population and encompasses the sort of vessel that Captain Harsch was referring to.
Senator Kenny: Assuming that all members of the panel believe, as I do, that Canada needs a robust submarine force, don't you think it's time we pulled the plug on the Victoria class? They've been a disaster in terms of the number of sea days they've managed. It doesn't matter how capable the boat is: If it's not going to sea, it's a waste of time. Isn't it time for us to go and talk to the Germans or the French and see if we can buy something that's going to work for Canada?
Vice-Admiral Robertson: I understand your characterization based on sea days, but let's take a look at the operational capability. The problem is that the characteristic of submarines means they don't wind up being talked about much. The fact is that the Windsor
has been to European waters twice in two years, both times for NATO exercises, and on both occasions in response to NATO requests for submarine assets. Because they were forward-deployed in European waters and available, they were put into operational deployment, which to my understanding was successful.
As a current capability operationally, those boats seem to be the way to the future in any environment that features defence funding at its current level.
Senator Kenny: But three of the boats are out of service right now.
Vice-Admiral Robertson: I wouldn't want to speak on behalf of the navy, but you know that the issues on the West Coast are related to simple welds that were easy to fix on surface ships, a little more complicated to fix on submarines, and a little more important on submarines. Again, I'm in danger of speaking about the current navy when indeed what I'd like to speak about more is how to get to that future navy a decade and a half hence.
Senator Kenny: Subs weren't even mentioned in the last building program. They're not part of the deal going forward. We know that it’s going to cost an awful lot to keep them functioning, and they've proved to be duds. The Windsor sailing across is fine, but look at the days-at-sea record of the other ships — it's hundreds of days. It's appalling.
I'm simply saying we need submarines. Let's get good and capable ones, maybe something like the German 212, but we should start moving on that now rather than doubling down on what's proven to be a bad bet.
Vice-Admiral Robertson: I agree completely with the need for submarines; no surprise there. But I'd leave it to the current navy to speak about ways to get to the future. I think we agree about what the future is going to be.
Senator Kenny: They tried and were shot down.
Mr. Boutilier: Perhaps I could provide a little context. I'm thinking principally of the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean areas. Virtually every country in those two vast oceanic realms is getting into the submarine game, whether it's the Vietnamese with Russian Kilos, whether it's the Australians looking to double their submarine fleet from 6 to 12, the Japanese, the South Koreans, and the Chinese who now have about 65 submarines and are building probably twice as fast as the Americans. The Indian Navy, which is a critical navy that we should be paying much more attention to, is into conventional and nuclear boats. There are probably 200 operational submarines in the Indian and Pacific Ocean areas, and this will be increasingly the coin of the realm in terms of where we operate.
Leaving aside the shortcomings or not of the Victoria class, it's vitally important that we think about how to remain in the submarine game because this is where much of the action is going to be in terms of working with our friends and relations.
Capt. Harsch: I think, as well, that the notion of pulling the plug on the Victoria-class submarine would put us in the same position we found ourselves in 15 years ago when we decommissioned the Oberons earlier than we thought we were going to get the Victoria class.
Senator Kenny: I meant let's not keep improving them; let's move on to something different. I didn't mean to pull the plug right now.
Senator White: Thanks to all of you for being here. It's good to see you.
When I look at the marine perspective, I spent the last year with a think tank in Australia, and a lot of the focus was on the South China Sea and, in particular, China's activity in the Pacific Ocean, whereas in Canada we hardly talk about this.
Can one of you give us a perspective about how our foreign policy is expected to connect with our defence policy in relation to dealing with China from a maritime perspective, if it does? If it doesn't, how do we overcome that?
Mr. Boutilier: Let me take a kick at that cat.
I think between, let's say, 1991 and 2011 we pursued what I would call the Rip Van Winkle approach to Asia. We simply fell asleep at the switch and ignored compelling and powerful evidence of what was happening in terms of the growth of Chinese capability, not only economic but in the naval realm. Indeed, what we've seen in the past quarter century is the sudden emergence of a navy which is increasingly global in its operations and rivals the United States Navy in terms of the number of hulls.
One can get into a theological discussion about the capability of the navy and so forth, the lack of carriers, but that's a truly revolutionary development, to have a world-class navy suddenly appear in the Pacific Ocean in a quarter of a century, building at an alarming rate. Indeed, if we look at the Indian Navy, just as a sidebar, they have 44 ships on the order books. The scale is truly mind-numbing.
