Canada's future at stake


Canada, Mexico and Cuba brought under US Northern Command Military Zone

(10 May 2002) -- On April 17, the US Department of Defence announced its 2002 Unified Command Plan (UCP). The UCP amongst other things realigns the US military structure to include a Northern Command military zone beginning October 1 which takes over the responsibilities of the Joint Forces Command for "homeland defence." The area of operations will include the United States, Canada, Mexico, parts of the Caribbean including Cuba and Puerto Rico and the contiguous waters in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

At an April 17 Pentagon press briefing, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and US Air Force General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called the plan the most sweeping set of changes since the unified command system was set up in 1946. Myers said that the UCP "basically does three things." "First, it takes the various homeland security missions being performed by various combatant commanders and some agencies and puts them under one commander.... Second, it will continue to advance our transformation efforts. And third, it prepares us for the future by assigning every area of the globe to a combatant commander's area of responsibility, thereby streamlining and facilitating our military relationships with respect to all nations."

"This is the first time that the continental United States will be assigned a commander for the Northern Command, or Northcom, as we'll undoubtedly call it," Rumsfeld said. "The new commander will be responsible for land, aerospace and sea defences of the United States. He will command US forces that operate within the US in support of civil authorities," he said. These civil authorities include the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state and local governments.

"No new missions or roles are being created here for the Department of Defence in creation of this new command," Myers told the press briefing. "It basically does three things. It takes the NORAD mission. It combines it with the Joint Task Force for Civil Support that currently resides in Joint Forces Command, that is responsible to civil authorities for chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, major conventional explosives events.... And it's looking at potentially the relationship it might have with Department of Defence support to natural disasters -- hurricanes, floods, and fires," Myers said.

News agencies report that command of Northcom will likely be taken by US Air Force General Ralph Eberhardt who heads US Space Command and the US-Canadian North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD). The fact that Northcom combines NORAD with US Homeland Defence implicates Canadian forces ipso facto. In spite of this, Defence Minister Art Eggleton claimed Northcom "is only an internal structure for the American military." Canadian officials have had talks with the Americans, but only about practical ways they can co-operate, Eggleton said.

The Globe and Mail reports that "No Canadian military forces will be assigned to Northcom, but military sources said Ottawa may seek to turn the new command into a binational structure, adding land and sea defence" to NORAD. NORAD's deputy commander is Canadian Lieutenant-General Ken Pennie; this role is not expected to change, the Globe said. "But Mr. Bush's decision to locate Northcom alongside NORAD at Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado, and put the same US general in charge of both will be seen as a harbinger of even closer Canadian-US military ties. Reflecting a new US military posture after the September 11 attacks, North American defence will now have the same high profile as other major US commands, including Pacific, European, Central and Southern," it said. US Ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci said in February that the US would expect "after negotiations" to work co-operatively with Canada in the Northern Command, the Globe and Mail said. "By joining Northcom . . . Canada could gain a far louder voice in the defence of North America," Cellucci told the Canadian Defence Industries Association. According to the Globe and Mail, "For threats on Canadian territory, co-ordination between Deputy Prime Minister John Manley and US Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge will be more relevant than the role of the Northern Commander in Colorado."

The whole issue of Northcom needs a closer look, former Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy said, adding that the Chrétien government could put Canadian sovereignty at risk if it does not. He said the issue "carries with it the same weight and significance, in fact, as the free trade debate did over 10 years ago." NDP MP Lorne Nystrom raised the issue in the House of Commons on April 26. He said the issues related to Northcom should be debated in Parliament and possibly be put to a national referendum. "If we have the potential there of all the shots being called by the Americans and having Canadian troops under American command, it certainly diminishes our sovereignty," he said.

A report by Michael Byers, a Canadian who teaches international law at Duke University in North Carolina, previewed on April 25 by a panel of legal, political and military experts and reported by the Globe and Mail, says Byers considered that "by co-operating with the Northern Command, Canada might lose its freedom to act independently on international issues" and "Canada could even face American pressure to drastically increase its defence spending." "Byers questioned whether closer ties with the American military could threaten Canadian jurisdiction over the Arctic or limit Canada's ability to get involved in peacekeeping duties," the CBC said. The Globe and Mail said the report, which was commissioned by the Simons Centre for Peace and Disarmament at the University of British Columbia, "notes that there are sad historic examples of Canadian troops under British command sent on impossible and deadly missions. In joint operations, the United States may leave the more dangerous ground missions to troops from other countries and stick to the relatively safe high-tech military tasks, the report says."

