Remarks by Admiral Sandy Winnefeld, USN, Commander, NORAD and USNORTHCOM, Empire Club of Canada

By Fairmont Royal York Hotel, Toronto, Canada | December 02, 2010

Thank you, Tim (Reid), for that very kind introduction.

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Bonjour mesdames et messieurs.

C'est un grand honneur d'être invité à parler au renommé Empire Club du Canada…et un énorme plaisir d'être de passage dans la grande Ville de Toronto.

S’il vous plait, permettez moi continuer en anglais.

It’s an honor to be invited to join the ranks of the thousands of people who’ve had the tremendous privilege of speaking to the Empire Club [of Canada].

And it’s a great pleasure to be in this wonderful, beautiful city by the lake, and in this gorgeous room in this fantastic old hotel.

You know, the city in which my headquarters resides and this beautiful city have an interesting historical tie.

Soaring above the skyline of Colorado Springs is the iconic Pike’s Peak, which inspired Katherine Lee Bates to write her poem America the Beautiful.

The Peak is named for U.S. Army Captain Zebulon Pike, who tried to climb it in 1806, but failed.

Seven years later in 1813, during the War of 1812, then-Brigadier General Pike led an amphibious invasion into the little town of York, Canada.

As many Toronto citizens know, when the outnumbered British retreated, they blew up their powder magazine, launching a hail of stones into Pike’s brigade--killing scores of Americans, and killing General Pike himself.

Angry American troops then burned and looted much of the town of York, in a truly shameful act.

This depredation of the capital of Upper Canada caused the British Governor-General of Canada, Sir George Prevost, to ask a British fleet to go and burn Washington, D.C.

During wartime there wasn’t enough money to replace the scorched shell of stones that was all that remained of the President of the United States’ house, so the stone walls were simply whitewashed to cover the burn marks…

…which ultimately led a few years later to President Theodore Roosevelt naming the building The White House.

And today, the little backwoods village of York--population 720 when General Pike passed through here--is now Canada’s largest city--and is one of the great financial, commercial, industrial, and cultural centers of North America and the world.

And of course, Colorado Springs, where this story began, is emblematic as the home of an organization – NORAD – that so profoundly symbolizes the vital link between Canada and the United States.

The events that I retell here all occurred towards the beginning of a long journey that shifted the physical borders between our two nations…beginning with the Treaty of Paris, and moving through the Jay Treaty, the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, and the Oregon Treaty.

Each nation hence has retained its own unique identity--and trust me, with 125 wonderful and feisty Canadians I have in my headquarters remind me of that every day.

Our borders are now fixed, but they have all but faded away due to the close interrelationships in nearly everything we do…culture, finance, transportation, energy, industry, recreation, sports, and of course security.

We want a safe border, but one that is open to all the things that have made us prosperous together as nations.

And it is a number of security-related non-physical borders in our world that led me to label my remarks today: “Fading Borders, Emerging Risks.”

These fading borders which I’ll talk about include those between near and far, peace and war, domestic and foreign, state and individual, privacy and surveillance, civilian and military, and--especially in my case--the border between homeland security and homeland defense.

It is along these increasingly murky borders that many of the security challenges we face today ride, and which affect our security here in North America.

Of course our number one concern is violent extremism--the only threat which we know has both the capability and intent of harming us…and which we hope, like communism, will eventually collapse of its own internal contradictions--but that in the here and now remains a persistent threat.

We have learned that this threat is irreconcilable, patient, uses the internet, has little bureaucracy to slow it, and manipulates disproportionate media attention to shock us.

He exploits our Western freedoms to attack us, and subsequent censure of those freedoms to divide us. He makes no distinction between military and civilian. He needs money. He prefers soft targets, and is willing to die for his cause.

He’s not only overseas trying to send devious little packages through the mail.

He is right here in North America…we saw just last week yet another example, this time a would-be bomber in Oregon…and in what any Canadian would call shots on goal, the violent extremist knows that he only has to get through once…while our goaltending record has to be perfect.

We’re also concerned by rising nationalism, particularly among a few smaller nations whose unpredictable leaders seek access to deliverable weapons of mass destruction in the belief that those weapons will give them more freedom of action.

