Anita Anand to make an announcement on continental defense modernization

(OTTAWA) National Defense Minister Anita Anand will announce a modernization of continental defense capabilities on Monday.

Posted at 4:18pm
Updated at 6:50 p.m

The press conference will be held at Trenton Air Force Base, Ontario.

US and Canadian military officials and experts had warned about NORAD’s state of defense amid Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Mme Anand said the government has been preparing a number of investments for NORAD, the Canadian-US military organization that oversees the continent’s air and seaspace, for several months.

Minister and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated those promises during a visit to NORAD’s Colorado headquarters earlier this month. They did not give details.

The federal government has already indicated that part of the eight billion dollars earmarked for national defense in the last budget will be reserved for NORAD. This could include a new long-range radar system to detect any threat coming through the Arctic.

Mme Anand also said last month that the government was considering joining the US-established anti-missile defense system, which Canada abandoned in 2005.

“We need Canada”

The lack of concrete action in Canada has not gone unnoticed in the United States, points out Andrea Charron, associate professor at the University of Manitoba and one of Canada’s leading NORAD experts.

“We need Canada to achieve certain things. If earlier we were willing to be patient by telling ourselves that gestures would be made, today we are at the end of our patience,” she mentions.

This growing impatience is illustrated by the visit of several high-ranking American officials to Ottawa. It also surfaced during congressional hearings in Washington last spring.

When asked in March about Canada’s involvement in continental defense, NORAD commander US Gen. Glen VanHerck said Canada was making “decisions.”

“I can’t wait to see what comes of this,” he added.

In August 2021, then-Secretary of Defense Harjit Sajjan and his US counterpart Lloyd Austin issued a joint communiqué naming numerous priorities, including maintaining the Northern Alert System until it can be altered by appropriate replacement capacity.

Earlier this year, Canadian defense systems companies were briefed on plans to install a next-generation over-the-horizon radar system that can significantly improve early warning and continuous surveillance of airspace and approaches to North America. This radar would be installed in southern Canada and could cost as much as $1 billion.

Retired General Tom Lawson, former NORAD deputy commander in chief, says the North Warning System needs to be replaced. It is one of the many areas of continental defense that require investment.

Today, all concrete measures are welcome.

“If they announce additional investments of $1 billion or $2 billion over the next five years, I’d be a happy man,” he says.

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