Mark Collins – UN Peace Support Operations: Canada’s Back! (into Africa and…)

Further to this post,

Yes, Canadian Forces into Africa: Where, When, How Many? Really Peacekeeping?

we now know numbers (including police) and money but not yet where or when. It is clear that Africa will be the focus of the new commitment(s), though perhaps some troops and police might go to Colombia where peace looks very much like breaking out (see also end of the second quote below). The government was very careful to describe the new effort as “peace operations” with real risks, not “traditional peacekeeping”. Good on them for that. On the other hand the official announcement has lots of touchy-feely, self-congratulatory, soft power wording:

Conflicts today are multifaceted, requiring political, security, development and humanitarian responses brought together under the broad umbrella of “peace operations”. The Government of Canada has already demonstrated its whole-of-government approach to the situation in Iraq and Syria. Today’s approach to peace operations is no different: they demand that we go beyond military roles and work closely with local authorities and a range of international and regional partners.

Canada is devoting an unprecedented $450 million to PSOPs. The new funding will help better protect civilians, including the most vulnerable groups, such as displaced persons, refugees, women and children.

Canada is uniquely placed to provide the very best expertise across the full spectrum of peace operations [emphasis added–why?]. Therefore, Canada’s PSOPs and future contributions will focus more on the areas of early warning, conflict prevention, dialogue, mediation and peacebuilding, and the empowerment of women in decision making for peace and security [BLAH, BLAH, BLAH]…

Canada is back, and that includes its peace missions. Canada is committed to increasing its support for UN peace operations and supporting its mediation efforts, preventing conflicts and engaging in post-conflict reconstruction. This commitment reflects Canada’s deep desire to be a determined peacebuilder and to make a genuine and useful contribution to building a more peaceful and prosperous world…

With a chicken in every pot and a good five-cent cigar. Now a news story:

Liberals commit $450M, up to 600 troops to UN peacekeeping missions
Location for deployments expected to be announced at peacekeeping conference next month

Canada is committing roughly half a billion dollars towards United Nations peace support operations over the next few years, a commitment that includes hundreds of troops and police officers.

The announcement was made by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale at a military air base in Bagotville, Que.

According to a release from Global Affairs Canada [see quote immediately above], the government will commit $450 million to peace operations [over three years] through that department and up to 600 military personnel.

In the last budget, the government also announced $47 million a year for the next three years to deploy up to 150 police officers for international police peacekeeping programs, which is the purview of the RCMP [Minister Goodale said these missions were around 30 percent RCMP personnel and 70 percent provincial/municipal], and a separate $17 million has been set aside for expert deployments at the UN and overseas.

There will also be air transport [might that include armed helicopters?], medical, engineering and training components to Canada’s plan [I believe Minister Sajjan also mentioned ground troops and HQ/command and control personnel (Congo? more here)]…

The government is not committing to specific missions today. That will likely come when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau goes to the UN General Assembly next month.

But sources say the leading candidates for Canadian troop deployments include Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic [emphasis added–the ministers stressed our bilingual advantage which would fit with these francophone, sort of, countries].

The Liberal government was required to make the specific commitment as prerequisite to get into the upcoming international UN peacekeeping conference in London, which will take place in two weeks [Sept. 7-8].

The initial list of countries prepared by conference organizers did not include Canada, said two UN sources with knowledge of the file. The officials could not speak publicly because of the diplomatic sensitivity…

Sajjan recently returned from a five-country scouting mission of possible locations in Africa [lots more here]…

…the UN has…been leaning on Canada to take up a prominent role in the upcoming ceasefire observer mission in Colombia [emphasis added] between the government and rebel forces.

Bibeau visited the South American country earlier this year, and the Trudeau government also committed funds towards de-mining.

At the Three Amigos Summit in Ottawa in June, there was discussion about how Canada and Mexico could work together on peacekeeping in Colombia.

Let’s hope our people can in fact do something useful and effective.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a  Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – “2016 Public Report On The Terrorist Threat To Canada”

Here’s the “Executive Summary” from this year’s report:

Threat Environment

The principal terrorist threat to Canada remains that posed by violent extremists who could be inspired to carry out an attack in Canada. Violent extremist ideologies espoused by terrorist groups like Daesh and al-Qaida continue to appeal to certain individuals in Canada.