"In the Afghan operation, Professor Byers notes, the United States called on British marines to conduct dangerous antiterrorist sweeps after the Americans lost some of their soldiers," the Globe said. "The key question, [Byers] says, is 'do Canadians trust US commanders to treat the lives of Canadian soldiers with as much care as they treat the lives of their own soldiers?'" The Byers report draws no conclusions about whether Canada should be part of Northcom, the Globe said. "Professor Byers says he wants to stimulate public debate in Canada before Ottawa makes any decisions," the Globe said.

According to the newspaper, the "three options" being put forward are: "keep Canada-US military co-operation at its current level; expand the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) to include the navies and armies of the two countries; negotiate a full-blown treaty that would take into account Canada's concerns about observing arms-control treaties and other sticky issues."

"Meanwhile, Joel Sokolsky, a political scientist at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario, says in another report that Canada has little choice but to join the United States in strengthening naval patrols of the North American coastline since September 11," the Globe reported.

The Case of Cuba

The Northcom military zone will include Cuba and the US Guantanamo Naval Base located on the island, the Miami Herald said. According to the Herald, the Southern Command based in Miami, Florida will only be responsible for the territories south of Cuba and Mexico. Former US ambassador and director of the Miami University North South Centre Amber Moss told the Herald that Latin American experts say that including Cuba under Northcom "makes no sense." Retired General Barry McCaffrey, who headed the Southern Command between 1994 and 1996, stated that the decision to include Cuba has more to do with a concern over immigration affairs and guarding US waters. The plan's message is that when dealing with immigration affairs, "Mexico, Cuba and Canada should be taken into consideration," he said. In 1995, McCaffrey was one of the main proponents for the inclusion of the Caribbean in the Southern Command instead of the Atlantic Command. This measure coincided with the transfer of the military facility from the Panama Canal zone to Miami, Florida. The retired US general recently visited Cuba where he stated that the island represents no military danger to the US

The Case of Mexico

Legislators and others in Mexico have spoken out against the plan to establish Northcom, especially its announcement in the wake of "the hushed visit Mexican defense secretary General Gerardo Vega made to Washington last week to discuss possible military cooperation between the United States and Mexico." Mexico has traditionally opposed multilateral military agreements, including participating in United Nations military operations.

Canadian army to undergo basic reorganization

(10 May 2002) -- Lt.-Gen. Mike Jeffery, Commander of the Canadian army, held a news conference in Ottawa on May 9 at which he announced plans to "overhaul the basic structure of his force," news agencies reported. "Too much army for our budget, too little army for our tasks," has become a watchword for Lt.-Gen. Mike Jeffery, CP reported. "Over the next decade, he and his successors will try to change that by shaking up the whole ponderous, slow-to-change system. Defence Minister Art Eggleton has given his approval to the plans," CP says.

"This army has been very much formulated in the post-Second World War-Cold War world," Jeffery said. Referring to Canadian "peacekeeping" missions in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Somalia, Kosovo and Afghanistan, Jeffery said, "We have tended to treat those many different operations as anomalies, that this army -- built for Cold War mechanized operations -- is still appropriate and all these little operations we've been doing are only a short respite and we'll go back to the other stuff at some point in the future. "We've got to recognize, after 10 or 12 years of this, that the future may be now." "I have the view that we're going to see increased chaos," he added. The old army worked, he said. But given a tight budget and constant demands on the system, it's only a matter of time until it doesn't work.

According to CP, while he doesn't have the details worked out, Jeffery said the army of 2012 will be far different from that of today. "The old building blocks of battalions assembled into brigades, which in turn formed divisions, will be replaced with smaller, more flexible sub-units for a modular, 'plug and play' army," he told the press briefing. The army already does this on an ad hoc basis every time it sends a peacekeeping force to Bosnia, he added. "The unit will be based on an infantry battalion with some of its units torn out and other, more needed units, shoehorned in," CP said. "This constant assembly and disassembly is very disruptive to the cohesiveness of the army," Jeffery said.

According to the CP report, "The new model will let commanders tailor a force for a particular mission. Jeffery, who has repeatedly warned that tight budgets will require new ideas and methods, said his massive reorganization will save money and manpower and produce a more lethal fighting force."

