U.S., Canada Expand Joint Planning, Operational Options

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1, 2012 — Agree­ments signed last week in the Cana­di­an cap­i­tal of Ottawa set up a roadmap for U.S. and Cana­di­an offi­cials to work togeth­er in the event of a nat­ur­al dis­as­ter or attack, the direc­tor of strat­e­gy, pol­i­cy and plans at the North Amer­i­can Aero­space Defense Com­mand and U.S. North­ern Com­mand said this week.

Army Maj. Gen. Fran Mahon said the agree­ments allow the two coun­tries’ mil­i­taries to work more close­ly togeth­er and to plan for sup­port to civil­ian agen­cies.

U.S. Army Gen. Charles H. Jaco­by Jr., com­man­der of NORAD and North­com, and Lt. Gen. Wal­ter Semi­aniw of the Cana­di­an army, com­man­der of Cana­da Com­mand, signed the doc­u­ments Jan. 25.

One is a com­bined defense plan that lays down a plan­ning frame­work for defense coop­er­a­tion fol­low­ing a nat­ur­al or man-made dis­as­ter or attack. The mil­i­tary lead­ers also signed a con­tin­u­a­tion of the civ­il assis­tance plan that allows the mil­i­tary from one nation to sup­port the armed forces of the oth­er nation dur­ing a civ­il emer­gency.

“We have a long-stand­ing rela­tion­ship with Cana­da,” Mahon said in an inter­view. “We’ve been part­ners for more than 70 years in a very close sense. The agree­ments real­ly enhance our rela­tion­ship and improve the process of coor­di­nat­ing our com­bined mil­i­tary resources in a time of cri­sis or emer­gency.”

While the civ­il assis­tance plan pro­vides a frame­work for the mil­i­tary forces of each nation to sup­port those of anoth­er nation, the gen­er­al said, it’s real­ly about pro­vid­ing mil­i­tary assis­tance to civil­ian author­i­ties. This will facil­i­tate coop­er­a­tion on man-made or nat­ur­al dis­as­ters or the response to large-scale planned events, he explained.

“The ini­tial civ­il assis­tance pro­gram was approved in Feb­ru­ary 2008, and since then, Cana­da Com­mand and North­ern Com­mand have worked togeth­er to pro­vide sup­port for each oth­er in short-notice events and plan­ning for major events,” Mahon said. “It real­ly rec­og­nizes the role of each nation’s lead fed­er­al agency for emer­gency pre­pared­ness. In the Unit­ed States, that is the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty, and in Cana­da, it is the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Safe­ty.”

The civ­il defense plan looks at the com­bined defense of Cana­da and the Unit­ed States, Mahon said. “It facil­i­tates our plan­ning and oper­a­tions for bilat­er­al defense effort and pro­vides guid­ance lead­ing to inter­op­er­abil­i­ty, and thus [pro­motes] bet­ter inte­gra­tion at the oper­a­tional lev­el,” he added.

The oper­a­tions under the plan could occur in mul­ti­ple domains and could be exe­cut­ed when there is a com­mon per­ceived threat or when one or both nations come under attack.

The Unit­ed States and Cana­da coop­er­at­ed on the Olympic Games in Van­cou­ver in 2010 and dur­ing hur­ri­cane sea­son, Mahon not­ed.

“We’ve cap­tured some of the lessons learned from the Games and from oth­er expe­ri­ences and put it in the plan,” Mahon said. “Now for the next event, whether it be a cri­sis or a planned event, we’ll have a bit smoother exe­cu­tion.”

Shar­ing infor­ma­tion between the Unit­ed States and Cana­da should be even eas­i­er than in the past, the gen­er­al said, and both sides under­stand how to work with­in each other’s bureau­cra­cies.

North­ern Com­mand and Cana­da Com­mand will exer­cise through the year to “roll these new doc­u­ments into play,” Mahon said. “We will undoubt­ed­ly learn more from these exer­cis­es, and again, we will work on smooth­ing the rough spots.”

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