Since the terrorist attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, Washington has placed an historically unprecedented emphasis upon maritime homeland security, even as it projects sea power abroad as part of what has been termed the “global war on terrorism.” As Joel Sokolsky explains in this study, the heightened efforts by the United States to protect its people, territory and econ- omy from threats originating in the oceans as well as the waters of the St. Lawrence Seaway/Great Lakes region, will have a profound impact upon the Canada-US defence and security relationship.
Sokolsky examines the past and present use of sea power in American homeland maritime security and defence, and the roles of the United States Navy and America’s other “navy,” the coast guard. With its traditional focus on forward defence, the navy and other elements of the US armed forces are today reassess- ing their place in homeland security, conceptually and practically sorting out the distinction between “homeland security” and “homeland defence.” Sokolsky examines the impact of the establishment of United States Northern Command and other US initiatives designed to enhance “maritime domain awareness” and allow for the early identification and interdiction of seaborne threats. Such meas- ures will have an impact upon the future roles and missions of the Canada-US North American Aerospace Defence Command.
Sokolsky also explores the complexities and uncertainties that have accom- panied the new American emphasis on maritime homeland security. Notwithstanding current steps to better secure America’s ocean approaches, mari- time homeland security still takes second place to the global maritime dimensions of the war on terrorism. Similar to the situation with regard to overall US home- land security and defence policies, Canada does not yet have an entirely clear pic- ture of which direction the United States is taking in the maritime sphere.
The study reviews the steps that Ottawa has already taken to respond to American maritime homeland security concerns such as better monitoring of containers entering Canadian ports, many of which are destined for the United States. These efforts have required close cooperation between a number of domestic agencies. Sokolsky examines the role of the Canadian Navy in this col- laborative effort.
As Sokolsky stresses, the Canadian Navy will remain a major instrument for the projection of a Canadian presence overseas. But, unlike the United States, Canada cannot afford two navies – one to project power abroad, and the other to help defend the ocean approaches and provide surveillance in inland waters. The exigencies of Canadian domestic maritime security and the need to provide the capabilities to fully cooperate with the US in the maritime defence of the con- tinent, combined with budgetary realities, will require that the Canadian Navy continue, and enhance, its present initiatives to take an important role in Canadian maritime defence. This may well include the acquisition of vessels similar to those now being developed by the US Coast Guard.
Sokolsky argues that while the United States expects Canada to continue to enhance its own maritime security efforts, Washington is not seeking to create a continental coast guard that would simply subsume Canada’s maritime forces. Rather, it is looking to Ottawa both to secure Canada’s maritime frontiers and ports and to work with the United States to guard the maritime boundaries between the two countries and the ocean approaches to North America, even as the global war on terrorism compels both countries to continue to project sea power in distant waters.
He concludes that by cooperating with the US in guarding the continten- tal coasts, Canada will also safeguard and assure its own maritime security and sovereignty.
The American response to the attacks of September 11, 2001, has been to embark on both a tightening and a loosening of boundaries. On the one hand, the United States has placed an historically new emphasis on its own boundaries as it moves to enhance homeland security, the protection of American territory and people at home. While by no means retreating to a “fortress America,” there can be little doubt that Washington now intends to provide greater protection against those who would cross America’s land frontiers, into its airspace and through its ocean approaches to harm its citizens. Billions of additional dollars are now going into securing America’s borders in a manner never before witnessed in US history. An array of stricter entry requirements and border control measures are being imple- mented. Whatever their actual effectiveness, these measures also have a highly symbolic purpose, for they are meant to respond to public anxiety and the demand that more be done to protect Americans from another terrorist attack.
On the other hand, in response to the attacks and the continuing threats, the United States has launched what Jeffrey Record has termed a “global war on terrorism” (GWOT), in which other countries’ boundaries and sovereignty con- cerns appear to be secondary and should be subordinated to the goal of eliminat- ing the new global threat. In the conduct of this war, there appear to be no limits, geographically or operationally. As Record has argued, “the administration has postulated a multiplicity of enemies, including rogue states; weapons of mass destruction…proliferators; terrorist organizations of global, regional and national scope and terrorism itself. It also seems to have conflated them into a monolithic threat…”1 Indeed, the Bush administration has made clear that, notwithstanding efforts to secure the US homeland, the focus of its efforts in this war, consistent with American tradition and contemporary national security doctrine, is overseas.
In terms of the maritime dimensions of the GWOT, the United States intends to use what Barry Posen has called its “command of the commons” — the air, space and the seas2 — to bring sea power to bear anywhere in the world. This includes not only the use of the United States Navy (USN) and the United States Coast Guard (USCG) in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also a pervasive effort to employ sea power in the hunt for, and protection against, ter- rorists and weapons of mass destruction (WMD). For example, there is the Regional Maritime Security Initiative, designed to “prevent seaborne terrorist and criminal assaults on nations bordering on the Pacific and Indian Oceans.”3 The globalization of some of the maritime aspects of the GWOT entails the pushing out of the American security perimeter and of the boundaries of the operations of US agencies. Thus the United States has also led the international effort to pro- vide for better surveillance of cargo ships, including at foreign ports of embarka- tion, certifying which of these are taking the necessary measures to prevent WMDs, and terrorists themselves, from being loaded on ships. The USCG now requires ships approaching the Unites States to provide information on cargoes and crews when they are 96 hours from American ports, in contrast to the pre- vious 24. And the creation of the United States Northern Command, whose area of responsibility extends 500 miles out from the American coast, has further emphasized the US concern with providing a more organized approach to the maritime protection of the country.
The combination of increasing globalization and the simultaneous rein- forcement and functional extension of borders in the war on terrorism has had a profound impact on Canada-US security relations. On the one hand, Ottawa has generally supported the global premise of the war on terrorism, dispatching forces to Afghanistan and working with the US and other allies in tracking ter- rorist activities. On the other, Washington’s new concern with the security of its borders has raised continental security relations to the very top of Ottawa’s national security agenda. The United States is not standing idly by when it comes to threats that might originate in or come through Canada, while Canada now finds that its obligations as “a good and friendly neighbour” have increased dra- matically. The Americans are pushing out the boundaries of their national secu- rity perimeter, while at the same time placing more emphasis than ever on the protection of their international borders, including that with Canada.
Nowhere is this more the case than at sea. In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, the Canadian Navy quickly sailed off to support the operations in Afghanistan. At the same time, the navy and other maritime-related agencies in Canada now have to respond to a growing American concern about the ocean approaches to the United States.
What Canada now confronts is indeed a “thickening” and reinforcement of America’s maritime security boundaries by organizational changes within the US government, including the military, designed to better police the ocean approaches to the United States. The dilemma arises for Ottawa because by extending maritime policing security efforts beyond the formal point of entry, ter- ritorial waters and ports, Washington seems to be moving toward an approach that would entail the de facto elimination of maritime boundaries between the two countries and their replacement with new functional boundaries, or a North American maritime frontier, as the best means of protecting the American people against terrorist threats.
To be sure, the language used is that of cooperation against a common enemy. And Canada, with its great dependence on trade with the United States for its very economic prosperity, cannot afford to ignore US maritime concerns, even though the vast majority of bilateral commerce and the movement of people is by road and rail. But in the maritime dimension as elsewhere, the global nature of the war on terrorism and the emphasis on American maritime homeland security are already having a profound impact upon the character of bilateral security relations never before witnessed, even during the Cold War.
This paper examines US efforts to enhance its maritime security against terrorist threats and WMDs and the implications for Canada. It begins with a dis- cussion of American homeland security and defence in the context of the GWOT and what this has meant for bilateral security relations. It then turns to an analy- sis of America’s two “navies,” the US Navy and the US Coast Guard, and their respective roles in homeland security and defence. With this background in place, the paper then examines how Canada has responded to the new maritime demands of the GWOT, with a particular emphasis on the Canadian Navy.
It is argued here that there is a new role for sea power in American home- land maritime security and defence, especially with regard to the use of intelli- gence and surveillance to enhance maritime “domain awareness” and the need for long-range interdiction capabilities. At the same time, for the United States, maritime homeland security has taken second place to the global maritime dimensions of the war on terrorism, notwithstanding current steps to better secure America’s ocean approaches.
It is also argued that Canada’s navy will remain a significant instrument of the country’s global foreign and defence policies, especially as they relate to the war on terrorism. At the same time, because American sea power will remain ori- ented abroad and because maritime homeland security will nonetheless be increasingly important for both the US and Canada, new demands have been placed on the Canadian Navy. But Canada, unlike the United States, cannot afford two navies — one to project power abroad, the other to defend the ocean approaches. The exigencies of Canadian domestic maritime security and the need to provide the capabilities to fully cooperate with the US in the maritime defence of the continent, combined with budgetary realities, require the Canadian Navy to continue to enhance its present initiatives to take the leading role in Canada’s maritime security.
The United States is indeed paying more attention to, and reinforcing, its maritime boundaries. But Washington is not seeking to create a continental coast guard that would simply subsume Canada’s maritime forces. Rather, at sea as elsewhere, it is looking to Ottawa to work with it in jointly guarding the mar- itime boundaries between the two countries and the ocean approaches to North America, even as the GWOT compels both countries to continue to project sea power in distant waters.
The global war on terror is global, but it began on American soil. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, it may seem that homeland securi- ty and defence are, as so much else is in the realm of international security, an American invention. Certainly, few governments in history have put such effort into reorganizing governmental agencies and developing new concepts to meet new threats to the safety of its citizens where they live and work and to the public and private infrastructures upon which their well-being and prosperity depend.
Of course, to a certain extent, this is an example of American “made in the USA” strategic nationalism. For most of history for most peoples in most parts of the world, homeland security was security, and defence policy had everything to do with defending the territorial integrity and physical safety of the state at its borders. This was the reason for which countries maintained armies, air forces and navies. Even today, the majority of countries maintain armed forces to pro- tect not only the borders but, ultimately, to maintain internal security as well to provide aid to the civil power.
For the United States, homeland security and defence seem so novel because not since the early nineteenth century (with the exception of the block- ade of the South during the Civil War) has America had to think in terms of bor- der security against major threats. Great Power rivals were far away. Protected by vast oceans east and west, and facing weak neighbours north and south, America did not have a tradition of maintaining large standing forces in peacetime until after the Second World War. Wars were to be fought and won overseas, well away from the homeland. To be sure, the advent of nuclear weapons and missiles stripped the US of its invulnerability and led to the establishment of early warn- ing radars, underwater sensors and, ultimately, satellites. But in the Cold War, the real defence of America lay in the offensive forces of the strategic nuclear deter- rent. Moreover, forward defence along the rim of the Eurasian landmass, through an elaborate and pervasive alliance system bolstered by the basing of large forces abroad and the waging of covert and overt, though limited, wars, accounted for the bulk of US defence spending. American military tradition and doctrine as it developed in the twentieth century moved farther away from the frontier defences of its origins and embraced the projection of offensive power as the best defence of physical security and liberty at home.
Although the war on terrorism began in the American homeland and led to the largest reorganization of the American government in US history to pro- tect the republic at home, homeland security and, in particular, homeland defence are not the focus — either in policy or in the allocation of human and fiscal resources — of the GWOT. Indeed, there is growing concern in the US that homeland security is not being adequately funded or organized. As Record points out, while “Operation Iraqi Freedom and its continuing aftermath will not affect funding of the relatively cheap counter-terrorist campaign against al- Qaeda…those costs most assuredly will impede funding of the woefully under- funded homeland security requirements.”4 A study by the RAND Corporation noted serious delays in the modernization of the United States Coast Guard necessary to meet the new demands of homeland security,5 while another study has noted deficiencies in the training and organization of National Guard units for homeland roles.6
As Canada seeks to respond to American demands about improving its own domestic security efforts, it is very important to keep in mind that American homeland security and defence efforts are still in a state of flux, uncertainty and conceptual confusion, even as vast new bureaucracies and military commands are put into place. In July 2002, President Bush stated that “there is an overrid- ing and urgent mission here in America today, and that’s to protect our home- land. We have been called into action, and we’ve got to act.” The 2002 Homeland Security Act created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Its National Strategy for Homeland Security lists three main goals: “prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce America’s vulnerability to terrorism, and mini- mize and recover from attacks that do occur.”7 For fiscal year 2005, the DHS will have $40.7 billion available to it, including $28.7 billion in net discretionary spending — a 6.6 percent increase over fiscal 2004.8 Overall spending on home- land security is now approximately equal to the annual defence expenditures of both Russia and China.9
Under the Homeland Security Act the DHS is not to be involved in the mili- tary defence of the United States. Anything to do with warfighting remains solely with the Department of Defense (DoD). This is not to say, however, that DoD is not involved in homeland security and defence. In 2002, the US Congress created the position of assistant secretary of defence for homeland defence, which has responsibility for assisting, coordinating and cooperating with DHS. The assistant secretary has been has been especially charged with overseeing DoD funding and operations related to the protection of infrastructure deemed vital for national security. But there appears to have been an initial reluctance on the part of the DoD to embrace homeland security. As Karen Guttieri has observed:
Given that the US military is the government entity charged with primary responsibilities for national defense, many naturally expect the armed forces to play an important role in homeland security. Instead, military leaders are very clear that their forces will protect the homeland, but will play only a supporting role to civil agencies in homeland security. As defined by the DoD, the critical distinction between the two terms lies in whether the DoD acts in support of policy (homeland security) or takes the lead (homeland defense).10
In part, this reluctance may be attributed simply to the desire by the US military not to take on new missions that will further stretch the Pentagon’s budget. As large as the American defence budget is (in excess of $400 billion this fiscal year), Afghanistan and especially Iraq have strained resources and person- nel. The US military says that it has “run $1 billion a month short over last year paying for the basics of war fighting in Iraq: troops, equipment, spare parts.”11 It has been pointed out that too much reliance on the military for homeland secu- rity would lead to a repeat of the situation that took place in the Second World War, when fears of Japanese and German submarines and concern over sabotage led to a diversion of 19 of 34 divisions then in training to domestic security, delaying needed overseas deployments by as much as six months.12
But in the war on terrorism, the distinction between the home front and the overseas front would seem to demand a different approach, which has not been forthcoming. Stephen Flynn recently argued that because of the neglect of the home front the “United States is living on borrowed time — and squandering it”:
The transportation, energy, information, financial, chemical, food and logistical networks that underpin US economic power and the American way of life offer the United States’ enemies a rich menu of irresistible targets and most of these remain virtually unprotected.