Coming back to China, I think that from 2011 on, we entered what I would call the Potemkin era. We mastered the rhetoric, but there was no substance. I think that partly that was a legacy of the Harper era, and Trudeau and his colleagues are intent on reversing that process.
The Chinese are not easy to deal with for a whole host of reasons that you're probably well acquainted with. What do we do in terms of dealing with their navy? All we can do is to utilize our navy in the traditional manner in terms of naval diplomacy. But what is beginning to emerge in the Indian and Pacific Oceans is a coalition of navies — Australian, Japanese, American, Indian, Vietnamese even — all with a watching brief in terms of what the Chinese are up to, because the Chinese are more and more active and aggressive at sea, as you know from looking at the materials on the South China Sea.
It's a challenge for us in terms of: What should our foreign policy be, our defence policy? We need to engage the Chinese, but there are real limits to how much we can engage. It's not easy, but we've not thought through, from a foreign policy perspective, how we are to deal with China.
The Trudeau mission to China was a start, but the real issue for us — and it's always been an issue for Canadians — is can we sustain the momentum? We have this terrible proclivity for butterflying in and out, and that's not lost on our Asian interlocutors. They're unfailingly polite, but they are not at all persuaded that we're seriously committed.
It's a question of priorities. How many countries do we wish to focus on in Asia, and so forth?
I had a conversation with senior officials in the British Columbia government, and they were trying to zero in on markets in China. I said, "Do you realize that the one marketplace that you've identified in China has the same population as the whole of Germany? You're going to have to temper your ambitions."
We have to temper our ambitions as a middle power; in the maritime realm, no longer a middle power, increasingly a third-tier power. We have to temper our ambitions in terms of what it is that we really want to achieve. There are nations in the region that are very eager to develop a more robust relationship with us, whether it's the Japanese or the Australians and so forth.
We do have opportunities. We have to have a plan, we have to stick to it, and we have to be aggressive in the best sense of the word.
Vice-Admiral Robertson: Just the tiniest bit of context here, which is that, at present, China and the United States are in disagreement over a fundamental aspect of the international rules-based order. If you think of the 70 per cent of the world that's covered by water, where sovereign powers of states extend mere miles off each state's coast, it's the UN Charter and treaties, and most notably the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, that define the international rules-based order at sea.
You can think of UNCLOS effectively as the constitution of the seas, and at present, the interpretation of that treaty, agreed to by all participants, is now in disagreement between the United States and China, as China continues to try to pursue a strategy that over time would see it enclose the South China Sea and parts of, potentially, the East China Sea and deny the United States regional access.
I'm glad there's nodding to my left.
What does it mean when you have your first- and your second-largest trading partner in conflict over the international rules-based order, which is where we find ourselves today? Should that conflict turn from disagreement to a rupture in relations, which of course both sides would like to manage avoiding but is certainly not preordained either way, what does it mean and what capabilities should a country have to be able to respond to a world where there is that kind of agreement in Asia, there's that kind of disagreement in the use of the seas in a slightly different way between the other great power that's causing NATO difficulties at this moment? So you have two theatres where there are fundamental disagreements. Russia’s tends to be both at sea and ashore, but they also are contesting the international rules-based order. This should be of grave concern and shaping the kind of Armed Forces we produce for the future.
Senator Jaffer: In preparing for this afternoon, I have never — and maybe it's my experience — not seen the navy really carry out peace operations, at least where I've been.
What I'm really interested in is you were talking about the future. I believe the navy has a very important role to play in the Arctic. I would appreciate it if you would expand on what you think the role of the navy will be, because it looks like we could have issues in the Arctic. I think that's where the navy will be playing a very important role, and I'd love to hear what you have to say.
Vice-Admiral Robertson: When it comes to maritime security in that region, sailors deal with open water, and it appears there's going to be more open water in the future, not just in Arctic waters that we consider internal, but indeed in the Arctic itself. So in that characterization, for sailors, it doesn't really matter whether one is dealing with the waters off Halifax or the waters off Victoria. Building maritime security in any particular region is the same whether it's at 12 miles off your coastline or indeed at a strategic distance in the High Arctic, where you're farther away from Halifax in Arctic waters than you would be if you sailed a ship over to Europe.
