New defence agreement with the U.S.

USNORTHCOM "area of responsibility" under the U.S. Unified Comand Plan

Canada and the U.S. signed a new “Combined Defence Plan” on January 25th (Laura Payton, “Defence agreements signed with U.S.,” CBC News, 26 January 2012). The purpose of the agreement is to improve cooperation between U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), Canada Command, and NORAD.

Few specifics on what the agreement entails were provided in the Department of National Defence’s press release on the subject (“The Canada-United States Military-to-Military Relationship,” DND Backgrounder, 24 January 2012):

The Combined Defence Plan (CDP) is a planning framework between Canada Command, its counterpart USNORTHCOM, and NORAD for enhanced defence cooperation between Canada and the U.S should governments require each other’s assistance.

The Department of National Defence argues that the agreement only “updates and formalizes” existing arrangements.

University of Ottawa Professor Philippe Lagasse points out on Twitter that this is a “bilateral” agreement to increase cooperation between Canada Command and USNORTHCOM during land and sea operations and major disasters. He distinguishes this from the creation of NORAD, which was a “binational” agreement for combined aerospace defence.

Interesting thing about Combined Defence Plan: cooperation is increasingly bilateral btwn NorthCom/CanCom, instead of binational à la NORAD.

Professor Lagasse suggests that this agreement may actually mean that neither government wants to reopen the controversial issue of a bi-national defence agreement.

Despite talk of continental security perimeter, Canada and US dont seem at all interested in revisiting expansion of NORAD .

Wednesday’s agreement is only latest of several recent agreements that more closely integrate U.S. and Canadian military planning and co-ordination.

In August 2011, Canada became a full member of the North American Maritime Security Initiative (NAMSI). This agreement is designed to increase “naval force interoperability” and create joint naval operating procedures between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

In September 2009, Canada Command, NORAD, and USNORTHCOM signed the “Tri-Command Framework” to increase cooperation on issues like the sharing of classified information.

As Defence Minister MacKay pointed out (Lee Berthiaume, “Canada, U.S. set ground rules for responding to armed attack,” Postmedia News, 24 January 2012):

When it comes to interconnectedness, no one understands “joint” like the military.

(A statement that evidently is more true than the Defence Minister realizes, at least with respect to himself: despite the PJBD’s name, in current military usage the term “joint” refers to operations involving two or more services from the same country; “combined” is used to refer to operations involving the forces of two or more countries.)

Tags: Canada Command, Canada-US relations, Combined Defence Plan, NORAD, Permanent Joint Board on Defence, Peter MacKay, USNORTHCOM