It does not have to be this way. Choosing to invest in offensive and defensive capabilities should not be an either-or proposition. In war, nations need both. Given the wealth of the United States, it can clearly afford to protect its most valued assets along with fielding a second-to-none military, but it cannot strike the right balance as long as it persists with treating homeland security as wholly separate from national security. Nor can muscular efforts to combat terrorism at its source be a substitute for the systematic engagement of civil society and the private sector in a collective effort to confront the threat of catastrophic ter- rorism at home. The United States must do more than transform its armed forces and repair its broken intelligence services. It must also provide a new institutional framework to construct a more resilient society that has the capac- ity to take a blow as well as to strike one.13
As a study by the Lexington Institute on the role of the National Guard pointed out, neither the Homeland Security Act nor the 2002 National Strategy for Homeland Security details the Pentagon’s role in homeland security. Currently, US military doctrine attempts to make distinctions between homeland defence and homeland security and to limit its role in the latter. Homeland defence is “protect- ing US borders and waters against military threats,” whereas homeland security is described as “detecting, preparing for, preventing, protecting against, responding to, and recovering from terrorist threats or attacks within the United States.”14
In October 2002, as a direct reflection of the new importance of homeland security, the United States established the US Northern Command (Northcom). For the first time, there will be an American unified command for North America involving aerospace, maritime and land forces, with further responsibilities to support American civil authorities in the event of an emergency. Northern Command states explicitly that its “Job #1” is “defending the homeland.” But its mission statement goes beyond that to say that its purpose is “homeland defense and civil support, specifically: Conduct operations to deter, prevent, and defeat threats and aggression aimed at the United States, its territories and interests within the assigned area of responsibility; and as directed by the President or Secretary of Defense, provide military assistance to civil authorities including consequence management operations.”15
In drawing a distinction between defence and security, DoD officials often point to the Posse Comitatus law, an 1878 statute put in place in response to abuse by Union forces in the reconstruction-era South, which generally prohibits the armed services from undertaking law enforcement tasks inside the United States. The majority of current opinion, including that of the DoD, “maintains that this 19th-century law strictly limits almost all DoD participation in any activity related to ‘law enforcement’ or ‘homeland security.’”16
But as a recent article in the US Army War College’s journal, Parameters, showed, the Posse Comitatus law, properly understood, does not limit the role of the military in homeland security. Indeed, the authors argue that current DoD policy is “a set of overboard limits that bear little resemblance to the actu- al law, combined with a bewildering patchwork of exceptions” that “impedes this important mission.” Further, this approach provides a “rotten legal foun- dation for US Northern Command and creates bizarre situations where the US navy perceives itself to have less authority to conduct some national defense missions as threats get close to America.”17
More broadly, it is argued that a distinction can be made between law enforcement and war. Homeland security, because it is closer to law enforcement, must be carried out under the rule of law, with all its restrictions, while homeland defence is close to warfighting and is thus exercised under the law of war, where any measure, including pre-emption, may be taken to defend the United States. Thus, for example, if a ship is suspected of carrying individuals who are seeking to enter the US to perform acts of terrorism, the coast guard and other law enforcement agencies would be called upon. But if a commercial vessel is believed to be carrying a cruise missile with a biological weapon, then the US Navy could be directed to simply destroy it. However, as the Lexington study observes:
The distinctions between “defense” and “security” seem to have little practical or legal utility. Also, it is not clear that America’s enemies will clearly recognize these boundaries and limit their methods and operations so that they can be countered either by the military or other federal agencies as appropriate. In fact, they may seek to use these artificial distinctions to find gaps and seams in US security that can be easily exploited…In practice, many federal agencies will play a role in countering terrorist threats. Attempting to create artificial distinctions between these missions contributes little. In short, the Defense Department’s effort to draw a bright red line between it and the Department of Homeland Security is the least useful of its current initiatives.18
The terrorist threat to the American homeland has resulted in a massive reorganization of the US government, including the establishment for the first time in its history of a military command specifically for the defence of the United States and its people at home. Why then does the DoD seem intent on drawing distinctions between security and defence? Given the sweeping nature of the USA Patriot Act, it would seem that the president, with congressional sup- port, has been given a broad mandate to make whatever legal, doctrinal and bureaucratic changes are necessary to protect the American people.
It would appear that the deeper reason for the DoD trying to make the dis- tinction is the fact that the US military still sees the homeland security or the homeland defence mission as part of, but not the focus of, it roles and missions. The individual services remain overwhelmingly committed to the force projec- tion warfighting role. Traditionally, the United States has always sought to meet and defeat its enemies as far away from American soil as possible, a historical orientation very much reinforced by the Bush Doctrine. And, indeed, as part of the GWOT, America is currently engaged in two overseas wars.
This perspective can be found in the National Military Strategy of the United States of America, 2004, issued by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to which the first priority is to “protect the United States.” Consistent with the national secu- rity strategy, the military strategy is geared toward achieving victory in the war on terrorism (WOT) and toward countering the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction or effect (WMD/E). The latter include chemical, biological, radiolog- ical, nuclear and enhanced high explosive weapons, “as well as more ‘asymmet- rical’ weapons.” These weapons may rely “more on disruptive impact than destructive kinetic effects.” As the strategy stresses, cyber attacks on the US com- mercial information system or on transportation networks “may have a greater economic or psychological effect than a relatively small release of a lethal agent.”19 In response to the terrorist and WMD/E threat to the homeland, the armed forces “help to secure the United States from direct attack through military activities overseas, planning and execution of homeland defence and support to civil authorities.” The approach is one of a layered defence:
Our experience in the WOT reinforces the fact that protecting the nation and its global interests requires more than passive defensive measures. The threats posted by terrorist groups and rogue states, especially those that gain access to WMD/E, mandate an active defense-in-depth. Achieving this objective requires actions to counter threats overseas and close to their source; to secure our air, sea, space and land territorial approaches at home and defence against direct attacks. When directed, the armed forces provide military support to civil authorities, including the capabilities to manage the consequences of attack.20
While the strategy does make clear that the armed forces will be available for homeland defence and to support other agencies, it also notes that the “primary line of defense remains well forward. Forces operating in key regions are essential to the defence of the United States and to the protection of allies and US interests.”
It makes absolute strategic sense for the United States to go after terrorist bases abroad as was done recently in Afghanistan, using the global force projec- tion might of the American military, as only it can do. And the American military needs to use its “command of the commons” to intercept and destroy WMD threats destined for US shores or airspace, anywhere in the world. This is impor- tant not only for American security but, as Washington argues, for broader global and especially Western interests and security as well. As Leslie Gelb recently observed in The Wall Street Journal, “for all our errors and shortcomings, America remains the only center, the only hope, in the worldwide struggle against terror- ism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.”21
The complicating factor here is the very nature of the contemporary ter- rorist threat. Even if the US is successful in capturing and killing terrorists in their overseas bases, or destroying aircraft and ships in distant locations, the American homeland would still be vulnerable to terrorist attack, either by groups and individuals who will seek to enter the United States or, as in the case of the September 11 attacks, from the “enemy within,” by those already in the US.22 A recent study by the Nixon Center also drew attention to the danger posed by ter- rorists recruited from the “culturally alienated, socially marginalized and eco- nomically unemployed” Muslim communities in western European nations such as France and Germany. As citizens of these countries, they can more easily enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.23
Moreover, as the Hart-Rudman Commission on National Security in the 21st Century pointed out in January 2001, an attack upon the American home- land is “most likely to occur when the United States is involved in a conflict over- seas.”24 Thus, in the GWOT, the advantages of meeting America’s enemies abroad rather than before they immediately threaten the homeland are limited. Success overseas does not remove the homeland threat, and it may actually be exacer- bated as groups sympathetic to terrorists eliminated abroad seek to take the war to American soil. What is more, to the extent that overseas operations draw upon military units, such as the National Guard and the US Coast Guard, who would be required to come to the aid of civil authorities in a major terrorist attack, such operations may actually reduce the DoD’s ability to meet its homeland roles. In light of these considerations, it is not surprising that the US House of Representatives, despite strains on the armed forces as a result of the war in Iraq, recently approved an amendment “to authorize the Defense Department to assign members of the active-duty military to assist the Homeland Security Department in protecting the US border.”25
In 2003, the DoD did set up an advisory panel to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld that examined how the military might better provide assistance to first responders — local fire departments, police, emergency medical organizations — in the military’s homeland defence role. The panel’s report, DoD Roles and Missions in Homeland Security, concluded that the Pentagon’s roles in domestic emergency preparedness and response “are simply inadequate for the threat the nation faces today…Developing a model appropriate for today’s threats will entail rethinking relationships, policies and procedures.” In particular, it called for further study and planning with regard to the coordination of state National Guard units with the Department of Homeland Security and Northern Command.26
Partly due to congressional pressure during the past year, the DoD began work on “a comprehensive homeland defense strategy that will detail the Pentagon’s emerging role in protecting the United States from terrorist attack.”27 The most recent reports indicate that the draft document, “Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support,” calls for a “layered set of active defenses” to intercept weapons of mass destruction far away from US shores. “Should those measures fail, the draft policy calls for major improvements to the support the military will provide to local and state authorities to deal with a disaster’s after- math.” It envisions, a “seamless integration” of three layers: the “global commons of space and cyberspace, US troops gathering intelligence and carrying out mis- sions around the world, and forces protecting the US borders and coastal water- ways.” If implemented, it would involve increased military support for state and local government and entail major expenditures in information technology, sen- sors, maritime defense, critical infrastructure protection and reserves units. It directs the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to “establish a senior architecture for homeland defense”; calls for improvement in communications with federal, state and local agencies; and identifies ways to improve defence intelligence for homeland defence. The strategy further directs Northcom and Pacific Command to develop operational concepts and architectural requirements for improving maritime defence, responding to air and cruise missile threats, and enhancing the training and rapid deployability of military assets and units, especially the reserves and the army and air force national guards in air and missile defence, maritime security and land defence as well as in support of civil authorities.28 Under the strategy the current doctrine of allowing the military to shoot down airplanes threatening the US would be formally adopted.29
According to one report the new strategy could “reshape” the weapons the US buys and how they are used, even reassigning power-projection weapons such as fighters and ships “to defensive missions closer to home.”30 The Pentagon has been “conducting new advanced concept technology demonstrations that could have applications for homeland defense and DHS missions…the high- altitude airship, for example, is a prototype, untethered platform that could pro- vide wide-area surveillance and communications capabilities.”31
Still, there appears to be a continued lack of clarity between homeland security and homeland defence and the DoD’s role. At an October 2004 seminar, Rear Adm. Arthur Brooks, USCG, deputy director of operations at Northcom, said that the DoD would not be “in charge” in the event of a domestic terrorist attack, but rather would defer to the civil authorities. He noted that this has been the thinking “instilled” by the Northcom commander, Gen. Ralph Eberhart, whom he credited with “creating an atmosphere that ensured that Northcom wouldn’t be in charge for homeland security.” Yet Brooks also observed, “The $64 question of course is what’s defense and what’s security?”32
All these efforts and the continued lack of clarity highlight the particular character of the threats facing America today. In a certain sense, the GWOT is closer to international policing than international war, although warfighting capabilities are essential. As Peter Andreas has pointed out, the emphasis now is no longer on the traditional defence of borders against armed attack by organ- ized military forces, but rather on the policing of frontiers against “clandestine transnational actors,” those nonstate actors who “operate across national borders in violation of state law to erode law enforcement efforts.” In the past, these indi- viduals have been associated with organized crime, drug trafficking and illegal immigration. The focus now has shifted to transnational terrorists. In response, borders have not been redrawn but “recrafted,” in the sense that the border con- trol problem has involved a thickening of policing efforts that extend beyond the formal national boundary, or point of entry, to take more distant approaches. This has involved the application of capabilities and procedures, such as satellite surveillance and intelligence, that had formerly been associated with the military defence of borders. The objective is to prevent the entry of terrorists, while secur- ing the borders for the continued free movement of commerce and legitimate travellers. For America, and thus for its allies, this border policing has become the new “high politics” of international relations.33
In the Canada-US context, the emphasis on borders has resulted in a major intensification of US concern with its northern border since September 11. The 9/11 commission’s report was highly critical of the “lack of coherent policy regarding the northern border” and the lack of resources devoted to it.34
As a recent Congressional Research Service report on the US Border Patrol noted, the main concern about America’s northern border as opposed to the one with Mexico is less about drug smuggling and illegal immigration, and more about “its vulnerability to terrorist infiltration.”35 In this effort, there is a great deal of intelligence and surveillance cooperation with Canada. Two binational Integrated Border Enforcement Management Teams have been created that divide the US-Canada border into 14 geographic regions with international joint management teams that bring together American and Canadian agencies such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Canada Border Services Agency, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the US Coast Guard. A perma- nent US Customs and Border Protection position has been created at RCMP headquarters “to serve as a liaison between the agencies.”36
This important and necessary cooperation notwithstanding, the US is also moving on its own to provide better security along its northern border. For example, the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement Air and Marine Operations (AMO) division operates a fleet of air- craft and small boats with which it patrols the borders with Canada and Mexico. Partly due to the lobbying of congressmen from northern states, who are con- cerned about security (and have an eye to getting a greater share of the homeland security budget), $200 million has been allocated for the opening of five new bases for the AMO along the Canadian border. They will employ sophisticated helicopters with advanced surveillance capabilities. The stated purpose of these new facilities is “to counter drugs, illegal immigration and terrorist treats.” This includes facilities at Bellingham, Washington; Great Falls, Montana; and Plattsburg, New York. “Our goal,” said the AMO director, “is to create in our northern border the same kind of protection and interdiction capability we demonstrate every day along our southern border.”37
Further complicating the Canadian response to US homeland security efforts, the AMO has certain responsibilities for air security around Washington, which overlap with NORAD’s new internal airspace focus, and for marine secu- rity on the Great Lakes, which would seem to overlap with the USCG’s responsi- bilities there. As with the USCG, the AMO is planning a major modernization of its air fleet.38 Indeed, Washington’s measures have prompted, and will prompt, Ottawa to do more, if only to provide the necessary tools that are the basis for further collaboration.
