Vice Admiral Mark Norman
As Canada’s closest ally lives next door, to a great extent continental and national security are intertwined. This linkage has fostered a close partnership between the U.S. Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) that serves the maritime-security interests of both countries. This relationship will continue to grow. Nevertheless, global trends and the rise of new threats, as well as heightened awareness of the strategic importance of Canada’s Arctic, will present a significant challenge for the RCN. Canada’s strategic interests are best served by a rules-based international order, including respect for the freedom of the seas. It is essential that the RCN be able to make an effective contribution (with like-minded allies or partners) if such principles are threatened.
In an uncertain international security environment, the RCN will need to preserve core combat capabilities for maritime operations both at home and abroad and also look to new competencies and capabilities for future operations in the littorals. Maritime issues are expected to grow in strategic importance and the demand for naval power worldwide is likely to increase. Thus, as a modest navy, the RCN will have to explore innovative ways to generate additional maritime effect.
For the RCN, effectiveness in operations at sea hinges on a network of strong relationships cultivated with our allies and partners at home and abroad. Strategic cooperation continues to drive our requirements for high levels of interoperability to ensure our forces will be able to work alongside one another in an operating environment that is becoming increasingly joint, combined, and whole-of-government in nature. These relationships are built and sustained not only through complex and realistic exercises at sea but also through arrangements by which we exchange personnel, share information and intelligence, collaborate in maritime research and development, collectively develop our tactics, and collaborate in defining future requirements and capability acquisition.
In short, relationships matter. Close to home, the RCN will partner with the Canadian Coast Guard, other Canadian government departments, and navies and agencies of the United States and other Arctic nations to ensure mutual security of Canada and the broader Arctic is maintained as the navigation season grows longer. Further afield, the RCN will continue to be engaged in coalitions with like-minded nations to defend the sovereignty of allies and ensure regional maritime security—at sea and from the sea. To these ends, the RCN is considering higher levels of forward-deployed presence for our frigates and submarines to encompass areas of strategic interest beyond our traditional focus of operations in the Arabian Sea, such as Europe and the Asia-Pacific. Establishing operating and supporting arrangements with our closest regional partners will ensure that the RCN is best positioned to achieve strategic effect well into the future.