Blog Mar 03, 2022

New Security Threats Require Deeper Canada-U.S. Defence Industrial Integration


By Calian Group

Canada and United States have a long history of cooperation for our mutual safety and security. NORAD has been a major pillar of continental security since it was founded in 1957. New threats like climate change and cyber attacks expands the range of challenges we face.  Canada and the United States both feel the impacts of these threats, emphasizing the importance of collaboration and the need to foster more of it, not less. This means re-visiting strategic level cooperation, improving  procurement integration to maximize benefits to companies on both sides of the border, and improving supply chain integration.

Strategic level cooperation should be modernized to reflect the contemporary challenges that Canada and the United States face. Through our NORAD relationship, we collaborate to protect the maritime and aerospace approaches to North America. Modernizing the Northern Warning System (NWS) will improve NORAD’s monitoring and surveillance capability. The same satellite and surveillance systems that monitor the arctic can also be used to monitor the impacts of climate change by tracking changes to ice floes and zones of arable land. These systems can also be used in times of natural disaster – floods, fires, earthquakes – to help decision-makers prioritize response activities. Climate change represents a threat that cannot be contained across borders or kept out of North America. 

Cyber threats are also a clear challenge to both Canada and the United States. Strategic level cooperation means putting greater emphasis on defending against cyber attacks and responding to them. This can mean defending against attacks on national security networks and defending against emerging threats to things like healthcare, transit systems, municipalities, and power generation stations.

Integration of Canadian and American companies into a continental defence industrial base would greatly improve opportunities for innovation, and would improve supply chain resilience. Treating the Canadian and American defence industrial bases as a continental industrial base will enable greater opportunity for innovation and commercialization. Innovation and research and development (R&D) creates a virtuous circle for commercialization of new technologies through iterative improvement. New technologies will help Canada and United States maintain an advantage over adversaries and bring export growth potential for Canadian companies.

The need to improve integration of the supply chain has been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our supply chains are deeply interconnected and intertwined, and this includes the defence industrial base. Canadian companies deliver key systems and components to American defence producers. Canada is a secure, reliable link in the continental defence industrial supply chain. The American government should include the defence industrial base as part of the year-long review of its supply chain policy.  Greater integration of defence industrial supply chains will reduce the risk of shortage in systems, components, and spares.  The threats facing both Canada and the United States requires more collaboration, not less.  The time is now to build capabilities for the security and benefit of both nations.