As in recent years, the Government of Canada has continued to monitor and respond to the threat of extremist travellers, that is, individuals who are suspected of travelling abroad to engage in terrorism-related activity. The phenomenon of extremist travellers—including those abroad, those who return, and even those prevented from travelling—poses a range of security concerns for Canada. As of the end of 2015, the Government was aware of approximately 180 individuals with a nexus to Canada who were abroad and who were suspected of engaging in terrorism-related activities. The Government was also aware of a further 60 extremist travelers who had returned to Canada.

The National Terrorism Threat Level

This Report, for the first time, includes a description of Canada’s National Terrorism Threat Level system. The threat level has been unchanged since October 2014; it is MEDIUM, meaning a violent act of terrorism could occur in Canada. The threat level aims to ensure a consistent understanding across the Government of the general terrorism threat to Canada. The threat level serves as a tool for government officials, including those in law enforcement, to identify risks and vulnerabilities from threats and, in turn, determine appropriate responses to prevent or mitigate a violent act of terrorism.

The Global Environment

The threat environment has also evolved beyond Canada’s borders. Daesh has continued to dominate the landscape in the Middle East, where other terrorist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and Hizballah also operate. Elsewhere in the Middle East, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has taken advantage of the civil conflict in Yemen to capture territory there and strengthen itself. This past year also saw Daesh’s expansion in Africa, and Boko Haram (now rebranded as an Daesh affiliate in West Africa) continues to pose a major threat to regional stability. In South and Southeast Asia, Daesh expansionism and entrenched regional groups shaped the threat environment.

Emerging Issues

This Report includes a feature on emerging issues in terrorism. These issues—the role of technology in terrorism, the participation of women in terrorist activities, and use of chemical weapons by terrorist organizations—have been widely discussed in the media over the past year. They represent only a fraction of many evolving issues that make terrorism such a complex problem.

Responding to the Threat

Since 2002, 20 individuals have been convicted of terrorism offences under the Criminal Code. Another 21 have been charged with terrorism-related offences (including 16 since January 2015) and are either awaiting trial or have warrants outstanding for their arrest.

Canada is contributing in a robust way, with more than 60 other countries, to the Global Coalition to Counter Daesh. This includes military initiatives and efforts to stem the flow of “foreign terrorist fighters,” cut off Daesh’s funding sources, support stabilization, and expose and counter Daesh’s ideology. More broadly, Canada has maintained a Counter-Terrorism Capacity Building Program as a key part of its terrorism prevention efforts.

The Government of Canada’s counter-terrorism efforts to address this evolving threat continue to be guided by the twin obligations to both keep Canadians safe and safeguard fundamental Canadian values and liberties…

Note this in the “Ministerial Forward“:

It is a serious and unfortunate reality that terrorist groups, most notably the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), use violent extremist propaganda to encourage individuals to support their cause. This group is neither Islamic nor a state, and so will be referred to as Daesh (its Arabic acronym) in this Report…

So the Canadian government is in a position to decide what is “Islamic” and what is not? Plus a good question in a tweet:

One wonders.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Turkey into Syria vs ISIS and Kurds; Chinese Military Help to Assad

Further to this post,

Turkey Update: EU, US, ISIS, Syria (Kurds), Israel

President Erdogan certainly is asserting himself–at at end, Putin must be pleased about their help but not happy about Turks):

– TUR into SYR “More Turkish tanks enter northern Syria, Kurds say”“Turkey sends more tanks to Syria , demands Kurdish fighters retreat”“Some 350 Turkish Troops Deployed in Euphrates Shield Operation in Syria”“Syria operation ‘to protect Turkish, European security’” – “Turkey says has ‘every right to intervene’ if no Syrian Kurd withdrawal”
– “Russia says ‘deeply concerned’ at Turkish operation against Kurds in Syria”“Russia: Syrian crisis must be resolved through talks with all sides, including Kurds”
– “KCK says Turkey aims to attack Kurds in Syria, not ISIS”
“HDP: Turkish incursion into Syria ‘a grave mistake’ that will deepen the crisis”
– “Did the Syrian regime approve the Turkish invasion?”
“Why Turkey has gone after ISIS in Syria”
“Turkey invades Syria. To destroy whom?”
“Terry Glavin: How Barack Obama sold out Syrians to appease Iran”
“Following US Orders, Kurdish Forces Withdraw from Manbij, Other Areas East of Euphrates River”“Turkish-led Forces Gain More Areas near Jarablus amid YPG Withdrawal from Area”“Turkey & USA: Syrian Jarablus Region Must Be Cleared of Kurds”
“Syrian rebels seize town of Jarablus from Islamic State”
CHN into SYR “Chinese military will train Syrian troops”“Chinese military will train Syrian troops: govt”“China military says it is providing medical training for Syria”…