All in all, as Canada looks south, it is not yet presented with a clear pic- ture of the how and why of American homeland security and defence efforts. There is, in fact, a great deal of concern and criticism within the US as to how effective the DHS will be. According to one assessment, starting up the Department of Homeland Security has been “disastrous.”
Far from being greater than the sum of its parts, DHS is a bureaucratic Frankenstein, with clumsily stitched-together limbs and an inadequate, misfiring brain. No one says merging 170,000 employees from 22 different agencies should have been easy. But, even allowing for inevitable transition problems, DHS has been a disaster: underfunded, undermanned, disorganized, and unfor- givably slow-moving.39
Under the USA Patriot Act, there is a complicated formula to ensure that all states, regardless of population and regardless of whether they contain high profile targets likely to attract terrorist attacks, receive a certain percentage of the funds allocated to improve the capabilities of local and state “first responders.” In rural Wyoming, for example, funds were used to buy new “haz-mat suits” for local fire fighters to protect them against chemicals and flash fires.40 As Benjamin Friedman points out, “pork is endemic to federal politics,” and this has resulted in “pork-barrel security,” with funds going to buy equipment and train person- nel where the threat is low, leaving protection of more critical points under- funded.41 While well below defence spending, government expenditures on homeland security, combined with measures taken by companies and private cit- izens to protect themselves, have given rise to new enterprises marketing anti- terrorism products and expertise, what a recent New York Times article called the “Homeland Security-Industrial Complex.”42 Another problem is that with so many federal agencies now falling under DHS, and with homeland security now their top priority, some of these agencies, such as the United States Coast Guard, are finding it difficult to perform their traditional roles.43
All of these problems are to be expected given the multifaceted nature of the terrorist threat and the vast nature of the American government and the tasks before it. What is clear is that whatever new organizations and institutional rela- tionships emerge south of the border, the United States is now confronted with entirely new threats that may originate abroad but ultimately aim to bring death, disruption and fear at home. In dealing with this new and more dangerous situ- ation, Canada has now recognized that it is important to American homeland security, and that it must confront the possibility of future terrorist attacks on its own territory and citizens. This is a reality that Ottawa has clearly recognized.
This recognition has also been driven by Canada’s economic dependence on trade with the United States. As Desmond Morton recently observed, Canada’s priority today is as it was throughout our history: “to do what we must do to make the Americans feel secure on their northern border. Americans may remember 9/11; we must remember 9/12, when American panic closed the US border and shook our prosperity to its very core.”44 Thus, while Canada was sup- portive of the GWOT and American homeland security,
[f]or Canada, the border after 11 September remained all about economics and the movement of goods and people essential to the country’s prosperity. For the US, it was all about security preventing new terrorist attacks from road, rail, sea and air. If Canada wanted any guarantee of access on the economic front, it would have to address the US security concerns with both money and action. Canada had to persuade the Bush administration that economic security and national security were mutually reinforceable.45
In this context, it is simply not true, as one recent study concluded, that “Canada can no longer trade geography for American defence because the value of geography has been drastically discounted” because “‘forward engagement’ in the war on terrorism does not include Canadian real estate.”46 Quite the contrary, given the importance of US homeland security and defence in this war, Canadian geography counts for American security as it never did in the past. Indeed, the focus now is on specific, crucial parts of Canada’s real estate. With 5,000 trucks entering the US from Canada each day, the Ambassador Bridge linking Detroit and Windsor is the world’s busiest commercial land border. As Steven Flynn observed in his article, “America the Vulnerable,” immediately after the 9/11 attacks, several automotive assembly plants in the United States were forced to shut down “because Canadian supplies were caught in an 18-hour traffic jam at the border,” with each closure costing the American economy “$1 million worth of cars per hour.”47 And while it is true that most imports come to the US by sea and that most Canadian exports to the US enter by road and rail, “a substantial amount of the cross-border cargo with Canada originates overseas. One half of the one million containers arriving in the Port of Montreal…is destined for the northeastern or midwestern United States.”48
US Ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci was right when he declared that, for the United States, security trumps trade. But in the case of America’s relations with Canada, and given the importance of commercial relations with Canada and the inseparability of the economic and security dimensions of the bilateral relationship, it is not an either-or question. “With the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon,” one recent study observes, “Canada-US relations may be entering an era of ‘forced linkage’ and the fusion of economics and security.”49
As Canada seeks to implement its own response to this new situation, it need not follow the US in the doctrinal confusion of trying to distinguish between homeland security and homeland defence and attempting to differen- tiate roles, missions and requirements. Indeed, the government’s recent Securing an Open Society: Canada’s National Security Policy50 adopts a more com- prehensive perspective, reaffirming the overall priority of “protecting Canada and Canadians at home” and integrating the military’s role into this larger goal. It avoids the kinds of artificial distinctions that are present in US policy and thus provides a good basis for pursuing a broad-based security collaboration with the United States.
Compared to the American experience with the DHS, Ottawa was able to move relatively quickly to establish the new Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. Moreover, because of Canada’s “fused” executive sys- tem, again in contrast to the situation in the US, the new department, with its minister acting as deputy prime minister, will likely have a far more powerful coordinating ability vis-à-vis other departments, including National Defence.
Another factor in Canada’s favour, and one that has made bilateral secur- ity cooperation work, and work well, since the start of the war on terrorism, is that there already existed an extensive and multifaceted network of collaboration at the bureaucratic levels between the law enforcement, intelligence, health and public safety agencies of Canada and the United States.51 These long-standing functional ties, which have been so important to bilateral relations in the past, provide Canada with further advantages in making significant contributions to American homeland security.
Such cooperation will be welcomed in Washington and may even help to overcome or mitigate some of the confusion there, especially with regard to structuring cooperation with Canada. However, it is important to emphasize that while there is much to the US approach to homeland security and defence that remains unsettled and confusing from the doctrinal, legal and bureaucratic per- spectives, the existence of an international boundary on land, in the air and at sea between Canada and the United States will be at the heart of all of Washington’s policies toward Canada when it comes to the war on terrorism. Homeland security is about protecting the United States and getting allies, espe- cially Canada, to do their part in ensuring that America’s physical security and liberty are not placed at risk.
Canada is not facing a militarization of the American border. To be sure, if there is another attack on America or if one is judged to be imminent, security will trump trade. But in seeking to secure the American homeland on a continu- ing basis, the United States, like Canada, does not want to impose security restrictions that will undermine the mutually beneficial trading relationship. As former homeland defense secretary Ridge recently declared, “We have a long tra- dition with our friends to the north and south. We’re very fortunate that we’ve never had to assign military to our borders and we’re not going to start now…We don’t militarize our borders with friends.”52 But what Washington is looking for from Ottawa is that Canada, too, begin to take its borders more seriously and provide the policies and resources that will enhance cooperation on its border and its own maritime domains.
In theory, the NATO region included North America from the beginning. But apart from the Canada-US Regional Planning Group there was no overall combined and joint allied command for North America. The Permanent Joint Board on Defence, established in 1940, and the Military Cooperation Committee, set up in 1946, have been consultative and advisory bodies with little influence on the day-to-day conduct of bilateral security relations, including at sea.
Concern with the maritime dimensions of North American defence did not begin with the attacks of September 11, 2001, or the subsequent GWOT. For most of their histories, the oceans provided both the United States and Canada with nearly impenetrable buffers against conventional external threats. However, the security of the seas, and especially the sea lines of communication (SLOC) between North America and Europe and Asia, have long been important aspects of both countries’ naval postures and policies. This was certainly the case during the Cold War, when the primary threat to the SLOC came from Soviet nuclear- powered attack submarines. The major sea-based threat to North America itself came from nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines capable of firing sub- marine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). Both countries maintained constant surveillance of the ocean approaches to the continent, using surface ships, mar- itime aircraft, submarines and underwater sensors. In the case of SLBMs, there was no real defence, especially as the Soviets deployed newer versions with inter- continental range. Here the real defence lay with the American strategic nuclear deterrent, aided by NORAD’s missile-warning and attack assessment capabilities.
There was, however, no binational continental maritime defence organiza- tion. Maritime security cooperation in the Atlantic was subsumed under NATO’s Atlantic Command (ACLANT), headed by a supreme commander (SACLANT). This US navy admiral was usually “triple-hatted”; that is, he was also the com- mander in chief, US Atlantic Command, and the USN’s commander in chief, Atlantic Fleet. Headquartered at Norfolk, Virginia, ACLANT was responsible for allied maritime security in the Atlantic Ocean. Within ACLANT, there were sub- ordinate commands such as Western Atlantic and a designated Canadian Area that covered the approaches to North America. The European littoral waters and the Mediterranean came under the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR), who also served as commander in chief, US forces, Europe.53
As ACLANT was the only major NATO command headquartered in North America, it helped to reinforce the transatlantic bridge. But while most European NATO navies were represented on the SACLANT staff, North American maritime security, as with all other dimensions of continental defence collaboration, was primarily a US-Canadian responsibility. In the Pacific, there was no multilateral structure, and here the two navies collaborated closely, but on an ad-hoc basis.
In NATO’s most recent reorganization of its military command structure, Atlantic Command and SACLANT have been disestablished. All operations in Europe and the North Atlantic will now come under the control of the new Allied Command, Operations, based at Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium, commanded by SACEUR. Atlantic Command has become Allied Command Transformation (ACT). Still in Norfolk, its purpose will be to promote the transformation of alliance forces and capabilities. The com- mander of ACT is also the commander of the US Joint Forces Command.
The shifting of responsibility for the Atlantic Ocean to a Europe-based commander, who remains an American, can be seen as reinforcing the continued unity of the alliance. However, the disestablishment of SACLANT, insofar as it removes the one operational NATO command on American soil, can also be viewed as constituting something of a widening of the transatlantic divide, espe- cially in matters of maritime security in the Atlantic. This latter view is supported by the establishment of Northcom. Its area of responsibility (AOR) includes the continental United States, Canada, Mexico and parts of the Caribbean. Its sea- ward boundaries extend 500 miles off the American coast. The Gulf of Mexico, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands also fall within its AOR. The defence of Hawaii and the US territories and possessions in the Pacific remain the responsi- bility of US Pacific Command. The commander of Northcom has been dual-hat- ted as the commander in chief of NORAD, and the bilateral nature of this com- mand has, for the moment, been preserved.54
As with other regional commands, Northcom draws upon forces assigned to it from the US services by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It actually has few perma- nent forces:
US Northern Command plans, organizes and executes homeland defense and civil support missions, but has few permanently assigned forces. The command will be assigned forces whenever necessary to execute missions as ordered by the President and as provided by the Armed Services.
However, several pre-existing joint task forces have been assigned to US Northern Command. These subordinate commands provide the ability to exe- cute important missions on a daily basis.
Joint Task Force – Civil Support (JTF-CS). Headquartered at Fort Monroe in Hampton, Va., JTF-CS is under the operational control of Joint Force Headquarters Homeland Security, which is a subordinate command of US Northern Command. The mission of JTF-CS is to provide command and control for Department of Defense (DoD) forces deployed in support of the lead fed- eral agency (LFA) managing the consequences of a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive (CBRNE) incident in the United States, its territories and possessions in order to save lives, prevent injury and provide temporary critical life support.
Joint Task Force – 6 (JTF-6). Headquartered at Biggs Army Airfield, Fort Bliss, Texas, JTF-6 provides Department of Defense counterdrug support to federal, regional, state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the continental United States.
The Joint Forces Headquarters-National Capital Region (JFHQ-NCR), based at Fort Lesley J. McNair, D.C., is responsible for land-based homeland defense, military assistance to civil authorities (MACA), and consequence management in the national capitol region. As the key command for civil support to a multi- jurisdictional area that encompasses six counties, four cities and the District of Columbia, JFHQ-NCR draws together existing resources of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard in a single point headquarters for plan- ning, coordination, and execution of the US Northern Command mission in the National Capital Region. Personnel levels will adjust as needed as JFHQ-NCR moves to full operational capability. The end strength is not known, but there are no plans for an increase in operational units or even significant expansion in authorized/assigned strength.55
For naval forces, Northcom would draw upon USN assets assigned to the commander of Fleet Forces Command, who also serves as commander of the USN’s Atlantic Fleet. This person is the naval component commander for Northcom, “assuming responsibility for all US navy operational and training matters” under the commander, Northern Command.56 Depending on the nature of the emergency or task, Northcom would be assigned forces as required, including the USN assets of both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets. But, as explained below, the major maritime contributor to homeland security would be the United States Coast Guard, part of the DHS, yet represented at Northcom headquarters.
The establishment of Northcom led to a flurry of controversy (in some instances bordering on hysteria) in Canada, because it seemed as if the United States, in pursuit of homeland security, was establishing an expanded NORAD and would automatically expect that Canadian ground and naval forces would join the air forces in a single command for all of North America under an American general officer. Concern was expressed as to what this would mean for Canadian sovereignty in everything from bilingualism and the treatment of gays and lesbians in the Canadian Forces (CF) to Canada’s position on landmines and the International Criminal Court.57
Although Northcom will have a profound impact on bilateral security and defence relations, this is not because it was established as a precursor to a NATO- style allied combined and joint command. On the contrary, Northcom is signifi- cant precisely because it was created as a US-only command, reflecting the new US concern with American homeland security and defence. The historic, politi- cal and strategic significance of this fact should not be underestimated. Most of Northcom’s plans and coordination have to do with “consequence management,” being prepared to bring the military forces that will pass to its command to the aid of federal, state and local civil authorities in the United States in the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster.
As in the case of other regional commanders in other parts of the world, the commander of Northcom is required to “shape” relations with other coun- tries in its area of responsibility and to foster cooperative approaches to regional security. As elsewhere, the reason for such approaches is ultimately to enhance American security interests. Thus Northcom’s interest in seeking out cooperation with Canada (as well as Mexico and some small Caribbean nations), in addition to fulfilling its primary domestic security and defence mission, is not unusual.
That being said, it is evident that Northcom (because the United States is part of its AOR and because those nations, whose security policies it seeks to shape, border on the American homeland) is different from other regional com- mands. As noted above, the newly drafted DoD homeland security strategy focuses on Northcom’s role in providing surveillance, intelligence and military support to civil authorities in the event of an emergency.
