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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

2:50 p.m.

Principal, Royal Military College of Canada

Dr. Joel Sokolsky

I meant that the United States is already going to have to be more selective in its overseas engagements and how it commits its forces. As with the Libyan case, where the United States contributed greatly but let their allies carry the burden, I think we already saw that the Obama administration plans both to make more use of special forces and unmanned aerial vehicles in the war on terrorism and to issue the deployment of large conventional forces. If you look at the budget decisions and the cuts that are coming, including base closures, this would be inevitable for the United States.

I'm saying that we should do what the Americans are doing. It's exactly the approach I think we should be taking—namely, that we have to be more selective in our overseas deployments—and we will not pay a price in Washington by adopting that position.

2:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Bezan

Thank you.

Mr. McKay, you have the last of the seven-minute rounds.

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Thank you, Chair, and thank you to all of you for your thoughts.

I want to start with Dr. Skillicorn's comment that “organization matters”. Your comment was that the Brits got it right by accident—namely, that they had their signals intelligence, and their cyber-security kind of fell into the same pot, so they've carried on doing what they do. I don't know—possibly you have an opinion on this as well—how effective they are in the area of cyber-security.

On the other hand, the three gentlemen to your left have--fairly, I think--a castle model of security, namely, “These are our borders, this is what we have to protect, these are Canada's interests, and this is how we're going to go about readiness to protect those.”

You then made a comment to the effect of, “We don't even know where some of the stuff comes from, we don't know who does it, and we don't know why they do it, but it just sort of appears.”

The question, in the context of readiness, is should cyber-security be housed with the military?

2:50 p.m.

Professor, School of Computing, Queen's University

Dr. David Skillicorn

Well, at the moment it is, in the rather unusual way that CSE is bolted onto the side of DND.

But I think there is a qualitative difference between physical defence of the interests in the land of Canada and the cyberworld, which does not look like that at all. There are places that are sort of in the middle ground. For example, biological terrorism has the same property, but it doesn't matter how good CBSA is, they're not going to be able to keep out anthrax that flows across the border from the south, for example. So we do need to move to a mindset that includes understanding that the defence of Canada is not entirely physically done.

2:50 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Is that a military mindset? Is that a military training?

We've been at RMC. We've been to the folks in Toronto. It seems to me to be kind of leading edge here. Is this a cultural antithesis to the military way of thinking? I guess that's the question I'm asking.

2:50 p.m.

Professor, School of Computing, Queen's University

Dr. David Skillicorn

I think it's the military instinct whenever the camp is struck: just put up a perimeter. I think that illustrates the mindset—rightly so in that situation. I think they're not the only people who will struggle with this more open view of the world, but they certainly are one of the places where it's very important.

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

I'd be interested in the academics' response to Dr. Skillicorn's issue, because it does strike me as a bit of a contradiction. I'd be interested in how, in effect, particularly at RMC but also in the graduate programs, you are educating our military folks, the best and the brightest, for the anticipated cyber-warfare, which is borderless. Sometimes you can't even locate where the threat is coming from.

2:55 p.m.

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

Dr. Michael Hennessy

I'll talk for a second.

It's less the issue of.... On the CF readiness side, there's one set of problems for the CF to handle. The wider issues of the types of defence problems that might confront the country, of course, are wider than the CF, and they are governmental affairs. In a number of instances, the government has decided to give responsibility to parts of DND or the CF so that we have the joint response unit for potential biological chemical warfare attacks. Who's going to do that? Who has national responsibility to actually do something on the ground? That falls to the CF to do.

To think about the bigger problem, it's a kind of whole-of-government issue. For instance, in 2001, before the events of September 11, in order to expand the horizons of the defence intelligence community, which is fairly large in Canada outside of DND and the CF, one of our graduate courses we created was on asymmetric threat analysis. What is considered an asymmetric threat? How do you analyze it? How do you parse out a response to it? What do you anticipate? That was as a service to the whole of government.

But some of these things don't have a ready response. There's no answer book on how to proceed. So when, over a decade ago, the government looked forward at potential cyber-threats, when we analyzed American literature that talked about “a state of war”, if you can prove that some state or non-state actor attacks some asset of the government, it is in essence a state of war, but we had no adjunct in law in Canada to do that.

So who's responsible remains kind of an open question, but they created an organization called OCIPEP, which is supposed to look at all these types of threats.

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

OCIPEP? What does that mean?

2:55 p.m.

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

Dr. Michael Hennessy

Office of.... I forget.

What was it?

2:55 p.m.

Professor, School of Computing, Queen's University

Dr. David Skillicorn

Critical Infrastructure Protection.

2:55 p.m.

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

Dr. Michael Hennessy

Critical Infrastructure Protection.

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

And who is that when it wakes up in the morning?

2:55 p.m.

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

Dr. Michael Hennessy

Well, it has now changed, because the Department of Public Safety has taken it over.

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Oh, okay.

2:55 p.m.

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

Dr. Michael Hennessy

But at first blush when it's created and the whole of government gets together and says “look at all these emerging types of threat issues”, is there a single point that is thinking about them and even putting them on the agenda? So they started with OCIPEP. It took several years to realize that it has a function, a role, and a name, but it has no resources. So it can say that things are happening, but it can't do anything.