What a maelstrom.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Talk at Ottawa, Sept. 13: “China’s Rising Cyber Power: Assessing the Implications”

An e-mail received from SecDev:

The Canadian International Council (CIC [website here]) National Capital Branch, Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies (CASIS [see end of the post]) and the SecDev Foundation present:

China’s Rising Cyber Power: Assessing the Implications
Tuesday, September 13th

China’s emergence as a major global power is reshaping the cyber domain. The country has the world’s largest internet-user community, a growing economic footprint and increasingly capable military and intelligence services. Harnessing these assets, it is pursuing a patient, assertive foreign policy informed by a growing knowledge of how information and communications technologies are governed and deployed. This policy is likely to have a significant impact, with potentially adverse implications for a global order that has been shaped by Western liberal democracies.

Nigel Inkster will discuss the evolution of China’s cyber power in the wider context of that country’s struggle to achieve modernity and considers the global strategic implications of this new-found power.

Inkster is Director of Future Conflict and Cyber Security at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) where his research portfolio includes transnational terrorism, insurgency, transnational organised crime, cyber security, intelligence and security and the evolving character of conflict. He is also engaged in a variety of para-diplomatic activities on behalf of the UK government including leading a Sino-UK Track 1.5 Cyber Security Dialogue. He is one of the authors of an IISS Strategic Dossier on the Evolution of the Cyber Domain published in 2015, has written a chapter on The Chinese Intelligence Agencies: Evolution and Empowerment in Cyberspace in China and Cyber Security (Oxford University Press 2015) and is the author of an IISS Adelphi book entitled China’s Cyber Power, published in June 2016 by Routledge. Prior to joining IISS, Nigel Inkster served for 31 years in the British Secret intelligence Service (SIS). He had postings in Asia, Latin America and Europe and worked extensively on transnational security issues. He was on the Board of SIS (commonly known as MI6) for seven years, the last two as Assistant Chief and Director for Operations and Intelligence. He is the former Chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Committee on Terrorism and a current member of the WEF Council on Cyber Security.

The talk will draw on Nigel’s recently published book: China’s Cyber Power, copies of which will be available at the event.

This event is supported by the CIC National Capital Branch Intelligence Futures Working Group, and the SecDev Foundation.

Event Information

Date and Time:
Tuesday, September 13, 2016

17:30: Registration, reception and cash bar
18:15: Presentation, discussion
19:30: Dinner (optional)

Rideau room, Sheraton Hotel, 150 Albert Street, Ottawa

Tickets and Registration:
A list of ticket prices and registration can be found here or contact the event administrator by e-mail at or telephone 613-903-4011.

Please notify us in advance of any special dietary requirements.

Deadline for registration and cancellation is noon on Sunday, September 11, 2016.

Buy Your Tickets Now

Very related on CASIS:

Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies: Cyber Symposium, Ottawa, Sept. 23

Cyber, cyber everywhere.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – CIA Releases President’s Daily Briefs for Nixon and Ford (with Canada)

‘Twould be nice if the Canadian government released, also suitably sanitized, our high-level intelligence assessments from decades ago. The PDB items related to Canada are here. A tweet:

Have fun.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Stephen Saideman – NATO’s Enduring Relevance

This post was originally published on August 23rd, 2016 on Saideman’s Semi-Spew:

Twitter and life met this past week. On twitter, folks have been wondering if NATO is relevant again. In life, I was asked by a Canadian government review agency about NATO (not part of the Defence Review), and whether it was relevant for Canada. Despite the criticisms of how NATO operations in our book, I am very much an advocate of NATO. So much so that I went on a twitter rant about how NATO has always been relevant, enumerating some (but probably not all) that NATO has done over the years.

