Military calls on industry to help it beef up cyber-warfare capabilities

Courtney Symons
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The Canadian Forces recognize the importance of working with industry to ensure Canada’s future as a safe and secure nation, said a senior Canadian defence staff member on Wednesday at the opening of CANSEC, Ottawa’s annual defence and security conference.

Bruce Donaldson, vice-admiral and vice-chief of the defence staff.

"We need industry to work with us on developmental projects to create capabilities that do not yet exist, but that will give us the flexibility and the agility to face threats that could come our way in the security environment of the next decades," said Bruce Donaldson, vice-admiral and vice-chief of the defence staff.

It's not only equipment and vehicles that the military is interested in – increasingly, technology is important to remain current and to ensure security against cyber attacks.

"To grapple with cyber-challenges, the Canadian Forces will need not only technological fixes, but also the right people – and that means a specialized cadre of cyber warriors," he said. "We'll have to work with Canadian universities and the companies that produce the systems, the equipment, the software and the expertise that these specialised personnel will depend on to do their jobs."

The Canadian Forces have adopted an "off-the-shelf" procurement strategy as well as attempted to fast-track purchasing in recent years with a "procurement transformation" process designed to reduce acquisition cycle time and streamline the procedure.

Even as the combat mission in Afghanistan comes to an end, there is still a need to stay abreast of new defence and security technology and improve procurement policies, Mr. Donaldson said.

"We can't really be sure of anything in this context, except that the Canadian Forces will almost certainly be called upon to conduct another major operation at some point in the not too distant future," he told hundreds of attendees gathering for breakfast before the exhibition hall opened.

To prepare itself for future missions, Canada's military is getting rid of older equipment, such as the air defence anti-tank systems, and investing in the renewal of core equipment fleets, Mr. Donaldson said.

Previously, three separate arms existed to employ staff, but they will soon be integrated into one structure called the Canadian Joint Operations Command, to save money and increase efficiency.

The three previous arms were Canada Command, responsible for domestic and continental operations; the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command, in charge of overseas missions; and the Canadian Operational Support Command, which provides logistical support for operations.

"This integration will translate into greater efficiencies and effectiveness by allowing the redistribution of personnel and resources from headquarters to operational demands," said Mr. Donaldson.

Another attempt at military efficiency is the consolidation of Department of National Defence buildings in the National Capital Region to a central campus in the former Nortel complex on Carling Avenue. While a concrete date for the move was not provided, Mr. Donaldson said he hopes to have a plan in place by the fall.

Organizations: Canadian Forces, Canadian Joint Operations Command, Canada Command Department of National Defence Nortel

Geographic location: Afghanistan, Canada, National Capital Region Carling Avenue

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