Defence Policy Review

Royal United Services Institute of Vancouver Island
Bay Street Armoury, 715 Bay Street, Victoria, BC, V8T 1R1
July   , 2016

The Hon. Harjit S. Sajjan, PC, OMM, MSM, CD, MP
Minister of National Defence
Ottawa, ON.

Dear Minister,

Attached is a submission prepared by members of our organization. (.PDF 298 kB)

The Royal United Services Institute of Vancouver Island (RUSI-VI) is based on the original British institute, established by the Duke of Wellington in 1831 to provide serving officers a forum for discussion of military issues. With similar objectives, and the addition of retired officers, the Vancouver Island branch of the Institute was established in 1927 and was granted the honorific “Royal” by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1972.

RUSI-VI keeps its 136 current members abreast of national security through a series of monthly luncheon lecture and discussion meetings and a quarterly newsletter.

The RUSI VI Board of Directors asked its membership to contribute to the Defence Policy Review based on the ten questions posed by the Minister and on the following three key points:

1. Sovereignty, Defence of Canada/North America and domestic military operations:
Canada’s capabilities to surveille its national territory and future needs, NORAD and Canada-US military relations, CAF Reserves in context of responses to domestic needs.

2. Canada’s Responses to Complex Global Security Environment and Issues:
Meeting current, and new/emerging, challenges to Canada and its interests – such as terrorism/asymmetric warfare, cyber warfare, space warfare, unmanned vehicle warfare, climate change.

3. UN and Coalition Operations:
“Peace-building” or “peace-enforcing” that has replaced “peace-keeping”; humanitarian responses to international emergencies including R2P, natural disasters etc.

Global strategic awareness combined with a rational and systematic risk and threat assessment from the perspective of Canada’s national interests, supported by evidence-based policy development, are the first and most important issues to be understood by strategic policy planners. These are the paramount considerations when deciding what capabilities the Canadian Armed Forces require to make an effective contribution to our own defence as well as that of our closest allies.

Further, one should not postulate on equipment needed or resources to be spent until there is general acceptance (if not agreement) on the following foreign and economic policy issues:

  • Delineation of Canada’s interests (including values as well as self-interest). The USA is our biggest interest. We have to “keep the bridges open” for trade to flow – remember post 9/11. General global issues are more complex. Soft power absent hard power is not smart power.
  • Cognizance of the exterior world imperatives – political, economic, technical, cultural, etc.. Because the world is “as it is”, not “as we would wish it to be”, a broad spectrum of capabilities is the best form of comprehensive insurance policy; therefore, we need a comprehensive and holistic defence policy.
  • Determination (assessment) of which interests are most important based on the impact of global and domestic events on those interests and the means by which they could be defended, up to and including the use of armed force.
  • Development of an overarching whole-of-Government national security policy, of which defence policy is an important component.

30 individuals (composed predominantly of Canadian Senior, General, and Flag officers from the CAF – both Regulars and Reservists – with subsequent experience in government, business, industry, or academic appointments) submitted responses and then attended a one-day discussion that was held on Monday, May 30, 2016 to arrive at a consensus on and consolidation of the answers. A committee of three reviewed all of the submissions and developed a consolidation of the main points in answer to the Minister’s ten questions. The final result is attached to this letter.

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this critical government endeavor.

Yours truly,

LCol (Rtd) Clive Caton
President RUSI-VI

BGen (Rtd) Don Macnamara
Past President RUSI-VI

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