26 mars 2020 | Local, C4ISR, Sécurité

All-volunteer cyber civil defence brigade assembles to fight COVID-19 hackers

Number of online attacks on health care institutions jumped 475 per cent in one month, says one report

Murray Brewster

Civil defence used to involve air raid wardens, ambulance drivers and rescue teams.

That was at the height of the Cold War, and the hot wars of the 20th century that preceded it. These days, it means taking the fight online — against hackers and cyber criminals looking to take down or ransom critical infrastructure, such as hospitals.

The COVID-19 crisis has prompted Canadian IT professionals to form an all-volunteer cyber defence team to protect Canada's hospitals, health-care providers, municipalities and critical infrastructure from online attacks during the COVID-19 crisis.

The SecDev Group, which has pioneered advanced analytics and cyber safety, has been spearheading the recruitment effort and has asked information technology professionals to step up and provide preventative measures and remedial services.

'Preying on fear'

"Hackers are targeting hospitals and health care providers, preying on their distraction, fear and anxiety and their hope for a cure," said Rafal Rohozinski, principal and CEO of the SecDev Group

"Posing as public health officials from the World Health Organization, [the] Centers for Disease Control and UNICEF, cyber criminals are flooding hospitals, medical laboratories, vaccine testing facilities, municipalities and critical service providers with phishing emails, forcing some to shut down."

Twelve companies and associations have signed on to the initiative. Together, they plan to set up a secure online exchange to match high-tech professionals — who will volunteer their services free of charge — with agencies and institutions that need help to shore up their cyber protection, or to deal with an intrusion.

"It's both a patriotic and public service reflex," said Rohozinski. "If the internet goes down, and in particular if critical institutions that we count on — like hospitals, like cities, like utilities — start to be ransomed or start to go down because of cyber malfeasance, we're all in a lot of trouble."

The exchange website is still in the process of being built, but Rohozinski said it will launch within days.

Online attacks exploded since pandemic began

Across the globe, the number of coronavirus-related attacks on health-care institutions has increased by 475 per cent in just the past month, according to a SecDev Group assessment.

At the moment, no Canadian hospitals or institutions have reported being attacked.

Rohozinski said there have been signs of trolling by both cyber criminals and so-called "state actors" — including some of the Russian groups identified by U.S. intelligence as being behind the tampering in the 2016 presidential election.

The Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Canada's electronic intelligence service, has said it has taken down some fake websites that were posing as government departments and institutions and trying to scam people.

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department was recently targeted and the FBI has warned that hospitals in the states with the highest rates of infection — California, New York and Washington — should be on the alert for attacks from foreign actors.

Hammersmith Medicines Research, a British company that is on standby to perform medical trials on any potential COVID-19 vaccine, was hit with an online attack last week, according to published reports.

Over the last few days, according to a Bloomberg news report, hackers targeted hospitals in Paris with a major cyberattack. A hospital in the Czech Republic was also hit last week in what is thought to have been a ransomware attack, which forced administrators to take the network offline.

Forbes Magazine reported late last week that the cybercrime groups behind the DoppelPaymer and Maze ransomware threats had promised not to target health care organizations during the COVID-19 crisis — but at least one of the groups was reportedly linked to a recent attack.

Remote work networks are vulnerable

An executive at one of the companies now volunteering for the cyber civil defence initiative said one area where institutions likely need help is in protecting the virtual private networks (VPNs) of employees who've been forced to work from home because of the crisis.

Robert Mazzolin, the chief cyber security strategist at the RHEA Group, said the VPN systems used by most hospitals, power plants and other utilities were never designed to support so many secure connections outside the workplace.

"The world is fundamentally different than it was a week ago and I don't think any large corporation or institution realistically would have been prepared to see virtually its entire workforce be working from home via remote connections," said Mazzolin, a former brigadier-general who was responsible for cyber operations in the Canadian military.

"That places a large stress on an institution's communications workforce. The threats out there, including ransomware — it's important to be able to defend VPNs that are stretched well beyond their normal capacity and limits."

