Developing the future, capturing the present
Major-General Stuart Beare has clear lines of responsibility emanating from the Chief and Vice Chief of the Defence Staff as well as the Deputy Minister of National Defence. But the Chief of Force Development (CFD) does admit that even he has had to think twice when explaining the full scope of his office.
Before the Canadian Forces underwent a structural transformation in 2006, the Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff had responsibility for such strategic capabilities as defence intelligence, operational sustainment, space and cyberspace that did not fit neatly into the realms of the army, navy and air force, but which enabled them tactically. Today, some of those capabilities reside within the office of CFD.
Mindful of defence policy and strategy, Beare’s challenges are complex. He is a steward of joint capabilities and a capability based planner. His division forms the critical nucleus of a strategic long-term planning staff, serving the CDS through the Vice Chief’s office. Furthermore, while CFD advises on future options, he also captures and institutionalizes the Canadian Forces’ best practices. He spoke with editors Robert Beaudoin and Chris Thatcher.
CFD is a product of transformation. In a nutshell, how do you define your role?
We provide the means, the lenses, the analytics, the decision support and the vernacular for departmental and Canadian Forces’ leaders to make difficult but informed choices about the CF of tomorrow.
There are really four major lines of decision. One is to provide the future security analysis and the capability-based planning support to inform policy and strategy. We’ve embarked on a strategy development effort for DND with CF and departmental leaders that will incorporate the various departmental strategies – Information Management, Space, Land, etc.
The second is to actually run the capability-based planning system to inform our investment plan: our five to 20-year projection of the use of defence resources to deliver operational capability. I use future security analysis and concept development to drive the capability-based planning system, which then informs our capability alternatives in the future – everything from maritime platforms through to space, cyber, cognitive and organizational options.
The third line speaks to joint capability that doesn’t live in the army, navy or air force – things like space, CBRN, cyber and integrated command and control. Easy to say, difficult to understand what that implies. I’m a departmental authority on some of these. I’m the functional authority for space like the army commander is the functional authority for Land operations.
Finally, there is the joint warfare agenda, which is about doctrine, training support and lessons learned, and the warfare sciences to support that, to support concept development capability-based planning. It’s not a joint warfare centre in the context of Land, Maritime and Air; it’s a CF warfare centre that looks at the integration of Air, Maritime and Land, ops strategic systems and interagency issues. It is the one place in the CF where we can provide persistent replication of our command and control systems, so we are not using the ones in operations to experiment with.
Sometimes we can be accused of schizophrenia. Fundamentally, I run CFD as a force-developing institution, providing inputs to inform policy and strategy as well as to drive concepts and capability-based planning to inform our investment plan. It’s all about future concepts, matched against the Canada First Defence Strategy (CFDS).
Much of this capability and strategy has become highly integrated as a result of the tempo of operations.
The Canadian Forces of today have three major force generators: Air, Maritime and Land. When we embark on a mission, we integrate the CF around these major force generators. Haiti, for example, was a Land effect, but we piled in Air and Maritime forces underneath a joint task force to deliver that effect.
Then there are other environments – space, cyber, operational strategic ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) systems; information operations such as computer security, computer network exploitation, psychological operations; interagency engagement, what we call whole-of-government; and most important, ops sustainment, the strategic supply systems for projecting and sustaining missions.
The sum of all this has become the CF in operations. Part of our work is making sure that these things are stewarded, that they are being developed and generated and sustained in their own right, and that they are fully integrated in force generation and enable integration within Land, Maritime, Air, Special Forces, space and cyber at the tactical level.
My most significant preoccupation is normalizing this. We’re doing it today in Afghanistan, at the Vancouver Olympics, in Haiti. These missions are compelling us to integrate. But as we withdraw from Afghanistan, as we complete the Games, as we repatriate from Haiti, what happens to the functions that are forcing this integration?
We need a baseline. My task is to ensure there is a baseline for these within the institution so that they do not have to be redeveloped for the next operation.
The veterans of these missions understand this. They know that if they show up only with what they own, they end up working for somebody else. But if we bring our tactical package with the ops systems, now it’s somebody else working with or even for us. This is a qualitative difference.
Has CFD allowed the Forces to distinguish between ops and future planning in a way that did not exist before?
In the past, if you had to choose between working on the CF of tomorrow and its capabilities or working on operations, ops always won. We needed to make sure ops wins all the time in our command and control model, ergo the creation of CEFCOM and Canada Command. They don’t have force development or force generation responsibilities per se. They integrate and relate to development generation efforts. In the institution of tomorrow, these other strategic capabilities could be packaged differently, but we don’t want them to creep back into a competition for ops.
Given the broad sweep of CFD, what are your top priorities?
I have three horizons of priorities. The first is to provide capability choice analysis support to the process that is playing out right now. So in our current Strategic Review, as we generate reallocation and reinvestment alternatives, they are formed by where we want to be tomorrow: the security environment we are going to be in, how we want to operate in that environment, and the capabilities – strategic to tactical – that we would want to see in the baseline for that environment.
The second horizon is making sure we bound the structure of the CF of tomorrow within the sum of all these capabilities. Our structure today is predominantly driven by the demands for modernization of Air, Maritime and Land capabilities, which are undeniable and real.
