In its recently released statements on foreign and defence policy, the Canadian government stressed its intention to enhance security cooperation with the United States, drawing particular attention to the growing importance of the maritime dimension since September 11, 2001 and the beginnings of the global war on terrorism (GWOT).

American concerns with homeland maritime security were emphasized in late 2004 when President George W. Bush issued a directive to the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security to formulate a national maritime security policy. As reported in Inside the Navy, the directive calls for the two departments to ”œcraft new poli- cies and figure out what new equipment and organizations are necessary to tighten up security across the vast water- ways surrounding the United States, which are vulnerable to exploitation by terrorists.” Because the United States cannot address this threat without involving Canada, it may well be that maritime security issues will become the dominant concern of the Canada-United States defence and security relationship.

It is therefore important to appreciate how the US has been approaching the maritime dimension of homeland secu- rity and what are, and will be the implications for Canada.

In Pentagon parlance, the defence of the United States is a matter of playing the ”œaway game,” meeting threats at their source overseas, and the ”œhome game,” providing for the direct physical defence of the American people, eco- nomic infrastructure and liberty.

As the ”œshield of the Republic,” the modern United States Navy (USN) ”” from Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet, through Ronald Reagan’s 600-ship navy to the present day USN, which commands the world’s seas without serious chal- lenge ”” United States maritime forces have been primarily postured to bring power to bear far from American shores.

The new emphasis upon homeland security and defence notwithstanding, the USN has continued to emphasize for- ward defence in the GWOT as the best way it can contribute to maritime security at home. While the USN’s role may increase under a new national maritime security policy, it is the United States Coast Guard (USCG) that will remain the lead agency in maritime homeland security. The USCG is at once a military service, a federal law-enforcement agency, a regulatory authority of maritime transportation systems, and part of the new DHS all of which, as Coast Guard Admiral Thomas J. Collins has written, ”œplace it squarely at the center of national initiatives to reduce security risks.”

The terror of 9/11 has given greater impetus to what had already been for the United States a growing, concern with the seaward defences of the Republic and the leading role of the US Coast Guard in those efforts. Created in 1790, this so-called fifth branch of the US armed services is actually, under their definition, ”œthe oldest continu- ously operating seagoing service because the US Navy was disbanded in 1787, and not re-established until 1797 for the quasi-war with France.”

Since 1790, US Guard has been charged with protecting the coasts and ports of the United States. It is ”œcentral to homeland defence and security since it is the only US service that has national and international law enforcement authority,” and a long history of working with other federal, state and local agencies. It has also worked with foreign military services and law enforcement organi- zations. Following the initial deploy- ments on 9/11, the USCG strengthened its patrols of critical ports and harbours and increased is offshore surveillance. It activated its Special Interest Vessel (SIV) program, and closed US inland and territorial waters and offshore zones to ”œships flying certain flags or owned by citi- zens or groups of these countries or that had recently visited these coun- tries.” In the US governmental reor- ganization, the USCG, which had been under the Department of Transportation (except in time of war and emergency when it came under the DOD and USN) has been placed under Homeland Security. It has also promulgated its own Maritime Strategy for Homeland Security.

The United States Coast Guard also has a role in the ”œaway game” as it more directly impacts upon maritime home- land security. It is the lead agency in monitoring global port security in order to protect the United States from ship- borne terrorists attacks. The 9/11 Commission, in an addendum to its report, drew attention to the vulnerability of American ports to terrorist attacks and recommended that the DHS ”œbolster efforts to identify, track and screen suspicious cargo entering the country from foreign ports.” In January 2002, the Department of Homeland Security launched the Container Security Initiative (CSI) designed to increase security for container cargo shipped to the United States. Part of the program is to allow US inspectors into foreign ports ”œto help local authorities screen high-risk cargo.”