He said his company and staff, who regularly work for the European Space Agency, will be able to provide insight and capability that will complement existing networks.

The mandate of CSE is to protect the federal government's electronic network and — through its cyber security centre — to provide advice and guidance to people and businesses looking for cyber security information.

Rohozinski said there's a difference between providing advice and actively helping in the defence and the initiative has CSE's support.


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  • Opinion: After Major Mergers, What’s Next For Defense Market?

    25 septembre 2019 | Local, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR, Sécurité

    Opinion: After Major Mergers, What’s Next For Defense Market?

    By Byron Callan This year has shaped up as a record one in terms of the volume of major defense transactions so far announced. Considering deals of $100 million or more in announced value where defense is the primary factor, the 2019 total exceeds $61 billion. Of course, the largest single example is the Raytheon-United Technologies Corp. (UTC) merger. There are reasons to expect heightened activity in 2019 and 2020. Some reasons are known and others can be assessed, but one that does not appear to be affecting market expectations is the Raytheon-UTC deal. Since it was announced on June 9, the companies' share prices have declined from the June 7, close: Raytheon's by 4% and UTC's by 5.7%. The S&P 500 has been flat. However, share prices of peers have risen—General Dynamics is up 5.4%, L3Harris Technologies has increased 6.2%, Lockheed Martin and Leidos have climbed 7% and Northrop Grumman is up 14.4%. These price moves may be attributable to safe-haven seeking by investors who were spooked by global economic concerns and trade wars, but the budget deal reached by Congress also was a factor, as were July earnings reports. The price reactions, however, do not suggest that investors are particularly concerned about the impact of the competitive strength of the Raytheon-UTC union and its ability to take market share away from peers. Nor do they suggest that the deal will trigger a rush by defense-focused companies to merge with commercial ones. Were the latter to be the case, the price reactions may have been similar to Raytheon and United Technologies'. There have been other known developments that raise the question of what is next. Kaman Corp. sold its industrial distribution business for $700 million and will seek to redeploy that capital into engineering products businesses, some of which could involve defense. L3Harris signaled in June that it is undertaking a portfolio cleanup after the completion of the merger, and so there should be divestitures from that company. Textron announced in August that it was reviewing “strategic alternatives” for Kautex, which makes blow-molded fuel systems and other parts primarily for the automotive industry. Presuming that it leads to a sale of that business, Textron will have cash, some of which might be spent on defense. There are general factors as well that could spawn sector merger and acquisition activity in 2019-20. One of the biggest is the potential uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the 2020 U.S. elections. Buyers and sellers have to weigh a number of variables. If the current administration is reelected and control of Congress remains split at least through 2022, then it may be safe to assume that the status quo will continue. One variable within the status quo is how contractor portfolios could be affected by the ongoing efforts of the Pentagon to better align its programs with the National Defense Strategy. Like the Army's “night court” process, this may yet spawn a reassessment of specific programs and their future growth outlook. But if the status quo does not prevail, defense contractors could face a wall of uncertainties in 2020 and may choose to act before rather than after these uncertainties are clarified. First, they will have to assess which Democratic candidate could win the primary cycle and then the nomination. If it is a centrist candidate, the Defense Department spending outlook might not change all that much, although exports to some countries might be curtailed and there could be changes in some Pentagon budget priorities, particularly for nuclear forces modernization. A more progressive-leaning candidate might raise the risk of a more subdued defense budget outlook, particularly if fiscal resources are instead directed toward health care, infrastructure, student debt and other nondefense priorities. Second, there will have to be an assessment of whether a Democratic win of the White House could also flip control of the Senate to the Democrats. If there is a Democrat in the White House but a Republican majority in the Senate, the Senate could still check budgets or policies that may be detrimental to defense. It might also block efforts to roll back changes to tax laws made in 2017. A third variable to be assessed is the attitude of a new administration toward defense mergers and acquisitions, contractor financing and risk. A more progressive administration could look very differently at the structure and financial status of contractors. All these variables will lead to different analyses of current and future value in defense. Is it a good time to hunker down and wait to see what happens or to act in the time that remains in 2019-20 before investors and creditors draw their own conclusions? These uncertainties alone suggest that some will act in anticipation of a change rather than just wait and see. https://aviationweek.com/defense/opinion-after-major-mergers-what-s-next-defense-market

