Evidence of meeting #26 for National Defence in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was things.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Joel Sokolsky  Principal, Royal Military College of Canada
  • Michael Hennessy  Professor, Department of History, and Dean of Continuing Studies, Royal Military College of Canada
  • Douglas Bland  Chair, Defence Management Studies Program, School of Policy Studies, Queen's University
  • David Skillicorn  Professor, School of Computing, Queen's University
  • Glenn Nordick  As an Individual

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Bezan

Good afternoon, everyone. We're going to kick off the official part of our meeting today.

We've been having a great tour. We were in Toronto yesterday and here in Kingston this morning and we've been having a number of really positive discussions on our study on readiness.

We're going to continue with this in the official format pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) and our study on maintaining the readiness of the Canadian Forces.

We're joined by a number of witnesses. From the Royal Military College of Canada, where we were earlier this morning, we have with us Dr. Joel Sokolsky, who is the principal, and Dr. Michael Hennessy, professor and dean of continuity of studies in the department of history. From Queen's University, we have with us Dr. Douglas Bland, who is the chair of defence management studies program at the school of policy studies, and Dr. David Skillicorn, who is a professor in the school of computing.

I welcome all of you.

I'll also say for those in the crowd that we will offer an opportunity at the end of the meeting if anyone wishes to make a brief statement to the committee as it relates to our study on readiness. I know that we have a number of students here from Queen's. We're glad you're taking an interest.

We're also joined by General Glenn Nordick, who is retired. Welcome, General.

With that, I think we'll kick it off.

Dr. Sokolsky, you have the floor.

2:05 p.m.

Dr. Joel Sokolsky Principal, Royal Military College of Canada

Thank you for the opportunity to appear before the committee.

Canada needs to retain land, sea and air forces ready to deploy overseas in multilateral combat operations. Past practice suggests, however, that we cannot predict where such operations will take place, nor their exact nature. The reality is there is no certainty as to what precisely we need to be ready for. Moreover, because of the very favourable strategic situation that Canada finds itself in and the national political culture and domestic policy environment in which defence is unlikely to be at a paramount government priority, defence expenditures will always be under fiscal pressure.

But this has not and should not prevent Canada from using the Canadian Forces as an instrument of foreign policy and making effective contributions to a variety of multilateral operations. The important concept to bear in mind is that there is a large measure of discretion when it comes to overseas readiness requirements and operations.

As such, decisions can and will have to be made as to which capabilities we should retain and which operations we participate in, since we cannot be ready for everything and accept every request. But owing to the nature of the international environment and our national interests, we have the luxury of choosing which forces to acquire and which operations we will participate in, and the option of tailoring the size and composition of our overseas military commitments.

The Canada First defence strategy rightly draws attention to the direct defence of Canada and domestic requirements. Domestic operations and collaboration with the United States in continental defence are not discretionary, yet, as in the past, the demands of domestic operations or of continental security will not determine the majority of readiness requirements of the Canadian Forces.

The dispatch of forces overseas in support of empires, allies, and multilateral operations is deeply embedded in the Canadian strategic culture. Facing no military threat to its own borders and waters, identifying its security with that of the west, especially the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and wishing to play a role, albeit an acknowledged limited one on the global stage, Canada has generally not hesitated to deploy abroad, even when in the past it has hesitated to provide the wherewithal to do so effectively.

In the post-9/11 era, such deployments have also been important in terms of assuring the United States that Canada takes American homeland security seriously. Since Canada always deploys alongside others, Ottawa has been able to choose where it dispatches forces, and the size and composition of the deployment.

Ever the realist, Canada's deployment decisions are driven by the need to maximize domestic and foreign political benefits and to minimize costs. But in keeping with the recent desire to make a difference on the ground, such decisions now also take into account whether the forces deployed, however limited, can fulfill the missions required and contribute to the coalition effort.