Under the CSI, the United States has also pressed the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization (IMO) to draw up new security stan- dards and plans for containers and ports world-wide. The new standards required ships to have a security officer, an alarm system, access restrictions to the engine room and bridge and a means of check- ing the identities of those aboard. On July 1, 2004, the IMO’s International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code took effect. Washington has said it will ”œstrictly enforce the code and expects other nations to do so” as well. However, as Reuters reported, as of May 2004, only about 23 percent of 5,578 ports worldwide had submitted security plans to meet tough new IMO standards by the deadline and of those with plans, only about 5.4 percent or 301, had been approved. The USCG did not hesitate to immediately enforce the new rules. From July 1 to 5, 2004, the United States denied entry to 42 foreign ships and detained 38 for failure to comply with the new IMO security code. By the fall of 2004, 17 countries, including Hong Kong, the Netherlands and Panama had not reported compliance with IMO standards, prompting the USCG to announced that it would increase boarding of vessels sailing under flags from these countries.

At home, the USCG is the lead federal agency for maritime homeland security. It not only has pri- mary responsibility for monitoring the immediate ocean approaches, but, consistent with its role in marine safe- ty, its area of operations include inland waterways, including the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes. Of partic- ular relevance for homeland security is the USCG’s jurisdiction in port securi- ty. It is the Coast Guard, acting under DHS, which is today undertaking a major effort to make sure that US ports improve their security against terrorist threats and enhance readiness in deal- ing with emergencies. A program of port vulnerability assessments has been undertaken to define vulnerabili- ties and determine what measures need to be taken to reduce them.

Working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies, the USCG is implementing a new US port security system. This will involve not only more advanced notification by ships entering American ports. Ships will have to report on their port of embarkation, flag, ownership, cargo and crew. A new computerized system that will track and send messages to vessels near major ports will be employed. Progressively being implemented, the port security system has ”œtransformed seaport patrols, restrictions and safety measures.” It will allow USCG officers throughout the United States, as the Boston Globe reported in 2004, ”œto board any ship, sometimes dropping from hel- icopters if they learn a member of its crew has suspicious paperwork.”

The new homeland security mis- sions are placing a strain on the USCG’s equipment and personnel. Steve Flynn told a the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation that the serv- ice ”œis not only struggling to carry out its new assignment, but its fleet of cut- ters and aircraft are being pushed to the breaking point and beyond to meet the combined imperatives of its traditional missions along with the new maritime homeland security mandate.” He noted as well that with force level only slightly larger than the New York Police Department, the USCG must ”œbear the burden of being America’s first line of defence along 95,000 thousand miles of shoreline and 3 million square miles of waters that are adjacent to US mar- itime borders.”

To replace its aging fleet of vessels and aircraft and to enhance its home- land security and defence capabilities, the USCG is undergoing a major re-cap- italization program: the Integrated Deepwater System program (IDS) or Deepwater. IDS is the largest acquisition program in USCG history. A twenty- year, US$11.04 billion endeavour, Deepwater will involve the replacement of the entire surface fleet, new aircraft, and improved C4ISR systems, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

In the past, the USCG’s intelligence operations had been directed prima- rily to support local commanders with the provision of information on drug trafficking, migrant interdiction and fisheries enforcement. The service has now sought to increase and widen its intelligence operations, doubling the number of personnel working it this area through reassignment and calling up of reserves. Under the 2002 Fiscal Intelligence Act, it has also been made a member of the US Intelligence Com- munity, the fourteen intelligence agencies and organizations that report to the Director of Central Intelligence. In addition the USCG has established two Maritime Intelligence Fusion Cen- ters one on each coast, at Dam Neck, Virginia and Alameda, California. The centres ”œprovide a round-the-clock watch over maritime traffic, follow vessels of interest and provide analysis and evaluate trends.” The information is provided to USCG units and to the Coast Guard Intelligence Coordination Center (ICC) at the National Maritime Intelligence Center in Suitland, Mary- land. The ICC ”œis responsible for pro- ducing and disseminating intelligence with a Coast Guard perspective to sup- port US policy-makers and operations. Co-located with the USN and other agencies, it also provides quick access to others responsible for the nation’s maritime domain awareness.” This allows the Coast Guard and the navy to pool information. As the USCG’s assistant commandant for intelligence observed, the Coast Guard ”œbrings to the table a lot of authorities and equi- ties that the navy doesn’t have, but the navy brings information to the table that the Coast Guard needs.”

