National defence capabilities and military competencies

Back, over a year ago, in mid December 2015, I argued for a list of 11 defence capabilities that I think Canada (actually they apply to pretty much every self respecting country) must, without fail, provide for its military. I challenged anyone to add or subtract from the list ~ no one has. My 11 core capabilities were, and still are:

  • A structure to collect and collate information, from all sources and from all over the world and provide useful strategic intelligence to the cabinet and operational intelligence to departments and agencies;
  • A super-structure to make strategic plans and to control and manage our military forces;
  • OP NANOOKSurveillance and warning systems to cover our land mass and, especially, the maritime approaches to it and the airspace over both;
  • Military forces to intercept, identify and, appropriately, deal with intruders;
  • Military forces to contribute to the continental defence, especially to the protection of the US strategic deterrent;
  • Military forces to patrol our territory, the maritime approaches to it and the airspace over both;
  • Military forces to give “aid to civil power” when provincial attorneys general cannot manage with police resources;
  • Military forces to provide “civil assistance” when disaster occur and the civil authorities in provinces and cities cannot cope;
  • Military forces to conduct expeditionary, combat operations around the world ~
    • canadian-army1Unilaterally for relatively small scale low and even mid-intensity operations,
    • As part of “coalitions of the willing” for some low and mid intensity operations, and
    • With our traditional allies for the full range of operations, including prolonged general war;
  • Supporting operational and logistical services ~ telecommunications, engineering, intelligence, medical and dental, supply and transport, materiel maintenance, administration and policing ~ to support all other military forces; and
  • An efficient and effective defence procurement system.

Then, just the other day I commented on 12 “core capabilities” that Major General Amikam Norkin, head of planning for the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said are necessary. I agreed that 11 of his 12 (all except border security) applied, equally to Canada. General Norkin’s list is:

  • Cyber,
  • Intelligence,
  • Ground manoeuvre,
  • Network centric warfare,
  • Air superiority,
  • Aerial defence,
  • Multi-dimensional strike,
  • Deep raid (long-range special operations),
  • Border security,
  • Naval defence,
  • Logistics, and
  • The so-called war between wars.

Now, it is important to understand that my list of 11 capabilities are national and strategic in nature and embrace, for example, the Privy Council Office, independent intelligence and security agencies and the Department of national Defence and the Canadian Forces, too. General Norkin’s list, on the other hand, is related, in the main, to the IDF, proper; it deals with the operational level of war.slide1

But, I thought it might be interesting and useful to integrate the two lists.

Now to integrate them … I’m using my, strategic, list as the framework and then integrating General Norkin’s operational “core competencies” into my strategic capabilities. As you can see most of his “core competencies” fit into several of my capabilities:

The Integrated List

Campbell’s “capabilities” in Blue ~ Norkin’s “competencies” in Red
  • A structure to collect and collate information, from all sources and from all over the world and provide useful strategic intelligence to the cabinet and operational intelligence to departments and agencies;
    • Intelligence, Cyber
  • A super-structure to make strategic plans and to control and manage our military forces;
    • Intelligence, Cyber
  • Surveillance and warning systems to cover our land mass and, especially, the maritime approaches to it and the airspace over both;
    • Intelligence, Cyber, Network centric warfare
  • Military forces to intercept, identify and, appropriately, deal with intruders;
    • Network centric warfare, Naval defence, Ground manoeuvre, Aerial defence
  • Military forces to contribute to the continental defence, especially to the protection of the US strategic deterrent;
    • Cyber, Naval defence, Ground manoeuvre, Aerial defence, Air superiority, Logistics
  • Military forces to patrol our territory, the maritime approaches to it and the airspace over both;
    • Naval defence, Ground manoeuvre, Aerial defence, Air superiority, Logistics
  • Military forces to give “aid to civil power” when provincial attorneys general cannot manage with police resources;
    • Intelligence, Naval defence; Ground manoeuvre, Aerial defence 
  • Military forces to provide “civil assistance” when disaster occur and the civil authorities in provinces and cities cannot cope;
    • Naval defence, Ground manoeuvre, Logistics
  • Military forces to conduct expeditionary, combat operations around the world ~
    • Unilaterally for relatively small scale low and even mid-intensity operations,
    • As part of “coalitions of the willing” for some low and mid intensity operations, and
    • With our traditional allies for the full range of operations, including prolonged general war;
      • Cyber, Intelligence, Air superiority, Naval Defence, Ground manoeuvre, Aerial defence, Logistics
  • Supporting operational and logistical services ~ telecommunications, engineering, intelligence, medical and dental, supply and transport, materiel maintenance, administration and policing ~ to support all other military forces; and
    • Cyber, Intelligence, Logistics
  • An efficient and effective defence procurement system.

