Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the privilege of being here today to assist you perhaps with a few measures that will help determine the road we can take to move forward.
As you can see, I have put away my uniform. I am now a civilian, and it is in that capacity that I will be speaking to you today.
I certainly do not represent the Canadian Forces or NATO. But the way I understand the mission—I still use military terms—that you've given me this morning is to tell you a little bit about my perspective, as you look at NATO, through the eyes of Libya, perhaps, and the aftermath of Libya and what we've learned from it. I will offer some comments as to Canada's approach to it and also its future.
Obviously NATO was built on article 5—an attack on one is an attack on all. I will argue that while some may be critical of NATO, it has been able to adapt in some ways, perhaps not at the speed we would like, but it's certainly been....
The nature of conflict itself has changed, from the Cold War, to genocide, to ethnic cleansing, to religious conflicts, to counter-terrorism, to democratic uprisings, which was my area.
We've gone as a military organization to win war, sometimes to search and destroy or neutralize the enemy, to protect civilians. Protection of civilians was totally different and a new mission for us, hence Libya. Therefore, our approach to Libya was a plan that emphasized legitimacy of its target, of our action. Constant and uppermost on our mind was protection of civilians, not only in the sense of today's activity, but also secondary and tertiary effects and nature. Shock and awe was not a strategy or a tactic for Libya, but rather finesse. That's how we went about it.
If we've learned anything, it is three major lessons, and these lessons, I believe, apply to NATO today, as we look at NATO today and in the future.
First is that process and doctrine are for the blind obedience of the fool and the guidance of the wise. We cannot let processes get the best of us. Sometimes, I believe that 28 nations coming together are driven way too much by that. But I offer that it will change.
Second is our ability to communicate and to understand each other's culture. While NATO is 28 nations with common objectives, it's also 28 or more different cultures that look at life much differently. If we learn to work through that, I believe we'll learn to adapt and change NATO as well.
The final one is agility of the mind, which is the most important part—agility of the mind—and what we do from a political perspective, from a strategic perspective, and an operational perspective.
NATO, from a commander's perspective.... I had the greatest chance, because I had the political will of 28 nations and four regional partners. Regardless of what was going on, I knew I had the support. We had the capability of some 18 nations out of the 28. It's fine with that, because the will was there—18 nations provided us with capabilities at various levels and scopes.
We've used the term “caveats” in the past. I stopped using that term publicly in dealing with NATO because it has a negative connotation. To me, it's about doing what you've been told to do with what you have, constantly reminding about what you need, but making the best of what you have and understanding that caveats are normal.... Actually, national intents and limitations are a normal fact of life.
Agility and flexibility were the keys to the NATO mission. Really, it was a reminder to all of us that a crisis such as Libya surely requires a comprehensive approach, and that applies at the political, at the strategic, and also at the operational level.
The comprehensive approach aspects include the political aspects of it, understanding national agendas: military—making the best of and understanding cultures and dealing with them; economics—understanding the impact of oil, gas, and trade with Libya; social and cultural aspects—we went through a campaign, school out and school back in, and we went through Ramadan, making sure this was not to become a religious issue but rather keeping it to the protection of civilians, and we worked extra hard on that.
Finally, with regard to infrastructure, this is what I meant by secondary and tertiary effects. We left all of the infrastructure standing—oil, gas, water, electricity, and road networks. Why? Because we worked to protect civilians, and to damage that infrastructure would affect them in the long term. That's also why this country is able to get back on its feet. It has a source of revenue.
What I've really just said is that NATO did its job. We were there to protect civilians and we did it to the best of our ability. Using the words of the Secretary General, I believe this was one of the most successful events and one of the most precise campaigns in NATO's history.
But I will be critical of one point. We, the collectivity, did not follow through with Libya. It's a lesson that we must truly understand. I don't think it's NATO's job, but Libya requires political assistance, judiciary review, a better understanding of internal and military security, electioneering, governance, and monetary management. Essentially, we need nation-building to continue. It's not NATO's job, but it's part of NATO's strategies: what next, and then who should do it?
Is this the African Union's job? Is this to be done by the Arab League, or the Friends of Libya, or is this truly in the UN seat?
Does Libya apply to the future? A lot of people have asked me if we can make this fit another environment. Let me offer you some thoughts. If we tried to apply Libya to other theatres, as it were, it would be difficult. We learned the hard way. We tried to adapt Libya to Afghanistan and to Bosnia and to Iraq, and it didn't work. We must adapt ourselves and change.
When we look at international conflict, what next and what then, I think we need to consider international legitimacy. We had it under the UN Security Council.
Who should be doing it? NATO. But given the economic status, if it's not NATO, then who? The geography of Libya itself, as compared to other places, is certainly an important part. On the regional support, the internal actors, Gadhafi had essentially two friends in the world, Mugabe and Chavez, but his power base was very limited. When we look at another place, who are the friends? Who are the actors?
Finally, once NATO is done, who takes control and who has control? I'm talking about both internally and externally. We've learned a great deal of lessons through all of this, or at least we've observed a great deal of them. Let me summarize some of them.
