Vanguard Magazine

Vanguard December2021/January2022

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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Page 26 of 43

the North American partners must also consider Chinese interest in Arctic wa- ters. Academics are now pointing to the potential threat of Chinese submarine operations in the Arctic Ocean, using the region to interdict allied shipping or as a strategic basin in which to deploy ballistic missile submarines. Speaking to the Arctic Council in 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo highlighted "China's pattern of aggressive behavior elsewhere" and – men- tioning submarines – asked "do we want the Arctic Ocean to transform into a new South China Sea, fraught with militariza- tion and competing territorial claims?" While such a presence is hypothetical (and perhaps unlikely), it is of sufficient con- cern to warrant a place in the US Navy's Arctic Strategy. Equally concerning is the evolution of hybrid threats. Unconventional security threats – from environmental degradation and criminal action to trespassing and major disasters – have dominated Canadian Arctic security thinking for decades. Today, North Americans must anticipate state-sanctioned threats the likes of which are manifesting themselves across the globe. In recent years China has deployed its civilian fishing fleets and maritime militia to achieve state objec- tives with a degree of plausible deniability, with the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) left in the background as an im- plicit threat. In the Arctic, China may again employ these assets – working in a grey zone between traditional war and genuine peace. In the South China Sea that might mean a 'civilian' ship ramming the Viet- namese Coast Guard. In the Arctic it might be Chinese fishing trawlers illegally harvest- ing or blocking or harassing the fleets of other states. Whether it is the kinetic threats posited by O'Shaughnessy and Fesler or uncon- ventional dangers, the need for a compre- hensive maritime picture will continue to increase. The technology needed to col- lect, deliver, and fuse this data into usable information is still under consideration but will include the harmonization of surface radar, under-sea(ice) acoustic detection, and satellite surveillance. Today, Canada's RADARSAT constellation provides only episodic coverage while its subsurface re- search and development hit serious prob- lems in the Northern Watch project. Arc- tic capable platforms are also few – though that is changing with the deployment of the Harry DeWolf-class Arctic and Off- shore Patrol Vessels. North American defence involves responsibilities distributed between the United States and Canada. Both the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of National Defence (DND) share a variety of strategic missions overseen by NORAD. DECEMBER 2021/JANUARY 2022 27 NORAD nal threats to the continent. In practice, however, this mission was never fully de- veloped and the maritime realm remained largely a paper tasking, unfamiliar and un- derprioritized in NORAD headquarters. In a global security dynamic defined by terrorism and peace enforcement opera- tions, the Arctic maritime realm was never going to be a priority. With Great Power Competition now elevated to the top of the threat environment, modernization of NORAD and North American defence have additional pressure to manage. No longer a protective glacis, the maritime Arctic is once more conceived as a poten- tial avenue of attack. In their 2020 article "Hardening the Shield," former NORAD Commander Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy and Deputy Director Ops Peter M. Fes- ler anticipate new Russian and Chinese submarine (and aerospace) threats based on the latest generation of cruise missile technology. In practice, this could mean ultra-quiet nuclear-powered submarines striking key logistics hubs or command and control nodes in North America from several thousand miles away. To accentu- ate this point, O'Shaughnessy and Fesler point to rehearsals now underway in the approaches to the continent. Apart from the familiar Russian threat, U.S. Air Force F-16s, Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18, and U.S. Air Force F-22 join up with a U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress in the vicinity of the Beaufort Sea during North American Aerospace Defense Command's Arctic air defense exercise, Amalgam Dart 21-2, March 24, 2021. (Photo credit: RCAF)

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