The first decade of the 21st century saw Canadian Forces operating all over the globe. Over the past ten years, Canada has dispatched army, navy, and air force units to a wide range of overseas operations, from anti-terrorism and counter-narcotic patrols in the Mediterranean and Caribbean to peace support missions in the Congo and stabilization operations in Haiti and Kosovo. This is in addition to maintaining participation in a number of Cold War-vintage classic peacekeeping undertakings, such as those along the Syrian-Israeli border, in Cyprus, and in the Sinai.

But these missions usually involved small number of personnel—sometimes less than 10—and were for short periods of time. From 2001, and especially since 2005 until the summer of 2011, the costly combat mission in Afghanistan—in terms both of lives lost and of resources expended—was the focus of Canadian defence policy and has been the dominant operation for the CF. Even with the ending of the combat mission, the 900 or so personnel assigned to NATO's training mission in Afghanistan will constitute the largest of the CF's current overseas deployments.

When combined with the recently completed Libyan mission, wherein Canada dispatched naval forces, fighter aircraft, and other units in support of NATO's application of force, and where the air campaign was commanded by a Canadian officer, a general, it appears that Ottawa is on the right track in being committed to sustaining a relatively small yet highly effective expeditionary combat-oriented capability. This is a posture which the CF has desired and which Canada's political leaders have found useful to maintain.

This does not mean that the government will allocate more than the present 1% of GDP toward defence or that the current financial situation may not result in reduced increases in defence expenditures. But the legacy of the last decade is that the CF has become an important instrument of Canadian foreign policy, not just for peacekeeping or stabilization missions, but where the direct application of military force as part of coalition combat missions is required.

Not all missions we decide to participate in will be combat missions, but all should all should be linked to a combat capability informed by a high level of military professionalism. For example, the decision to send Canadian special forces troops to help train Mali's military to deal with al-Qaeda insurgents is consistent with Canada's strategic culture of overseas engagement, its post-9/11 desire to support U.S. and western anti-terrorism efforts abroad, its ability to select when and how to undertake those engagements, and the present spirit of world-class military professionalism within the CF that has emerged from the Afghanistan experience.

The commitment also suggests, as did the successful Libyan operation, that even as it copes with the legacy costs of Afghanistan and the current financial constraints, Ottawa needs to and can remain a global actor willing to use the military as an instrument of policy. We need to be ready to do what we can where we can, bearing in mind international and domestic constraints. Such deployments need to be consistent with our tangible economic and security interests as well as our values, which in a democracy are legitimate intangible interests that may require the use of force to be fostered overseas.

It is also evident in the recent policy and defence expenditure decisions being made by the United States that a Canadian readiness posture that recognizes the need and ability to make choices with regard to overseas capabilities and commitments will not put Ottawa at odds with the position now being taken by our major ally. And as I do not believe that America's other allies, given their own domestic situations, will step up to fill any void created by reductions or realignment in the U.S military posture, the present Canadian approach will be entirely consistent with those of nations whose interests and values we share.

To conclude, speaking as a faculty member and principal of the Royal Military College, I can say that because there is no certainty in the future strategic environment about where Canada may next deploy forces--because Canada will be able to decide where and how it deploys and because this will entail the need to make choices, both in the long term and on short notice--never before has professional military education at the university level, with its broad teaching and research dimensions, been so essential to maintaining the readiness of the Canadian Forces. Readiness requires leaders, and leaders require education.

Thank you.

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Bezan

Thank you.

Dr. Hennessy.

2:10 p.m.

Dr. Michael Hennessy Professor, Department of History, and Dean of Continuing Studies, Royal Military College of Canada

Thank you, sir.

I must point out that these are personal comments, and they are not reflective of the opinion of the Department of National Defence. I'll read most of my statement.

As a historian, I am pretty loath to make any predictions of what the future is going to look like, except to know that the future is uncertain, but we have some certainties about what's going to be there. We know enough of the uncertainties to suggest some essential coping strategies for ensuring a robust response to emergent, though perhaps unanticipated, challenges.

