Emerging Technology and Five Eyes: Implications for Canadian Defence


Emerging Technology and Five Eyes: Implications for Canadian Defence

1 May 2024

The United States The United Kingdom Australia New Zealand Implications for Canada Policy, Strategy, and Plan Updates Technological Training and Experimentation Allied Relations Procurement JADC2 Conclusion Annex 1: Selected Technological Systems and Projects Discussed in Recent United States Defence Documents Annex 2: Selected Technological Systems and Projects Discussed in Recent United Kingdom Defence Documents Annex 3: Selected Technological Systems and Projects Discussed in Recent Australian Defence Documents Annex 4: Selected Technological Systems and Projects Discussed in Recent New Zealand Defence Documents End Notes About the Authors Canadian Global Affairs Institute Introduction In 2017, the Canadian government unveiled its updated defense policy, Strong Secure, Engaged (SSE) aimed at recalibrating defence priorities in response to significant shifts in the global strategic landscape.i SSE serves as a guiding framework for the procurement of new equipment for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), and outlines how it will respond to future threats. Canada is part of a broader trend in updating defence polices, as members of the Five Eyes (FVEY) alliance are engaged in their own defence modernization initiatives which places a significant emphasis on the integration of emerging technologies. This strategic evolution is motivated by the increasing geopolitical significance of the Indo-Pacific region, where factors like China’s ascendance as a major power have prompted FVEY members to enhance their own military capabilities. Canada’s connection to FVEY is further amplified by the fact that the U.S. plays a considerable role in the alliance, as Canada’s other defence priorities such as North American continental defence involve a close relationship with the U.S. Ultimately, the cases of FVEY defence modernization efforts presents some intriguing lessons for Canada and its experiences with military technological innovation. This analysis surveys the primary defence and strategic documents from Canada’s FVEY allies (United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand) for relevancy to Canada’s experience with emerging technologies. The analysis concludes with an assessment of the next steps for Canada in terms of emerging technologies and Canadian defence based on the experiences of FVEY. Overall, this review finds that the U.S., U.K., and Australia are leading the FVEY alliance in integrating advanced technologies more effectively than Canada and New Zealand. In particular, other FVEY members have been better at enhancing their defense bureaucracies and militaries to operationalize these technologies through frequent policy updates, specialized strategy documents, technology-focused exercises, improved Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) capabilities, and commitments to cooperative procurement systems. However, this has provided Canada with unique insights to shape and innovate how it can approach the integration of emerging technologies for national defence. TOP OF PAGE The United States Since the release of SSE, the Trump and later Biden Administrations have released new National Security Strategy (NSS) documents. Each NSS has differed in tone; the Trump Administration released its NSS in 2018 and it was guided by a self-described “America First” approach to world affairs that lessened the emphasis on cooperation with allies; while the Biden Administration’s 2022 NSS reversed that trend, promoting foreign alliances as key tools of U.S. policy. Despite these differences, both identified great power competition as an important driver of defence policy decisions and both documents emphasized the importance of different emerging technologies. They also emphasized deterrence against adversaries as well as the importance of continental missile defence. Both NSS documents also warned of the likelihood of cyberspace threats and the need to strengthen government capabilities in this domain; both documents also argued for the importance of space capabilities and of the enabling power of emerging technologies. The 2022 NSS was more specific in terms of technologies discussed, mentioning the strategic relevancy of AI and quantum computing, as well as the importance of jointness and interoperability when it comes to operationalizing technology.ii For a full list of technologies discussed in recent U.S. defence documents, see Annex 1
united kingdom united states canada australia new zealand procurement defence policy defence policy perspective intelligence five eyes cyber & tech defence resources alexander salt alex wilner
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