Thursday, February 15, 2007

Military experts: protect Arctic

this is where our focus and military spending should be going; our own land should be our priority!

Military experts urge Ottawa to protect Arctic
February 15, 2007 CBC News

Military experts are calling on the federal government to step up efforts to protect and ensure its sovereignty in the Arctic.

Defence Requirements for Canada's Arctic — a new book released Thursday written by current and former Canadian military staff, along with other experts from Canada, the U.S. and Ireland — says the prospect of terrorist infiltration in the North is a real possibility.

It also says there will be increased pressure on the Arctic from a sudden and severe energy shortage in the western world.

Although Prime Minister Stephen Harper has promised the North a deep sea port, unmanned aerial drones and more military personnel, his government has yet to deliver.

With global warming opening up the Northwest Passage along Canada's north coast, the time for action is now, says Brian MacDonald of the Conference of Defence Associations Institute, which published the book.

"There is a requirement to quickly crank up the planning cycle to start to deal with the implications of the increasing reduction of the ice cover in the North, which is going to draw traffic into that area," MacDonald told CBC News.

Former chief of defence staff Paul Manson, who is now president of the defence institute, says the government needs to be ready to deal with the new Arctic.

"We want to be very sure that with global warming and the opening up of Arctic waters that we have control of shipping and also of over-flights by aircraft," he said. "As well, and related to that, the capability for search and rescue as well, in the event of mishaps in the North."

The Canadian Rangers should play a major role but they need the resources to do that, he said.

"They need better equipment, they need to do more exercising, more training," Manson said.

The book will now be sent to politicians and government defence staff. Its authors hope it will influence Canada's upcoming defence policy for the North.

A spokesperson for the Department of National Defence told CBC Wednesday the government's plan, called Canada First Defence Strategy, has not yet been finalized and no date has been set for its release