Deep Military Integration: Towards a North American Combined Military Force
by Dana Gabriel
February 7, 2012
The U.S. and Canada recently signed several bilateral agreements that will further strengthen continental security and defense cooperation. Deeper military integration between both countries is part of efforts to establish a North American security perimeter and better address common global threats.
Following the recent Permanent Joint Board on Defense (PJBD) meeting which took place in Ottawa, the Commander of Canada Command, Lt.-Gen Walter Semianiw and the Commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), Gen. Charles Jacoby, Jr. signed three military documents. The first was the Combined Defense Plan which a backgrounder described as a, “planning framework between Canada Command, its counterpart USNORTHCOM, and NORAD for enhanced defense cooperation between Canada and the U.S. should governments require each other’s assistance.” The second is the Information Sharing Memorandum of Understanding, “an arrangement between Canada Command, its counterpart USNORTHCOM and NORAD to identify and provide for ease of sharing information amongst the three organizations.” The Civil Assistance Plan, which was originally signed in 2008 and allows the armed forces of one nation to support the other during an emergency was also renewed for two years.
Lee Berthiaume of Postmedia News reported that, “The Combined Defense Plan has been under discussion for several years and would further integrate cross-border military co-operation at a time when the Harper government is trying to reassure Washington it has a reliable partner in Canada when it comes to security.” Defense Minister Peter MacKay is quoted as saying, “This agreement provides a framework for the combined defense of Canada and the U.S. during peace, contingencies, and war.” He added, “The plan describes the authorities and means by which the two governments would approve homeland military operations in the event of a mutually agreed threat, and how our two militaries would collaborate and share information.” In his speech in front of the PJBD, Minister MacKay also called for, “increased military involvement implementing the Beyond the Border strategy, saying the Canadian Forces and its American counterparts should be supporting civilian agencies monitoring the cross-border security.” Also on the agenda at the defense forum was security cooperation in the Arctic, along with Canadian and U.S. engagement in the Western Hemisphere.