Mr. Chair, honourable members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to appear before the Standing Committee on National Defence to address the committee's concerns about North Korea and the readiness of the Canadian Armed Forces.
As LGen St-Amand mentioned, North Korea's increasing number of ballistic missile tests is a significant concern for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Similarly, North Korea's recent tests and the overall development of the nuclear weapons and missiles program are a significant concern for the Canadian Armed Forces.
As is often stated and reiterated in Canada's new defence policy—strong, secure, engaged—the home game, the defence of Canada and contributing to the defence of North America, is the Canadian Armed Forces' number one mission. We realize, furthermore, that Canada's geography no longer insulates us from threats, as it once did, and our military stands ready to detect, prepare for, and respond to threats as they arise.
Under detection, the Canadian Armed Forces maintains an all-domain awareness at home through Operation Limpid. As well, the Canadian Space Operations Centre is manned 24-7 to provide continuous monitoring of missile warning data through its primary-display-system modified systems, which rely on U.S. overhead persistent infrared space-based sensors to detect any missile launch. The Space Operations Centre is also in frequent contact with the U.S. intelligence community to receive additional indications and warnings of possible upcoming ballistic missile launches. Together with the United States through our binational partnership in NORAD, we track air and aerospace threats to Canada and the continent.
Lastly, through our partnership with allied nations, predominantly the U.S., we have access to intelligence and space-based capabilities in order to detect threats to Canadian territory. In the event of a North Korean ballistic missile attack against Canada or another nation where Canadians are present, the Canadian Armed Forces has a well-established communication plan to notify the highest levels of Canadian leadership.
The numerous intelligence-sharing partnerships of which Canada is a member, such as the Five Eyes community made up of Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, and networks comprised of NATO member countries facilitate our access to information to better assess potential threats.
With respect to preparation and adaptation, while detection is paramount, the Canadian Armed Forces remains vigilant to prepare for any and all scenarios in order to mitigate threats and to rapidly respond to developing situations.
From a planning perspective, our military maintains numerous contingency plans to deal with all eventualities related to the defence of the Canadian territory to full-spectrum operations. One such contingency plan is called CONPLAN ANGLE, which is the Canadian Armed Forces' global contingency plan for non-combatant evacuation operations. This contingency plan is facilitated by 1st Canadian Division Headquarters, our high-readiness deployable headquarters.
In order to ensure adequate readiness, this contingency plan is maintained through numerous joint and combined exercises such as Exercise Uichie Freedom Guardian, an annual South Korea and U.S.-led exercise that includes non-combatant evacuation operations aspects, and was in fact just concluded a few days ago. We will continue to work with our allies to refine our plans and support the evacuation of Canadian citizens from the Korean peninsula and the region, should that be required.
With respect to response or action, complementing our focus to detect and prepare is the Canadian Armed Forces' primary role of efficiently and rapidly responding to developing threats. Many developing incidents are time sensitive, and we maintain a number of units on rapid notice to move.
The Royal Canadian Navy has ready duty ships on Canada's east and west coasts that are on eight-hour notice to move, while the Canadian Army has four 350-person immediate response units with components on eight, 12, and 24 hours' notice to move.
The Royal Canadian Air Force maintains CF-18 fighter aircraft at high readiness as part of our NORAD commitments, and we also maintain one C-17 on a high-readiness posture of 24 hours to move, in order to provide a strategic lift capability.
Additionally, the Canadian Armed Forces rotates units from all three services through a tiered readiness program to ensure that a number of units are at high readiness for rapid deployment.
The Canadian Armed Forces has a total of six members deployed to the United Nations Command, five in South Korea and one in Japan, at headquarters located in South Korea and authorized to conduct military operations in support of that country. The command's mandate is to monitor the 1953 armistice, to be prepared to assist in the defence of South Korea, and to integrate any forces sent by other countries in the defence of South Korea.
In closing, the Canadian Armed Forces continuously maintains a high readiness posture in order to quickly react to all developing security situations, including in response to the threat of North Korean ballistic missiles. We maintain plans in support of this readiness and are routinely working to update them with our allies and our partners, while exercising these plans to maintain that readiness.
Moreover, we rely on access to intelligence networks and to space-based capabilities to detect threats to Canada and North America and work closely with the U.S. and other key allies to ensure comprehensive detection and response to threats.
Thank you for your time today. I will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.