We’ve seen this in the past week or so with the ongoing crisis on the Korean Peninsula.

We also carefully observe and hope to interact positively with larger rising nations, each of which is emerging in its own particular political, demographic, social, and economic circumstances, but definitely demanding more power in a multi-polar world.

Other challenges include our planet’s increasing population and the existence of un- or under-governed areas.

Many of these areas lie within regions that are trapped by history, culture, climate, or resources… areas that are both seedbeds for and victims of extremism, where helping is no longer simply a moral imperative.

Riding along with these factors are associated changes in urbanization, demographics, health concerns, and of course competition for resources, such as energy, food, and water.

We also worry about our changing climate and how this might affect security from the Arctic all the way to Africa.

Not only that, but transnational criminal organizations are not only exporting drugs to our cities, but their distribution networks--in the form of violent ambitious gangs--are arriving in our cities as well.

And finally, an explosion of information technology not only carries with it the ability to open new cultural horizons for a globalized, networked population, create market and information efficiencies, and lead to incredible advances in my own world…

…but also, it can leave us vulnerable to spillage of sensitive information, as we’ve seen over the last week…

. . . or, worse, it can open serious vulnerabilities in a host of key functions we have shifted to the cyber world and on which we have grown to depend.

And speaking of WikiLeaks, I have to tell you that it’s been my immense relief to see that in the releases of cables, there have been no embarrassing revelations about the Toronto Maple Leafs… this in spite of the fact that the American Ambassador in Ottawa is a rabid Black Hawks fan.

In addition to all the things we used to worry about, including nuclear war, natural disasters, pandemics, and regional instability…

…we now have plenty of new things to worry about, such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, violent extremism, transnational criminal organizations

…and the vulnerability of our just-in-time economic systems--which are so dependent on containers, FEDEX, and the internet--to disruptions in both physical and virtual flow stability.

We miss the significance of the connections among these factors and their evolution together–however slow that may be…at our peril.

As I mentioned a moment ago, this highly-complex, linked, and daunting soup of factors seems to live in a world in which many of the traditional borders that lent some simplicity to how we view that world…now seem to be fading.

To demonstrate this, I need merely describe the cyber world.

We in the U.S. and Canadian militaries have become increasingly dependent on cyber capability… it is at once our single greatest competitive advantage and perhaps our biggest vulnerability.

The U.S. Department of Defense uses 7 million computing devices, and some 90,000 people to operate the 15,000 networks on which those devices ride.

And those networks are probed about 250,000 times per hour by scores of foreign intelligence organizations and individuals trying to hack us.

In this cyber world, the physical border between near and far…certainly between Canada and the U.S…has all but disappeared.

The border between peace and war in this environment has also disappeared. I would ask you to ponder just what constitutes a hostile act in cyberspace?

How do we tell the difference between someone who is merely exploring our networks for espionage…and one who is leaving a little present behind for future malevolent use?

As our Deputy Defense Secretary Bill Lynn has said, “Missiles come with a return address. Cyber attacks, for the most part, do not.”

The border between domestic and foreign has certainly faded when an extremist can use a server located in the United States--which lends it special protections--to host a web site intended to recruit home-grown or foreign extremists to violent acts.

You can watch this terrorist activity on about 4,000 web sites.

The border between state and individual has now faded to the point where a nation can easily disguise itself as--or in fact use--civilian hackers to cause potentially great harm to some of our key networks.

Or, what Tom Friedman has called the super-empowered individual can do the same thing all on his own.

The border between privacy and surveillance--particularly sensitive to us who love freedom--will become increasingly challenged as governments begin to feel the imperative to monitor network traffic for malicious software that could take down our financial, transportation, energy, or communication networks.

The border between what is traditionally civil and what is traditionally military will be challenged should there be calls for the military to assist other government, non-government, and private sectors in protecting their own domains from cyber attack.

And indeed, in October the U.S. Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security signed an agreement designed to partner in protecting our nation’s cyber networks and critical infrastructure.

We’ve also recognized the need to work with our other partners, including friends and allies, and in particular Canada, with whom we are so closely networked and intertwined, on simple things like shared cyber warning…and we are already working together at every level in this key area.