Overall, the USCG is being ”œtrans- formed” from a policing and search and rescue service into a ”œmore militarized force aimed at stopping terrorists. Its helicopters are being armed with machine guns, it is training its person- nel to take control of hostile ships by force and it is, as the Boston Globe reported, ”œdeploying sensors, satellites, and surveillance cameras that feed new high-tech command centers.”

In the aftermath of September 11, the maritime dimensions of American national security policy and the implications for Canada were quickly noted. A month after the attacks, an Inter- departmental Marine Security Working Group was formed with representation from a number of federal government departments and agencies. The government also moved to implement several projects focusing ”œon safeguard- ing and protecting our marine infrastructure, surveillance of Canadian waters and improving our emergency response capabili- ties.”

Still, much more was needed. Warning of the possibility of further ”œnightmare scenarios” perpetrat- ed against the United States by terrorist groups employing asymmetric tactics, a Canadian Senate Committee drew atten- tion to what it assessed was the sorry state of maritime security in Canada and the implications for bilateral security relations, calling Canada’s three coasts and ocean approaches ”œthe longest under-defended borders in the world.”

It should not have been surprising that coastal defences have been found wanting just when their importance has never been more crucial. Although always a small to medium power, the outlook of Canada’s armed forces was, like that of the United States, oriented toward overseas operations. The sea has played a major role in the devel- opment of Canada. But the gates to the vast oceans were not meant to hide behind but to go through in search of wealth in peacetime and to project force abroad in war. While the navy did have responsibilities for sov- ereignty protection, search and rescue and fisheries patrols, during the Cold War homeland security was not a ”œtra- ditional” role for the ”œsenior service.”

After the Cold War, the focus of the Canadian navy moved even fur- ther from the national waters. Since 1989 it has been deployed to coastal waters throughout the world where regional or ethnic conflict is seen as requiring combined Western interven- tion. To this extent, the objective con- tained in Leadmark: The Navy’s Strategy for 2020, to become a ”œmedium global force projection navy that will serve Canada as a multipurpose, interopera- ble force capable of joint and com- bined operations worldwide,” were consistent with international security trends and overall Canadian foreign policy in the post-Cold War era.

Given this orientation, it was not surprising that Ottawa’s initial response to the American call for allied assistance in the war on terrorism immediately after 9/11 was to dispatch several of the Canadian navy’s most advanced surface ships. Practically and politically, ships were the easiest units to send right away. The deployment was fully in line with traditional Canadian responses dating back to the Korean War, through the Gulf War and into the heightened ”œnew” peacekeeping era of the 1990s. This demonstrated Canada’s commit- ment to the new global threat.

Given its wealth and power, the United States may well still be able to afford two militaries, one for overseas operations and one for homeland security and defence. (Although, given the strain resulting from the Iraq War on National Guard units, so necessary for homeland defence and security roles, even America may be not able to afford such a division.) Canada, however, must rely on one set of armed forces, one team, for both the home and away games. This is the approach that must be taken in setting Canadian defence poli- cy, especially the determina- tion of the proper roles, missions and equipment for the Canadian navy.

Just as air defence collabo- ration in the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) could not occur without Canada’s CF-18s, so too will any expansion of NORAD into maritime security or other separate maritime arrangements depend upon enhanced Canadian seapower specifically postured and dedicated to national and North American maritime security. The Canadian navy has already moved to address some homeland security issues, and has led efforts to facilitate interagency cooperation in maritime affairs. But in the bilateral context, capabilities are key.

As noted, the United States is seek- ing to improve its maritime domain awareness as part of the overall home- land security effort, with NORTHCOM as the major American Command. Sec- retary of Defense Rumsfeld has directed that the US military pursue a ”œmar- itime version” of NORAD. This has been the subject of the talks taking place within the Binational Planning Group at NORAD headquarters. According to NORTHCOM’s deputy director of operations, Admiral Arthur Brooks, USCG, ”œThe discussion of a maritime NORAD kind of awoke the dragon in the mountain: the real NORAD.” The bilateral command, as Defence Today observed in October 2004, is ”œvery interested for a lot of rea- sons. One of them is because there’s a whole bunch of water in their area of operations. And second, the Canadians are very interested in enhanced mar- itime engagement with the United States.” In Canada, the navy is the lead agency in achieving greater maritime domain awareness.

