The government of Canada on Wednesday announced plans to nearly double its defense budget over the next decade.  

Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan on June 7 released a new policy titled, “Strong, Secure, Engaged,” that commits to a range of new investments for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). The long-term policy outlines growth in annual defense spending from $18.9 billion in 2017 to $32.7 billion in 2027, an increase of more than 70 percent.

The plan “is fully costed, and it’s fully funded,” Sajjan said in a prepared statement. “It is a sign of the Government of Canada’s commitment to providing our women and men in uniform with the care and equipment that they need, and it places the Canadian Armed Forces on a solid footing going forward. I’m confident that these investments will have a direct, positive impact on our members and their families.”

CH-47F. Photo: Government of Canada.
CH-47F. Photo: Government of Canada.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said in a statement he is “heartened” by the news of Canada’s defense policy change.

“The United States welcomes Canada’s marked increase in investment in their military and their continued commitment to a strong defense relationship with the United States and NATO,” Mattis said. “This new defense policy demonstrates Canadian resolve to build additional military capacity and a more capable fighting force. In light of today’s security challenges around the world, it’s critical for Canada’s moral voice to be supported by the hard power of a strong military.”

U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, testifying before Congress on June 7, said Canada and other close U.S. allies should be willing to invest more in both the size of their military forces and in technology.

“With respect to Canada and many other countries, frankly, they do need to increase their forces,” Milley told the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on defense when asked about Canada’s announcement. “Many of their armies – not just armies, but navies, air forces, Marines, etc. – have atrophied over many, many years.”

Many of the reform and new-funding initiatives focus on support for troops and their families, including medical and psychological care and programs to assist transition from military to civilian life.  It places added attention on improving recruitment, retention, and training and increases the size of the active force by 3,500 to 71,500 and the reserves by 1,500 to 30,000 troops.

New investments target capabilities and equipment that are “underfunded and unfunded” so they can “now proceed on a sound footing,” the Canadian government said in a statement. It will also support growth in emerging domains such as space and cyber, and critical areas such as intelligence and Special Operations forces.

Those include replacing the Boeing [BA]-built CF-18 fleet with 88 advanced fighter aircraft “through open and transparent competition. Canada is a partner in the Lockheed Martin [LMT] F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program but has not formally decided between that fifth-generation aircraft and the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fourth-generation fighter.

The plan provides funding for 15 surface combatant ships and other platforms to improve ground-based air defense, combat support vehicles, heavy logistics vehicles and training simulators. It creates a new cyber operator occupational specialty within the Canadian Armed Forces and invested in a variety of unmanned systems including an armed unmanned aerial system.

Under the initiative, Canada will invest $1.6 billion over the next 20 years to establish an Innovation for Defense Excellence and Security program that seeks new cooperative partnerships between the Canadian military and the private sector, universities and academia.

Funding is also provided to meet the federal target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, excluding military fleets.

“Strong, Secure, Engaged recognizes that the women and men in uniform are the Canadian Armed Forces’ most important capability,” Sajjan said. “With significant investments in care for personnel and families, equipment and training, and new capabilities, Canada’s new defence policy supports CAF members’ dedication and role in making Canada strong at home, secure in North America, and engaged in the world.”