• C4ISR2020 Vanguard

Eradicating maritime blindnessc

“We always speak of ourselves as a country that stretches from sea to sea, to sea … meaning that we are always concerned about the safety of our own waters and the sea links that can connect us to the wider world. But circumstances have changed and so has the emphasis in our own policy.”

Maritime blindness in central Canada has been a critical issue for far too long. But as the Honourable Bill Graham, chairman of the Atlantic Council of Canada (ACC), acknowledged at the outset of a recent conference in Toronto hosted by the ACC on issues of maritime security, if citizens in the central provinces do not develop a stronger understanding of Canada’s maritime realities, and the importance of maritime security to Canada’s international trade, they will not demand and push for a larger maritime presence.

As the base of business, media and political engines in the country, this key disconnect in central Canada inhibits cooperative efforts to develop a stronger capability in the maritime domain.

“We are still a maritime nation,” Graham reminded the audience of high-ranking theorists, policymakers, and practitioners as well as an array of representatives from naval interests in entral Canada, including both the Canadian and American Coast Guards, Naval Officers’ Association of Canada, Toronto Port Authority, the RCMP, Royal Canadian Navy, the Commanding Officer of HMCS York, and the Toronto Search and Rescue initiative.

Within the broad range of themes discussed at the conference, each panel noted one particular issue: the threats we face have changed. Retired Vice-Admiral Dean McFadden said it best in his closing speech on the challenges ahead for allied naval forces: “If someone ten years ago had said that the naval forces of NATO, the European Union, China, India, and the Republic of Korea would deploy off the horn of Africa to counter the rapid rise of piracy, I think they would have been laughed at.”

Rear-Admiral David Gardam captured the new challenge, explaining, “it’s about being aware of what’s happening in your backyard, so that you can respond appropriately.”

Graham then tied these issues together. “Hopefully a conference of this nature … by focusing on the issues, by making us all aware of what those threats are, … will help us focus on how we want to encourage our political masters to ensure that we have the resources required to deal with them…. Militaries are famous for that; fighting the last war.”

Not all discussions were of future allied maritime capabilities. The former Maritime Component Commander for Operation Podium for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Gilles Couturier, offered a promising analysis of the joint inter-agency capabilities that Canada possesses. The conference also addressed a “holistic” approach to maritime security, noting that security of the Great Lakes, the Arctic, and shores beyond our border are all connected and should be dealt with as such by the proper governmental institutions including the RCN, Coast Guard and RCMP.

Of particular note was an enlightening mid-day interview of renowned journalist and Naval Reservist, Peter Newman. Honourary Captain Sonja Bata gracefully led the interview while a captivated audience could not help but absorb the historical knowledge shared between the two maritime icons.

In closing, McFadden noted that capacity building must become a larger part of allied forces foreign engagement, and that the variety of responsibilities of these forces are much wider than gunboat diplomacy.

He left the audience with a frank appraisal: “The existence of stable global maritime order has been such a long-standing and innocuous public good that we’ve not needed to pay it much mind. It had, within our lifetimes, been brought to a high state of perfection, not through the clash of arms, but through the negotiation of statesmen. But the United Nations Convention on the Law Of the Sea cannot be the high-water mark from which we retreat…. If we don’t appreciate the importance of the global maritime order on which so much of what we have is based and that this order is not sacrosanct and can be altered in ways not only injurious to us, but to the development of human kind, we will not summon the will to be vigilant in its defence. That order must not only be maintained, but be implemented more effectively than it has been. That, I believe, is the fundamental challenge we will face in this maritime century.”
“We always speak of ourselves as a country that stretches from sea to sea, to sea … meaning that we are always concerned about the safety of our own waters and the sea links that can connect us to the wider world. But circumstances have changed and so has the emphasis in our own policy.”

Maritime blindness in central Canada has been a critical issue for far too long. But as the Honourable Bill Graham, chairman of the Atlantic Council of Canada (ACC), acknowledged at the outset of a recent conference in Toronto hosted by the ACC on issues of maritime security, if citizens in the central provinces do not develop a stronger understanding of Canada’s maritime realities, and the importance of maritime security to Canada’s international trade, they will not demand and push for a larger maritime presence.

As the base of business, media and political engines in the country, this key disconnect in central Canada inhibits cooperative efforts to develop a stronger capability in the maritime domain.

“We are still a maritime nation,” Graham reminded the audience of high-ranking theorists, policymakers, and practitioners as well as an array of representatives from naval interests in entral Canada, including both the Canadian and American Coast Guards, Naval Officers’ Association of Canada, Toronto Port Authority, the RCMP, Royal Canadian Navy, the Commanding Officer of HMCS York, and the Toronto Search and Rescue initiative.

Within the broad range of themes discussed at the conference, each panel noted one particular issue: the threats we face have changed. Retired Vice-Admiral Dean McFadden said it best in his closing speech on the challenges ahead for allied naval forces: “If someone ten years ago had said that the naval forces of NATO, the European Union, China, India, and the Republic of Korea would deploy off the horn of Africa to counter the rapid rise of piracy, I think they would have been laughed at.”

Rear-Admiral David Gardam captured the new challenge, explaining, “it’s about being aware of what’s happening in your backyard, so that you can respond appropriately.”

Graham then tied these issues together. “Hopefully a conference of this nature … by focusing on the issues, by making us all aware of what those threats are, … will help us focus on how we want to encourage our political masters to ensure that we have the resources required to deal with them…. Militaries are famous for that; fighting the last war.”

Not all discussions were of future allied maritime capabilities. The former Maritime Component Commander for Operation Podium for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Gilles Couturier, offered a promising analysis of the joint inter-agency capabilities that Canada possesses. The conference also addressed a “holistic” approach to maritime security, noting that security of the Great Lakes, the Arctic, and shores beyond our border are all connected and should be dealt with as such by the proper governmental institutions including the RCN, Coast Guard and RCMP.

Of particular note was an enlightening mid-day interview of renowned journalist and Naval Reservist, Peter Newman. Honourary Captain Sonja Bata gracefully led the interview while a captivated audience could not help but absorb the historical knowledge shared between the two maritime icons.

In closing, McFadden noted that capacity building must become a larger part of allied forces foreign engagement, and that the variety of responsibilities of these forces are much wider than gunboat diplomacy.

He left the audience with a frank appraisal: “The existence of stable global maritime order has been such a long-standing and innocuous public good that we’ve not needed to pay it much mind. It had, within our lifetimes, been brought to a high state of perfection, not through the clash of arms, but through the negotiation of statesmen. But the United Nations Convention on the Law Of the Sea cannot be the high-water mark from which we retreat…. If we don’t appreciate the importance of the global maritime order on which so much of what we have is based and that this order is not sacrosanct and can be altered in ways not only injurious to us, but to the development of human kind, we will not summon the will to be vigilant in its defence. That order must not only be maintained, but be implemented more effectively than it has been. That, I believe, is the fundamental challenge we will face in this maritime century.”

Author: Andrew Murdoch Walker from the Aug/Sept 2012 issue publishedc

Share This Post On
468 ad

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On FacebookVisit Us On LinkedinVisit Us On Youtube