Last week, attendees from the defence and security sectors in Canada congregated together to discuss lessons learned, technological advancement and its impact on the industry at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa for the fourth annual C4ISR and Beyond event hosted by Vanguard Magazine.

“The 4th annual C4ISR & Beyond conference was an outstanding success,” says Terri Pavelic, editor-in-chief of Vanguard Magazine. “Approximately 150 attendees from military, industry and government challenged each other with thought-provoking questions and scenarios, that lead to enlightening ideas and new viewpoints on the art of the possible.”

The opening keynote speaker was the Rear-Admiral S.E.G. Bishop, CMM, CD Commander of Canadian Forces Intelligence Command and Chief of Defence Intelligence. He spoke about the future of information environment and the implications this will have on the Canadian Intelligence space.

The Rear-Admiral Bishop expressed the need to have up to date weaponry in this modernizing and ever-connected world. That by utilizing every device associated with the internet, the Canadian defence will have raw, outsourced intelligence in real-time.

“Every device will be ‘smart’ on tomorrow’s battlefield,” says Bishop. “Information collectors will be ubiquitous.”

The first panel of the day started strong and was led by LGen (Retired) Stuart Beare on weaponizing data. This panel focused on the sharing of experiences, insights and ideas born in the digital and technology sectors of industry that are not only living and leading in data and digital relevant to the CAF, DND, and C4ISR, but critical to realizing the very best possible outcomes digital and technology can bring in this age and the age to come. The panelists participating on this subject this year were, LGen (Retired) Michael Day, Strategic Adviser, MAG Aerospace; Carl Sharpe, Senior Principal Artificial Intelligence, Accenture; J. Sotropa, Chief Engineer, General Dynamics Mission Systems; and Richard L. Williams, Manager Surface Warfare Business Development, L3 Technologies.

They discussed the need to be cognisant on and off the battlefield and what we need to do to survive in this technological age. Divulging in what they believe should be fixed first – changing procurement models, education on every level, and R&D processes between military, government and industry.

“We need to accept three things,” says Carl Sharpe. “One, we need more data to view that data. Two, you can not hire your way out of the problem. Three, you have to accept that collecting less data is not a solution – we need to modernize.”

The second panel went on with the military view deliberating the CAF at large and the evolving nature of land, maritime and air warfare with reference to the key role that C4ISR plays at all levels in order to succeed in operations. The three speakers represented the air force, navy and land to represent the three forces that encompass the Canadian Military, and led an engaging panel disclosing the viewpoints from their respective sectors.

“The big thing is how do we enable the flow of information down to the tactical level and operators,” says Colonel D.A. Russel, CD, Director Canadian Army Land Warfare Centre. “We need a mobile warfighting headquarters that can move with the soldiers that can take in information from the strategic level down to the tactical level to enable them.”

As the day continued there were more perceptive panels that delved into stimulating topics such as delivering C4ISR through and for the SSE, and targeting in relation to the nature of cyber, space and intelligence needs and operations.

The luncheon keynote speaker, Rear-Admiral D.C. Hawco, CD Chief of Force Development, was of great insight into the impact of industry on government and the military. He proposed questions regarding what sort of relationship he would like to see with industry, and answering that industry is a dynamic system of competing entities that are striving for advantage in a non-linear but non-fixed system. That industry is not a homogenous or unstable thing.

Rear-Admiral D.C. Hawco, CD Chief of Force Development, speaking at C4ISR and Beyond 2018.

One of Rear-Admiral Hawco’s imperative sentences during his keynote was, “We also reflect in SSE how information technology, knowledge and problem solving are critical for Canada to allies to mitigate new threats, stay ahead of potential adversaries and meet defense and security needs.” He admitted it appeared to be a simple sentence, but that it underpins all that he would like to say.

The day was topped off with a networking reception that gave the opportunity for industry to discuss in more detail with government and military officials. The C4ISR and Beyond conference was an overall success with many looking forward to the event next year with more stirring and innovative topics.

“Following on from last year’s Defence Policy Review, it is important for those seeking to be involved in the outcomes to be as informed as possible when it comes to CAF thinking,” says Dave Masson, Canada Country Manager, Darktrace. “C4ISR provides an impressive platform for information, assessment and engagement.”

To see a slideshow of the event, go here.