So the real challenge there is the lack of support, the distance and the size. You have to think of the distance between Alaska and Greenland. It would appear that we're about to get a new seacoast there, and that distance is unmatched on the east and west coasts. That's the same as the distance from Halifax to Florida, effectively, that we'll be opening over time. It's those sorts of considerations that need to factor into what's necessary to support not just the navy but the Armed Forces in all of their roles up in the High Arctic.
Senator Jaffer: When reading some material about this, I noted that one of the things the Inuit are saying is that they have not had many consultations with the navy. I was wondering if you had any comment on that. You may not be aware of this.
Vice-Admiral Robertson: No. I think I'd leave that to today's navy, other than to say the navy is executing a plan to learn a great deal about the Arctic. It's been participating in the work undertaken to find Franklin's ships. It's got folks attached to Coast Guard ships to learn, and I think it's learning in a number of ways very quickly, before receiving the Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships. Once the ships are in naval hands, the learning is not going to stop.
Senator Dagenais: My question is for Vice-Admiral Robertson. When we look at the other nations, we see that the Russians and Chinese are still investing in their navies. How do you see the Canadian navy’s future in the next 10 years?
Vice-Admiral Robertson: In comparison to those two nations?
Senator Dagenais: I mentioned those two, but we know that France has recently acquired a new warship. By looking at what is happening in other countries, I think a number of countries are investing in warships. I watched a report that said that the French just acquired a new modern warship. I don’t think Canada should fall behind. However, how should we look at the future, at least the next 10 years?
Vice-Admiral Robertson: If I was to look at the next 10 years, senator, I would say that, really, we are on the path for the next 10 years already. It's a measure of how slowly things change in the Maritime environment. The path we're on is one of the National Shipbuilding Strategy, and that strategy has much to recommend it. It, as you would know, is already building the Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ship. My only observation would be that progress needs to be made on getting to the decisions for the Canadian surface combatant; in other words, political will, or the will here in Ottawa to get on with advancing that file and, of course, for building the supply ships and the Arctic icebreaker for the Coast Guard on the West Coast.
But really, if you think of a conveyor belt taking us forward for the next 10 years, that's already ahead of us. The next decisions will relate to modernizing submarines, procuring maritime patrol aircraft and so on.
Mr. Boutilier: But I think it's important, Mr. Senator, to realize that in many of the key nations that we can turn to, defence budgets are rising, not standing still, not declining; they're rising, so there's a message there. If you want the assets, you've got to be prepared to dig deeper.
Vice-Admiral Robertson: I would follow that merely by saying exactly so. In fact, throughout Asia, it's not just that defence budgets are rising, but naval budgets are rising disproportionately to defence budgets as countries, including China, privilege investments in the maritime forces and the air forces that are going to further their strategy.
Senator Carignan: I listened to you carefully, and my understanding is that, for our study on peacekeeping operations or strategy, we have enough issues to address right now, including the protection of our coasts, the protection of the Arctic, future development and other NATO defence aspects.
We have to stop spreading our efforts thin and heading off in all directions. We have to focus on what is important for Canada, particularly the protection of the Arctic and our coasts. Is that correct?
Vice-Admiral Robertson: It is navies that defend the international rules-based order at sea, and they operate from the sea using their capabilities to contribute to solutions ashore. There is nothing about the circumstance we're in that doesn't mean ships cannot be deployed to continue to contribute to peace support operations in the way they've been done for the past 25 years, except for our decline in capacity and certain other risks and consequences that I outlined.
But the ability to use the sea to implement UN Security Council resolutions and embargoes, to deal with threats to maritime security like piracy, terrorism, counter-narcotics and human smuggling, that all still exists and is something that all navies do.
I think I'd ask if that is headed in the right direction or if you had a follow-up, perhaps.
Senator Carignan: Yes, but based on my understanding, we have to measure our commitments according to our resources, which, at the moment, are limited and deteriorating, while Canada’s needs will be growing exponentially, especially on the Arctic front.
Vice-Admiral Robertson: If I take it in a different direction, then, it is not about the navy of today but the navy and the Armed Forces that we will have for the years to come if we stand on these current funding levels. I could not disagree that the government must always maintain the confidence of Canadians in its ability to defend the country, and it also has to maintain the confidence of our American partners in terms of defending our continental approaches.