  • Defence Investment: Strong, Secure and Engaged

    22 mai 2019 | Local, Aérospatial

    Defence Investment: Strong, Secure and Engaged

    By Jon Robinson What the RCAF gains in Canada's 20-year Defence plan A few straightforward statistics – among mountains of convincing data available to be pulled – describe Canada's need for its historically aggressive Strong, Secure, Engaged policy first introduced in mid-2017 for the Canadian Armed Forces. This includes the pending, marque procurement of a new-generational fighter fleet, given the age of Canada's current CF-188 Hornets first procured in 1983. What's more, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) pegs its responsibility as covering an area greater than 15 million square kilometres. Statistics from the Department of National Defence (DND) indicate approximately 600,000 aircraft enter and exit Canadian air-space annually, among some 4.3 million total flights, including 90,000 transpolar flights. There are 800,000 ship movements annually within Canadian waters, according to DND, and more than 8,000 search-and-rescue call outs per year. At the Canadian Aerospace Summit held in Ottawa in mid-November 2018, Brigadier-General Michel Lalumière shared these statistics on the opening slide of his presentation to members of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada, along with succinct words about the importance of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF): Canada's defence and security depends on air power – Geography determines; history proves it. From search and rescue (SAR) missions and disaster response to NORAD cooperation and NATO commitments, the RCAF in terms of spending allocation will be the biggest benefactor of Strong, Secure, Engaged (SSE) among all branches of the CAF. SSE is built on a 20-year horizon to meet more than 200 CAF objectives, but it is being driven by a significant, initial 10-year increase in defence cash spending from $18.9 billion in 2016/17 to $32.7 billion in 2026/27 – an increase of more than 70 per cent. The government of Canada's total defence spending over the next 20 years is projected to reach $553 billion on a cash basis. By 2024/25, defence spending in Canada will grow to 1.4 per cent of GDP, while the expenditure on major equipment will also reach 32 per cent, exceeding the NATO target of 20 per cent. These near-term projections are largely based on the timeline of CAF's Future Fighter Capability Project, targetting a commitment to acquire 88 advanced fighter aircraft with first deliveries anticipated in 2025. SSE is now organized under the government's Defence Investment Plan, which was made public for the very first time in late May 2018 by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan. For continued transparency, the Investment Plan will be refreshed annually and approved by the Treasury Board every three years. RCAF investments The 20-year plan for the RCAF with new investments alone will reach $46.5 billion, which accounts for 49.4 per cent of the CAF's total spend of $93.9 on capital projects. This will be focused on what is described as 52 critical equipment, infrastructure and information technology projects. There are some discrepancies in the numbers with SSE being introduced in 2017 and the Investment Plan launching in 2018. The latter document pegs total spending on capital projects at around $107.9 billion, when also including services and goods, with $47.2 billion earmarked for the RCAF. The increase in capital project spending outlined in SSE is attracting the attention of domestic and international suppliers from every facet of aviation and aerospace; largely because the policy moves well beyond the Future Fighter program to touch on 16 other large projects, including: Acquiring space capabilities to improve situational awareness and targeting; integrating new command and communications systems; replacing air-to-air tanker transport, utility transport and multi-mission aircraft fleets; investing in medium-altitude remotely piloted systems; modernizing air-to-air missile capabilities; upgrading air navigation, management and control systems; acquiring new aircrew training systems; recapitalizing existing capabilities until the arrival of next-generation platforms; sustaining domestic SAR capabilities; and operationalizing the CAF's new fixed-wing SAR fleet. The majority of SSE spending on capital projects, when categorized by asset class under the Investment Plan, is earmarked for equipment, accounting for approximately $76.9 billion, followed by what the government labels as “other” at $14.1 billion; IM/IT at $12.1 billion; and infrastructure at $4.9 billion. As BGen Lalumière explains, the scope of SSE has developed a need for expansive Request for Proposals, including the first draft