Streamlined command prepares to combat disasters and terrorism
James Gordon CanWest News Service Wednesday, June 29, 2005
OTTAWA -- Canada's military unveiled on Tuesday a new, centralized command centre aimed at improving its response to domestic disasters and terrorism.
Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier said "Canada Command" will streamline army, navy and air force assets and do away with the disorganized deployments of the past.
He has appointed Vice-Admiral J.Y. Forcier, now commander of Maritime Command Pacific, to head the new organization.
"During the ice storm, during the Red River flood in Manitoba, we learned thousands of lessons," Hillier told a press conference in Ottawa. "Many of those lessons had to do with the fact that what we were doing in those events was done in a very ad hoc fashion."
The result, he explained, was too much reliance on the "creativity and imagination of the young men in uniform to pull us through" and not enough co-ordination at the top.
Defence Minister Bill Graham said Canada Command is essential to prepare for, and protect the country from, the evolving threat of international terrorism.
The minister told reporters it will improve communication and interoperability with allies such as the United States. Having an efficient military able to respond quickly will also "strengthen our hand when we go to them to renew NORAD and other institutional structures," he said.
Graham added the new streamlined domestic defence structure will help calm occasional jitters in the United States about Canada not taking domestic security seriously. "When I go down to the United States and I see [Defence Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld and go to Congress I'll be able to say: 'Look we're taking steps in Canada: You don't have to worry about Canada,"' he said.
While Hillier insisted the new integrated structure is a made in Canada solution to operational problems, it appears similar to the Pentagon's system of integrated regional commands throughout the world. In the United States, Northcom is responsible for North American operations, while Centcom has conducted wars overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Canada Command will be the nerve centre to which six future regional commands will eventually report in a crisis on Canadian soil. The first, Joint Task Force Atlantic, will be based in Halifax.
Canada Command will mean the end of cobbling together crisis teams when emergencies crop up, Forcier said in a telephone interview.
He'll get his new staff working immediately and hopes to have the command ready to go by next spring.
"At the national level basically I'm going to work at building a stronger relationship with my counterparts in other government departments," he said.
"But at the same time I will have the authority to move assets around the country."
Conservative national defence critic Gordon O'Connor said Canada Command looks like a reasonable concept, but added he was anxious to see more details.
"I'd like to see what the total list of headquarters looks like -- how many people are in there, are there redundancies, how many admirals and generals are we going to have?" he said. "Will we end up with too many commands? I don't know."
With files from Bill Cleverley
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2005
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Thread: Very Interesting
06-29-2005, 03:46 PM #1
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07-01-2005, 12:56 PM #2
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