In that sense, maintaining the naval and air forces that secure the continental approaches above, on and below our three oceans is a fundamental task. It's a starting point for defence. If you look at the technology that may be exploited by other countries over time and the benefit that — I'll call it a "benefit" — climate change is bringing us in some sense of another open ocean, it would appear that the defence of our continental approaches would be where we would start building the defence program, at 1 per cent of GDP, because there will have to be changes.
So I would argue that we'd be looking at a transfer of resources into capital to sustain the recapitalization of the fighting fleets, while at the same time making divestments of infrastructure and adjustments in personnel, operations and maintenance to build the capabilities for a continental capability.
Senator Carignan: We are talking about coastal defence, as well as search and rescue. I remember seeing the Chilean army evacuate someone in trouble from a cruise chip. The more cruise ships sail along the east and west coasts, as well as the Far North passage, the more we have to be able to intervene. The distance makes it impossible to intervene if we don’t plan to make major investments to protect the lives of the Canadians and visitors who are on those waters.
Vice-Admiral Robertson: Of course. Much of that is done by the Coast Guard, but the Coast Guard, too, needs investments over time to be able to undertake what you are describing.
Air capability: We are going to have to have the capability to respond to the rising traffic that you described, yes.
Senator Carignan: Should we not depoliticize the procurement infrastructure and equipment, because here in Canada governments alternate every eight to 12 years? One government may decide to make it a priority but, by the time the procurement and selection decisions are made, another government comes to power for eight to 12 years. That government will not have the same priorities, so it will reduce the investments, cancel some orders or it will not use the equipment for the purpose it had been built or ordered eight or 12 years earlier. So we are always in a state of imbalance between ordering equipment and using it on the ground when the needs are being felt. Should we not depoliticize the process?
The Chair: We can just have one response because we have a number of other senators that have questions, as well.
Vice-Admiral Robertson: I'll answer it quickly.
From a maritime point of view, that shifting from government to government has always been a challenge since naval acquisitions, by their very nature, take a decade plus. Consequently, the National Shipbuilding Strategy has a secondary benefit in that it creates a bipartisan approach to the acquisition of ships for the Coast Guard and navy over time so that we don't reach the state we were in several years ago and that continues.
The only issue is that the government of the day will decide the final details of the ships that will be built on its watch, but at least there will be a predisposition to getting on with building ships over time. The government of the day is of course rightly entitled to decide what will be built.
The Chair: Time has moved us further along than I thought. Please be fairly concise with the preambles and similarly with the responses.
Senator Beyak: Thank you, gentlemen, for your insights and wisdom. I hope our report can incorporate just a fraction. We are very fortunate to have you here.
My question is about recruitment. What changes have you seen in recruiting people to the cadets or to the Royal Canadian Navy, and do we have a good strategy right now?
Vice-Admiral Robertson: If your question is about cadets in the sense of Royal Canadian Sea Cadets, I think Mr. Harsch is in the best position to answer that.
Capt. Harsch: The sea cadet program is relatively stable. It's not growing at the rate we would like. It's a bit premature to offer a comment on where we are simply because the cadet program, which is the same as the air cadet and army cadet programs, is sponsored by the Department of National Defence. DND is going through a fairly intensive renewal of the cadet and the junior ranger program. We are not there yet, but the intent is to try to improve some of the issues that we have been dealing with and raising through the various cadet leagues over the last number of years.
We're hopeful that the cadet renewal will bear fruit, but we just don't know where we are yet.
The other point when it comes to recruiting from the sea cadet program to the navy is that we don't recruit for the Armed Forces. We are a leadership and citizenship program. In terms of the sea cadets, some of them go on to serve in the reserves or the regular force. I was a sea cadet, but that's absolutely not the prime reason the cadet program exists. It is a youth program.
Senator Meredith: Professor, you talked about the current policy being very political going forward. You also talked about a dismal procurement policy. In your estimation — and I throw this out to the three of you, as well — what will it take in terms of investment to ensure that we actually get our fleets back up to the levels that we need?
Retired Admiral Robertson, you indicated that we don't even have the capability to service our own fleets at sea, especially in our own waters. I'm a little concerned about that, and I think all Canadians are as well.
The senator across from me indicated that he was concerned about the procurement aspect of things and political changes in terms of political parties having priorities and then moving away from them.
What will it take in terms of dollars? That is the number one question. Then what will it take to raise our levels?