The evolution and expansion of Northcom’s role is of critical importance to Canada, given the extensiveness of the Cold War legacy of bilateral military relations in the aerospace domain under NORAD and at sea. It is the airforce-to- airforce and navy-to-navy ties that have made bilateral security relations work so effectively. These linkages have been far more important than the Permanent Joint Board on Defence or the Military Cooperation Committee. Although inte- gral, these relationships did not figure highly in the global calculus of contain- ment and deterrence that governed American national security policy after 1945. Except for those units and personnel directly involved in NORAD and maritime defence, US bilateral security relations with Canada for the most part had received very little attention at the highest reaches of the American national secu- rity establishment. Indeed, they were almost invisible. This was despite the fact that NORAD especially placed Canadian personnel closer to American homeland defence than it did any other ally.
With North America unassailable by conventional attack and relying on US offensive forces to ward off a nuclear assault, Washington was actually more concerned with Canada’s military contributions, including at sea, than with NATO’s posture in Europe. For Ottawa, too, especially for the Canadian Navy, continental defence roles and missions were secondary. This meshed well with Canada’s political preference for multilateralism. Nevertheless, successive Canadian governments, and particularly the military, cherished the exclusive, almost intimate, military ties that developed with the United States
With September 11 and the subsequent establishment of Northcom, those ties suddenly, and publicly, moved higher up on the American national security agenda, causing some concern in Canada. Eager to maintain close defence ties and especially anxious to assure Washington that it was taking the new threat of terrorism seriously, Ottawa realized that it would have to respond to the estab- lishment of Northcom. It was not a matter of Canada joining Northcom, although indications were that Washington was prepared to expand the mandate of the existing bilateral command, NORAD, beyond aerospace defence to include maritime and ground collaboration. But it would appear that Ottawa was wary about immediately accepting this proposal. The problem, notwithstanding the US-only character of Northcom, was that both were headed by the same US com- mander, which might make it appear to Canadians that their government was indeed rushing to place Canadian Forces, in Canada, under American command.
The compromise was to send a high-ranking liaison officer to Northcom headquarters and establish a binational planning group (BPG) led by the Canadian deputy NORAD commander. The BPG is charged with examining, among other aspects of future Canada-US security cooperation, the expansion of maritime security collaboration in its military and nonmilitary dimensions. It has already arrived at what the group refers to as a “‘proof of concept’ for a maritime awareness and warning capability.”58 In addition, the planning group is to review the whole gamut of bilateral defence and security relations. This includes the rel- atively new dimension of “consequence management.” This would entail the coordination of military support to civil authorities on both sides of the border in the event of a terrorist attack or natural disaster that affected both countries. For example, how would the two governments handle the explosion of a chem- ical or biological weapon in the port of Seattle or Vancouver, whose catastrophic effects would spread across the border?
In a certain sense, Northcom is a latecomer, almost an intruder, into the not very well known (from an American standpoint) world of Canada-US defence rela- tions, including NORAD and the less formally structured maritime collaboration. In their broader mandate to investigate the state of bilateral cooperation in the civil sphere for consequence management purposes, the BPG and Northcom would seem to be examining and preparing for the kind of bilateral cooperation that countless lower-level bureaucrats and agencies on both sides of the border already know and have been practising for decades. For example, well before September 11, 2001, there existed a significant measure of collaboration to deal with emer- gencies that might affect both sides of the border, as in the Vancouver-Seattle area.
It remains to be seen what, if any, changes will be made to the existing structures and mechanisms of bilateral defence and security cooperation. But if there are any lessons from the past, especially in the area of military cooperation, it is that capabilities count more than organization. Thus, however it will be organized, Canada-US cooperation in the maritime defence of the continent will depend upon the assets both sides bring to this increasingly important task.
In Pentagon parlance, the defence of the United States is a matter of playing the “away game,” meeting threats at their sources overseas, and the “home game,” providing for the direct physical defence of the American people, economic infra- structure and liberty.
As the Shield of the Republic, the modern US Navy, from Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet through Ronald Reagan’s 600-ship navy, to the present-day USN, which commands the world’s seas without serious challenge, US maritime forces have been primarily postured to bring power to bear far from American shores. In the contemporary world, most navies are closer in capabilities, roles and missions to the US Coast Guard than to the US Navy. Even countries such as some European allies and Japan, who may be classified as medium naval pow- ers with a high seas capability, maintain naval forces primarily for coastal defence purposes. Additional important duties include enforcement of law within terri- torial waters and monitoring of their exclusive economic zones.
Long viewed as a buffer against foreign threats,
[i]t is now apparent that technology, proliferation, a high volume of maritime traffic, and the increasingly ruthless nature of terrorists have eroded this buffer. Commander Stephen Flynn, US Coast Guard, has described this “soft under- belly of globalization”… In general, the attacks of 11 September 2001 height- ened concerns that merchant ships might be used to introduce the tools of terrorism into the United States. Guarding America’s ports and maritime approaches is a difficult task, since thousands of commercial vessels, most reg- istered under foreign flags, and millions of containers enter US ports every year. The potential for large-scale loss of life and economic disruption is great. In 1947, a cargo of ammonium nitrate fertilizer caught fire and exploded in Texas City harbor, causing 600 deaths in a town of only 16,000 people. The employ- ment of a commercial vessel to deliver a weapon of mass destruction to one of America’s major ports would probably result in destruction several orders of magnitude greater than the Texas City disaster.59
The new emphasis on homeland security and defence notwithstanding, the USN has continued to emphasize forward defence in the GWOT as the best way it can contribute to homeland defence. In a recent speech to representatives of 75 countries, including “60 navy and coast guard chiefs,” the USN’s chief of naval operations (CNO), Admiral Vernon Clark, called for a “maritime NORAD.” But he was not only talking about American coastal defence or North American maritime security or even expanding the mission of the 45-year-old Canada-US aerospace defence pact. Rather, Clark was also suggesting that the close bilateral cooperation in aerospace surveillance of NORAD could be used as a model for a global approach to the maritime dimension of the war on terrorism. Countries around the world would share intelligence and surveillance information on ships plying the oceans. Clark said, “We have an opportunity of historic proportions — to assemble a maritime partnership the likes of which has never been seen before…a global force, operating as one to defeat terrorism wherever it may fes- ter, the greatest maritime force to ever set sail.” He pointed to
Operation Sea Cutlass, which involves warships of five countries to strike at terrorists off the Horn of Africa. It was initially commanded by a German admiral and is now commanded by a French admiral.
Operation Active Endeavor, a NATO initiative under command of an Italian admiral that has monitored more than 30,000 ships transiting the Straits of Gibraltar in the last two years. It escorted more than 340 ships thought to be potential targets of terrorists.
The Indian navy, which in mid-2002, as the United States geared up for war against Iraq, escorted two supply ships through the Straits of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia.60
To be sure, on September 11, 2001, the USN moved quickly. It deployed ships, including aircraft carriers and sealift vessels, off the American eastern seaboard while USN fighter and surveillance aircraft were dispatched to cover President George W. Bush’s Texas ranch. USCG cutters began “to enforce new control measures, which included keeping civilian vessels away from navy ships.” Staff at the National Maritime Intelligence Center was increased and the CNO pledged to help the coast guard “in any way he could,” transferring 13 “navy-manned patrol coastal warships to the coast guard’s operational control.”61 As Admiral Robert Natter, commander in chief, US Atlantic Fleet, noted, this was the first time that USN ships had been employed jointly with the USCG “to help protect our nation’s coastline, ports and waterways from terrorist attack.”62 The situation was the same on the Pacific coast.
“And then,” notes Peter Swartz, “it was over at home for most of the navy.” Some naval units remained with the USCG, some new research and development projects began and the USN’s new Fleet Forces Command became a component command of the newly established Northern Command. The CNO’s Strategic Studies Group at the US Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island “began to develop a future concept of operations for ‘sea supremacy in the defense of US shores’ but no major changes in naval programs or force dispositions ensued.”63 The USN’s role in defence of the republic in this new war on terrorism would remain where it had always been, far from home. As the CNO’s Guidance for 2003 stated:
Winning the Global War on Terrorism is our number one priority. This will not be quick or easy, but victory is our goal and it will be achieved. Our navy will play a leading role in this historic struggle by contributing precise, persistent, and responsive striking power to the joint force, strengthening deterrence with advanced defensive technologies, and increasing operational independence through sea basing…We will innovate operationally by distributing striking power to the furthest corners of the earth and sustaining fleet readiness to surge additional warfighting power on short notice.64
Except at the time of the founding of the republic and in times of war and emergency, the USN had never played a major continuing role in the defence of the American homeland. This was primarily the responsibility of the coast guard, an armed fifth65 branch of the American military, though under the Department of Transportation, not the Department of Defense.
During the early days of the Cold War, the USN did play an active, although not entirely enthusiastic, role in continental air defence. In his account of the USN’s contribution to US air defence in the 1950s, Captain Joseph Bouchard, USN, notes that “when the concept (of deploying seaward barriers to Soviet bombers) was first suggested the navy disagreed with the Joint Staff that it was essential. But when it became clear that someone was going to do it, and it involved a mission at sea, the navy decided that it would be better to do it themselves rather than for some other service to do it. That’s how the navy got the job.” The primary reason for the navy’s reluctance appears to have been funding constraints.66
Working with the commander of Continental Air Defense (CONAD), and using aircraft, destroyers and frigates, picket radar ships and shore-based “Texas tower” radars, the USN established a series of layered, inshore and offshore bar- riers off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
The offshore barriers — known as the Atlantic and Pacific Contiguous Barriers — were navy responsibilities. Although CONAD had requested that the navy fill a total of 19 radar picket stations, the navy was able to fill only 10, 5 on each coast, due to funding constraints. In November 1960, the navy recom- mended that the Pacific Contiguous Barrier be disestablished, but NORAD dis- agreed and the Joint Chiefs directed that it remain in operation.
To provide centralized direction to the navy effort, commander, Naval Forces CONAD (COMNAVFORCONAD) was established on September 1, 1954, at Ent Air Force Base. Under him were three navy commands supporting the major CONAD regions: commander, Naval Forces Eastern CONAD Region; com- mander, Naval Forces Central CONAD Region; and commander, Naval Forces Western CONAD Region. COMNAVFORCONAD coordinated the assignment and scheduling of navy forces assigned to the air defense mission — radar picket ships, airborne early warning aircraft and airships, and fighter aircraft — but they were under the operational control of CONAD regional operations centres.67
The Atlantic extension of the Distant Early Warning line created a new bar- rier, further out to sea under commander, Barrier Force, Atlantic (COMBAR- FORLANT) headquartered at Argentia, Newfoundland. Established in 1955, this COMBARFORLANT would control ships and aircraft for CONAD and the com- mander in chief of the Atlantic fleet. The USN picket ships occasionally made patrols off the east and west coasts of Canada “and participated in exercises with Canadian naval and air defense forces.”
With the replacement of the bomber threat with that of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), the requirements for continental air defence declined and with them the need for a naval contribution. The USN moved quickly to withdraw from this role, disestablishing the Pacific and Atlantic barriers and ceasing the picket radar ships patrols. “The last COMNAVFORCONAD closed up shop in Colorado on 1 September 1965, ending the navy’s formal role in the joint continental air defense mission.”68
Bouchard observed that “for eleven years the navy maintained a vigilant watch over the seaward approaches to the United States as part of the joint air defense team.” However, “in the 1950s and 1960s, the navy was never enthusiastic about the continental air defense mission, which it viewed as divert- ing scarce resources from its primary missions of sea control and power projec- tion. The navy’s strategic concept today may not exclude a homeland defense mission, but it certainly does not accord one high priority.”69
Written two years before 9/11, Bouchard’s comments reflect the fact that after the height of the Cold War in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the navy remained basically uninterested in homeland defence. This was the case even during the “naval renaissance” of the 1980s.
The rising tide of the Reagan administration’s defense program in the 1980s and the US Navy’s Maritime Strategy lifted all boats, including even homeland defense. Aegis cruisers, coastal mine hunters, a new generation of patrol craft, and new coastal warfare equipment entered the fleet with homeland defense capabilities or potential. Civilian fishing boats, US Naval Academy yardcraft, and the naval reservists to man them were pressed into service as craft of opportunity (COOP) harbor minesweepers. The homeland defense responsibilities of the Coast Guard and the Naval Reserve were coalesced formally into Maritime Defense Zones at home. And a new naval liaison officer program was created by the Naval Reserve to help protect key navy assets at home from sabotage. Still, this was small beer compared to the simultaneous build-up of a forward-deploying “600-ship navy.”70
When the Soviet Union collapsed, the USN’s emphasis remained on “for- ward operation against the world’s rogue states.”71 Indeed, the USN moved even further forward, away from the high seas where it had been confronting the Soviet navy to the littoral seas of dozens of different countries where American power was projected in the 1990s.
The USN articulated its post-Cold War strategy in From the Sea, in 1992. It is an aptly named document, for it constituted a shift in focus from the sea of the 1980s’ maritime strategy to the land, where the real objectives of sea power have always been. Command of the sea is meaningless unless it can allow for the projection of force from the sea to the land. Derived from the Bush administra- tion’s national security strategy, which emphasizes peacetime presence and engagement, promotion of stability, thwarting of aggression mobility and flexi- bility in meeting regional, rather than global, threats to American interests, the USN’s strategic direction was described as
[a] fundamental shift away from open-ocean warfighting on the sea towards joint operations conducted from the sea. The Navy and Marine Corps will now respond to crises and can provide the initial “enabling” capability for joint operations in conflict — as well as continued participation in any sustained effort. We will be part of a “sea-air-land” team trained to respond immediately to the Unified Commanders as they execute national policy.72
With the coming into office of the Clinton administration, revised guid- ance was provided on the role of military forces, one that reflected the new roles and missions, especially in the areas of peacekeeping that the US mili- tary had undertaken.73 Given the shift in emphasis toward the “new dangers” that could arise from “aggression by regional powers,” it was necessary to again review naval strategy. In November 1994, the USN published Forward…From the Sea. The document noted that while naval forces “are designed to fight and win wars, our most recent experiences…underscore the premise that the most important role of the naval forces in situations short of war is to be engaged in forward areas, with the objectives of preventing con- flicts and controlling crises.”74 As the chief of naval operations at the time put it, the “cornerstones” of American sea power will be “forward presence, power projection, strategic deterrence, sea control and maritime supremacy, and strategic lift. Naval forces are going to come from the sea. They are going to work near land and over land.”75
With this approach, “concerns over threats to the US coasts, which were never high, waned again,” as many of the homeland security programs under- taken in the 1980s were either cut back or refocused on homeland security or disaster relief. The maritime defense zones, the USN’s coastal warfare units and even the USCG’s port security units “all reoriented…deploying forward with the fleet, especially to the Persian Gulf.”76
The USN was involved with the war on drugs, a precursor to the current concerns and efforts with maritime homeland security, working with the coast guard and other agencies as part of joint interagency task forces. “Navy ships, air- craft and submarines have employed their sensors, mobility and endurance to increase the difficulty and cost of bringing drugs into America.” The US Navy is now working to identify vessels that might be carrying WMDs or terrorists far- ther out from the American coasts, and it is sharing this information through national maritime intelligence centres. The overall goal is to enhance what is referred to as “maritime domain awareness.”