The known knowns of the “Future Security Environment” start with the usual bromides, which you'll see everywhere. To summarize these points, we face an emerging, complex, challenging, and uncertain future security environment: rogue states, however and whoever defines them as such; the rise of Brazil, India, and China; the decline of our traditional allies within what you might call the “Anglo-sphere”; potential resource wars over water, oil, or rare earths—take your pick; new access to the Arctic northwest and northeast passages; atomic, cyber, biological, and chemical warfare and threat proliferation; and global al Qaeda and other transnational terrorist threats. To this mix, add the never-stable new fiscal reality. These and similar issues are not going to go away any time soon.

However, except for Arctic issues and sovereignty patrols, our forces are structured primarily for highly discretionary external deployment. With fifteen years of large-scale experience in such external deployment, the CF are arguably much better organized to deploy and to sustain these external commitments than ever before, and that experience includes all of our First and Second World War experiences. In particular, there are much better command, control, coordination, communications, and intelligence facilities, not just for the deployed forces, but also for our headquarters in Ottawa and for the national command authority. They are much better prepared now than in 1995, 2001, or 2008. I'll return to these significant developments before I close.

Our forces require the ability to remain part of the first-tier potential combatants, or to at least be close enough to be an attractive ally to those who are in the first tier. There's a big technological bill to be paid there. That places a burden on our forces to maintain and to keep all of the standard conventional technologies, as well as many of the organizational and administrative arrangements that make it look like a military, while also evolving and responding to bring in new capabilities, some of which are very non-traditional capabilities and capacities at that. Recapitalizing the Canadian Forces both to meet the known traditional issues and to deal with new ones will remain an ongoing challenge. The new technologies are too capable to ignore—weapons are faster, more accurate, more destructive, more stealthy, and of greater range. In the game of survival on a modern battlefield, all of those characteristics are of telling consequence, because one can't bet the short game on second chances: all of the technologies conspire to not give you a second chance. Our forces are not necessarily optimized for long, drawn-out mobilization and the slow buildup of forces; they are geared for the short game.

But readiness is not simply about the kit or the command and control. The most important element is certainly the people in the Canadian Forces and in the Department of National Defence. Both are dependent on attracting, developing, and retaining the right sorts of people—those with the personal strengths, mental agility, physical dexterity, and emotional resolve to thrive in harm's way, while upholding the best of Canadian values. Career and service conditions help ensure some of that robustness. However, to be agile in the face of changing circumstances and unpredictable demands, all members require a high degree of what American literatures refer to as cognitive readiness, which is the intellectual and mental disposition to rise to those challenges and to formulate new responses.

As you know, armed forces train according to doctrine, and doctrine, in theory, is based on captured experiences and reflections on that experience. But what is taught as rote knowledge in doctrine is almost always a step or two behind contemporary experience. As our forces draw back from large-scale external deployments, the range of experiences will diminish and hard lessons may be lost. This is most particularly true of the army. The navy must always have ships that float and make headway, just as the air force must know how to fly and will continue to do so, with or without external deployments. But an army must often sit and wait, and that can be corrosive in many ways. Active training regimes are expensive but essential. Moreover, we can learn a very good deal by watching and studying the experiences of others. To be ready for a come-as-you-are war or deployment, there must be an investment in the long-term preparation of minds for the travails of war—and substitute other things besides war if you'd like, such as conflict; defence posturing; alliance or coalition cooperation or coordination; the framing of new tactics; operational techniques; or the incorporation of, or responses to, unimagined new weapons systems. All of those things need well-prepared minds.

That means an investment in the minds for the strategic leadership and resource management skills from the lowest to the highest levels of the organization. Cognitive readiness at the tactical and operational and higher levels is the foundation of CF and DND agility but receives very little attention or recognition.

A little plug for RMC: What we do at RMC, at RMC Saint-Jean, and with our faculty at the Canadian Forces Command and Staff College in Toronto helps set some foundations for the cognitive readiness of the forces.

Attracting, developing, and retaining the best is an enduring challenge, but DND and the CF are not synonyms. The department has responsibilities--e.g., defence diplomacy, defence policy, things like security, CSE, and other capabilities--that are not part of the Canadian Forces. These also require consideration and attention when we consider all aspects of future readiness.