Among his 10-year plans for a new army:

o Make 100-soldier sub-units the basic building block for operations.

o Strip two of the three armoured units of their Leopard tanks and make them armoured reconnaissance units.

o Ship most of the Leopard battle tanks and the M-109 self-propelled howitzers to Alberta, near a planned new training centre.

o Strip the mortar and pioneer platoons from infantry regiments, while beefing up the combat engineers.

o Increase special operations capability as sort of a minor league feeding into the elite JTF-2 commandos.

o Use high-tech sensors, such as the Coyote recon vehicles and flying drones, along with new, smart weapons to make the infantry more lethal."

CP reports that Jeffery "plans to travel the country talking to the troops about the plan." "This is in part to create the momentum necessary to get change going in an institution as staid and conservative as an army tends to be," he said. "Jeffery said he's willing to listen to debate, but change is inevitable." "We certainly can't remain where we have been," Jeffery said.

For your information

US military restructuring

(10 May 2002) -- On April 17, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard B. Myers announced a major restructuring of the US military's command structure or Unified Command Plan (UCP). At a Pentagon news conference, Rumsfeld described the changes as "the most significant reform of our nation's military command structure since the first command plan was issued shortly after World War II."

Currently, under the UCP, there are nine Unified Combat Commands, each with a specific responsibility - either a region of the world or functional aspect of the military, and each is commanded by a Commander in Chief (CINC). CINC's report directly to the Secretary of Defense and the President. The new UCP adds a new tenth Combat Command, the Northern Command, while changing the areas of responsibility of several others.

New Northern Command


The new Northern Command will have responsibility for all US military operations in the continental United States (including water 500 miles off the East and West coasts), Canada and Mexico. As well, parts of the Caribbean, including Cuba and Puerto Rico, will be transferred from the Southern Command to the Northern Command. The Northern Command will share responsibility for Alaska with the Pacific Command. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), through which the US military already commands Canadian military personnel, will also come under the new Combat Command. The US Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM), headed by Army Gen. William F. Kernan and currently holding both geographic and "functional responsibilities," including overseeing military operations in the North Atlantic geographic area, will now be dedicated to supporting "jointness," or multi-service operations, in other geographic commands.

US President George W. Bush has already named Air Force Gen. Ralph E. Eberhart, currently CINC of the US Space Command and commander of NORAD, to head the new Northern Command. In a Pentagon briefing in January on US "military transformation," Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Pete Pace told reporters that the head of the new Northern Command "is going to have to take NORAD and ensure that the very, very long-standing close relationship with Canada is maintained and nurtured and taken properly into the future and to figure out, is there a way, then, to add to the air defence, the land and sea defenses?"

Rumsfeld said in his April 17 press conference that the new Northern Command will "command US forces that operate in the US in support of civil authorities" in the case of "natural disasters, attacks on US soil, or other civil difficulties." Rumsfeld said that the new command would permit the military to centralize under one command responsibility for "lending support" to the FBI, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state and local agencies. Asked if the new command would violate US law prohibiting the military from performing domestic police functions, Rumsfeld told reporters, "The Pentagon is not in the business of providing an armed force for the United States." He added, though, that one exception to the military "support role" was in the event of a nuclear, chemical or biological attack on Washington, D.C. when the military would be the "first to respond."

Expanded European Command

The European Command (USEUCOM) is currently responsible for US military operations in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East (Israel, Lebanon and Syria). The CINC of USEUCOM, currently Air Force Gen. Joseph W. Ralston, also serves as Supreme Allied Commander Europe, NATO's senior military commander in Europe.

Under the new UCP, USEUCOM responsibility will be expanded to include US military operations in Russia and the Caspian Sea, through the Pacific Command will still have responsibility for "certain activities" in Eastern Russia. Since the inception of the UCP, US military operations concerning Russia, and previously the Soviet Union, have not been assigned as an area of responsibility of a CINC, instead coming under the direct command of the Secretary of Defense and President.

Other changes to the UCP include that "for the first time, the United States commanders will be assigned responsibility for contingency response and security cooperation in every part of the world -- that is to say, land and sea," Myers said. "Similarly, the responsibilities of the commander of the European Command will now include Russia, which had not previously been the case. He will be responsible for such things as security cooperation with Russia and nations in the Caspian Sea region and other countries in that part of the world," he added.

