Today, the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces announced that they are launching public consultations with all Canadians on the Defence Policy Update (DPU), announced in Budget 2022. The DPU will build on Canada’s current defense policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged (SSE) and will enable the Canadian Armed Forces to meet any threat in the changed global security environment.
Canada’s defense policy – SSE – launched in 2017, is our 20-year plan to provide the Canadian Armed Forces with the capabilities, equipment and culture needed to anticipate and respond to threats and protect Canadians.
While SSE correctly identified the trends shaping the global security environment, the geopolitical landscape has changed significantly since 2017, and an update is clearly necessary. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has changed the threat landscape, as have increased cyber threats, Russian and Chinese military modernization, the increased presence of non-traditional actors in conflict, the acceleration and intensification of climate change, and Canadian Armed Forces’ increased role in domestic crisis response. To ensure the Canadian Armed Forces’ effectiveness in responding to these threats, we must continue to focus on building lasting, positive culture change in the military.
For these reasons, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces are conducting a review of SSE to ensure that we can continue to be ready, resilient, and relevant to meet any threat in this changed global security environment.
Given the security challenges we face, we seek to recruit and retain more Canadian Armed Forces members, and to ensure that they feel protected and respected when they wear a uniform. We will continue to move forward on the Directive for CAF Reconstitution, Retention Strategy, and other new recruitment initiatives announced this past year, as well as the ground-breaking culture change recommendations from former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour that Minister Anand has directed DND/CAF to deliver on.
This review of Canada’s defense policy is being undertaken as we continue to move forward on, and build upon, our already-announced defense priorities.
Protecting Canadians will always be the most important mission of the Canadian Armed Forces. In 2022, we announced an investment of $38.6 billion to modernize NORAD over the next 20 years. We are strengthening our Arctic security through joint exercises, six new Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships and enhanced surveillance and intelligence capabilities that we continue to acquire under SSE. The Canadian Armed Forces has also been increasingly involved in domestic missions in response to COVID-19, forest fires and floods – supporting communities across Canada whenever called upon. As climate change continues to threaten Canada and the world, the review will examine the capabilities needed to protect Canadians in the years ahead – all while DND/CAF works to reduce its own impact on the environment.
The DPU will also build on Canada’s significant defense contributions to European Allies and partners, including the training of over 35,000 members of Ukraine’s security forces through Operation UNIFIER since 2015, donations of military aid to Ukraine valued at over $1 billion, and regular flights to transport this aid within Europe. Under Operation REASSURANCE, Canada has been active on land, air and sea to bolster the security of NATO’s Eastern Flank. This work will continue in earnest, including with the support of the $8 billion over five years in new defense spending allocated in Budget 2022.
The DPU is also being undertaken as Canada increases its presence in the Indo-Pacific through its recently announced Indo-Pacific Strategy, which augments Canadian Armed Forces’ presence in the region with more training, exercises, and the deployment of an additional naval frigate. The Canadian Armed Forces also continues to contribute to United Nations Peace Operations globally and remains ready to respond to international emergencies with capabilities such as the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART).
Over the past number of months, Department of National Defence officials, members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Minister of National Defence have been working with partners to identify the challenges that the DPU must address, and the means to get us there. We are now looking forward to welcoming further input from the Canadian public and stakeholders on our next steps.
These consultations include:
• A new web platform, through which all Canadians can provide comments and feedback in response to the DPU’s areas of focus;
• Roundtable discussions with Canadian industry leaders and Canadian defense and security companies;
• Roundtable discussions with Canadian defense and security experts, including academics;
• Input from Members of Parliament and Senators;
• Discussions with Indigenous communities and leaders, as well as other levels of government; and
• Continued high-level talks with NATO Allies, NORAD officials,
Five Eyes representatives, and international partners – many of which are also undergoing similar review processes.
Industry, experts, governments, Indigenous partners, civil society organizations, Parliamentarians, and all Canadians are invited to provide their comments, including on the following five themes:
• Supporting our people;
• Building organizational capacity;
• Maintaining and adapting the essential capabilities of the Canadian Armed Forces;
• Upgrading continental and Arctic defenses; and
• Capabilities needed for modern conflict.
This input will be crucial to updating Canada’s defense policy, and to ensuring that our country is prepared to respond to new and emerging threats in the current geopolitical landscape – all while creating economic opportunities and jobs for Canadians.
These engagements will complement the Minister of National Defence and senior DND/CAF officials’ ongoing conversations with industry partners, defense and security experts, Parliamentarians, Indigenous communities, and international allies and partners, about building a modern 21st century military that can respond to the security challenges of today and into the future. They will also build on the extensive, multi-year consultations that DND/CAF undertook to inform Strong, Secure, Engaged, their consultations with a wide range of partners in the lead-up to the release of Canada’s NORAD modernization plan and recent, targeted engagements with partners on the DPU. Our forthcoming engagements will be held with industry, experts, governments, allies, Parliamentarians, Indigenous partners, and the Canadian public through a variety of fora to make sure we get this right.