sent out in October 2018 for the Future Fighter program, inviting Boeing, Dassault, Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH, Lockheed and Saab to participate in the process. The formal RFP for Canada's Future Fighter program is expected to be released this spring, with a contract then awarded in 2021/22. “You need to fully understand the size of the challenge... by and large our geography can be described as four and a half time zones, or six and a half time zones depending how far out to sea, including the economic exclusive zones we care deeply about. We are 45 degrees of latitude north to south,” explains Lalumière. “When you are in defence you do not wait for what is fast and easy to come at your border. Of course, we look much further than this and [therefore] we are quickly interested in a quarter of the planet at all times.” In February 2019, the RCAF took delivery of two Australian F/A-18A Hornets, at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, as part of an interim measure until Canada's new fighter fleet is secured and delivered. Canada initially planned to buy 18 new Boeing Super Hornets, but scrapped that plan in late-2017 in favour of 18 Australian F-18 Hornets – expected to be delivered at regular intervals until the end of 2021. This is part of SSE policy to ensure Canada has mission-ready aircraft to meet domestic and international obligations. The move was also linked to political motivations following Boeing protests with the World Trade Organization (WTO) around unfair subsidies provided by the Canadian government to Bombardier for its CSeries aircraft program, now under majority control of Airbus and renamed as the A220 Series. This same logic, however, would place the Saab Gripen E/F bid in the Future Fighter program at a disadvantage after Brazil in 2018 registered its own WTO complaint around Bombardier subsidies. With Brazil's 2014 commitment to the Saab Gripen platform, Embraer became a major partner to manufacture the aircraft and to also help develop the two-seat F variant of the Gripen – with the E variant being the single seater. With Dassault's self-removal from the Future Fighter RFP (confirmed on November 8 by Agence France-Presse), the idea of WTO disputes impacting procurement would leave just one viable Future Fighter candidate in the Eurofighter Typhoon, but even this multi-nation platform (Airbus, Leonardo, BAE) would create complications considering newly proposed U.S. tariffs targetting civil aircraft from the European Union, specifically what the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative labels as launch subsidies given to Airbus and impacting Boeing. Given today's range of WTO aviation disputes, it becomes difficult to predict how political pressures of the day might influence Canada's Future Fighter RFP, particularly when the fleet is projected to last into the 2060s. Canada, as an early industrial partner of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program, has not been immune from domestic pressures concerning its Future Fighter decision. Despite its participation in the F-35 program since 1997, Justin Trudeau's Liberal government in November 2015, just days after being elected into office, cancelled an order for 65 Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft. The order was made in 2010 by Stephen Harper's Conservative government, which in 2012 was then accused of lying to Canadians about the cost of the F-35s. The Conservatives, according to the National Post (April 2012), pegged the cost at around $16 billion, including $9 billion for the aircraft and another $7 billion for maintenance and training, even as the government knew the true cost would be around $25 billion. In October 2018, however, The Globe and Mail reported Canada paid another $54 million toward development of the F-35 stealth fighter, bringing its total investment in the joint program to approximately half a billion dollars over the last 20 years. Participating in the program provides countries with access to supplier contracts and price reductions on the purchase of F-35 aircraft, which will ultimately be a major factor in determining which supplier wins the Future Fighter bid. From fighters to strategic transport On April 17, 2019, Lockheed Martin announced it has moved some F-35 suppliers to what it calls longer-term Performance Based Logistics contracts and Master Repair Agreements – beyond what had been one-year contracts – to improve supply and reduce costs. The F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) states the F-35's newer production aircraft are now averaging greater than 60 per cent mission-capable rates. Lockheed Martin has reduced its portion of operating costs per aircraft by 15 per cent since 2015. The F-35 JPO goal is to deliver 80 per