No Harbour for War
Canada participates in US war exercises from Halifax Integration of Canadian Forces and 'maritime surveillance' under NORAD and Northern Command increases
(28 February 2006) -- US AND CANADIAN WARSHIPS left the Port of Halifax February 20 to begin three weeks of exercises in Canadian and US waters. HMCS Montreal, the flagship of the exercise, HMCS Ville de Quebec, Summerside, Moncton and Preserver and a Canadian submarine were joined by three US destroyers, along with Canadian fighter jets and land forces. About 1,000 personnel are participating in the exercise taking place in waters off Nova Scotia, Norfolk, Virginia and Boston, Massachusetts.
Talking to reporters, Navy spokesman Lt.-Cmdr. Ken MacKillop suggested that the exercise is of no concern. Two such training exercises are typically scheduled each year, he said. "This one is an excellent chance to exercise the Joint Task Force Atlantic command and control concept, so they will be working more jointly out there using the headquarters here to run the operation," he said. Without telling the public what the Joint Task Force Atlantic is up to, MacKillop merely said the exercises will allow Canadian and US units to work more cohesively.
It is known that Joint Task Force Atlantic is one of several regional command centres responsible for conducting domestic operations under Canada Command and the centres were announced last year as part of the restructuring of Canada's Armed Forces. However, this tells Canadians nothing about the aim of the task force. It is reported that during the exercise combat capabilities will be tested in the areas of anti-submarine warfare, electronic warfare and boarding operations -- but for what?
The re-organization of the armed forces went into effect February 1 with four new commands: Canada Command, Canadian Expeditionary Force Command, Canadian Special Operations Forces Command and Canadian Operational Support Command. The concept of expeditionary forces reverts back to the days of the Boer War and World War I.
In related news, Minister of Defence Gordon O'Connor announced on February 20 that the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) agreement will be expanded to include maritime surveillance. This follows the agreement made by the Liberal government -- on the 60th anniversary of the US nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki -- permitting Canadian radar installations to be used for the US ballistic missile defence program.
The Canadian Press said O'Connor downplayed the significance of the new treaty, dismissing the suggestion that it could lead to US warships patrolling Canadian waters. The agreement will mean "merely a transfer of information," O'Connor told reporters in the hangar deck of the Canadian frigate HMCS Halifax.
"It doesn't change our responsibility as a country. We have to look after our own sovereignty. We have to deal with any threats coming from the sea," he said diverting attention from what information is being trasferred, to whom it is being transferred and for what reasons. It is reported that once ratified, the new treaty would allow for intelligence on shipping data and "threats to the sea lanes" to be sent directly into NORAD and US Northern Command headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. The expanded pact is expected to be ready for signing in May, when the existing treaty expires, O'Connor said.
After the 2004 federal election, then Prime Minister Paul Martin openly discussed the need for an "expanded NORAD" which would incorporate land, sea and air defence. The Liberals began making new arrangements under NORAD which permitted it to use Canadian radar bases as part of the missile defence program.
O'Connor has also reiterated the call of the Conservative government to increase Canada's participation in US war preparations. He said the position of the Conservative Party on missile defence has not changed since the federal election campaign. "If the Americans approach us to negotiate ballistic missile defence, we would enter into negotiations," he said. "If we perceive this to be in our national interest, we would bring this to Parliament and Parliament must approve our participation."
No to Canadian Participation in US War Exercises! US Warships Out of Canadian Waters! Get Canada Out of NORAD!
Source: TML Daily, February 28, 2006 - No. 25
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