High expectations as Canada prepares to unveil North American defense aging plans

Expectations are rising as Defense Minister Ottawa-Anita Anand prepares to announce a federal government plan to strengthen the dilapidated defenses of North America, which became more important only in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. ..

The announcement at the Ontario Air Force Base on Monday morning was among a number of warnings from U.S. and Canadian military personnel and experts about the status of Norad, a shared early warning defense network that is a terrible indication of its age. It is done.

First founded in the 1950s, Anand has promised a powerful investment package for system upgrades responsible for detecting air and sea threats to North America, including missiles and aircraft.

These promises were repeated earlier this month when Anand and Justin Trudeau visited Colorado Springs’ headquarters in Colorado, but neither provided specific details at the time.

The free government just said that some of the $ 8 billion new military funding in the federal budget for April will be spent on Norad, which is expected to include a new long-range radar system capable of detecting threats passing through the Arctic Circle. is.

Anand should also eventually join the United States for Canada to actively defend against intercontinental ballistic missiles after Ottawa became famous for opting out of a controversial program in 2005. He said the government is considering whether or not.

Still, everything so far comes from the Canadian side, as the United States is making progress in several ways, including new missile interceptors and artificial intelligence to merge data from a variety of different sources to detect attacks. It has been mainly spoken.

Instead, Anand said the threat of long-range missiles and the importance of four key principles: situational awareness, command and control, research and development, and understanding of potential threats to North America continue.

There was a question about how much the whole effort would cost. Most experts predict that price tags will be in the billions of dollars, with Canada accounting for 40 percent of the total.

Andrea Charron, an associate professor at the University of Manitoba and one of Canada’s top experts in Norad, said the lack of concrete Canadian action has not been overlooked in Washington. This is especially true given Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“They need Canada to do certain things,” Charron said. “And before they can be patient,” well, it will come, “I think they are at the end of their patience. “

The heightened impatience has been shown during several high-level visits to Ottawa by US officials and a parliamentary inquiry in Washington, Charlon said.

When asked about Canada’s involvement in Canada’s continental defense at such a hearing in March, US Army General Glenn Vanhelk, commander of Norad, said Ottawa was “in the process of decision-making.” He added: “

Van Helk had previously said he was waiting for political directions on Norad’s modernization when he visited the Canadian capital in November, including what to do with a series of 1980s radars known as the Arctic Warning System in the Arctic Circle. Was saying.

Last summer, then Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan and U.S. counterpart Lloyd Austin commit to several priorities, including maintaining the North Warning System until a new long-range radar system is built. I made a statement.

Earlier this year, Canada’s Department of National Defense was briefed on plans to build a cross-cutting system that could detect threats from the Arctic Circle approaching cities in North America. Radar based in southern Canada is expected to cost $ 1 billion.

Former General Tom Lawson, who was Deputy Commander of Norad before serving as Chief of Canada’s Defense Staff from 2012-15, said the replacement of the North Warning System is one of several areas of continental defense that requires investment. Said that.

But at this point, he said any move would be welcomed after years of discussion.

“I’m a happy man with the announcement of an additional $ 1 billion or $ 2 billion investment over the next five years.”

By Lee Berthiaume

Canadian press