In today’s complex and dynamic threat environment, military leaders must effectively employ limited resources to execute their country’s national security strategy. Proceedings asked sea-service commanders around the world: It is often said that a nation’s national defense decisions are ultimately derived from its own sovereign interests. Given this presumption, what are the global trends that most influence your national security decision making and how does your navy use its operating policies, alliances, and partnerships to address these trends?
Vice-Admiral Mark Norman
The Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) believes that ocean politics will continue to intensify in the coming decades of this century, the result of global trends and drivers that are not only reshaping the maritime domain into a more complex and competitive geopolitical space, but that may eventually alter the legal and political foundations on which the maritime order is built.
That maritime order, embodied in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, has benefited few countries more than Canada. As Prime Minister Stephen Harper declared in 2010, “Canada’s economy floats on salt water”—recognition that our interests are closely tied to the security of the world’s oceans. Maritime security has emerged as an important global issue, even as strategic cooperation by the world’s navies has evolved from a matter of choice toward a matter of necessity to create new opportunities to partner at sea.
In our own hemisphere, for example, the RCN has significantly increased its contributions to the Joint Interagency Task Force South in support of the regional drug-interdiction effort. Working with the Chilean Navy, we have provided modest levels of support to other regional partners that are building their capacity to patrol their own waters, even as we reach out to other navies through important regional exercises such as the Panamax and Unitas series. Likewise, in the Arctic, we have invited fellow members of the Arctic Council to observe the Nanook series of maritime security exercises as we steadily build our competencies for Arctic operations.
Elsewhere, we deployed the frigate HMCS Toronto for much of 2013 with the multinational Combined Task Force 150, where she registered a string of successful interdictions in contributing to the regional counter-terrorism effort. At press time, HMCS Regina will have replaced Toronto on patrol.
Among our closest defense partners, strategic cooperation continues to drive our requirements for high levels of technical and tactical interoperability to ensure our forces will be able to work alongside one another in a battlespace that is becoming increasingly networked, joint, and integrated. All this is possible not only through complex and realistic exercises at sea, but also through arrangements by which we exchange personnel, share intelligence, collaborate in maritime research and development, develop our tactics, and collaborate in defense production.