The list includes:

  • Playing a major role in keeping the peace in Europe since World War II.
  • Ended the Bosnian War and kept the peace afterwards
  • Stopped ethnic cleansing in Kosovo
  • Prevented escalation of conflict in Macedonia
  • Monitored US skies (cities during major events) after 9/11 via NATO AWACS planes
  • Counter-terrorism via a NATO fleet in the Mediterranean
  • Held the line in Afghanistan while the US was distracted in Iraq
    • Indeed, American allies did not go to Afghanistan because they cared about the place. They saw it as their chance to help out their ally.
  • Counter-piracy naval operations off of Somalia
  • Fostered civilian control of the military in Eastern Europe after Communism.
  • Training of Afghan troops which continues
  • Training of Iraqi forces
  • Preventing massacres in Libya.
    • The Libyan effort is very controversial–that NATO took a mandate to protect citizens and turned into regime change, but I am not sure how to R2P without removing someone like Qaadafi.
    • Oh, and for those who consider Libya an absolute failure, compare the casualty numbers between Libya and Syria.
  • Deterring Russia from aggressing against the Baltics.

So, NATO was always relevant, but is more obviously so thanks to Putin’s neighborly predations. One question that came up with the DND review agency is whether NATO does anything for Canadian interests such as in the Arctic. My answer: if NATO is not doing much in the Arctic, Canada has much to blame for that. Harper opposed NATO extending any attention to the far north, preferring the Arctic Council and bilateral relations with the US. Trudeau, thus far, has not changed course on that. Perhaps if Canada wanted NATO to be more involved in the Arctic, this would lead to some tough bargaining with Norway, since the Norwegians want all NATO Arctic stuff to go through them. Still, Canada can’t complain about something it didn’t want not happening.

Stephen Saideman is a Fellow and the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, and the Paterson Chair in International Affairs at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs

Mark Collins – World Needs More 1980s Canada, UK High Commission Views

Who needs Wikileaks anyway? One fears there is too much truth in this British diplomatic reporting for a lot of Canadians to acknowledge. One point: I was in External Affairs (the good old name, still reflecting nostalgic Commonwealth thoughts) at the time and do not recall any undue francophone influence in the Department:

Files show what U.K. diplomats really thought of 1980s Canada…

[Globe and Mail] European correspondent Paul Waldie digs through newly declassified documents whose undiplomatic language paints a clearer picture of how Mulroney’s rise and Canada’s political upheaval were perceived behind the scenes

The British government viewed Brian Mulroney as “glib,” “superficial” and “almost paranoid” in the months leading up to him becoming prime minister in 1984 while outgoing prime minister Pierre Trudeau was seen as “bloodless” and “over-intellectual.”

The assessments are contained in thousands of confidential documents from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office dating back to 1984. The files are being released Wednesday [Aug. 24] by Britain’s National Archives under legislation that declassifies government documents after 30 years [see the Archives’ webpage here]…

The FCO clearly kept a close watch. The files include a lengthy report titled “leading personalities in Canada” which contains personal details and frank assessments about prime ministers, premiers, the chief justice, civil servants and business people…

Canada’s diplomatic corps…comes in for some harsh treatment in a report to the British foreign secretary from the high commissioner in Ottawa, John Wilson, the Second Baron of Moran. The Department of External Affairs was once “widely respected in the world,” Lord Moran wrote, but it had “undergone changes which are converting it all too rapidly into a huge, sluggish bureaucratic conglomerate, dominated by a French-Canadian mafia, ignorant of diplomacy, who have pushed aside the leading English-speaking professionals.”

Several files commented on Britain’s relations with Canada. One noted that Canada has a hard time fitting in internationally as Britain grows closer to Europe and Europe deals mainly with the United States. As a result, Canada has “difficulty in finding any team that will recognize them as full playing members [NATO? G7?],” it said…

Mr. Trudeau also comes in for criticism. In late 1983, he embarked on a peace initiative to lessen tensions between the East and West. The files show that his actions were followed closely by Britain, particularly his trips to Eastern Europe. Several memos referred to the initiative as “regrettable” and “unwelcome” [IT CERTAINLY WAS] and one criticized Mr. Trudeau for not consulting Britain and other allies. “It was not really surprising that those proposals got a dusty reception in Paris, Peking, Washington and London,” wrote Lord Moran…

During a lunch at 24 Sussex Dr. in June, 1984, former British high commissioner John Wilson said Mr. Trudeau, who was in his final days as prime minister, spoke “almost entirely about French Canada, French Canadians, the Jesuits, the Oblates and their respective methods of education, etc. It reminded us once more what a different world even Federal French Canadians inhabit, and how they still feel themselves an embattled minority.”..

