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Government Seeks Public Input to Shape Defence Policy Update

Voice your opinions about your Canadian military during public consultations the Department of National Defence (DND) and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is currently undertaking to shape the Defence Policy Update.

From now until April 30, DND and CAF are launching public consultations with all Canadians to enhance the current Strong, Secure, Engaged defence policy, as announced by Budget 2022.

The timing of the consultations aligns with the CAF’s efforts to recruit and retain more members while faced with International threats like the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“This review of Canada’s defence policy is being undertaken as we continue to move forward on, and build upon, our already-announced defence priorities,” stated a DND press release.

Strong Secure Engaged (SSE)

The current consultations are meant to enhance Canada’s defence policy to ensure that the CAF is “ready, resilient, and relevant to meet any threat in this changed global security environment.”

The SSE was launched in 2017 and is a twenty-year plan for the Government of Canada to create a robust CAF. The policy outlines different capabilities, equipment, and cultural changes the CAF must acquire to fulfil its job to protect Canadians.

However, according to DND, an update to this policy is needed because of the current geopolitical environment.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has changed the threat landscape, as have increased cyber threats, Russian and Chinese military modernization, the increased presence of non-traditional actors in conflict, the acceleration and intensification of climate change, and Canadian Armed Forces’ increased role in domestic crisis response,” stated a DND press release.

An updated policy ensures that the CAF is effective and ready to deal with various threats while also creating a welcoming culture for Canadians of all backgrounds.

How to Voice Your Opinion

Consultations will be conducted through a variety of means, including roundtable discussions with industry leaders, Canadian defence and security companies, and defence and security experts like academics. DND will also seek input from Members of Parliament and Senators and reach out to Indigenous community leaders.

Additionally, Canada’s military will also continue to seek the input of NATO allies, NORAD officials, Five Eyes representatives and international partners.

According to DND, all Canadian members of the public are also welcome to voice their opinions through a new web platform.

Five Main Areas of Focus

The five main areas of focus for the updated policy review, where DND is looking for input, are

  • supporting our people;
  • building organizational capacity;
  • maintaining and adapting the essential capabilities of the CAF;
  • upgrading continent and Arctic defences; and
  • capabilities needed for modern conflict.

The Defence Policy Update (DPU) will also look into how the CAF can support Canadians here at home in the face of climate change while trying to reduce their own impact.

“This input will be crucial to updating Canada’s defence policy, and to ensuring that our country is prepared to respond to new and emerging threats in the current geopolitical landscape – all while creating economic opportunities and jobs for Canadians,” noted DND.

Despite opening up public consultations for the DPU, the CAF and DND began reshaping the defence policy months ago. In fact, some of the areas of change have already been rolled out.

Important Changes Rolled Out

A number of announcements have been made over the last few months outlining various funding being poured in making the CAF a more robust military.

Some of these announcements include:
  • An investment of $38.6 billion to modernize NORAD over the next 20 years;
  • The addition of six new Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships;
  • Enhanced surveillance and intelligence capabilities for the Arctic;
  • An investment of $8 billion over the next five years in new defence spending;
  • The new Indo-Pacific Strategy to increase the CAF’s presence in the region through more training, exercises and deployments.

Supporting Allies a Continued Must

According to DND, the DPU will continue to build on the CAF’s contributions to its European Allies. The main focus of these are under Operation UNIFIER and Operation REASSURANCE.

Under Operation UNIFIER, Canada continues to train members of Ukraine’s security forces. To date, the CAF has trained 35,000 people. Canada has also committed more than $1 billion in military aid to Ukraine.

Under Operation REASSURANCE, Canada has worked to strengthen NATO’s European Flank.

Continuing Cultural Change

The CAF, additionally, will also continue to implement changes to recompose culture within the organization. This includes ongoing initiatives under the directives former Supreme Court Justice Louise Arbour issued in the Independent External Comprehensive Review. All 48 recommendations were then accepted, and the Minister of Defence presented a plan to Parliament in December 2022.

It also includes work on the Directive for CAF Reconstitution, Retention Strategy.

To learn more about DPU and provide comments, visit here.

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Mishall Rehman

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Mishall is a freelance journalist pursuing her passion for writing in her new homeland Canada. She currently lives in Trenton, ON with her husband.

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