So the reality is that when the balloon goes up and there's a crisis, there are some elements of government that have resources. It has largely fallen to the CF to deal with crises because they have protective equipment, mobility, etc. Is it the only response or necessarily the best response...?

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

It seems to be organization by default more than anything else, because the CF does have the resources. You have a panel at DFAIT and they don't have any money. You have a panel at CIDA and they don't have any money. You have a whole bunch of other folks and they don't have any money. But notwithstanding what General Leslie might say, the CF does have money, and—

2:55 p.m.

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

Dr. Michael Hennessy

Well, and also no option to say no, largely.

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

No; I suppose you're kind of the last resort. So instead of just sort of organizing it by default, should CF say, “Okay, we're taking the lead on cyber-warfare”? In which case, then, that is a huge mentality change for warriors, for want of a better phrase.

Dr. Sokolsky.

2:55 p.m.

Principal, Royal Military College of Canada

Dr. Joel Sokolsky

Actually, cyber-warfare has become important within the Canadian Forces. As I explained this morning, it's something we do with the Royal Military College in terms of preparation. We hold cooperative exercises with other units in Canada and other units in the United States, both military and civilian.

There are just some things that are the military's posture to do, and cyber-security may be one of them in cooperation with others.

When we look at the contribution in terms of homeland security, the lead agency is not necessarily DND, but you have tremendous cooperation. In the United States, the military command responsible is NORTHCOM, but it has some 60 other agencies involved in it. In what is euphemistically called “consequence management”—the detonation, for example, of a dirty weapon inside one of the two countries—militaries in both countries will have a role, as some of the only units organized with the ability to respond.

One way we can respond and are responding, as Dr. Hennessy noted, is by opening up and involving personnel from other government agencies in our courses. For example, the new national security program established at the Canadian Forces College includes representatives from other government departments and the private sector. I think the military has long recognized that the defence of the realm at the border or the projection of force is not its only goal. In the Canadian tradition, the tradition of the aid of civil power is long-standing.

For most countries, homeland defence is defence. We have an expeditionary overlay, in which we protect our borders further abroad, and that involves other activities as well. I think DND has been fairly conscious of the need to contribute in the absence of other organized forces in Canada. We have no National Guard, and most provinces don't even have provincial police forces.

3 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Bezan

Thank you. We're going to have to cut it off there; we're way over time.

I'm going to go to a five-minute round, and I'll ask that all responses be kept fairly short so that the members who ask questions can get a response and have time for supplementals.

Mr. Norlock, you can kick us off.

February 14th, 2012 / 3 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Conservative Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to the witnesses for appearing this afternoon, some for a second time today.

I want to talk about Canada's foreign policy and how the military is an instrument of, shall we say, enforcing our foreign policy. I wrote down two quick areas. One is aid to those who do not have the ability to address a significant disaster—I'm dealing primarily with foreign policy, so smaller countries that don't have the ability. Another is the fight on terrorism, so support for those countries, democracies, or entities, sometimes within countries—and I'm thinking of Libya here—who advocate for democracy and human rights, and also support for our allies, whether it's NATO, NORAD, or the UN sanctions.

Mr. Hennessy, when you dealt with this subject, you said external appointments—I think you were referring to a very small, effective ability. Mr. Sokolsky said it should be consistent with those nations whose interests and values we share.

Having said that, how do you view a Canadian armed forces being able to support that foreign policy vis-à-vis the properly trained people--and specifically, the equipment to do it?

I'm referring to C-17s, the difference between Haiti and Sri Lanka, waiting to rent a commercial airline, and all that; and our ability to be a nation that can be counted on, with the right kind of equipment, to be an instrument of enforcing the standards of democracy and the protection of human rights and human life. How can we do that within a discretionary budget that is somewhat limited in scope and is complementary to our allies?

We can start with Mr. Sokolsky, and then perhaps everybody can have a shot at that, especially Mr. Bland.

3 p.m.

Principal, Royal Military College of Canada

Dr. Joel Sokolsky

We can do that by recognizing that we will not be able to respond to every situation abroad, but when we do decide to respond, what we send can be effective and make a contribution. We can recognize that while we do want countries to count on Canada, it's ultimately up to the Canadian government to make a decision as to where and when.

We have a moral obligation to protect those who can't protect themselves. I believe we also have a moral obligation to the men and women of the armed forces to make sure we send them into situations in which their lives will not be unnecessarily at risk because of a failure to properly plan or to send the right equipment.

3 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Conservative Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Thank you.

3:05 p.m.

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

Dr. Michael Hennessy

Part of the recognition of the real strengthening of core central strategic assets that has happened in the 15 years is important.

When Canada signed on to the R2P protocols--the responsibility to protect--some argued that there is a codicil to that: the ability to project. You need the ability to move if you're going to have influence to move resources. The strategic centre was perhaps undeveloped at the time, so we didn't have the necessary forms of heavy lift; we didn't have good secure strategic communications; we didn't necessarily have the intelligence architecture and the national command and control architecture we have now.

Those are really valuable improvements, largely invisible to big swathes of the armed forces, but I think they are enduring characteristics and something to think about, and how the centre thinks. You have an army, an air force, and a navy. There are national requirements larger than those three.