The experience of the past decade and a half has illustrated that such a cognitive foundation was not pre-existing at the highest levels of government. I could elaborate on examples and historical reasons DND was not, for instance, geared to be a war-fighting headquarters. The great strides made in developing national command-and-control coordination and intelligence assets over that period of 15 years illustrate the extent of some of the deficiency. As said previously, these capabilities and others, even more esoteric capabilities in, say, human intelligence and influence operations to name but two, are far more developed today than they were even a decade ago.

As we look to the future, the hard-learned lessons of the past 15 years should not be overlooked, but could be easily overlooked if not properly recognized. Whatever the future holds, it will be the people in the loop who make the difference between being prepared and not being prepared.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Bezan

Thank you, Doctor.

Dr. Bland, you have the floor.

2:20 p.m.

Dr. Douglas Bland Chair, Defence Management Studies Program, School of Policy Studies, Queen's University

Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.

Just as background, I spent 39 years in the Canadian Forces as a Canadian army officer, and in the last 15 years I've been developing a unique study program here at Queen's that studies the defence administration--in other words, where all the money goes. I thought that in the context of speaking about readiness, I would talk to you for a few minutes about the connection with the current topic of transformation and what that's going to mean for readiness in the Canadian Forces.

Senior defence officials and Canadian Forces officers are today huddled inside National Defence Headquarters looking for administrative efficiencies to contribute, by some accounts, as a much as 10% of the defence budget to the government's deficit reduction action plan. The dilemma facing Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay is to find a way to slash future defence budgets without obviously negating the Conservative government's defence policy or the Canada First defence strategy or greatly decreasing Canadian Forces' military capabilities.

His response to this difficulty so far has been to commission a transformation 2011 study directed by Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie, who, I'm sure you all know, is now retired. The aim of that paper was to develop ideas to increase efficiency and effectiveness, and to act as the driving force behind organizational changes needed to reposition the Canadian Forces and the department for the future. Mr. MacKay thus joins the ranks of other ministers who throughout our history have championed administrative tidiness as the best way to maintain Canada's defence capabilities as budgets fall.

Minister of National Defence Paul Hellyer in 1962 declared: "We must greatly increase defence spending or reorganize”. The decision was to reorganize. His reorganizations produced few savings, and defence capabilities declined.

Pierre Trudeau cut the defence budget severely in 1972, promising that maximum effectiveness of the organization and management of the entire department and the forces would save capabilities. Capabilities declined again.

In 1994 Jean Chrétien declared, "Everything will be made leaner...which will mean more resources devoted to combat forces and less to administrative overhead". His smaller armed forces were incapable of conducting modern military operations, a fact displayed in the 1990s campaigns in the former Yugoslavia and in Zaire in 1996, which soldiers still refer to as the bungle in the jungle.

The assumption that administrative tidiness will release defence funds to improve operational capabilities is challenged by two difficulties. First, attempts to eliminate untidy parts of the defence structure are always stoutly resisted by those in it. As General Leslie notes, officers and officials he interviewed “argued for the preservation of the status quo with every particular organization...each of which is believed to be very important to the whole by the people who are in it”.

The second problem—and the case in every reform since 1962—is that savings from defence transformations were taken away from the national defence budget and reallocated to other departments or to other priorities, such as deficit reduction, thus cutting even deeper into military capability.

The 2012 transformation scheme is based on—and this is a quote from some research I've been doing at National Defence Headquarters, from a source—the idea of “resetting” the Canada First defence strategy. It's rhetoric meant to suggest that the strategy's objectives are confirmed and are merely being reprogrammed into the future as the defence establishment is transformed to enable the Canadian Forces to do more with less.

Under this version of transformation, Canadians should expect Peter MacKay to announce several permanent changes to the organization of the Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence. For example, in my estimation, he will likely transfer hundreds of military personnel or personnel positions from Ottawa to military duties elsewhere in Canada, downsize the Department of National Defence public service staff, and collapse redundant branches within the department. He will close or relocate so-called support bases or facilities meant to serve the reserve force—for instance, in Toronto and Vancouver—and send them to distant permanent bases. They will reduce the reserve force, probably by several thousand people, and, especially, eliminate large segments of the senior officer ranks in the reserves.