cent mission capable rates in the near term, and achieve a $25,000 Cost per Flight Hour by 2025. In April 2019, Inside Defense reported the F-35 JPO has been working with the prime contractor Lockheed Martin and engine-maker Pratt & Whitney to reduce the cost of the F-35A to $80 million by 2020. Inside Defense also reported that Lockheed Martin expects to increase production rates by 40 per cent in 2019 with the delivery of 131 F-35 aircraft. These projections are significant in that it aligns the initially expensive F-35 platform with the other Future Fighter contenders on both cost per flight hour and cost per unit. A primary difference between the Future Fighter contenders is that the F-35 is classified as a true fifth-generation fighter relative to fourth-generation platforms, which are sometimes noted as 4.5 generation based on potential upgrades. Fourth-generation fighters are naturally less expensive based on per-unit costs, but also raise concerns around upgrades and effectiveness against potential threats out to 2060, as Russia prepares to introduce the Sukhoi Su-57 in 2019 and China continues developing the Chengdu J-20 – both being fifth-generation fighters. The new SSE vision for Canadian defence translates Strong as Home, Secure as North America, and Engaged as World. The Secure portion of the policy outlines Canada's intent to eliminate threats in North America primarily through its NORAD partnership with the United States. Dassault noted Canada's extensive interoperability requirements with U.S. forces as a primary reason for its RFP withdrawal. The opening of the Arctic – and clear intentions from Russia and Nordic countries to gain control in the polar region – places more emphasis on developing defence capabilities in tandem with the U.S. But this cooperation can also be found in SSE surveillance and communications projects. SSE does not expressly account for a North Warning System Replacement, but it is on the table as a NORAD project. The Defence Investment Plan also holds a range of measures for improved sensors and control. BGen Lalumière in October describes these as SSE highlights, including the acquisition of new Tactical Integrated Command, Control and Communications, radio cryptography, and other necessary systems (Tic3Air), as well as upgraded air navigation management and control systems (MFATM); space-based development projects like the RADARSAT constellation mission; medium earth orbit search and rescue (MEOSAR); defence enhanced surveillance from Space (DESS-P); and Surveillance of Space 2 (SofS 2). Lalumière also points to SSE highlights directly affecting the future of CAF aircraft (around 350 among all current Canadia military fleets). The new Strategic Tanker Transport Capability project to replace the CC-150 and CC-130T is to provide a first draft proposal in 2027, although the CAF has expressed a desire to accelerate that timeline. The fixed-wing SAR C295W project expects to see its first proposal in 2019. The Utility Transport Aircraft project to replace the CC-138 Twin Otter is expected to begin in 2025 and the Canadian multi-mission aircraft project, to replace the CP140 Aurora, is expected in 2033. The timeline for the Remotely Piloted Aircraft System project for medium-altitude ISR & Strike capabilities is still to be determined, but companies are already positioning themselves to be a part of the process. The Cormorant Mid-Life Upgrade modernization project is currently ongoing and noted by Lalumière as a key part of SSE. The Future Fighter program also relates to major investments in training, defined in part as the Fighter Lead-In Trainer project. Current training is provided under contract with CAE for what is defined as NFTC (NATO Flying Training in Canada). The CFTS portion for advanced flight training of both multi-engine and rotary-wing is currently under contract with KF Aerospace. A third component for Air Combat Systems Operators and Airborne Electronic Sensor Operators is currently provided by 402 Squadron, which will be rolled into an overall SSE training project called Future Aircrew Training (FAcT). The CAF is clearly putting an emphasis people as the ultimate SSE ingredient to achieve its objectives. This includes programs around health and wellness, civilian life transition, tax relief and diversity. SSE targets an increase to the CAF's regular force by 3,500 personnel, as well as an increase of 1,500 in the reserve force. Approximately 12,000 personnel are currently in RCAF's regular force, as well as 2,100 reserves and 1,500 civilians. “People will be the limitation in our ability to move at this pace,” explains Lalumière. “Twenty years, 10 years happens very quickly when it is all dependent on people.” https://www.wingsmagazine.com/defence-investment-strong-secure-and-engaged/


