The Canadian Armed Forces in the Arctic: Building Capabilities and Connections

Adam Lajeunesse, P. Whitney Lackenbauer


The Arctic has emerged as a topic of tremendous hype over the last decade, spawning persistent debates about whether the region’s future is likely to follow a cooperative trend or spiral into conflict. Official Canadian military statements, all of which anticipate no near-term conventional military threats to the region, predict an increase in security and safety challenges and point to the need for capabilities suited to a supporting role in an integrated, whole-of-government (WoG) framework. This entails focused efforts to enhance the government's all-domain situational awareness over the Arctic, to prepare responses to a range of unconventional security situations or incidents in the region, and to assist other government departments (OGD) in their efforts to enforce Canadian laws and regulations within national jurisdiction. Despite popular commentaries suggesting that military deficiencies in the North make Canada vulnerable, we argue that the Canadian Armed Forces are generally capable of meeting its current and short-term requirements and is responsibly preparing to meet the threats to Canadian security and safety that are likely emerge over the next decade.

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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.