At issue for North American mar- itime security is that there is no real equivalent to the USCG on the Canadian side. The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) is not an armed service. It undertakes many of the roles that the USCG assumes in the area of marine safety, (the so-called black hull fleet) while the Canadian Navy is also called upon to undertake some missions simi- lar to those of the USCG, such as search and rescue and exclusive economic zone surveillance and enforcement. With respect to maritime security capabilities, however, the Canadian Navy also assumes the longer-range, armed enforcement and interdiction activities associated with the USCG’s so called white hull fleet.

In the April 2004 National Security Policy (NSP) Ottawa announced the creation of Marine Security Operations Centres (MSOCs). These MSOCs are to be headed by the CF, with additional staff from the Canada Border Services Agency, Transport Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the CCG. By facilitating cooperation between Canada’s maritime agencies, the MSOCs aim to streamline coastal surveillance and interdiction efforts. The NSP further pledges to increase on- water patrols to better ”œintervene, interdict and board ships that may pose a threat to Canada.”

Coupled with the navy’s direction of the MSOCs, this language sug- gests that navy ships will be tasked with more patrols. While the RCMP will like- ly perform some boarding and interdic- tion operations, the absence of armaments on CCG vessels precludes their interdiction of hostile ships. Since CCG vessels are unarmed, it would be precarious to ask the CCG to intercept ships whose crews may use force to dis- suade patrol vessels from coming along- side them. Only the navy has the weapons and mandate to respond in kind to the use of force. It thus follows that the naval frigates are likely to be tasked with additional patrols. As Philippe Lagassé has observed ”œTherein lies the Canadian maritime security conundrum: the vessels that provide the navy with a global projection capa- bility may be needed to better secure Canadian waters. Unless the CF acquires more capable coastal defence ships…or the CCG is refurbished with armed vessels and a mandate to use force, therefore, Ottawa may decide to restrict the navy’s expeditionary opera- tions to fill maritime security gaps.”

The point here is simply that now more than ever Canada continues to need a navy for all seas, especially if the government intends to make the defence of Canada and security co- operation with the United States its highest defence priorities. In the pres- ent strategic environment, given the requirement for enlisting the navy’s sophisticated surveillance and inter- diction capabilities for maritime homeland security, Canada needs a navy that can secure the national interests in all the seas that are impor- tant to securing the physical and eco- nomic well being of its people. Given the urgency of the maritime homeland security imperative, both for national and Canada-US reasons, the Canadian Navy, in contrast to the United States Navy, must take the lead.

The recently released defence poli- cy statement is clear in the prior- ity that is now to be given to the defence of Canada and proposes the establishment of a ”œsingle national command structure (Canada Command) to respond to national contingencies” and to provide better support for civilian authorities. Consistent with this thrust, the new policy suggests a larger role for the Navy in domestic and continental security. Working with, and some- times taking the lead the Navy will work other government agencies in preparing for and responding to mar- itime threats in Canada’s ocean approaches, along the coasts and in the St. Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes system. Amongst other propos- als, the new policy calls for the provi- sion of a naval task group of up to four combatants on each coast, ”œwith embarked maritime helicopters and a national command component, to protect the sovereignty and security of our oceans and maritime areas of jurisdiction.” The new policy also stressed the importance of enhancing maritime cooperation with the US in continental security either through an expanded NORAD, which includes a maritime component and coordina- tion of military support to civil authorities in the case of emergencies. It also calls for closer cooperation both the USN and the United States Coast Guard.

The new policy also calls for Canada to enhance its overseas capabilities. It would appear that the Navy intends to address the new priority accorded domestic and continental maritime security with forces that will be used for global roles, both those currently in the inventory and those proposed such as entirely new class of surface ships to replace the frigates and the destroyers. Given that much of Canada’s high-seas and force projection naval assets, includ- ing surveillance capabilities, are equally well suited for domestic and continental defence role, and that as noted, Canada cannot afford two armed maritime forces, this makes sense.

