Small Wars Journal

2013 Strategic Outlook for Canada

Mon, 02/25/2013 - 10:30am

20 February 2013, Ottawa: The Conference of Defence Associations Institute (CDA Institute) today released its major annual study examining the international strategic landscape and how Canada will meet challenges in security and defence, as well as the defence and security dimension of its foreign affairs.

The 2013 Strategic Outlook for Canada makes 28 recommendations to the Government of Canada to change how it plans for the future security environment and for the continued reform of security and defence thinking. Co-authors George Petrolekas and Ferry de Kerckhove also provide a Report Card for how the Government did in accepting the 2012 Strategic Outlook's recommendations

The report is available at the following link:  

The paper conducts comprehensive assessments covering a wide array of topics. These include the difficulties and long-term risks of not implementing meaningful transformation in the Canadian Forces, which risks creating a "hollow" force, as well as the weaknesses in Canadian national infrastructure and how it must be hardened against cyberattack.

Beyond these immediate issues, four substantive trends and issues are identified: 

  • A deepening divide between aspirations of the governed and their governments. This is most evident in the social upheavals of the Middle East which have transformed an Arab Spring in 2011 into an Islamist Winter in 2012;
  • The fiscal condition of many states, the decline of western economic performance and subsequent confidence, is forcing a primacy of focus on domestic policies but economic interest has emerged as the key factor in what drives foreign policy considerations. Pragmatism, based on economic considerations, over principle has emerged as an identifiable trend and will guide decisions well into 2013;
  • The Government has not articulated a comprehensive vision or outlook for Canada, as would be expected in a defence and foreign policy review, which would provide the clarity needed by both the defence and foreign affairs communities in future planning - the need for which is more pronounced in times of fiscal restraint; and,
  • Of the 5 conflict scenarios in 2013 this paper identifies, many-from Gaza to the South China Sea-have the potential to erupt moreso as a function of accident than by design.

For follow up or interview requests, please contact the study coauthors or the CDA Institute.