Military Responses and Capabilities in Canada’s Domestic Context Post 9/11

Chris Madsen


Since 9/11, the Canadian military has refocused attention and resources on domestic and continental operations, to better prepare for the possibility of a major terrorist attack against Canada.  Though virtually ignored by outside academics, the topic resides prominently in new command arrangements resulting from institutional transformation, evolving joint doctrine, and military writings within the Canadian Forces.  The defence of Canada from external attack is a primary mission for the Canadian military, including dealing with a terrorist incident or its aftermath.  This article provides an overview of available capabilities in the form of military first responders, exercise of command and control in the military context when facing such a situation, the likelihood of assistance from the United States based on existing efforts at coordination and military integration, and some legal aspects associated with using the military domestically.  The Canadian military, ten years after the events of 9/11, has reasonable capacity to respond should a credible terrorist threat come.  The decision to commit military forces and in what supporting role rests with civilian decision-makers and the government.  The Canadian Forces always remains ready to protect the security of Canada and North America  whenever called upon.

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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.