The concept of maritime domain awareness first appeared in 1999 and seeks to push out America’s maritime borders by obtaining the information required to assess threats and react to them well before they near America’s ports. Establishing maritime domain awareness will require a highly networked ensemble of maritime and land-based platforms and sensors as well as a robust processing center to turn information into knowledge and then distribute it to the right actors.77
In Guidance for 2004, the CNO noted that the USN had
[a]ligned our homeland security organization and improved our force protection procedures. We established COMUSNAVNORTH, activated the Atlantic and Pacific Shipping Control Centers, and created the Naval Air Station North Island AT/FP (Anti-Terorrism/Force Protection) Test Bed under the Commander, Navy Region Southwest, to exploit technology and move new AT/FP capabili- ties into the Navy. We also increased the MAA (Master-At-Arms) community to 7,164 personnel and committed $1.7 billion in AT/FP funding across the budget plan.78
The USN’s Sea Power 21 concept comprises three fundamental missions: sea strike, sea shield and sea-basing. Sea strike calls for “projecting precise and persistent offensive power,” while sea-basing entails “projecting joint operational indepen- dence.” Sea shield encompasses homeland defence, but involves the protection of ships, ports and other assets around the world — “projecting global defensive assur- ance.”79 In terms of homeland defence, the USN would contribute to protection against ballistic missile attack as part of an overall ballistic missile defence system. It would also be involved in defence against cruise missile attack, by intercepting ships and shooting down missiles. In addition, the USN would be involved in protecting its “domestic installations” against asymmetric attacks as well as supporting the coast guard and NORAD “in defending US cities and ports against such attacks.”80
Coordination and support between the USN and other agencies involved in maritime homeland defence and security is at an all-time high. However, the service, as with the American military in general, often makes a distinction between homeland defence (HD) and homeland security (HS), especially when it comes to the best use of the USN’s capabilities. As a recent thesis written at the USN’s Naval Postgraduate School argues, “Even though the navy can support the HS mission, its capabilities and organizational focus are directed and best suited for HD.”81 Thus the USN makes it clear that homeland security is not a top pri- ority. Its approach to maritime domain awareness is global.
Although the Navy can provide many capabilities in support of maritime secur- ity, it is important that it not become a brown-water coastal navy and signifi- cantly degrade its forward-deployed posture. As stated by the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Vern Clark, the responsibility for maritime security “should rest first and foremost with the United States Coast Guard.” While military transformation will be driven by the need to respond to the evolving terrorist threat, it must also reduce inefficient and costly redundancies in America’s security framework; America does not need two coast guards.82
It is clear that the USN intends to use its power projection capabilities to secure the maritime approaches to the United States by meeting its enemies where it prefers to meet them, in their home waters, or in somebody else’s. An example of this would be USN involvement in the American Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), launched in May of 2003, “which would result in the creation of international agreements and partnerships that would allow the US and its allies to search planes and ships carrying suspect cargo and seize illegal weapons or missile technologies.”83 While the PSI is consistent with the unilater- alist and pre-emptive emphasis in contemporary American national security pol- icy, it raises questions about the tradition of freedom of the seas, and the Bush administration has made efforts to adopt a multilateral approach and to operate within a legal framework. It has sought out partners in the regions of its tradi- tional naval allies such as Australia, Japan, Germany and France, as well as with Russia. It has recently signed agreements with flags of convenience states, Panama and Liberia, that would allow the USN to interdict ships flying their flags that are “suspected of trafficking in missiles or WMD.”84
In September 2003, a multilateral maritime interdiction exercise led by Australia, with “military and law enforcement resources” from the United States, France and Japan, took place in the Coral Sea, off Queensland’s central coast.85
Under the Regional Maritime Security Initiative (RMSI), the US Pacific Command, working with countries in the Pacific and Indian Ocean regions, uses the Global Positioning System and other sensors to get a larger and more detailed “awareness of the maritime domain to match the picture we have of our inter- national airspace.” With this awareness, the USN and its allies can identify and track vessels, especially those carrying volatile cargo such as liquefied natural gas or chemical fertilizer that might be seized by terrorists and exploded in ports such as Pusan, South Korea, Tokyo or Los Angeles. Of particular concern for the United States and its allies is the Strait of Malacca near Indonesia. Thirty percent of the world’s trade and 80 percent of Japan’s crude oil is transported through that strait, a narrow corridor between Malaysia and Indonesia. The radical extremist terror- ist group Jemaah Islamiah, “whose goal is to create an Islamic state taking in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the southern Philippines,” is seen by experts as “capable of hijacking a tanker and blowing it up” in the busy strait.86
The effort will also be directed toward preventing terrorists from joining criminals in the smuggling of drugs, arms and illegal human cargo. In explaining the initiative, Admiral Thomas Fargo, USN, commander of US Pacific Command, stressed that it did not require “a new naval force patrolling the Pacific,” nor would it threaten the sovereignty of the countries in the region with a new form of “Western colonialism” or “domination.” Rather, the intention was to “empower each nation to take the action it deems necessary to protect itself in its own waters, thereby enhancing our collective security.”87
While in both initiatives Washington is seeking to enlist the support of other nations, it is evident that the US will reserve the right to take action anywhere to prevent use of the seas that would threaten the American homeland or US forces or interests abroad. Thus as part of the Regional Security Maritime Initiative (RSMI) there are suggestions that the US would “deploy US marines with high speed boats to guard the Strait of Malacca, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, against terrorist attacks,” a proposal that has raised sovereignty concerns among countries in the region.88 Singapore supported the RMSI but Malaysia and Indonesia initially viewed the US initiative as an “affront” to their “competence.” And there were questions about “whose security was at stake.” For some of these countries, threats to sovereignty, piracy, and environmental concerns are more of a priority than WMDs and international terrorism. Indeed, Indonesia and Malaysia “worry that a US presence in the Strait of Malacca or the Singapore Strait could actually attract terrorists and bolster the ideological appeal of extremists.”89
Yet as described above, the USN may be compelled by the DoD’s new homeland security strategy, as well as congressional and public pressure, to con- cern itself more with the home game. For example, the homeland security strat- egy suggests that the USN’s littoral combat ships, “designed to operate off hostile coasts, will be suited to defence of US waters.” US Navy Secretary Gordon English has put forth a “maritime domain awareness vision that would combine data and intelligence” from the USN, the USCG and 19 other agencies as well as allies. It would “cover not just maritime threats but ones in space and cyber- space.” Chief of Naval Operations Vernon Clark, in addition to calling for NORAD-type arrangements overseas, has also pressed for an expansion of the bilateral command to include a larger maritime role.90 And along with the Air National Guard, the new approach calls for transforming the missions of the Naval Reserve “to reflect the 21st century transnational terrorist threat, especially the maritime transportation of weapons of mass destruction to the United States.”91 Under the PSI, Northcom has been given an “interdiction requirement” in the sea area up to “500 nautical miles from the Pacific coast and 1,700 nauti- cal miles off the Atlantic coast.”92
Former Northcom/NORAD Commander Gen. Ralph Eberhart, USAF, noted recently “that the mission of homeland security is like playing an ‘away game and a home game.’ In war, just as in sports, it’s the away game that you ‘want to win,’ but it is the home game that you ‘must win.’”93 This approach is particularly ger- mane to the United States Coast Guard, which is charged with multiple maritime security and defence roles. It is at once a military service, a federal law-enforce- ment agency, a regulatory authority of maritime transportation systems, and part of the new DHS, all of which “place it squarely at the center of national initiatives to reduce security risks.”94
The terror of 9/11 has given greater impetus to what had already been for the United States a growing concern with the seaward defences of the republic and the leading role of the coast guard in those efforts. Created in 1790, this so- called fifth branch of the US armed services is actually “the oldest continuously operating seagoing service because the US navy was disbanded in 1787 and not re-established until 1797 for the quasi-war with France.”95 For most of its early history, the coast guard was concerned with enforcing US customs regulations and looking out for those seeking to evade them. In war, it provided the first line of coastal defence.
In the 1980s, the USCG stepped up its efforts against drug smugglers and aliens seeking to enter the US illegally by ship, and against similar tactics and routes that could be employed by terrorists. For this reason “it is becoming increasingly important that the United States be able to identify and stop anyone attempting to breach America’s maritime sovereignty.”96 But the record with regard to defending America’s maritime sovereignty against narcotics smuggling and “illegal migrant traffic” is not encouraging. Less than 10 percent of drugs entering the US are stopped, and apart from responding to dramatic large-scale boat lifts from some Caribbean islands, an average of only 4,400 alien migrants are appre- hended by maritime interdiction, and these from large groups on ships.97 Indeed, the record has already shown “how porous America’s maritime borders can be.”98
Since 1790, the coast guard has been charged with protecting the coasts and ports of the United States. It is “central to homeland defense and security since it is the only US service that has national and international law enforcement authority” and a long history of working with other federal, state and local agen- cies. It has also worked with foreign military services and law enforcement organizations.99 Following the initial deployments on 9/11, the USCG strength- ened its patrols of critical ports and harbours and increased its offshore surveil- lance. It activated its Special Interest Vessel Program, closed US inland and terri- torial waters and offshore zones to “ships flying certain flags or owned by citizens or groups of these countries or that had recently visited these countries.”100 In the US governmental reorganization, the USCG, which had been under the Department of Transportation (except in time of war and emergency when it came under the DoD and the United States Navy), has been placed under DHS. It has also promulgated its own Maritime Strategy for Homeland Security.101
While this paper focuses on the USCG’s role in homeland security and defence, it is important to call attention to its long-standing involvement in over- seas operations. In time of war, the USCG transfers to the navy. But as a branch of the US armed services, it can be called upon by the National Command Authority to deploy overseas under title 10 of the United States Code, where it works alongside the other services as was done in Vietnam, Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Because the USCG is a branch of the US armed services and brings some “non-redundant operational capability” to the US Navy (or the other services), it is in the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan and written into all the operational plans of the various American commands, such as European Command, Southern Command and Pacific Command. This is especially so with Southern Command, given the counternarcotics role of that command.
In order to cement its commitment to the US Navy and the DoD, the coast guard signed a memorandum of agreement with the DoD in 1995. The agree- ment recognized the coast guard’s unique support to the national military stra- tegy by providing forces to do maritime interdiction operations, marine environ- mental defence operations, port security/harbor defence, coastal sea control and peacetime military engagement. These capabilities are made available to combat- ant commanders “upon request and certainly when the nation goes to war.” Thus, between being in the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan and the combatant commanders’ operational plans, and with the support promised in the agree- ment, the USCG has been “part of the overseas military operations, and have fought in every major conflict the US has ever been involved in.”102
In this regard, the GWOT has placed considerable demands on the coast guard. For example, in Operation Iraqi Freedom, the USCG provided port secu- rity for all DoD “outload” operations, activated 68 percent of its reserve force “to meet increased operating and personnel tempo at the peak of mobilization, and deployed approximately 1,250 personnel to support combatant commanders.” As part of the American buildup against Iraq in late 2002, the USCG dispatched two cutters, eight patrol boats, four port security teams and strike team personnel, while two maintenance-support units were readied for short-notice deployment to the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean Sea. These units were involved in maritime interdiction operations and coastal security patrols in col- laboration with the USN and coalition forces; provided port security in Bahrain, Kuwait and Iraq; helped open Iraq’s main shipping channel to commercial traf- fic and humanitarian support; and assisted in securing Iraqi oil terminals.103
The US Coast Guard also participates in the Proliferation Security Initiative to intercept WMDs, and it recently participated in a multinational exercise near Japan. It is envisioned that either coast guard law-enforcement teams or US Navy SEALs would be used to do the actual boarding of ships. The USCG teams have the advantage of “experience in boarding and conducting thorough searches, as well as familiarity with international law of the sea that governs which ships in what waters can be boarded,” while the SEALs “would be used in more threat- ening environments.”104
The coast guard also has a role in the “away game” as it more directly impacts upon maritime homeland security. It is the lead agency in monitoring global port security in order to protect the United States from ship-borne terror- ist attacks. The 9/11 commission, in an addendum to its report, drew attention to the vulnerability of American ports to terrorist attacks and recommended that the DHS “bolster efforts to identify, track and screen suspicious cargo entering the country from foreign ports.”105 In January 2002, the Department of Homeland Security launched the Container Security Initiative, designed to increase security for container cargo shipped to the United States. Part of the pro- gram is to allow US inspectors into foreign ports to “help local authorities screen high-risk cargo.”106 Initially, the European Union balked and threatened legal action against any member state that agreed to let the American inspectors in, because “individual bilateral arrangements would illegally cause unfair trading advantages for some ports over others.” In April of 2004, the European Commission signed an agreement with the DHS that “expands EU participation in the initiative that is now underway in some European ports.”107
Under the initiative, the United States has also pressed the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization (IMO) to draw up new security standards and plans for containers and ports worldwide. The new standards required ships to have a security officer, an alarm system, access restrictions to the engine room and bridge, and a means of checking the identities of those aboard. On July 1, 2004, the IMO’s International Ship and Port Facility Security Code took effect. Washington has said it will “strictly enforce the code and expects other nations to do so.” However, as of May 2004, only about 23 percent of 5,578 ports world- wide had submitted security plans to meet tough new IMO standards by the deadline, and of those with plans only about 5.4 percent, or 301, had been approved.108 The USCG did not hesitate to immediately enforce the new rules. From July 1 to 5, 2004, the United States denied entry to 42 foreign ships and detained 38 for failure to comply with the new IMO security code.109 By the fall of 2004, 17 countries, including Hong Kong, the Netherlands and Panama, had not reported compliance with IMO standards, prompting the USCG to announce that it would increase boarding of vessels sailing under their flags.110
At home, the USCG is the lead federal agency for maritime homeland secu- rity. It not only has primary responsibility for monitoring the immediate ocean approaches but, consistent with its role in marine safety, its area of operations includes inland waterways, including the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes. Of particular relevance for homeland security is the USCG’s jurisdiction in port security. It is the coast guard, acting under DHS, that is today undertaking a major effort to make sure that US ports improve their security against terrorist threats and enhance readiness in dealing with emergencies. A program of port vulnerability assessments has been undertaken to define vulnerabilities and determine what measures need to be taken to reduce them.
