Expanded Military Cooperation in the Western Hemisphere

By Gaines, George P. | DISAM Journal, July 2007 | Go to article overview

Expanded Military Cooperation in the Western Hemisphere


Gaines, George P., DISAM Journal


Introduction

Canada and the United States have been on an historic journey for over forth- eight years. For almost five decades, they have ensured the aerospace sovereignty of North America, and in May 2006, they expanded their efforts to maritime warning. Recognizing the broader global aspects of 21st Century threats, the two nations are also weighing possibilities for expanded membership in the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). Our leaders have repeatedly underscored the importance of international cooperation for homeland security, and the primary focus has been the asymmetric threat. At the same time, the United States finds itself at war. This wartime condition has, and will continue to have a strong effect on the entire neighborhood.

In the spirit of a neighborhood watch, the nations of our hemisphere have a great opportunity to create a set of new relationships that build on the strengths and benefit from the challenges of earlier times. By changing the lenses we have looked through for generations, we can develop processes and procedures to reduce the inter-domain, interagency and inter-modal gaps that currently exist in our defenses.

There are a number of ways to address these new relationships. Whichever approach we take must acknowledge all members as equal partners. In that light, this paper will review the strategic environment, look at some assumptions, and offer alternatives regarding how Canada, the United States and other neighbors might work together to improve military cooperation in the defense of our neighborhood.

Strategic Environment

At the end of the Cold War, we witnessed dramatic changes in the geostrategic environment which shifted the focus of North American aerospace defense. The traditional Cold War threat has altered, both in terms of the nations or groups that might choose to challenge North American security and the weapons that could be employed. Strategic arms reduction treaties and other arms control initiatives hold the promise of deep cuts in strategic ballistic missile nuclear forces. However, large residual nuclear arsenals capable of striking North America will still exist after programmed reductions are made. Meanwhile, other nations are covertly attempting to acquire nuclear- capable ballistic missiles and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, represented another dramatic change in the geostrategic environment for North American security. The overall threat to the North American continent from the aerospace, space, land, sea, and cyber domains has greatly increased, and the proliferation of WMD and their delivery systems to state and non-state actors has emerged as a major security challenge. This evolution has introduced the threat of asymmetric activities that have the additional potential to affect the decision-making processes associated with the defense of North America. Additionally, the proliferation of cruise missile technology, unmanned aerial systems, and non-military air activity associated with drug trafficking and other illegal activities is of continuing concern.

Domestically, the overall volume of air traffic flowing daily to, from, and within our airspace will continue to expand and will dictate an even higher degree of coordination between our national airspace surveillance-and-control systems and their military components. The wide range of threats to our continent coming from the seas and major waterways, plus the issue of cyber security will also pose significant problems. Finally, our vast and open borders will require both a closer level of cooperation between land forces and facilitation of military-to-military defense support to civil authorities.

Organization

Today, there are three strategic headquarters (HQ) immediately concerned with the defense of North America:

* NORAD a bi-national Canadian and the United States (CANUS) command

* Canada Command (CANADA COM) a Canadian only command

* United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) a U.

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