While few details have emerged surrounding talks between the U.S. and Canada on a North American security perimeter, there is little doubt that deeper military integration between both countries will play an important part of any such deal. Plans for a common security perimeter have renewed calls to expand the NORAD bilateral air defence model to include ground and naval forces. There are also efforts to increase security cooperation in the Arctic and further integrate military command structures.
As part of the Tri Command Vision, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), and Canada Command (Canada COM) are working closer together in the defense and security of North America. Moving forward, the Tri Command strategic goals are to, “Improve unity of effort with each other and with our respective mission partners; develop a culture of continuous collaboration and cooperation in planning, execution, training, information management, and innovation; enhance intelligence and information sharing and fusion.” In order to better achieve these objectives, “The Commands shall develop and share comprehensive, situational awareness and a common operating picture, and must strive to interact seamlessly with each other and with our respective civil authorities, non-governmental organizations and other mission partners.” The Tri Command is part of efforts to merge the three commands into one.
In his report, ‘Now for the Hard Part’: A User’s Guide to Renewing the Canadian-American Partnership, Colin Robertson, Vice President and Senior Research Fellow at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute outlines a plan of action for future bilateral relations. With respects to what a common security perimeter deal might look like, he proposed, “Start by extending to our land and sea environments the interoperability that our Air Force already enjoys through NORAD. It will require our Forces in Canada Command to match their current crossservice ‘jointness’ with those of American Forces employed in Northern Command.” Robertson added, “A security perimeter will also go some distance to resolving the remaining disputes and the shared challenges around stewardship, sovereignty and surveillance of the North West Passage and the activities of foreign ships and submarines in Arctic waters.” In a prelude to what joint security in the Arctic might look like, last year’s Operation Nanook, an annual Canadian Forces sovereignty exercise included military participation from the U.S. and Denmark.