Even more deux nations these days.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – No Mo’ Further Generation US Manned Fighters?

Further to this post (note later “Comments”),

USAF “Officers Give New Details for F-35 in War With China”

an extensive and thought-making piece at The National Interest:

Why America Shouldn’t Build Sixth-Generation Manned Fighters


F-35, or “Do Joint Fighter Programs Save Money?”, Part 3 (plus USN F/A-XX

6th Generation USAF, USN Fighters: Don’t Try Joint Like F-35

What USAF Sixth-Generation Fighter?

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Canada: “Time to get serious about cyber security”

A theme I have been stressing for quite some time–further to these posts,

Time For Canadian Government to Get Really Cyber Serious–But It’s Not

Offensive Cyber Capability for Canadian Forces? Is the New Government Cyber Serious?
[note links at start]

more on the sorry state of Canadian preparedness from those who know, at Vanguard magazine:

The upcoming Defence Policy Review is an excellent opportunity for Canada to address cybersecurity gaps that pose serious risks to our country’s military and government computer networks and infrastructure.

While the incidence of state-backed cyber attacks on national and commercial computer systems of our allies has increased in recent years, it is frightening to realize that Canada’s cyber defences appear to have been largely neglected, according to two former high-ranking officials of the Canadian Security Intelligence Services (CSIS) who spoke with Vanguard recently.

Duct tape approach

“I don’t see Canada spending enough on cyber defence…it’s still a hodge-podge, duct tape approach. There’s a definite need for a cyber-strategy review,” says Ray Boisvert, who built a 30-year career in both operational and executive roles with CSIS before retiring as its assistant director if intelligence in 2012. Since then, Boisvert has become the president and CEO of security firm I-Sec Integrated Strategies [see here] and more recently a senior associate at Hill and Knowlton Strategies Canada [see here–Mr Boisvert frequently appears on the CBC].

“The country’s cyber defence budget is very, very small compared to that of conventional warfare,” he laments.

Boisvert also says there’s a glaring lack of strategy and clarity of who is responsible for what when it comes to preventing and dealing with cyber attacks [emphasis added] leading to the impressions that Canada has been “a little complacent” and adopting a “stand by and watch other” posture on cyber…

In his recent essay on cyber security for the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, Major-General John Adams (Ret’d) [head of Canada’s SIGINT–and government communications security–agency, CSE, from 2005 to 2012] traces Canada’s cyber security gaps to the fact that “cyber attacks were not on the table” when the existing cyber strategy was being mapped out [the essay is here; Mr Adams is a  CGAI Fellow].

“The government of Canada has responded to cyber exploitations with its Cyber Security Strategy.11 Published in 2010, the strategy is noteworthy for the fact that it limits itself to strengthening the government’s capability to detect, deter and defend against cyber attacks while deploying cyber technology to advance Canada’s economic and national security interests [more here in late 2015 from the government on what it’s been doing–busy but effective?].” He wrote. “It did not militarize cyber security, it was limited to specifying that the Canadian Armed Forces were to strengthen their capacity to defend their own networks, work with other government departments to identify threats to their networks and possible responses, and continue to exchange information about cyber best practices with allied militaries [see the Germans: “Bundeswehr Getting Cyber Serious“].”

Canada’s cyber security deficit
Strategically responding to cyber threats

Adams also noted that a more aggressive approach “would have been ill-advised in 2010” because the concept of cyber war had not yet sufficiently matured.

However, he says, a lot has changed since 2010 and cyberspace have “become the centre of gravity for the globalize world” embracing economic, financial, diplomatic and military operations.

Today, he says, cyber war means disrupting or destroying information and communications systems in order to threaten a state’s sovereignty as well as gathering as much information about an adversary while keeping that adversary oblivious to the data gathering…

We have a whole lot of catching up to do. Meanwhile down south:

President Obama Issues Cyber Directive

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


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