As well, they'll cancel scores of civilian contracts, including those that employ civilian doctors and medical facilities to serve members of the Canadian Forces. They also will cancel dozens of contracts for new equipment, construction, and academic research.

I expect that they will close several small military bases or reduce them—all except, of course, Goose Bay, Labrador—and concentrate displaced units on a few larger bases. There will be a reduction in military training, pilots' flying hours, naval deployments, and military operations generally. There will be an elimination of old and expensive-to-maintain military equipment, such as the older fleet of C-130 transport aircraft, the navy's four troublesome submarines, and aging fleets of army equipment, and perhaps there will be a grounding out of the Snowbirds aerial display team.

Finally, as ministers have done before in these situations, they will make promises to reduce administrative overhead throughout the Canadian Forces and DND to increase combat capabilities.

When Mr. MacKay announces these types of efficiency measures after the budget is tabled in the spring, he will surely face a lot of criticism and many challenges from interest groups and from those who will claim that the government is abandoning the Canada First defence strategy. However, the minister, I suggest, will simply respond with defence ministers' traditional hopeful promise made in the face of deep capability cuts, and I quote: “Everything will be made leaner...which will mean more resources devoted to combat forces and less to administrative overhead”.

Canadians should be wary of this old defence policy canard--that is, defence cuts disguised as transformation. As is evident in every case since 1962, every government's policy aimed at finding efficiencies to allow the Canadian Forces to do more with less has produced in fact military forces capable only of doing less with less.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Bezan

Thank you.

Dr. Skillicorn, your turn.

2:25 p.m.

Dr. David Skillicorn Professor, School of Computing, Queen's University

Thank you for the chance to appear.

I'd like to talk about two things, the first of which is how intelligence analysis tends to work in the forces, and also in the more civilian world.

In general, analysts are trying to find interesting things without quite knowing what they're looking for. In adversarial situations, adversaries are trying to come up with novel approaches, and therefore you're always looking for something new, and you can't do this based on a set of rules or limited known patterns that you might already happen to know about. This means that analysts are constantly having to think of new hypotheses and be very creative, and even imaginative, about what they're looking for. When they come up with something they would like to explore, the general strategy is to ask, “Is there evidence for this?” These days that generally means, “Is there evidence in data that we've already collected for this?”

Unfortunately, the way that tends to be implemented, physically or virtually, is that this request is thrown over some large wall to the people who guard the data. They go and see whether there is, indeed, any evidence for this hypothesis in the data, and then they write a report about it and send that back to the analyst. This process can take weeks. The people interrogating the data and writing the report do not have any context and therefore cannot say, “There isn't what you were asking about, but there's something very similar to it”, because they simply don't know. If new data arrive the day after they wrote the report, nobody notices. This is a very ineffective and deeply flawed way to do intelligence analysis.

There's a way to do a lot better, but it's subtle and it's hard for people to appreciate. It is that the data itself can generate its own hypotheses. At first this seems like magic, but it's really not. In an adversarial setting, it's usually plausible to assume that anything that's common is normal, and therefore anything that is exceptional deserves some further exploration. That is the key to making this process work.

It's possible, algorithmically and inductively, to put in front of the data computational engines that will throw up hypotheses for which there is some evidence. The role of the analyst now is different, but inherently simpler, and that is simply to judge whether those hypotheses are plausible or not, and if they're not, to feed back into the process an indication of why that is. Often it turns out there are technical collection problems of various sorts, but sometimes it's just a lack of sophistication in the inductive process itself.

This push from the data towards the analyst is much more effective and cost-effective than trying to get the analysts to pull from the data, for the reasons I've outlined.

The reason this isn't being done is partly a cultural one: analysts tend to be trained in the social sciences, and they do not have the data analysis background to either see or understand, naturally, the kind of process I've outlined. My suggestion would be that it's important to get the benefit of this kind of approach by cross-training, as it were, people with social science and data analysis backgrounds, rather than the current set-ups, which are very much based on quite strong separations between people who are called analysts and people who handle large amounts of data.

