Your Silence Will Not Protect You

- jim Young

“Currently, the North Warning System cannot identify and track Russian long-range bombers prior to their missile-launch points or their overflights of the Arctic region.” - Commodore Jamie Clarke 2020 

Just over a week ago, Russia flew 4 bombers close to Alaska. They never entered U.S. or Canadian air space but they weren’t exactly in Russian air space either.

Russian Tu-95 Strategic Bomber

“‘The flight was carried out in strict accordance with international rules for the use of airspace,’ said Lieutenant General Sergei Kobylash, Commander of Russian long–range aviation."¹

Were they just out for a friendly little fly-by to say “Hi” and make sure everything’s okay here in North America? Wouldn’t you think their presence might be a little more pressing in the Ukraine these days? Not that I am trying to encourage them, mind you, but it does make me a little curious as to what they might be up to.

“President Vladimir Putin in 2007 revived the Soviet-era practice of sending strategic bombers on regular patrols beyond Russia's borders.”¹

Do we still have the DEW line up and running these days? You remember the Distant Early Warning Line that was introduced as a joint effort by Canada and the United States in 1957. The DEW line, which became known as the North Warning System in 1985, was intended to be a safeguard against invasion by the Russians during the Cold War.

So we can all rest assured knowing that the North Warning System is keeping us safe from enemies from Russian invasion.

Or can we?

Just how effective is the North Warning System these days? Well, for starters, they did detect those 4 Russian bombers a week ago AND 2 more, two days later. So there’s that.

But is that enough? Some think not.

As early as four years ago in 2020, Commodore Jamie Clarke, deputy director of strategy at the North American Aerospace Defence Command, warned Global News that outdated equipment used by NORAD would not provide enough warning to “identify and track long-range Russian bombers before they are close enough to launch missiles at the continent.”²

Under most circumstances a lot can be accomplished in four years but not always when the government is involved. Here is a little timeline I have created on some things that have happened in the past four years in an attempt to correct this situation. 

You can decide for yourself if you think your Canadian Government is doing enough to protect its citizens. 

2021

Canadian Defence Minister Anita Anand received a mandate from Prime Minister Trudeau to "work with the United States to modernize the North American Aerospace Defence Command.”³

June 20, 2022

CFP Trenton: Anand announced a “five-point NORAD modernization plan that is estimated to cost approximately $40 billion over twenty years.”³

Anita Anad at CFB Trenton 2022

“This represents the most significant upgrade to Canada's NORAD capabilities in almost four decades.

The minister announced $4.9B on a cash basis for the first six years, and $38.6B over twenty years on an accrual basis.

The incremental funding for the first six years of NORAD modernization comes from existing, previously announced funding. Planning for NORAD modernization has been underway for several years, and the Government of Canada previously announced funding for elements of continental defence and NORAD modernization in Budget 2022.

Specific investments will include, among other initiatives, new radar stations, command and control upgrades, additional air-to-air refueling aircraft, advanced air-to-air missiles for fighter jets, upgrades to Canadian Armed Forces’ infrastructure in the North, and additional funding to complete and augment key space projects.”

June 22, 2022

CBC News printed an article titled “NORAD upgrades a 'good move' for northern security, says Nunavut MP”. In this article Rob Huebert, a northern defence analyst at the University of Calgary spoke about how some of these upgrades would be implemented in some of Canada’s northernmost communities. Huebert expressed concerns, noting, “It’s not clear when any of this work will be done.”

"Are they going to follow through with quick action or are we going to be seeing more delays as, say, in the case of the building of the deep water refueling site at Nanisivik?" Huebert said.

"Hopefully, given the dangerous nature of the threat, we will be moving fast… But once again, the track record isn't great on that."

August 24, 2022

Labrador: “Anand confirmed that CFB Goose Bay would be one of four northern locations to receive basing upgrades under the $15.68 billion allocated for infrastructure upgrades in Canada's NORAD modernization plan.”³

January 9, 2023

“Anand announced that Canada had finalized the acquisition of 88 Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter jets for the Royal Canadian Air Force. In a statement, Anand said, ‘As the rules-based international order is challenged around the world, the F-35 will be essential for protecting Canadians, enhancing Arctic security and national sovereignty, and enabling Canada to meet its NATO, NORAD and other obligations well into the future.’”³

April 19, 2023

U.S. Pentagon documents allegedly criticize Canada’s military readiness claiming Prime Minister Trudeau told NATO officials that Canada will never reach the military spending target agreed to by members of NATO. 


The document goes on to suggest that several NATO allies have doubts that Canada can continue to meet their commitments in the Ukraine and Latvia while Turkey and Haiti are disappointed in Canada’s lack of aid in those countries.

Meanwhile, the “U.S. is seeking a faster modernization of Arctic defence technology.”

April 2023

The House of Commons released a report titled “A Secure And Sovereign Arctic” which reads in part: 

“It (the Auditor General’s report) identified “significant risks” that there will be gaps in the country’s surveillance and patrolling of, as well as presence in, the Arctic in the coming decade as a result of equipment reaching the end of its useful service life before replacements become available. 

As well, the report concluded that infrastructure improvement projects in the Arctic are behind schedule, are rising in cost and have limited capabilities.

Recognizing the extent to which ‘effective surveillance in the Arctic relies on marine vessels, aircraft and satellites,’ Auditor General Hogan discussed the audit’s finding that ‘much of this equipment is old and its renewal has been delayed to the point that some equipment will likely need to be retired before it can be replaced.’ She warned that the timeline for replacing some of this equipment – especially icebreakers, patrol aircraft and satellites – is ‘many years away.’”

While it’s easy enough to find information on proposed Canadian Defence Budgets, I have found very few published reports on if and how these budgets are actually carried out.

Because here’s the thing. It’s all very well and fine to create even a simple household budget but as any housewife (or househusband) well knows, actually sticking to the budget is quite another matter.

Can you imagine then what it must be like trying to effectively manage a MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR BUDGET? 

“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men Gang aft agley,” - Robert Burns

Perhaps we need some kind of score card on things like this that will better help Candians keep track of the effectiveness of our government officials when it comes time to visit the voting booths.

- 30 -

Footnotes

¹ Reuters

² Global News

³ Wikipedia

⁴ Government of Canada Website

⁵ CBC News

⁶ Radio Canada International

⁷ House of Commons Canada Website


Comments

  1. From what I have read Jim, this should be a concern to all Canadians as well as the US. Updating the facilities at NORAD should be a priority . Specially in this uncertain world we live in.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your feedback Michael C. I hope you will share this with others that you think might be interested.

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