Working with the FBI and other agencies, the coast guard is implementing a new US-port security system. This will involve not only more advanced notifi- cation by ships entering American ports; ships will also have to report on their port of embarkation, flag, ownership, cargo and crew. A new computerized sys- tem that will track and send messages to vessels near major ports will be employed. Progressively being implemented, the port security system has “trans- formed seaport patrols, restrictions and safety measures.” It will allow USCG offi- cers throughout the United States “to board any ship, sometimes dropping from helicopters if they learn a member of its crew has suspicious paperwork.”111
This has caused some problems, since the burden of funding such improvements falls upon the local and state governments, port authorities and commercial enterprises. This would raise the cost to ships of calling on ports and perhaps divert traffic to other competing ports. As part of its general homeland security efforts, the DHS is providing funding to bring ports up to standard, but there is concern that the funding is insufficient and that this may delay the improvements.112
The new homeland security missions are placing a strain on the USCG’s equipment and personnel. Stephen Flynn told the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation that the service “is not only struggling to carry out its new assignment, but its fleet of cutters and aircraft are being pushed to the breaking point and beyond to meet the combined imperatives of its traditional missions along with the new maritime homeland security mandate.” He noted as well that with a force level only slightly larger than the New York Police Department, the USCG must “bear the burden of being America’s first line of defence along 95,000 miles of shoreline and 3 million square miles of waters that are adjacent to US maritime borders.”113
To replace its aging fleet of vessels and aircraft and to enhance its home- land security and defence capabilities, the USCG is undergoing a major re-capi- talization program: the Integrated Deepwater System program (IDS, or Deepwater), the largest acquisition program in USCG history. A 20-year, US$11- billion, endeavour, Deepwater will involve the replacement of the entire surface fleet, new aircraft and improved C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance or reconnaissance) systems, including unmanned aerial vehicles.114
Of particular importance to the homeland security mission is the Maritime Security Cutter (Large), also known as the National Security Cutter, described as the backbone of the IDS. At 441 feet long and with a 12,000 nautical mile range, the cutter is designed with “full USN and NATO interoperability.”115 A smaller Maritime Security Cutter (Medium), also known as the Offshore Patrol Cutter, at 341 feet, is also under development. Both will have advanced surveillance pack- ages and maritime interdiction capabilities, including anmanned aerial vahicles (UAVs). Another part of the program is extending the service life of the 110-foot Island-class patrol boats, converting them to 123 feet and improving their capa- bilities. Should more funds become available, or the program be accelerated, these vessels will be replaced with a new patrol boat.116 Because the GWOT, at home and away, has placed considerable strain on the USCG, the timetable for Deepwater may have to be revised in light of the new demands imposed by the homeland security missions and the increased deployments to provide ship and port protection for USN forces in Iraq.117 An indication of the strain on the USCG is the recent transfer to it by the USN of five of its 169-foot Cyclone-class coastal patrol ships, specifically for the homeland security mission.118
In the past, the USCG’s intelligence operations had been directed primar- ily to support local commanders, by providing information on drug trafficking, migrant interdiction and fisheries enforcement. The service has now sought to increase and widen its intelligence operations, doubling the number of person- nel working in this area through reassignment and the calling up of reserves. Under the 2002 Fiscal Intelligence Act, it has also been made a member of the US Intelligence Community, the 14 intelligence agencies and organizations that report to the Director of Central Intelligence. In addition, the USCG has estab- lished 2 maritime intelligence fusion centres, one on each coast, at Dam Neck, Virginia, and Alameda, California.
The centres “provide a round-the-clock watch over maritime traffic, follow vessels of interest and provide analysis and evaluate trends.” The information is provided to USCG units and to the coast guard Intelligence Coordination Center (ICC) at the National Maritime Intelligence Center in Suitland, Maryland. The ICC “is responsible for producing and disseminating intelligence with a coast guard per- spective to support US policymakers and operations. Colocated with the USN and other agencies, it also provides quick access to others responsible for the nation’s maritime domain awareness.” This allows the coast guard and the navy to pool information. As the USCG’s assistant commandant for intelligence observed, the coast guard “brings to the table a lot of authorities and equities that the navy doesn’t have, but the navy brings information to the table that the coast guard needs.”119
To enhance its surveillance capabilities, the USCG is now employing the Hawkeye system, which “features coastal radar, visual and infrared cameras and ship-tracking beacon receivers. A satellite also can monitor the location of ships for hundreds of miles.” The US$8 million program, funded by the Department of Homeland Security, will be phased in over the next two years from Key West to Fort Lauderdale, and will be used as “a model in the post-Sept. 11 era for other major seaports around the country.” In February 2004, the system was used to intercept a freighter hijacked by a group of Haitians “seven miles off Miami because the vessel’s captain radioed in.”120
The USCG is also developing the Eagle Eye vertical take-off unmanned aer- ial vehicle, which will be able to fly off a cutter “to an area of interest over the hori- zon and survey a large number of watercraft.” With capability to loiter longer than ship-borne helicopters, it will afford cutters a much broader surveillance capacity.121
Congress has moved to increase funding for the USCG. The DHS appro- priations act of 2005 provides for a 9 percent increase over the previous year, to US$6.3 billion from $5.8 billion. Included is over $100 million to support imple- mentation of the Maritime Transportation Security Act to improve port protec- tion and underwater detection capabilities and to increase the intelligence pro- gram. As well, there is an increase of $56 million for the Deepwater program, bringing the total funding to $724 million.122
In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, the maritime dimensions of American national security policy and the implications for Canada have drawn renewed attention to North America’s ocean gates and the threats that may pass through them. Warning of the possibility of further “nightmare scenarios” perpetrated against the United States by terrorist groups employing asymmetric tactics, the Canadian Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence has drawn attention to what it assessed as the sorry state of maritime security in Canada and to the implications for bilateral security relations. Calling the coun- try’s three coasts and ocean approaches “the longest under-defended borders in the world,” the committee recommends a comprehensive overhaul of the country’s maritime security efforts. These are necessary because
[l]ack of appropriate coastal security and defence is a problem for Canadians, and for our American allies. The United States remains very much a target for international terrorists; it is clearly the bull’s eye. Canada, it is fair to say, is on the next ring out. We are so positioned because of our military bonds with America, our similar lifestyles and our integrated markets.
Furthermore, as the US government is very aware, Canada is a potential con- duit for those wishing to strike at the heart of America. The fact that Canada and the United States have the largest trading partnership in the world, with more than 85 percent of Canadian exports going to the United States, makes attempts to trans-ship terrorist personnel and weaponry through Canada to the United States more a question of “when” than “if.” The likelihood of a direct attack on Canada itself falls within the same realm of probability.123
It should not be surprising that coastal defences have been found wanting just when their importance has never been more crucial. Although Canada has always been a small to medium power, the outlook of its armed forces was, like that of the United States’, oriented toward overseas operations. Before Confederation and after, Ottawa found no need to maintain large standing forces in peacetime to protect the country from external attack, especially as the Anglo- American informal entente grew toward the end of the nineteenth century. Where forces were needed was at home to come to the aid of the civil power. This took place when gold was discovered in the Yukon and military and permanent troops were rushed up to assist the RCMP.124 Beginning with the Boer War and continuing on through both world wars and the Cold War, the raison d’ëtre of Canada’s armed forces was to fight overseas.
The sea has played a major role in the development of Canada. But the gates to the vast oceans were not meant to hide behind but to go through — in search of wealth in peacetime and to project force abroad in war. Homeland security was not a traditional role for the “senior service.” After a bitter political controversy, the Laurier government created the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) rather than send funds to support the Royal Navy. Nonetheless, it was an imperial fleet, postured not to protect Canada from threats from the sea, but to assist the empire in mak- ing use of the seas to project power against distant shores and borders, where its rule and interests were contested by local powers. The proud refrain “Ready aye ready” was the response given to allied calls that Canada send its navy onto the high seas, not stand guard off Canada’s coasts. To be sure, during the Cold War the RCN,125 along with the USN, maintained a vigilant watch over the ocean approaches to North America, just as the RCAF stood the long polar watch against air attack. The Canadian Navy, for example, played an important role in covering the US east coast during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Yet, the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) specialization of the RCN of the fifties and sixties was primarily directed toward securing the sea lines of communication to NATO and Europe.126
Only in the post-1945 period was a deliberate effort made to articulate an approach to Canada’s maritime security interest that placed the protection of its coasts and ocean approaches — that long underdefended border — at the top of the navy’s priorities. This was during the first government of Pierre Trudeau, whose initial defence policies were as ill received in Washington as they were by the Canadian military. In 1969, a call for an emphasis on domestic roles and the protection of Canadian sovereignty as the defence priority for the Canadian Forces seemed to be the height of unrealism and anti-Americanism.
It was precisely the emphasis upon the overseas, high seas, and the NATO- ASW orientation of the RCN that the Trudeau government found wanting when it came to review defence policy in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Ironically, while Trudeau figures high among those political leaders culpable in the “killing” of the Canadian military during the Cold War, there may be no better precedent for understanding the challenges facing the Canadian Navy in the present global war on terrorism than the much-maligned and short-lived White Paper of 1971.
In 1969, Trudeau had elaborated an approach to defence policy that began with Canadian interests and then worked progressively outward toward conti- nental and international commitments. The first two priorities were “the surveil- lance of our own territory and coastlines, i.e., the protection of our sovereignty” and “the defence of North America in cooperation with United States forces.” Commitments to NATO and international peacekeeping were ranked third and fourth, respectively.127
Issued during the era of détente and when sovereignty had become a major issue in public discourse, the thrust of the White Paper as far as maritime security was concerned was to provide better protection and surveillance against nonmilitary threats such as overfishing and pollution. Critics charged that Mr. Trudeau was abandoning Canada’s traditional support of allied naval cooperation, especially in the area of ASW, which had become its specialty in the Cold War. The navy was involved in backing up the Canadian Coast Guard and Department of Fisheries in chasing down foreign fishing fleets that were allegedly plundering Canadian resources.
Had the Trudeau-era emphasis on sovereignty protection been maintained, and backed up by greater spending on an armed maritime coastal defence force, then perhaps the current shortfalls in Canada’s maritime homeland security capa- bilities would not be so pronounced. But while the Trudeau government did emphasize maritime sovereignty protection, it was also determined to reduce overall defence expenditures; thus vast new sums did not flow into this role. The navy was simply expected to undertake more national tasks with the existing, aging equipment. Nor was the navy ever really disengaged from its NATO and North American commitments, despite the initial questions raised about tradi- tional allied roles.
While the Trudeau legacy of emphasizing maritime roles closer to home never entirely went away, the 1971 White Paper was quickly overtaken by events as the Cold War returned, this time with a much larger and more powerful Soviet navy. In the naval rebuilding programs that followed, the navy returned to its ASW roles with new long-range maritime patrol aircraft and, eventually, the City- class frigates.
The Mulroney government’s 1987 White Paper can also be seen as a prece- dent in discussions on the current maritime homeland security problem, although it sought to undo what were viewed as the failures of the Trudeau era. This docu- ment, which had an even shorter shelf life than its predecessor, also placed an emphasis on protection of Canadian maritime security sovereignty. But its focus was not on nonmilitary threats, but rather on the growing reach of the Soviet navy, and it included the controversial proposal for a fleet of nuclear-powered attack sub- marines capable of operating under the Arctic ice. While denounced by many in Canada as a Reaganesque, hawkish (and even un-Canadian) defence policy, it was, ironically, criticized in allied circles as a narrow, nationalist (even anti-American) statement that put the defence of Canada ahead of common allied needs. To the extent that both White Papers did share a concern for an enhanced Canadian capa- bility to monitor and protect our ocean approaches, the failure to act on each is now coming back to haunt the country (and its American ally) as North American maritime security moves to the top of the Canadian naval agenda.
With the end of the Cold War, the Canadian Navy, deploying 12 new frigates and 4 modernized destroyers, followed the USN “over there,” maintaining a presence in the Adriatic Sea and the Persian Gulf. The 1994 White Paper on defence declared that the CF must be prepared to “fight with the best against the best.” After a half-decade of intensive operations in Eastern Europe, it was not clear who the opposing “best” was, but it is clear whom the CF wished to fight alongside. In Shaping the Future of Canadian Defence: A Strategy for 2020, this orientation was made explicit. The CF had to strengthen its “military to mil- itary relationships with our principal allies, ensuring interoperable forces, doc- trine and C4I.” In particular, the strategy called for expansion of “the joint and combined exercise program to include all environments and exchanges with the US.”128 Given the history of the post-Cold War decade, which saw the CF deploy abroad along with the US and its principal allies in a host of UN and NATO oper- ations, this approach is the only one that makes sense for the CF. The Canadian Navy, which played only a minor role in the era of classical peacekeeping, has over the first decade of the post-Cold War era been called upon to support the country’s contributions to peace enforcement in all its varied dimensions.
What that has meant, though, is that, after the Cold War, the focus of the Canadian Navy moved even further from the national waters than was the case during that “long twilight struggle.” Then, the navy was concerned with the maritime defence of North America in concert with the USN; but it was also, as noted, primarily postured to secure the transatlantic bridge against a Soviet navy dedicated to cutting the sea lines of communication. Since 1989, it has been deployed to coastal waters throughout the world where regional or ethnic con- flict is seen as requiring combined Western intervention. For example, Canadian naval forces have been more active in the Mediterranean alongside NATO in the post-Cold War period than when the Soviet navy was seen as the major naval threat to the alliance’s southern flank. It maintained a continual presence in the Persian Gulf enforcing the post-Gulf War embargoes on Iraq, and later in the 1990s was dispatched to Southeast Asia to support operations in East Timor.