The second thing I'd like to talk about is cyber-security, which I understand you heard something about yesterday as well.

My first point is that organization matters. All of the western countries have struggled with the issue of which parts of government should do cyber-security, malware, and things like that, and all of them have not come up with a good solution, with one exception. The U.K. government, more or less by accident, included the economic well-being of the United Kingdom in the mandate of the Government Communications Headquarters. That has meant that for a very long time, the people at Cheltenham have taken on board all of the issues that in other countries have struggled to find a home.

That's paid off for them in a very big way, because it turns out there are major synergies between the things you have to think about to do cyber-security and the things you have to think about to do signals intelligence, in both directions. That's the reason why GCHQ is both the world leader in signals intelligence and the world leader in cyber-security.

So I would suggest that for the Canadian government, which faces the same issues, the Communications Security Establishment is the right place to put cyber-security and all of its related issues.

Secondly, it's very easy, particularly from a military background, to slip into a castle model of cyber-security. You can see in the words that people use to describe things like firewalls, intrusion detection, and spam filters that there's this metaphor underlying all of those things that suggests we can live inside enclaves of purity and keep the bad stuff out. That simply is not plausible in today's world.

We have to find ways to live with compromised environments. I would suggest that the human immune system is at least an interesting metaphor for that. Although our bodies are good at keeping out certain kinds of bad things, they also have major things going on inside us that, as it were, patrol for bad things that have invaded the first level of defence.

That's a difficult model to have. We have not learned to think in that way, but it is important that we head in that direction rather than aiming for an ultimately futile perimeter view of cyber-security.

Third, there are no borders on the Internet--I think this fact is fairly widely appreciated--so attribution is incredibly difficult, and that means that some of the things the military has traditionally used will not work. You can't tell who attacked you. You can't even tell what kind of “who” attacked you. Whether it's a state actor, a group, or an individual, it's impossible, in general, to distinguish those things. That means we have no leverage from ideas like retribution. Something like détente is simply impossible to deal with, so prevention is the only path for handling cyber-security in the end.

Thank you.

2:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Bezan

Thank you, Professor.

Thank you all for your opening comments.

We are going to Mr. Christopherson for seven minutes.

February 14th, 2012 / 2:30 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson Hamilton Centre, ON

Thank you very much, Chair.

Thank you, gentlemen, for your presentation. It's good to see a couple of you again. We saw you this morning.

As you know, we're studying readiness, and it's almost like looking at a circle and trying to figure out where the beginning is. I thought, Professor Hennessy, you gave us a good start down that road when you referenced leading in with your Rumsfeld “known knowns”. It seems to me that when we ask anyone in the military about readiness, the first thing they say is “We're ready” without knowing exactly what it is they are ready for. From their point of view, readiness seems to be very much “Are you ready to respond as well as you can to what we ask you to do?” and the answer is “Yes”, and they are. But I think our question of readiness needs to be at a much higher altitude, at more of a macro level.

Professor Hennessy, you talked about the known knowns of the future security environment starting with the usual bromides--we face an emerging, complex, challenging and uncertain future security environment: rogue states, etc., and then you come to potential resource wars--water, oil, rare earths, etc., and of course the etc. would be food. This takes us to climate change, and you list a number of others.

In terms of our getting ready and knowing what we're getting ready for, you've outlined these sorts of things. Would you please give us your thoughts on the components that would make up the future CF vis-à-vis the issues you've identified to which we're going to have to respond, and what changes within the CF those would entail? Is it just what we have, but more of it?

2:35 p.m.

Professor, Department of History, and Dean of Continuing Studies, Royal Military College of Canada

Dr. Michael Hennessy

I think it just highlights the problem. We have to have a certain type of conventional military force, because conventional military challenges remain. Investing in esoteric threats doesn't always seem cost-effective, and we have an organization that is used to just lumbering on with potential types of missions. In many ways, that has worked and can work and in fact has to work, because we don't know the future.

