The CDA Institute was delighted to host Brigadier-General Mike Nixon, the outgoing commander of Joint Task Force – North, for a wide-ranging discussion on Canadian military operations in the Arctic. You can find Brigadier-General Nixon’s PowerPoint presentation below.
The discussion focused primarily on Canadian military operations in the Arctic and how they will change as the Arctic becomes more accessible. The Canadian Arctic’s vast distances, hostile environment, and sparse development make Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) operations in the region a complicated endeavour. Thus, it’s critical that the CAF cooperate with local Arctic communities, as well as other domestic partners, in a whole-of-government manner to ensure it has a sustainable presence in the region and can successfully conduct operations. This cooperation manifests itself in numerous ways, from the participation of local Indigenous communities in the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group to the sharing of federal government facilities that occurs throughout the Arctic.
But the Arctic itself is changing and the CAF presence in the region will have to adapt to these changes. According to Brigadier-General Nixon, the Arctic has already been so altered by climate change that local communities have had to skip past the ‘mitigate’ phase straight to the ‘adapt’ phase to survive. The increasing accessibility of the Arctic will also greatly impact the region environmentally and socially as commercial activities and development become more economically feasible. A more accessible Arctic will require the CAF to look for new ways of maintaining situational awareness and presence in the region, most notably be enhancing the capability and capacity of the Canadian Rangers, improving the resiliency of communications links, and improving maritime domain awareness at key access points to Canadian waters. Given the importance of the Arctic in Canadian security, it’s critical that the CAF adapt to the new normal as soon as possible.