However, if in fact the security of Canada is now the top defence mission, it can be argued that the Navy should also be exploring the possibility of giving priority to acquiring the kind of vessels planned for the US Coast Guard under its Deepwater program which are specif- ically designed for homeland security missions, but which will be interopera- ble with the USN and capable of overseas deployment in littoral seas and foreign ports. In addition, care must be taken that the government does not deploy so much of the Navy overseas that it leaves the country vulnerable to terrorist attacks threats from the seas or unable to deal with maritime emergencies.

When the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee presented the highly integrative NORAD agree- ment to the then Prime Minister John Diefenbaker in 1957, he explained, as Joseph Jockel wrote in 1987, that ”œthere are no boundaries upstairs.” Thus Canada had to accept the American concern about the potential air threat to the United States that could come through Canadian airspace, a threat that made NORAD, with its unified operational command under a US gen- eral and provision for American fighters to enter Canada, necessary. Of course, in the context of the Cold War with its global setting and nuclear weapons and with the advent of missiles, there were no boundaries anywhere. Canada understood this, which is why in addi- tion to NORAD it had already helped to create, then became an active partici- pant in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. This perspective informed maritime strategy for the US and for Canada as well. The maritime defence of North America began ”œover there” in the littoral waters off the Eurasian land- mass and continued back in a seamless manner across the oceans to the coasts of Canada and the United States.

Much the same approach has been taken in the war on ter- rorism. In efforts to enhance the mar- itime security of the United States, there are no boundaries. Efforts focused on the immediate ocean approaches to the continent should be viewed as part of a continuum of actions and policies which begin at home, move outs the farthest reaches where terrorist and other threats may originate and then move back to encompass a wide variety of maritime homeland security and defence meas- ures in American coastal waters and ports. As in the Cold War, these actions and policies will have an impact upon Canada and its security ties with the United States.

There are, however, two major differences in the present global war on ter- rorism. First, while in a functional sense the sea is boundless and the USN focus remains overseas, since 9/11 the United States is placing more emphasis than ever before on guarding its own waters, ports and ocean approaches. And Washington is looking to Ottawa to join it in these efforts and do the same for Canadian waters. Second, the relative importance of non-traditional maritime assets in this effort has also heightened. What this means is that although the Canadian Navy will remain the major instrument for the projection of Canadian seapower overseas in concert with the USN, Canada’s contributions to the protection of the coasts and ocean approaches to the North American con- tinent will have to go well beyond its small, albeit highly effective navy. There is a requirement to make use of a myri- ad of other military and, above all, civil- ian measures and agencies (and the need to establish new institutions) that in the past had been neglected when it came to maritime security.

It is unclear what the framework for enhanced Canada-US maritime cooper- ation will be. Much may well depend on the outcome of the current US efforts to fashion a comprehensive national mar- itime security strategy. Most discussion thus far has focused on an expanded NORAD linked to USNORTHCOM and now perhaps the new Canada Com- mand. At the same time, the Canadian government’s International Policy State- ment suggests that ”œother measures to strengthen maritime and land defence cooperation withthe United States,” might be taken. Given that on the American side it is the USCG, an armed service and law enforcement agency that reports simultaneously to DHS and the Pentagon, through NORTHCOM, that is the lead maritime security agency, maritime security cooperation could be part of some kind of new approach involving DHS and the Cana- dian Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

Whatever the arrangements, the Canadian Navy will have a crucial role to play. It should continue to be capable of contributing to national security overseas while supporting the higher priority now accorded domestic and North American roles. For as the former NORTHCOM/NORAD Commander General Ralph Eberhart, USAF, once observed, the mission of homeland security is like playing an ”œaway game and a home game.” In war, just as in sports, it’s the away game that you ”œwant to win,” but it is the home game that you ”œmust win.”


This piece is based on Joel J. Sokolsky’s recent article, ”œGuarding the Continental Coasts: United States Maritime Homeland Security and Canada,” IRPP Policy Matters, Vol. 6, no. 1 (March 2005).

You are welcome to republish this Policy Options article online or in print periodicals, under a Creative Commons/No Derivatives licence.

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