I think, I hope, it is clear that General Norkin’s “core competencies” are applicable to many capabilities while my list of capabilities enumerates several unique, but related things. It would appear to many that “Cyber” and “Intelligence” can and, perhaps, even should be part of every capability and that’s true if you define each broadly enough. But, I am pretty certain that General Norkin meant to define each quite narrowly because there is a great danger of both “stove-piping” and “empire building” in each field ~ as the current state of management in the Canadian Forces, DND and, indeed, in all of the Government of Canada illustrates: just look at the Phoenix pay system or the project to consolidate data centres and you will see that government (and it’s not just Canada) is almost uniquely inept at managing either large, integrated computer networks or, indeed, any complex networks.

Intelligence is being redefined, and not just in Canada, to include too much that is routine information management and handling ~ this is the “empire building” part of the problem. Equally too many people in the “cyber” field are single issue (“stove-pipe”) specialists who do not understand that there are many interconnected elements within the term “cyber.” Intelligence is important at the strategic, operational and tactical levels, but at none of those levels is it the sole responsibility of one part ofd the military ~ it is, especially, not the exclusive responsibility of a Military Intelligence Branch. The intelligence specialists simply collect, collate and disseminate masses of information that is, usually gathered and analyzed by others including civil servants and soldiers in branches as diverse as the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps (ISTAR) and the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals (SIGINT).

Recently “cyber” has been associated with the threats to our system, including by hackers. TOCBut there are almost fool-proof defences against even the best hackers but to many people, especially politicians, senior officials and senior military officers feel “entitled” to ignore the rules of e.g. communications security, or even basic common sense and so they forget that a mobile phone is just an unsecured (unencrypted) radio (Prince Charles) or they leave classified documents lying about (Maxime Bernier) or they just ignore the rules (too many to mention) and so the Chinese and Russian “hackers” have a field day. The problem with Mrs Clinton’s campaign wasn’t Russian hackers: it was that Mr Podesta was criminally lazy and stupid … Stupid … STUPID. Cyber involves using cyberspace for our own purposes, denying, disrupting or exploiting the enemy’s use of cyberspace and secxuring our own networks. There is a very useful commentary in Vanguard, about cyberspace and how we, Canadians, use it (and not) by Major-General (Ret’d) John Adams (Ret’d) a former Chief of the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) and Associate Deputy Minister of National Defence. Cyber should be one of our, Canadian military, core imnqdl1482005competencies but it will cost money and it needs people … even as sergeants in combat units are telling soldiers that there are no boots in the quartermasters’ stores and, even if there were, there are no logistics vehicles to carry them.

Canada’s government funding priorities are seriously out of whack!

usd-350Network centric warfare is a “force multiplier” IF the networks can be secured, integrated and then managed properly ~ but see Phoenix and data centre consolidation again. It, like cyber, needs more money and more people who, in turn, cost more money. And, network centric warfare is all about cyber.

I have been present, in recent, unclassified briefings, where very, very, very senior officers have spoken about implementing some and even most of General Norkin’s core competencies ~ cyber, network centric warfare and improved intelligence, especially ~ but the vague promises are never backed up by real, hard numbers of dollars or people. Right now the Canadian Army has nine battalions of infantry, in a proper army that would mean about 6,000 to 7,000 trained infantry soldiers in about 35 rifle companies. Today the Canadian army has only about 4,000+ trained infantrymen in 25+ rifle companies. The battalions have no, zero, zilch mortars ~ perhaps the infantry’s most important weapon after the rifle and machine gun ~ and now some of the soldiers cannot be issued with boots to march into battle. What’s the point about dreaming about the core competencies of real armies when we are, still, a Potemkin Village. We are pretending to run a real, 2% of GDP, military on a fake, 1% budget.

What we need are new priorities and that, almost certainly, means that we need a new prime minister, a new defence minister, new national objective and a grand strategy for Canada in the 21st century.

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