You can go back through Canadian history. The Canadian navy, on the eve of the Second World War, was told that its mission was coastal defence, that it would not operate on the high seas, and the United States would take care of Canada's ocean borders. Within 12 months of the beginning of the war, the navy was operating across the Atlantic. The United States had withdrawn from the Atlantic, and Canada was well on its way to mastering operations on the high seas globally. So no one could prepare for that.

I think that is just a reality of military planning in a vacuum with resource constraints, because all sorts of scenarios are possible. How much do you wager? The best response is to have a very agile organization, and it really takes agile people who, when faced with crises, are able to cobble together respectable responses.

Would some of those challenges need real capacity-building now in a new way? If you look back over the past 15 years at the capacities that were built at the national level for intelligence sharing, for command and control, for some of the types of roles and missions that are outside of the normal rules set, we see a much more robust armed force. Trying to capture how robust it has become is a challenge, because all the changes that have gone on are not well known to the outside world. I'm not even sure most of the Canadian Forces understand all the changes they have gone through in 15 years.

Part of it is having an organization that is even self-aware of what just an operational tempo has required them to do, because to most of the organization, those changes would be invisible. That's part of the cognitive problem.

So is there a crystal ball and a set answer? No.

2:35 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson Hamilton Centre, ON

Thank you very much.

Could I just throw that same question to any of our other presenters and see if they would like to comment?

2:35 p.m.

Principal, Royal Military College of Canada

Dr. Joel Sokolsky

I agree kind of with what Michael said.

I wanted to convey that the world will be beset with all sorts of crises that might arise out of food, resources, and civil strife. Not all of these crises will directly threaten Canadian security. In fact, most of them won't. Therefore, we will be fortunate enough to make decisions. If we don't have the capabilities that are suitable, then we won't go. I think that's something we need to recognize.

What do we have to be ready for? We have to be ready so that when the government decides, given military advice, that it can make a contribution, then what we put on the ground is useful to our allies and will not unduly endanger the forces. You can think of a whole list of scenarios in which there will be challenges. Most of them will not directly affect Canadian security, and most of them will not allow for a military solution. That should be a source of comfort to us.

We have, for example, the latest U.S. policy statements, which talk about a pivot to the Pacific. Now that the Chinese Deputy Prime Minister is visiting, as one commentator put it, we should just call it a pirouette, because we don't want to get them too excited.

With the Chinese navy rising, if it is indeed rising, does this mean we shift to the Pacific? Does this mean we invest in more capital forces? It's not clear that this is what we should do. We will need a minimal capability to patrol our own oceans. Since, on the naval side, we don't have a coast guard and a navy.... We use the navy the way countries like the United States would use the coast guard. So a credible naval presence is possible.

We will likely deploy abroad, so some sort of strategic lift is going to be necessary. But we're not Federal Express: we don't absolutely, positively have to get there overnight. Therefore, investing further in rapid deployment may not be what we want.

This is where choices have to be made.

Look at where we've gone in the last 15 years. If you were a planner in NDHQ in 1989 and you predicted we would be going to Yugoslavia, Haiti, Somalia, and particularly into Kosovo, and then into Afghanistan, you might have had a short career. Yet that is precisely where we were going. It seems to me, and this is where General Hillier may.... If we do go, we need to be large enough to make a difference; we must be useful to our allies; and we must not unduly endanger the mission or the forces we send.

One thing—and this has been part of our discussions, and if I may say so, I think it's more academic—is that when we deploy abroad, we influence others by deploying. Do we make a difference? Does the President of the United States say, “Canada, you have permission. Come down to Washington and tell me how to run things”? Influence is a very difficult thing to measure overall. I think we should go where we can make a difference on the ground. It's in our interests, or it doesn't conflict with our interests. And as I've suggested, it's consistent with our values. Minimal capabilities will have to be retained, but we won't be able to go everywhere and support every ally.

2:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Bezan

I'm going to have to cut you off, sir. We're running out of time.

2:40 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson Hamilton Centre, ON

Thank you very much for your answers.