Horizon three is to make sure we are embarking on shaping the scene for the future policy, strategy and capability-based planning cycle. Four years ago when we stood up Force Development, General Mike Ward took the headquarters on its first cycle that gave us our first capability road map, which was then fed into our investment plan. The roadmap was an indication of our platform needs for Land, Maritime, Air and other capabilities. Because it was the first cycle, he could only look at the capital part of our needs, not our structure.
Now we’re embarking on another round. And in this next cycle, we’re closing some of the gaps we identified during the first round. In the first cycle, we were working on the future security analysis. It wasn’t published. We will finish that so leaders have a shared appreciation for the potential futures that are out there. While it’s not predictive, it is anticipatory in terms of potential shocks and the consequences of those shocks; the national security interests of Canada are based on those shocks. And when you lay the three roles, six missions of the CFDS on top of that, what does it mean for defence and the CF?
We’re going beyond the integrated capstone concept, which was a draft in our last cycle. At the time, we focused on Air, Maritime and Land. Space and cyber were modestly but not robustly accounted for in the last round, and these integrating capabilities need to be up front beside ships, planes and tanks.
Our integrating concept for the Arctic, for example, recognizes that we have a security environment that identifies “trends” like climate change, energy competition, demographics, technology. We have specific national interests in the Arctic, we have a specific government strategic vision for the Arctic. This concept is our articulation of what we think we need to do. Beneath it will be our operating concepts, and we’ll use those to frame our choices for capabilities in the CF of tomorrow, be it platforms, structure or otherwise. We’re developing the lens against which options will be compared.
Your Future Security Environment document looks out to 2030. What are the most significant threats you have to account for?
It’s not one trend on its own that makes the difference. It’s the consequences of the trends colliding in either a positive or negative way. For example, we know that climate change is either exacerbating or exacerbated by a lot of other trends. And when they collide in a negative way, it becomes an issue of human and national security. Take an economic downturn in a region with a growing criminal structure, an ineffective military, a population that is on the move because of eroding coastlines, and an ineffectual political system affected by regional implications – you can rhyme them off. It leads to regional human security issues with international security implications. What are Canada’s national interests as these trends play out? Our response is right out of the Future Security Environment – a comprehensive, adaptive, integrative and networked approach.
What does it mean in terms of capability? We need to be able to monitor our environment, which in this case includes environmental change, climate change and the national and security environments. We need strategic reach. If it’s in our interest to be there, we’ve got to be able to get there and stay there. We need to be able to integrate and to network, and we need to be able to provide the security guarantee, which is the combat guarantee.
And then there is the qualitative component. It’s not limited to commanding what we own, it’s understanding and influencing what we do. Our guarantee is to command forces and win battles. But we need to be able to do so in a way that enables other government agencies and our coalition partners to deliver a particular outcome. A cognitive capacity that understands this is required. And you need a social factor to work with others, whether it’s interagency or indigenous populations.
The concept of a Comprehensive Approach to operations has gained a lot of ground in recent years. Has the involvement of other departments affected future force development?
The Comprehensive Approach is built right into our force development/force generation base at all levels. It is an integrating concept that has to penetrate into everything we do. Experientially, it is getting better. There is a growing group of veterans in the CF and other departments who have gone from being the workers to the executive leaders. Institutionally, they are still frustrated by the lack of capacity to separate what we would call force development/force generation from force employment. Many of those institutions are one hundred percent force employers. They have been built to run programs. They don’t have the same resources as the CF to develop concepts and introduce them into the organizational culture. Within the limits that exist, frankly they are doing great work. What we want to do is baseline ourselves so that it becomes the norm – let’s make extraordinary ordinary – and then help them to do the same. There’s no question that a whole-of-government effort is at the core of effective intervention. We need to build it into our training and education up front, we can’t just introduce it on the eve of a deployment.
How are you capturing the lessons learned from these operations?
The lessons-learned feedback loop of our warfare centre is meant to inform our choices in doctrine, organization and training in the future. The Afghanistan mission has created an annual cycle of institutional learning based on the Land ops after-action review. The entire Land ops leadership team comes together to do a year-end review. What are the things we want to learn? What are the key deductions and what is the change agenda based on those deductions? This year we are adding to that a joint CF after-action review. Learning at this level is what we try to do, and any change here should result in changes to CF doctrine, structure, training and force development. It’s my job to facilitate this.
You are in the midst of a force structure review: Given what you’ve learned in recent operations, are there significant structural changes required?
We do need to improve our stewardship over the joint integrating capabilities; we need to make sure there are no gaps. We need to make sure that on repatriation from our major missions the things we’ve built based on the exigencies of that op that we want to keep don’t fall through the cracks. And we have to make sure that the new normal of the CF stays, and is looking forward, not retreating back to 2005 or 2002. We’re not reconstituting just the army, which is the main demand of our reconstitution effort, we’re reconstituting the force. Ops support, health services, defence intelligence and the like – all these things need to be set for the next battlegroup.
How do potential budget changes affect your timelines?
It constrains flexibility; it does not undo the requirement. The purpose still persists. We adjusted our structural review submission to make sure we didn’t fail on the Strategic Review. We didn’t want to distract the institution, which is at war in Afghanistan, with the Strategic Review and the fiscal end-of-year cycle.
An interview with MGen Stuart Beare