To this extent, the objectives contained in Leadmark: The Navy’s Strategy for 2020 — to become a “medium global force projection navy that will serve Canada as a multipurpose, interoperable force capable of joint and combined operations worldwide” — were consistent with international security trends and overall Canadian foreign policy in the post-Cold War era. The “leadmark” was primarily overseas as the navy pledged to
[c]ontinue its development as a highly adaptable and flexible force, ready to provide the government with a wide range of relevant policy options across a continuum of domestic and international contingencies. The navy will generate combat capable forces that are responsive, rapidly deployable, sustainable, versatile, lethal and survivable. Canada’s naval forces, from individual units to complete task groups, will be tactically self-sufficient and be able to join or inte- grate into a joint US or multinational force, anywhere in the world.129
Relative to other branches of the CF, the navy has gone furthest in seeking interoperability with the armed forces of the United States. During the immedi- ate post-Cold War era, despite the disappearance of the Soviet threat, Canadian defence policy became even more closely linked to that of the United States than at any other time in our history. Ottawa seems to be glued to its seat at the allied table, and as a consequence its defence posture, especially at sea, was even more fused with that of the United States. Thus, at the dawn of the twenty-first cen- tury, the Canadian Navy was where it had been since its founding at the begin- ning of the twentieth: sailing far from home in concert with its principal allies as part of multilateral maritime coalitions.130
Given this orientation, it was not surprising that Ottawa’s initial response to the American call for allied assistance in the war on terrorism immediately after 9/11 was to dispatch several of the Canadian Navy’s most advanced surface ships. Practically and politically, ships were the easiest units to send right away. The deployment was fully in line with traditional Canadian responses dating back to the Korean War, through the Gulf War and into the heightened “new” peacekeeping era of the 1990s. This demonstrated Canada’s commitment to con- tributing to the defence against the new global threat.
While this is important, the GWOT now demands that Canada, in addi- tion to supplying naval forces overseas, focus more on bilateral and national maritime security. What is required now is a combination of the 1971 White Paper’s emphasis on sovereignty protection with the 1987 White Paper’s call for an enhanced capability to apply force to protect Canada’s ocean approaches.
With its fleet of 3 destroyers, 12 frigates, 4 conventional submarines, replenish- ment and support ships, 12 maritime coastal defence vessels and the support of the Aurora maritime patrol aircraft, Canada’s maritime forces do constitute a very capable medium global force projection navy. While it does not possess a full range of maritime capabilities, “it has a credible capacity in certain of them and consistently demonstrates a determination to exercise them at some distance from home waters, in cooperation with other force projection navies.”131 In par- ticular, the Canadian Navy has achieved a high level of interoperability with the USN. Canada’s Halifax-class frigates integrate seamlessly into American carrier battle groups, as all 12 frigates did in Operation Apollo in Afghanistan. Furthermore, the power projection capabilities of the navy will be improved when the new maritime helicopters replace the aging Sea Kings and the planned Joint Support Ships enter service. The new ships will provide not only replen- ishment; they may be used for strategic sealift, thus allowing the CF to transport forces ashore with a greater degree of independence.
These naval capabilities afford Canada significant political and military leverage. The record of the post-Cold War era and the future geopolitical envi- ronment strongly suggest that the navy will remain a vital instrument of Canadian foreign policy over the next decade. Even with the USN’s near-absolute command of the seas, international maritime collaboration will provide ample opportunities to employ the navy, whether in the form of multilateral embargoes, counterterrorism efforts at sea, interventions ashore or merely demonstrations of political will through presence. As in the past, Ottawa may find the navy is the quickest and easiest element of the CF to deploy when Canada is asked to par- ticipate in overseas coalition efforts.
At the same time, recent history, the realities of the future strategic envi- ronment and the very nature of sea power suggest that the utility of the navy’s overseas capabilities will be circumscribed. This will be so for several reasons. First, while some littoral waters may be contested zones, the USN will quickly establish dominance, if needed, in order to project power ashore. To the extent that Canadian frigates might be part of American task forces securing the use of the seas in areas of conflict or crisis, the Canadian Navy is useful but not indis- pensable. Second, because contested zones are principally on land, and in many cases well away from the seas, the utility of the Canadian Navy’s power projec- tion capabilities may be modest. To be sure, as noted above, the Joint Support Ships’ ability to transport the army’s equipment overseas and support troops through secure harbours will enhance Canada’s lift and sustainment capabilities. However, coalition combat operations, or the more likely stabilization and recon- struction roles the CF will undertake, will not have major maritime components. Experiences in the former Yugoslavia, East Timor and most recently in Afghanistan highlighted the limited role of naval power in accomplishing tasks on the ground. In the absence of aircraft carriers, long-range land-attack cruise missiles and amphibious ships, none of which are going be acquired — nor are they needed in view of American capabilities — the Canadian Navy is a force projection navy only in a modest, albeit useful, sense.
Third, although in its overseas operations the Canadian Navy will likely continue to operate with the fleets of its European NATO allies, the relative importance of European maritime security for the navy will continue to decline. For most of the Cold War, NATO maritime obligations in the Atlantic were the impetus behind Canada’s naval policy and posture, which emphasized ASW to keep the alliance’s Atlantic sea lines of communication open. It has also been a Canadian naval tradition to supply a ship to NATO’s standing naval forces. Since its inception in the late 1960s, Canada has participated in, and sometimes com- manded, the Standing Naval Force, Atlantic (STANAVFORLANT). In the 1990s, the Canadian Navy also contributed to NATO’s Mediterranean standing force. The STANAVFORLANT was established not so much as a fighting force — although it might have been sent immediately into action or formed the nucleus of a larger multilateral fleet had war broken out — but rather as a demonstration of allied solidarity. When the allied focus shifted southward after the end of the Cold War, this approach was replicated in the Mediterranean.
But the significance of the maritime link between North America and NATO Europe has been diminished strategically by the absence of a high seas threat; America’s command of the seas; and, institutionally, by the disestablishment of NATO’s Atlantic Command and the shifting of responsibility for the Atlantic Ocean to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe. The European allies will need to guard against terrorist threats on and from the their coastal waters. Here, though, the German, French and Italian navies, joined by the smaller fleets of older allies such as Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands, and the naval contri- butions of the newer allies, acting nationally or multinationally and supported by the USN if necessary, are amply equipped for this task. There is some value in the political symbolism of the force, but less so than in the Cold War. Thus the Canadian Navy should consider even fewer rotations into the STANAVFORLANT, reduced participation in NATO naval exercises in European waters, and less fre- quent calls to European ports. It is not that NATO is unimportant. Rather, it is that in view of budgetary and strategic realities and new demands in North American waters, Europe is simply not a high maritime priority.
Given its global reach, the Canadian Navy can and should support American policies seeking to take the GWOT and counterproliferation efforts overseas. As noted, as part of the GWOT, Washington has launched the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) and the Regional Maritime Security Initiative.
It is possible to envision Canadian involvement in an American-led multi- lateral high seas fleet patrolling for ships carrying terrorists or WMDs. As a coun- try with a long record of participation in international arms control efforts to limit the spread of WMDs and other arms, Canada has shown an interest in the PSI. It is also important that Washington sought to implement the PSI within a multilateral legal framework. In December of 2003, Canada was invited to par- ticipate in the Operational Expert Working Group (OEWG), and was invited to observe or participate in future PSI interdiction exercises. Canada hosted an OEWG meeting in April 2004. Given its experience in interdiction during Operation Apollo and the campaign against terrorism in the Arabian Sea and Arabian Gulf, the Canadian Navy could make a substantial contribution. The government has indicated that it is considering “participating in future multi- national interdiction exercises conducted as the exercises are developed. Canada will also consider participating in operations contributing to PSI goals on a case- by-case basis.”132 The major drawback to Canadian participation in such global activities would be to place further demands on the navy at a time when its capa- bilities may be needed elsewhere, especially closer to home.
Given its wealth and power, the United States may well still be able to afford two militaries, one for overseas operations and one for homeland security and defence. (Although, as noted earlier, given the strain resulting from the Iraq War on National Guard units, so necessary for homeland defence and security roles, even America may be not able to afford such a division.) Canada, however, must rely on one set of armed forces, one team, for both the home and away games. This is the approach that must be taken in setting Canadian defence pol- icy, especially the determination of the proper roles, missions and equipment for the Canadian Navy.
The Canadian Navy will be well positioned and capable for expeditionary roles in the coming decade. But the government needs to address the national and Canada-US maritime security situation as well. Just as air defence collabora- tion in the present NORAD could not occur without Canada’s CF-18s, so too will any expansion of NORAD into maritime security depend upon enhanced Canadian sea power specifically postured and dedicated to national and North American maritime security. The Canadian Navy has already moved to address some domestic security issues, and has led efforts to facilitate interagency coop- eration in maritime affairs. But in the bilateral context, capabilities are key.
As noted above, the United States is seeking to improve its maritime domain awareness as part of the overall homeland security effort, with Northcom as the major American command. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has directed that the US military pursue a “maritime version” of NORAD. This is the subject of the talks taking place within the Bi-National Planning Group at NORAD head- quarters. According to Northcom’s deputy director of operations, Admiral Arthur Brooks, USCG, “The discussion of a maritime NORAD kind of awoke the dragon in the mountain: the real NORAD.” The bilateral command is “very interested for a lot of reasons. One of them is because there’s a whole bunch of water in their area of operations. And second, the Canadians are very interested in enhanced maritime engagement with the United States.”133 In Canada, the navy is the lead agency in achieving greater maritime domain awareness.
At issue for North American maritime security is that there is no real equivalent to the USCG on the Canadian side. The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) is not an armed service. It undertakes many of the roles that the USCG assumes in the area of marine safety (the “black hull” fleet), while the Canadian Navy is also called upon to undertake some missions similar to those of the USCG, such as search and rescue and exclusive economic zone surveillance and enforcement. With respect to maritime security capabilities, however, the Canadian Navy also assumes the longer-range, armed enforcement and interdiction activities associ- ated with the USCG’s “white hull” fleet.
In the National Security Policy (NSP), Ottawa announced the creation of Marine Security Operations Centres (MSOCs). These MSOCs are to be headed by the Canadian Forces, with additional staff from the Canada Border Services Agency, Transport Canada, the RCMP and the Canadian Coast Guard. By facili- tating cooperation between Canada’s maritime agencies, the MSOCs aim to streamline coastal surveillance and interdiction efforts. The NSP further pledges to increase on-water patrols to better “intervene, interdict and board ships that may pose a threat to Canada.”134
This suggests a greater role for the navy in patrolling the coastal waters. It is expected that the RCMP will continue to perform boarding and interdiction opera- tions. However, the lack of armament on CCG vessels limits the coast guard’s utility in the cases where the crews of intercepted ships might employ weapons to forcibly resist. Since only the navy “has the weapons and mandate to respond in kind to the use of force,”135 the navy’s frigates may well be assigned more patrols. “Therein lies the Canadian maritime security conundrum: the vessels that provide the navy with a global projection capability may be needed to better secure Canadian waters. Unless the CF acquires more capable coastal defence ships…or the CCG is refurbished with armed vessels and a mandate to use force, therefore, Ottawa may decide to restrict the navy’s expeditionary operations to fill maritime security gaps.”136
In terms of national maritime security, the Canadian Forces has three coastal defence platforms. First, there are the CP-140 Aurora maritime surveil- lance aircraft, acquired to track Soviet submarines and now being upgraded with new radar systems. With only a fleet of only 18, the Auroras have a lim- ited capacity to cover Canada’s extensive coastline. Second, there are the 12 Kingston-class maritime coastal defence vessels, used to train reservists, which are slow and too lightly armed to provide a meaningful defence of the coasts.
Third, there are the 4 Victoria-class submarines purchased from the United Kingdom. While the recent tragedy has raised serious questions about the acqui- sition of the Victorias, these vessels are useful for additional exclusive economic zone (EEZ) enforcement. In addition, since the USN has no diesel submarines, the Victorias can be used for binational ASW training exercises, thus strengthen- ing ties between the US and Canadian navies. Their small number, however, lim- its the submarines’ contribution to Canada’s coastal defences. These three plat- forms can, however, be augmented by the navy’s high seas capabilities.
What does this mean in terms of the Canadian Navy’s ship improvement and capital acquisition program? The Frigate Equipment Life Extension (FLEX) should go forward. Recent overseas operations, as well as those in the Canadian EEZ, have shown the frigates to be effective and versatile in a variety of roles. They will continue to be an important factor in Canada’s domestic maritime secu- rity capabilities and need to be maintained and enhanced.
The destroyers and potential replacements do provide the navy with unequalled capacities for area air defence as well as command and control capa- bilities. They allow the navy to mount independent, self-sufficient task groups, which enhance Canada’s national and multinational operations. Moreover, the capabilities required for overseas options, including the mounting of indepen- dent task groups in waters closer to Canada, do contribute to both maritime homeland security and sovereignty. Thus any optimum future force mix for the Canadian Navy would include the capabilities now possessed by the destroyers. But unless the government is prepared to increase funding, it may have to take a closer look at the timing of the navy’s plans to replace the DDH280 destroyers. While new vessels would be able to contribute to maritime homeland defence, it would primarily be the overseas roles that would justify their acquisition, given their size and potential cost.
If, as was announced on May 7, 2004, “the assertion of Canadian sover- eignty in our waters always has been and will continue to be the navy’s top prior- ity,”137 then new acquisitions after the Joint Support Ships should reflect the need to address shortfalls in national and Canada-US maritime security. These vessels could also, when required, carry personnel from other government departments such as the RCMP, Fisheries and Oceans, or the CCG, depending on the mission.