    5 mars 2020 | Local, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre, C4ISR, Sécurité


    CDR recently sent Ottawa Bureau Chief, James Careless, to interview Canada's newly re-appointed Minister of National Defence, and with a number of high profile capital projects, such as CSC and FFCP currently in play, there was a lot to talk about. Sajjan is now a veteran in this portfolio and he spoke candidly about international missions, defence policy, procurement, and Canada's role in NATO. There were some surprises too. Here is our in-depth conversation with the Minister. CDR: Minister, it's good to speak with you again for, what's become, our annual chat. Can we start by looking what progress is being made on major capital projects like Future Fighter, and as a corollary to that, what new procurements do you think we'll be seeing in 2020? Minister Sajjan: When it comes to procurement projects and our defence policy, one of the things that Canadian defence industry asked us to do is to provide predictability. We've done that. Even though the defence policy is a 20 year program, we have put out a 10 year defence investment plan to industry. This gives them an idea of where we're at – and we're updating that. Obviously, we've got major procurement projects that are ongoing, but within that there are multiple projects. I'm happy to say that the vast majority are in implementation. Some are already closed and, and there's only a few that still have to be started. The Canadian Surface Combatant ship has been selected, while the Future Fighter is obviously an extremely important one that is under way. But there's a lot of other projects happening that are just as important. STARTING LAV PROJECT SOONER CDR: What role has your ‘Strong, Secure, Engaged' defence policy played in speeding up defence procurement? Minister Sajjan: One of the things about our defence policy is that it gives us authorization to move money around. This allows us to do projects faster when opportunities make this possible. The LAV support projects that we just announced in the summertime was a great example of that. We're going to be getting those five years sooner, because we can start these projects five years sooner. So we were able to move money quicker and get that going. Because we're learning and creating a lot more efficiency in our procurement system, we're able to save money. When we save some of that money, we're able to use it in other projects. As you know, procurement is extremely complex; especially on larger projects. There's going to be times where you're going to have to make some changes. Because we have that flexibility, we're able to provide a lot more efficiency to the system. When we created the defence policy, it involved a thorough consultation where every part of the policy had to be approved by cabinet. Now when projects go through, they know that we've already had really good discussions on the capabilities that we want to bring in. So when we bring those projects to Treasury Board, the policy discussions have already been done. So then we just focus on, “do we have the right process in place?” The nice thing about it – just like the current LAV projects – is we're able to streamline things when a competitive process is extremely important and we can get the best equipment at the best price. But there are some times when going for a sole source is more efficient and better for the Canadian Armed Forces. CDR: Many ofCDR's readers are small and medium-sized defence contractors (SMEs), and they're always concerned about getting their fair share of procurement contracts. So what steps has the government taken to make sure that their share doesn't just go to the big players? Minister Sajjan: Depending on the size of the project, we've actually taken a lot of time to consult our defence industries; not just the big companies, but the small and medium size businesses as well. One thing we've done as we build the requirements, is to ask, “how does it benefit Canadian companies?” So now the bids that come in have much greater Canadian content to them. Just for example, when you look at the AOPS (Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships) that are being built by Irving: The systems integration on the bridge is actually (being done by) a company that is working out of the Lower Mainland (B.C.). That's just one company; a lot of companies are able to benefit from this. So when we look at a project, I tell people, “don't just look at the hull or the plane, look at all the systems that need to go inside it. The LAV project has a massive impact on indirect jobs across the country as well. The final thing I say to this is the IDEaS (Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security) program. The IDEaS program is something very unique that is having a really good impact on small and medium-sized businesses; as well as universities and individuals who have great ideas. It allows us to throw challenges out to suppliers, where we get to compete the ideas. That's something that industry has been asking for, for a very long time. Imagine trying to guess where DND is going, and then having to spend all this money and time only to find out that's not the direction that we're