Mr. Boutilier: To answer your question, the first thing is a sense of urgency. I don't sense any urgency in all of this. The whole thing drifts along like a sleepwalking exercise, and we have created a culture that is so multi-layered and inclusive, but no one is responsible. We have got to streamline this process and make it quicker and more responsive.
I don't know the answer to your central question, which is how many dollars it will cost to make it happen. I recommend that perhaps you look at the analysis done by my colleague David Perry, who has crunched the figures and come up with a sage estimate of where we stand with the defence acquisition business.
To my mind it is highly unsatisfactory. We are simply not providing the public with value for money or Canadian Armed Forces personnel with the equipment they need. We're not creating a set of circumstances where we have the equipment in place so we can plan in a coherent way into the future.
I apologize that I don't have a dollar value, but the real thing is we have to move and move a lot more aggressively as a defence acquisition culture than we have.
Vice-Admiral Robertson: You had former Assistant Deputy Minister Dan Ross come and speak in the spring. I reviewed his testimony. He is correct about accountabilities. That is to say that people who feel the loss of capability — in this case, the navy — have none of the responsibility for delivering the program; it's spread around several departments. I don't have a problem with that, but Dan Ross's point was that accountabilities are spread around departments, and bringing political will to bear on solving the problem over the longer term is the issue, as is making people understand that the navy doesn't have a ship problem; the government has a security problem. That is the key to it. That's what brings the political will to bear and yields results. It doesn't change the fact that the navy has a ship problem, though.
Capt. Harsch: I think it gets back to the point of Canada as a maritime nation and what we want to be as a maritime nation. Obviously we have an opinion that navies are important. Navies are also very expensive to build. The unit cost of a ship is eye-watering when you compare it to even rising costs of air forces or armies. It is unfortunate that we are in this position where we're almost three hungry dogs circling the same bone with respect to military procurement.
The point, though, with the navy is that we're very expensive, but we're relatively inexpensive to deploy. We can deploy at very short notice, within days, hours in some cases, for a meaningful effect on our own shores or somewhere else, and ships last a long time. Ships last 25, 35 and in some cases 45 years. It's a political issue that just needs to get resolved.
Vice-Admiral Robertson: There is no platform more complex for Canada to procure than a modern warship. That complexity entails risks of a variety of kinds. You heard Dan Ross talk about schedule risk versus accountability, but those risks, whether they are financial, legal, reputational, and so on, for people who are trying to build or get us new ships in the future, overall, they are a tradeoff against operational risk and security risk for the country. The question is how we have political will brought to bear such that people accept the necessary risks for building ships today such that we drive down the operational risk of not having ships in the future.
Mr. Boutilier: I have two quick observations that build on what Mr. Harsch was saying.
I think you go buy a big transport aircraft basically from start to go in six weeks. You can't do that with a ship. It takes a very long time to build, and as he suggests, it's a legacy issue. The decision you make is the decision about what you are going to have by way of a navy in 2050. That's literally what we're looking at.
The second point is that I think, frankly, and speaking personally, governments, one after another, have failed abjectly to educate the public about through-life accounting. It's a bit like saying that I'm going to buy a Honda Civic but it will cost a third of a million dollars. Every single man and woman in this country would blanch at the prospect, but we are building into our total accounting every single rivet, every gallon of gas, all the costs of operating this for 35 years. So of course it appears to be a huge sum of money. But we haven't educated the public as to where this sort of money comes from and how we decide it will be X number of billions of dollars for a fleet of ships. We have failed to do that.
The Chair: Dr. Boutilier, I think that is a very valid point. The Auditor General is now calling to do life-cycle accounting, whether it be the purchase of a ship or the purchase of a school. When the public hears that number, they can't believe that a ship costs that much. They have no idea they are talking about a 45-year life cycle. I think, quite frankly, that there has to be political will by Parliament and by government to go back to the Auditor General and ask him to re-address this general principle so that the public is not confused when you actually are having a debate on the cost of ships, tanks or some other acquisition within government.
That being said, colleagues, we have had a long day. I would like to thank our representatives here for joining us today and taking our questions. We very much appreciate the service you have given to our country, to the Royal Canadian Navy and especially to our navy cadets. They don't get necessarily the public exposure that they should. Quite frankly, if I had my way I would like to see much more of a public advertising campaign by the various organizations to see if we can get more young Canadians involved, because it's just a great program.
(The committee adjourned.)