Indications are that the navy is indeed looking into options for Canada in terms of the acquisition of vessels to fill the gap between the frigates and the coastal defense vessels.138 In its latest strategy statement, Bridge to Leadmark, the navy explores this possibility. It is recognized that the navy’s present fleet structure is presently not fully capable of meeting the increased demands of other govern- ment departments for domestic maritime security domain awareness as now man- dated by the National Security Policy. It appears that the navy is therefore looking into a number of options that would improve its capabilities to assume increased responsibility for the coordination of surveillance and presence. This includes the adjacent Atlantic and Pacific offshore ocean domains within Canada’s areas of jurisdiction, as well as the inshore ocean domains and inland waters such as the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region. Enhanced capabilities here would entail a fleet mix similar to that of the US Coast Guard, with its smaller, shorter-ranged armed patrol boats and its longer-range armed vessels. The new, armed, smaller vessels would be able, for example, to support the RCMP in enforcement operations as well as participate in search and rescue missions on the Great Lakes and inshore waters. This would be accompanied by a Marine Security Operations Centre specifically for the Great Lakes and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The new offshore patrol vessels, although smaller than the existing frigates and destroyers, would have a combat capability that would enhance national mar- itime security capabilities as well as improve Canada’s ability to contribute to North American maritime security in cooperation with US forces. This would allow the maritime coastal defence vessels to continue to be staffed with the reserves, but they would be assigned to operations in the Great Lakes and inshore regions.139
Of particular interest to Canada might be the proposed US Coast Guard’s IDS-Deepwater project mentioned above, in particular the Maritime Security Cutter (Large) and the smaller Maritime Security Cutter (Medium). At present, the USCG is seeking international partners for the IDS. The timing might well be right for Ottawa to approach Washington with a proposal for Canadian partici- pation in Deepwater, with a view to building a Canadian fleet that will be fully interoperable with the USCG and the USN.
The argument here is that, unlike in the United States, this new fleet of smaller vessels would become part of the Canadian Navy instead of the CCG. Canada would retain only one armed maritime service, the navy, and it would be the lead agency in maritime security and supply capabilities needed to make a maritime NORAD, or any other arrangements for greater cooperation in conti- nental defence possible. Maritime safety, on the other hand, would remain the CCG’s mandate. Thus, the CCG would continue its existing relationships with the USCG on matters of marine safety, but would defer to the Canadian Navy in matters relating to collaboration with the USCG on security and defence.
In no way is all of this meant to argue that the Canadian Navy should cease to have any high seas roles. The requirement for an enhanced role for the navy in national and continental security and defence must not be used as an excuse to abandon or seriously reduce overseas capabilities and operations. The capaci- ty of the navy to deploy to distant seas in task groups of its own, as part of larger
multilateral formations, or as individual ships integrated with USN task groups, will remain a crucial component of national security strategy. And to the extent that American homeland defence in the GWOT does encompass forward opera- tions to counter terrorism and the threat of WMDs, the overseas operations of the Canadian Navy, like those of the US Navy, help secure the North American con- tinent. While the United States Navy does “command” the ocean commons, Washington will be looking to allies to participate in multilateral operations in ways that can relieve the USN of some of this burden of securing the high seas for peaceful uses and for the GWOT. Moreover, a Canadian high seas capability will also allow Ottawa to participate in operations with other allies, such as those in NATO or in the Pacific, in situations where the USN may not be involved or where Washington is looking to allies to bear more of the burden.
As discussed above, the current and planned improvements to overseas maritime capabilities should allow the navy to contribute effectively to multi- national operations overseas. To be sure, delaying replacement of the DDH280 destroyers may limit the scope of some potential Canadian overseas maritime operations. Yet given the nature of likely scenarios and the availability of com- parable forces from other Western allies, Ottawa will still be able to use the Canadian Navy as an instrument to support a range of foreign policy objectives.
The point here is simply that now more than ever Canada continues to need a navy for all seas. In the present strategic environment, given the require- ment for enlisting the navy’s sophisticated surveillance and interdiction capabil- ities for domestic maritime security, Canada needs a navy that can secure the national interests in all the seas that are important to securing the physical and economic well being of its people. Given the urgency of the maritime security imperative, both for national and Canada-US reasons, the Canadian Navy, in con- trast to the United States Navy, must take the lead.
Enhancement of the Canadian Navy’s role in domestic and Canada-US mar- itime security is only part of a much broader effort to increase the awareness of the government of Canada about what is going on in the maritime domain. Much has already been done to address Canadian maritime security since 9/11. A month after the attacks, an interdepartmental marine security work- ing group was formed, with representation from federal government depart- ments and agencies. A number of steps were taken immediately to improve marine security, including:
The government also moved to implement several projects focusing “on safe- guarding and protecting our marine infrastructure, surveillance of Canadian waters and improving our emergency response capabilities.” Specific projects include:
In January 2003 at Pier 21 in Halifax, Transport Minister David Collenette, together with the solicitor general, the fisheries and oceans minister and the min- ister for national revenue, announced a “five-year package of initiatives of up to $172.5 million designed to further enhance the security of Canada’s marine transportation system and maritime borders.” The minister of national revenue, unveiled one of the first new mobile Vehicle and Cargo Inspection Systems (VACIS) purchased by the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency.
To enhance shipping container security, the agency has purchased 11 VACIS units, which are truck-mounted mobile scanning systems that scan an image of contents in a marine container, rail car or truck. This new state-of-the-art tech- nology provides operators of the equipment with an image similar in many ways to an X-ray. It will further assist customs officers to examine densely loaded containers and detect suspected contraband, weapons, and other potentially dangerous goods.142
In May 2004, the Government of Canada announced the creation of a three-year, $115-million Marine Facility Security Contribution Program designed to assist Canadian ports in meeting the new international security standards set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Charged with ensuring both the safety and environmental protection of the seas, the IMO’s security code requires that
[a]ll commercial vessels of 500 tons (gross tonnage) or more, or carrying more than 12 passengers and traveling between countries, and marine facilities serv- ing such vessels, perform security assessments, complete security plans and designate security officers.143
It was with the goal of implementing these and other IMO security mea- sures that Transport Canada recently created the Marine Facility Security Contribution Program. Speaking at the funding announcement ceremony and testifying to the cooperative nature of the project, then defence minister David Pratt declared that, “to protect our coasts effectively we must ensure security extends from our ports out beyond our 200 nautical mile economic zone and the Canadian Navy stands ready to work with other government departments and agencies on this important priority.” The fisheries and oceans minister added, “We are demonstrating a unified commitment to ensuring the safety of our waters and of Canadians.”144
Under the program, ports and marine facilities are eligible to receive funds to assist in the acquisition of new equipment and technology, as part of the tran- sition to the new security measures required by the Canadian government as per its arrangement with the IMO. The money will go toward funding upcoming maritime security projects, including
In addition to these security enhancements, the government recently announced that it will be amending the Marine Transportation Security Regulations to comply with the IMO’s International Ship and Port Facility Security Code and the Safety of Life at Sea Convention, 1974.
Both actions are part of a wider set of measures on maritime security taken by the government in the months and years following September 11 as it attempts to harmonize the marine security regimes of Canada with the international com- munity, particularly the United States. The $115 million pledged to the Marine Facility Security Contribution Program is in addition to the more than $300 mil- lion already earmarked for marine security as part of the government’s 2004 National Security Policy. Together, the two are evidence that the government is taking maritime security seriously. Of the $605 million allotted to security in the 2004 budget, more than half, as already noted, is bound for maritime security projects. This makes sense. For given “the world’s longest coastline and an overall area of responsibility approaching 10 million kilometers,” and with almost a thou- sand merchant and fishing vessels using our waters daily, “the task of safeguard- ing our national sovereignty and prosperity” is a serious one indeed.146
With regard to the fisheries, the relationship between the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the Department of National Defence is to be reinforced by four new initiatives in the National Security Policy. According to Transport Canada, additional funding for marine security “will allow Fisheries and Oceans Canada to be more effective in its support of federal security agen- cies.” As part of the new initiatives, $25 million will go toward increased DFO air surveillance, strengthening the DND’s own surveillance and reconnaissance objectives. Funding will also be allotted to the collocation of CCG personnel at DND’s Marine Security Operation Centres in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Esquimalt, British Columbia. And CCG vessels will be equipped with secure communications and control equipment by DND. Other notable developments include $50 million to increase the on-water presence (in the form of more ves- sel days) for the coast guard. All of which will “help to ensure better coordina- tion between the two departments on marine security initiatives.”147
As part of this program, Transport Canada has also established the Marine Transportation Security Regulations for vessels, marine facilities and ports to enhance Canadian and global maritime security by implementing the new IMO regulations, and going even beyond.
Transport Canada’s regulations apply to all commercial vessels of 500 tons (gross tonnage) or more, or carrying more than 12 passengers and travelling between countries and marine facilities and ports serving such vessels. They require the completion of security assessments and security plans, and the des- ignation of security officers…In addition, the regulations surpass the IMO requirements by extending them to:
• cargo vessels of 100 tons (gross tonnage) or more, other than towing vessels;
• towing vessels that tow barges carrying certain dangerous cargoes; and
• marine facilities and ports that serve the above vessels.148
While much remains to be done, it is evident that Canada has responded to the need to enhance domain awareness as a crucial element in providing for its maritime security and defence. It has done so, moreover, with a comprehen- sive approach that compares favourably with the vast, if not yet fully coordinated, efforts being undertaken in the United States. Wherever Canada’s maritime boundaries fit into the national and global boundaries of American maritime homeland security strategy, the government has shown a new aware- ness of them and the need to make them secure.
When the chairman of the chiefs of staff committee presented the highly inte- grative NORAD agreement to the then prime minister John Diefenbaker in 1957, he explained that “there are no boundaries upstairs.”149 Thus Canada had to accept the American concern about the potential air threat to the United States that would come through Canadian airspace, a threat that made NORAD, with its unified operational command under a US general and pro- vision for American fighters to enter Canada, necessary. Of course, in the con- text of the Cold War with its global setting and nuclear weapons and with the advent of missiles, there were no boundaries anywhere. Canada understood this, which is why, in addition to NORAD, it had already helped to create and then became an active participant in NATO. This perspective informed mari- time strategy for the US and for Canada as well. The maritime defence of North America began “over there” in the littoral waters off the Eurasian land- mass and continued back in a seamless manner across the oceans to the coasts of Canada and the United States.
Much the same approach has been taken in the war on terrorism. In efforts to enhance the maritime security of the United States, there are no boundaries. Efforts focused on the immediate ocean approaches to the continent should be viewed as part of a continuum of actions and policies that begin at home, move out to the far- thest reaches where terrorist and other threats may originate and then move back to encompass a wide variety of maritime homeland security and defence measures in American coastal waters and ports. As in the Cold War, these actions and policies will have an impact on Canada and its security ties with the United States.
There are, however, two major differences in the present global war on ter- rorism. First, while in a functional sense the sea is boundless and the USN focus remains overseas, since 9/11 the United States has been placing more emphasis than ever before on guarding its own waters, ports and ocean approaches. And Washington is looking to Ottawa to join it in its efforts and do the same for Canadian waters. Second, the relative importance of nontraditional maritime assets in this effort has also been heightened. What this means is that although the Canadian Navy will remain the major instrument for the projection of Canadian power overseas in concert with the USN, Canada’s contributions to the protection of the coasts and ocean approaches to the North American continent will have to go well beyond its small, albeit highly effective, navy. There is a requirement to make use of the myriad other military and, above all, civilian measures and agencies (and the need to establish new institutions) that in the past had been neglected when it came to maritime security.
All of this requires that Canada have what it has always needed — a navy capable of contributing to national security at home and abroad. If this can be achieved, then guarding the continental coasts in cooperation with the United States will also safeguard and assure Canadian maritime security and sovereignty.
I wish to thank the Canada-US Fulbright Program of the Foundation for Educational Exchange between Canada and the United States of America for its support for this project. The Fulbright award allowed me to spend my sabbati- cal year at Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts. I also wish to thank Bridgewater State’s Canadian Studies Program and Department of Political Science for providing me with a pleasant working environment and for being such accommodating and congenial hosts. A version of this paper was presented to the conference on “The Future of Canada’s Maritime Capabilities: The Issues, Challenges and Solutions in a New Security Environment,” sponsored by the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies, Dalhousie University, June 18-20, 2004.
For immediate distribution – Tuesday, March 1, 2005
Montreal – With Ottawa’s refusal to take part in American Ballistic Missile Defence, the US may very well shift its attention to continental maritime security. A study released today by the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP.org) says Canada needs a navy with the capacity to safeguard national interests both at home and overseas to secure the physical and economic well-being of its people in the global war on terrorism.
Author Joel Sokolsky (Royal Military College of Canada) explains that for over a hundred years Canada and the US have engaged in the “away game,” focusing their naval capabilities overseas, where the threats to their security have originated.
But since 9/11 the US has recognized the importance of playing the “home game” and increased emphasis on guarding continental waters, ports and ocean approaches. The US is still in the process of working out how it will structure and implement this strategic shift, particularly with regard to the roles and missions of its two maritime forces, the US Navy and the US Coast Guard.
Although the Canadian Navy has intervened in fisheries protection and search-and-rescue missions, the terrorist threat and the long-standing and mutually beneficial defence relationship with the US mean it must now, in addition to supplying forces overseas, place even more emphasis on domestic maritime security.
Unlike the US, Canada does not have an armed equivalent to the US Coast Guard. It “must rely on one set of armed forces, one team, for both the home and away games. This is the approach that must be taken in setting Canadian defence policy, especially the determination of the proper roles, missions and equipment for the Canadian Navy,” says Sokolsky.
But he cautions that enhancing the navy’s role in domestic maritime defence should not be used as an excuse to abandon its overseas operations and capabilities.
What does this mean in terms of the navy’s ship improvement and capital acquisition program? Sokolsky presents several options, which all imply funding increases. They include
While much remains to be done, the author recognizes that the government has responded with a comprehensive approach that compares favourably with the widespread efforts undertaken by the US.
“Guarding the Continental Coasts: United States Maritime Homeland Security and Canada” is the latest Policy Matters study to be released as part of IRPP’s National Security and Military Interoperability series. It is now available free of charge, in Adobe (.pdf) format, on the Institute’s Web site, at www.irpp.org.
For more information or to request an interview, please contact the IRPP.
To receive the Institute’s media advisories and news releases via e-mail, please subscribe to the IRPP e-distribution service by visiting its Web site, at www.irpp.org.
Founded in 1972, the Institute for Research in Public Policy (IRPP.org) is an independent, national, nonprofit organization based in Montreal.