going. So due to the defence investment plan that we lay out, or the challenges that we throw out, they know exactly what we're looking for. They get to compete early, and we get the benefits of their ingenuity. BATTLE GROUP IN LATVIA CDR: NATO recently celebrated its 70th anniversary, and President Trump used the occasion to once again pressure member countries to increase defence spending up to 2% of their GDP, as they have promised to in the past. Given that Canada's defence spending is only about 1.3% of GDP, where does the country stand in terms of meeting this 2% target? Because, I'm sure our readers in Canada's defence and aerospace industries would be more than happy to see Canada increase defence spending as much as it can. Minister Sajjan: I think we should go back to even before Trump. Many U.S. administrations have been asking NATO member nations to step up when it comes to their defence spending. When we formed the government in 2015, we looked at this. This is one of the reasons why the prime minister asked me to do a thorough defence policy review, because it's only then you're going to find out what is the appropriate defence investment that's actually needed -- not just for us, but for our allies. I think many people don't know that this is probably one of the first defence policies that's actually has come with all the money attached to it. That allows us to do a thorough analysis about which capabilities are important; not just a shopping list of things we need to buy. If you focus on the capabilities, you're able to evolve what's needed. What that has allowed us to do is look at how do we need to be Strong in Canada, Secure in North America, and Engaged in the world; investing in the right capabilities with a 70% increase in spending. That's the way it just turned out, based on our plan. But more importantly, it allows us to make appropriate contributions internationally. If you look at the number of operations our government has authorized, it's quite significant. Just for NATO alone, it includes a battle group in Latvia; plus a naval task force that, from one ship that was being consistently there, were actually taking rotation commanding the naval task force there. We have started air policing again in Europe. We're back in the AWACs program. We have increased our common funding to NATO for a second year. We're taking command of the NATO training mission in Iraq as well. So, when you look at that alone, that's just NATO Operation Artemis, which is this counter-terrorist interdiction in the Arabian Gulf. Plus, we're also doing Operation NEON, which is the sanctions monitoring against North Korea. Then there is the capacity building work that we're doing at different times of the year; including Africa. For the first time, we actually had our submarines deploy for training; one in the Pacific and the other in the Atlantic. So when you look at all the things that we're doing, defence spending has led to something. So that contribution piece is extremely important. Our increased spending is being driven by a national plan that's bringing unity into DND. This allows us to make those contributions in a very meaningful way; not just to NATO, but to coalition partners and the United Nations. CONTRIBUTIONS TO NATO CDR: Given this, do you think NATO should stop focussing on 2% of GDP and instead focus on tangible contribution to international security? Minister Sajjan: I would say that we shouldn't be having strictly a conversation about 2%. That's why the NATO Secretary General has always talked about the three Cs: Cash, capabilities and contributions; because if you need all three of them to be effective. The plan that we have proposed to NATO is something that they welcome. They know that we're going to be investing in types of capability, and what kind of impact that it actually can have. For example, when it comes to the ships that we provide, they know that our Cyclone helicopters are also very good at working with our aircraft when it comes to submarine detection. So it's not just about one ship, it's about what capability we're bringing in. And when you have capabilities from different nations, you're able to look at what type of NATO work that we can do; especially when it comes to our readiness. It is not just us offering up things that we have. These are capabilities that are plugging into a much wider system at NATO that can have an impact and ultimately send a very strong message of deterrence to any adversary – which is why NATO is there. CDR: In last year's interview with CDR, you spoke about the importance of retaining Canadian armed forces members and trying to do better for them and their families. What have you been able to do in the last year and what are you hoping to do going forward? Minister Sajjan: The Number One priority has always been to look after our people and their families. We have made a lot of policy changes in how we support our people. The biggest one that we did right when we launched the defence policy was to make every authorized international operation tax-free for our members. This sends a very strong message to the families. People think that this is about CAF members but it's actually about their families. Now the family can