US forces on the west coast and Alaska will remain under the US Pacific Command while the waters off the west coast will be under Northcom, Agence France Presse (AFP) reports. It further said that "The Stuttgart, Germany-based European Command will be assigned a broader swath of the North Atlantic and Russia in addition to its current responsibilities for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The Hawaii-based Pacific Command, which covers the Asia-Pacific region, picks up Antartica but loses responsibility for the waters off the west coast of the United States.... The Central Command, based in Tampa, Florida, will continue to be in charge of US military operations from Egypt to Afghanistan. The Miami-based Southern Command remains responsible for Central and South America and the most of the Caribbean."

Myers said the Space, Transportation, Strategic and Special Operations commands will not change. "We are, however, looking to the possible merger of Space Command and Strategic Command, and a study of that is under way," he said.

Other Combat Commands


Antarctica will now come under the US Pacific Command (USPACOM), which is currently responsible for military operations in the Pacific Ocean and surrounding areas including Alaska and Hawaii, Australia, and South Asia and East Asia including India and China. USPACOM is headed by Navy Adm Thomas B. Fargo.

Except as noted, the other Combat Commands will remain unchanged. They are:

o Central Command (USCENTCOM), currently headed by Army Gen. Tommy R. Franks. USCENTCOM is responsible for US military operations in 25 countries from Central Asia through to the Horn of Africa, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, the Arabian Peninsula, Sudan and Somalia. It has no war fighting units permanently assigned to it.

o Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM), with a current acting CINC of Army Maj. Gen. Gary D. Speer. The Southern Command is currently responsible for all of Latin America south of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

o Strategic Command (STRATCOM), which commands the planning, targeting and wartime employment of US nuclear weaponry. STRATCOM is headed by Army Gen. William F. Kernan.

o Space Command, which includes outer space "support and control" and computer network defense and attack.

o Special Operation Command, headed by Gen. Charles R. Holland, Air Force, in charge of coordinating "special operations" missions within the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy.

o And Transportation Command (TRANSCOM), headed by Air Force Gen. John W. Handy.

For Your Information
Bush military appointments

(10 May 2002) -- Citing Pentagon officials, an April 11 article in the Washington Post reported that "President Bush has approved sweeping changes at the top of the US military that will put in place a new generation of relatively nonconformist officers who are likely to be more supportive of the administration's goal of radically changing the armed forces." While the changes come as part of the normal rotation of top military positions, the article reports, making so many changes at once is a "marked departure from the usual practice of filling the positions in a piecemeal fashion." The changes also coincide with the restructuring of the Unified Command Plan (UCP), the military's top command structure.

Two of the key positions, chief of the Army and the top European military position, are described as "likely to be supportive of [Bush and Rumsfeld's] drive to transform the military to better address terrorism and other new challenges." Pentagon officials said the new Commander of the US European Command and Supreme Allied Commander in Europe will be a Marine for the first time. By appointing Marine Commandant Gen. James Jones to the position, the Post reports, "Rumsfeld also may be seeking to shake up the US military in Europe. There are few Marines based in Europe, but there are several major Army headquarters there, and Pentagon officials have hinted that those offices will be cut or abolished in the coming years."

Officials said that Rumsfeld also tapped Army Gen. John Keane, the No. 2 officer in the Army, to succeed the current chief of that service, Gen. Eric Shinseki, whose term runs out next year. Selecting a successor for the current chief so far in advance is highly unusual, the Post reports. It goes on to say that Rumsfeld considered Keane's "innovative" thinking to be needed to deal with "a lack of fresh thinking in the Army." At the same time, Keane, a career infantry officer, is described as popular in the Army itself.

Other changes include Air Force Gen. Ralph Eberhart, head of US Space Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), to run the new Northern Command; and Army Lt. Gen. James "Tom" Hill will be the new chief of the Southern Command, in charge of US military forces in Latin America, replacing acting chief Army Maj. Gen. Gary D. Speer. Army Gen. Tommy R. Franks, who is overseeing the war in Afghanistan as head of the Central Command, is being retained in that position.

According to the Post, Rumsfeld, by securing Bush's approval for the changes so early and having yet to make official announcements of the nominations, "has effectively made lame ducks of current holders of the positions." All of the positions, when officially announced, will require Senate confirmation.


Source: TML Daily, No. 94, 10 May 2002


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