U.S., Canada Discuss Defense Cooperation

OTTAWA, Cana­da, Jan. 27, 2011 — U.S. and Cana­di­an defense offi­cials dis­cussed a range of bilat­er­al mil­i­tary issues dur­ing meet­ings held here today.
Cana­di­an Nation­al Defense Min­is­ter Peter MacK­ay host­ed Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates. The two del­e­ga­tions spoke about strength­en­ing and broad­en­ing an already strong alliance between the two nations. Gates and MacK­ay spoke at a news con­fer­ence fol­low­ing their meet­ing.

Afghanistan is where the two coun­tries’ mil­i­taries coop­er­ate most close­ly, and Gates thanked the Cana­di­an peo­ple for their sac­ri­fices on the bat­tle­field and con­tin­u­ing com­mit­ment to the strug­gle in Afghanistan.

“No coun­try has suf­fered more fall­en heroes pro­por­tion­ate­ly than has Cana­da, and I extend our coun­tries sym­pa­thy, prayers and admi­ra­tion to their fam­i­lies,” Gates said.

The Cana­di­an mil­i­tary is end­ing their com­bat mis­sion in Region­al Command–South, and will ded­i­cate about 950 ser­vice mem­bers to train­ing Afghan sol­diers and police.

MacK­ay said the meet­ings help improve mil­i­tary coor­di­na­tion between the two coun­tries.

Mex­i­can Min­is­ter of Nation­al Defense Gen. Guiller­mo Gal­van was to have attend­ed the meet­ing, but ill­ness forced him to can­cel. Both MacK­ay and Gates said they want­ed to re-sched­ule the so-called Tri-lat­er­al meet­ing as soon as pos­si­ble.

Gates and MacK­ay addressed threats to the West­ern Hemi­sphere, coop­er­a­tion among the nations of the hemi­sphere and efforts to com­bat a range of inter­na­tion­al threats such as pira­cy, coun­tert­er­ror­ism, nar­co-traf­fick­ing and human traf­fick­ing.

Gates said he and MacK­ay dis­cussed expand­ed coop­er­a­tion in the Arc­tic, coor­di­nat­ing mar­itime secu­ri­ty assis­tance to the Caribbean region and shar­ing defense prac­tices for sup­port­ing civil­ian author­i­ties.

The two men also dis­cussed the North Amer­i­can Aero­space Defense Com­mand, espe­cial­ly the new mar­itime domain aware­ness mis­sion assigned to the group.

They also dis­cussed the deci­sion to allow the Joint Per­ma­nent Board on Defense to con­tin­ue look­ing at ways to exam­ine a cyberde­fense role. Gates said the two nations will “exam­ine togeth­er how the advanced defens­es of our mil­i­tary net­works might also be applied to crit­i­cal civil­ian infra­struc­ture.”

Gates reaf­firmed America’s strong com­mit­ment to the F‑35 Joint Strike Fight­er. Cana­da is an inte­gral part­ner in the pro­gram and the new fight­er will be the Cana­di­an military’s avi­a­tion back­bone for decades. Gates said the Pen­ta­gon has made adjust­ments to the pro­gram, and that the Unit­ed States is expect­ing to have 325 air­craft built by 2016.

Cana­da wants the Air Force vari­ant of the F‑35, and Gates said that ver­sion is doing well, and not under pro­ba­tion like the short take-off, and ver­ti­cal land­ing vari­ant is.

“It is a true 5th gen­er­a­tion fight­er, it will con­tin­ue to gives us sig­nif­i­cant capa­bil­i­ties, it will con­tin­ue the inter­op­er­abil­i­ty that has been at the heart of our NORAD rela­tion­ship for decades now,” Gates said. “With­out get­ting into domes­tic affairs in Cana­da, I would just say my hope is that all of our part­ners con­tin­ue to move for­ward with us in this pro­gram.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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