have more flexibility on choices. If their family is younger, they can have more daycare opportunities; making sure a spouse can continue with their career. Relocation has been a significant challenge. A year and a half ago, we dealt with the 10 Biggest Dissatisfiers to relocation and there's a little bit more work needs to be done with that. We've also now been working on what's called Seamless Canada, working with the provinces and the territory to look at where families get posted. For reserve members, their base pay is now equivalent to the regular force. So there's all these things that are happening. One focus that I'm putting more emphasis on this year is infrastructure across Canada. Do we have the right infrastructure for our people; especially when it comes to military family resource centres, health care clinics and accommodations for people? And we have to look at it differently now than we did in the past, because things have significantly changed. We know that in Comox, there is a challenge for people to actually find housing because the vacancy rate is so low. So we're looking at a project to build apartment-style complexes there, and I'll be working with the deputy minister on this. In other places, we are looking at how PLD (Post Living Differential) changes need to be made. The study is almost complete with a much wider analysis. My thought going into this was instead of just looking at the immediate fixes which we have been doing to ease the burden on our members -- like, for example, in places like Cold Lake -- we need to do a thorough analysis done so that, when we make a much wider decision, it can actually last longer. The PLD decision that was made a long time ago is not as relevant today, because it is based on how people live here in Ottawa. Those are the aspects that we're putting a lot more focus into. I think because we're putting a lot of emphasis on looking after people and their families, it's having an impact on retention. How we move people around is also something that the Chief of Defence Staff has been looking at very closely. MORE EMPHASIS ON CYBER SECURITY CDR: You've been Minister of National Defence since 2015. You're now very well versed with the requirements of the job and long past getting to know the ropes and dealing with immediate crises. What do you want to achieve going forward? What do you want your legacy to be at DND? Minister Sajjan: It's not about legacy. We spent a lot of time and very extensive consultations with experts, key people, and more importantly, civilians at the department and the Canadian Armed Forces to come up with the plan for the Defence Policy. And because it comes with money attached, this plan has enough focus and flexibility to adjust to any situation that we have to deal with around the world. My goal is for us to be thinking long-term about how we look after people, how we look at threats and where we need to be to make sure that we have a very strong deterrence. This is one of the reasons why we're putting a lot of emphasis on cyber-security. I'm working very closely with CSE as well. One aspect that I'll be driving home a little bit stronger this time around is going to be innovation. We have such great ingenuity inside the Canadian Armed Forces, but we also have absolutely brilliant people across the country. I want to take a greater look at innovation in the long-term; how we look after people, how we do logistics, and how we keep a technological edge against adversaries. There's a lot of interesting work that's happening. Making sure that we're set up for the future is something that I'm going to be putting a lot more emphasis on. WORKING OUT TO TRANCE CDR: Finally, on a more personal note, we've heard that you do a mean workout to the beat of electronic music, is that correct? Minister Sajjan: Yes! I listened to a lot of a particular type of electronic music known as Euro Trance and I've evolved it a little bit. DJ Markus Schulz is somebody I listen to, and there's a number of other deejays there as well. (Editor's Note: DJ-mixed club music known as Euro Trance is often very uplifting, it is usually around 140 - 145 bpm and has a lot of big rifts. It emerged from the 1990s German techno and hardcore scenes. Leading proponents of this genre have included DJs Armin Van Buuren and Tiesto.) It drives my wife crazy. But I love working out and getting into a high energy pace; it just keeps me motivated. I know it sounds nuts, a 49 year-old listening to Trance. People think I should grow up, but I can't knock everything out of me from high school. CDR: How did you get into this music? Minister Sajjan: I've always liked the mixes and I went to a lot of clubs in my younger days. Then when I was in the UK, they had a really good Euro mix and I used to listen to that a lot. When I was in Germany, I realized that they have a lot of different ways of doing it as well. So, I would try to find that music, which wasn't that popular back then. But now it's everywhere. And, it's easy to download that music. My wife always says, “it's the same beat.” I say, “exactly!” CDR: Thank you very much, Minister. http://www.canadiandefencereview.com/Featured_content?blog/161

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