For NATO, it's a success. For Libya, it's the victory. I talked a little bit about Libya, and they still require assistance. We need to look at that in future conflict because it applies to Afghanistan, the Balkans, and Iraq in many ways. All of these, by the way, were areas I had to look at from my last job's perspective.
We have made some new allies. How do we approach these new allies? How do we expand NATO, without expanding it in the sense of PFP, the Partnership for Peace, or the Istanbul conference initiative, or the Med Dialogue? Not everybody wants to be part of NATO, but many want to be closer to them. By the way, the closer we get to everybody, the better we will be.
I think these are great lessons learned. We have more lessons learned on the intelligence-sharing issues, about networking ourselves in a sophisticated manner, having a deployable and interoperable force. I have many more lessons learned that I will not cover here, but I can expand on them, if you wish, Mr. Chair, as we go through.
NATO in the past was necessary. In today's terms, NATO has been crucial, and I believe NATO is essential to Canada in the future. It's greater than the military alliance. It provides us with an environment for dialogue, diplomacy.
More importantly, if not NATO, then what? Do we have a better option? We've been building on this over 50 years—60 years, in fact. NATO, though, will have to adapt to the change, and that's where we can play a role. I believe we, as Canadians, can play a big role there, but we must be partners. You cannot change from the outside. You've got to change it from the inside.
Also I would suggest that we may have to temper our expectations in some ways because our concept of change, of time to conduct the change, may be different in all those 28 nations, depending on the culture you're dealing with.
The strategic concept of NATO is sound, and I support it. Smart Defence, as has been talked about at the Chicago summit and enunciated clearly by the Secretary General, is idealistically good but pragmatically difficult to operationalize. It's about weighing, pooling, and sharing in common activities, much like AWACS, AGS, or the C-17 initiatives we have, against national sovereignty requirements and also industrial and economic benefits. We have to balance all this and find the right balance. It's also to make sure we'll have what we need when we need it; we will be there, and when others need our capability, we will be there.
I think pragmatically focusing on connected forces is important, in the sense that we're not there yet and we must continue. Believe it or not, even after 60 years together, we are still having problems communicating with one another, because national imperatives took over the grid of the alliance, or not necessarily the grid but at least the activities.
We also need to look in non-kinetic ways. I think we focus too much. There are three areas: we look at equipment; we look at the capabilities, the hardware; we look at the people, the greyware, we need. Canada can play a great role, but we also need to look at the non-kinetic aspect of it. Social media play a critical role in the authorizing and the awakening, and it's only the beginning. We need to look at this. We need to look at computer network operations to be able to gather intelligence, disseminate information, influence behaviour, and, if necessary, disable systems in a non-kinetic manner, which will enable the system to go back up again. If there's one thing we learned from the Balkans, it's if you break things, you're going to have to rebuild them.
I'm nearing the end of my comments, Mr. Chairman.
I'll just say that crisis response, as seen by NATO, is workable. This is not the NATO of 10 years ago or of last year. NATO has changed. First it needs political will that is translated into capabilities and capacities, but finally, we also need to look at sustainment and continue with our agility. From a military perspective, I see new structures and I see some removal of the duplication. We must not confuse redundancy and duplication, but we must wisely find the difference and apply it as best we can.
My advice to my past commander at SACEUR was let's make sure we build...not a peace establishment structure that needs a war establishment to be put together, but, much like we showed during Libya, create war fighter organizations that can get going right from day one. We had three weeks to get ready, one week to build a headquarters, and we got on with it. To put it in perspective, Bosnia took one year from the Security Council to boots on the ground. We can talk about boots on the ground, if you wish, or lack thereof. I certainly have a point on that, and I will address your point, Mr. Chairman, as you wish.
From a Canadian perspective—I'd like to bring this to a wrap—first, is the measure of Canada's provision of support to NATO. I was in Washington and was reminded that Canada's expenditure is around 1.4% of the GDP against a goal of 3%. In replying to my U.S. colleagues and politicians, I offered that quantity is a very poor judge of what the efforts are; rather there is quality and there's also the will. You can have all the quantity you want, but without a political will to use it and deploy it, or the quality given to you by Canada—and I'm not talking about me, I'm talking about the great members of the Canadian Forces. I'd also like to add the support I had from Foreign Affairs in the provision of political advice, this whole-of-government support that came to us.
These are great people. So let's measure Canada not only by numbers but by who we are and who we send. Our record speaks for itself.
I think Canada needs to look at having a deployable force, both politically and militarily, a relevant force, and more importantly a balanced force. Let's not build on the past. Let's build on the future. The future is about agility, about the capability to deal with what is not predictable. One thing I've learned is that the foreseeable future is not.
Therefore, we need to be ready for this. We need to be there for NATO, not only in providing for it but also in bringing this agility that Canadians, I will opine to you, can bring. We therefore need to be present. We need to be present with the right level of military-political presence.
Finally, if the science of war is about creating capability that can bring success through technology and communication, the art of war is making it work with what you have. This is what Canadians are good at.
Mr. Chairman, this completes my opening remarks. I stand ready to answer your questions.