Another realm in which fading borders are increasingly growing in importance is the Arctic.

The geopolitical importance of the Arctic has never been greater, because as far as we know the natural environment in the Arctic in civilized times has never changed faster. No one knows this better than Canadians.

As my good friend and Canadian boss, Gen Walt Natynczyk, said a year ago, “All of us have underestimated the speed at which we’re inheriting a new ocean.”

This new ocean not only has shifting ice borders, it has other unresolved boundaries as well.

It’s been estimated that up to 25% of the world’s petroleum and natural gas deposits may lie beneath the Arctic ice cap--and shifting environmental conditions will enable energy corporations to explore where they’ve been unable to go in the past.

Meanwhile, if recent Arctic warming continues, commercial shipping routes will gradually open through the Northwest Passage and the Northern Sea Route, eventually enabling significant savings in maritime transportation costs.

We’re already seeing eco-tourists on cruise ships, who will increasingly ply the beautiful Arctic waters in search of adventure.

The eight Arctic nations have each expressed their interests in their own ways, but they generally carry the same theme.

The Statement of Canada’s Arctic Foreign Policy, issued in August of this year, is--in my humble opinion--a strong document that makes important points, three of which stand out to me in particular.

First is Canada’s statement that “the Arctic is fundamental to Canada’s national identity.”

Canadians do think more about the Arctic than Americans do. And the average Canadian understands it better than the average American. We Americans should understand and respect this.

Second is the statement that “The United States is our premier partner in the Arctic.” It’s reassuring to know that this is true.

The United States’ interests are made clear in the U.S. Arctic Region Policy, expressed in much the same way as Canada’s policy…a compendium of interlocking topics covering security and sovereignty, the environment, indigenous peoples, resources, and governance.

While we have our differences, such as in the Northwest Passage and Beaufort Sea, these have been well-managed by the U.S. State Department and Canada’s DFAIT.

Cooperation is on the rise in the Arctic, and we must continue that trajectory using the array of mechanisms available to us, such as the Arctic Council, the International Maritime Organization, and, if and when we in the U.S. ever ratify it, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

We can also cooperate through initiatives such as the Extended Continental Shelf Project, through which our Coast Guards have been jointly conducting surveys to better define the limits of the continental shelf.

A third point of interest to me within the Canadian statement is where it says, “Canada does not anticipate any military challenges in the Arctic.” We hope this is true.

While sometimes we see mixed signals from other nations in this regard, it seems to me that no nation has an interest in a militarized Arctic.

We’d prefer instead that--together--we do the peaceful things that military forces do well, such as long-range search and rescue, and monitoring the environment.

Along this line, we at NORAD are proud of the successful live-fly VIGILANT EAGLE counter-terrorism exercise we conducted with the Russian Air Force earlier this year…which you may have seen in the news.

While we want to cooperate with others, we also should not allow a situation to develop where one nation is able to dictate the terms of where, when, and what activity takes place in the Arctic.

Nor do we wish to produce a string of events that leads to an unintended militarization of the Arctic.

So, it will take statesmanship by all parties--through key forums such as the Arctic Council--to ensure that the Arctic opens peacefully…with collaboration rather than competition… cooperation rather than conflict…and with proper respect for the legally-recognized sovereignty of nations.

I believe that all eight Arctic nations understand this.

The excellent relationships we have among NORAD, USNORTHCOM and Canada Command provide one means of accelerating our combined efforts in the Arctic, and should be leveraged as we move forward.

USNORTHCOM and Canada COM have already agreed to develop a framework under which our two commands can operate in the Arctic together…and we are working on a Tri-Command Agreement--with NORAD--which will include a cooperative approach to Arctic challenges.

Last August, Canada conducted Operation Nanook in the high Arctic, which serves as a tremendous model for increased multilateral cooperation among nations throughout the Arctic.

Canada’s Radarsat-2 supports a wide range of Arctic needs, such as sea ice mapping and ship routing, iceberg detection, ship and pollution detection, and geological & land use mapping.

The DND’s Project Polar Epsilon looks to improve Radarsat’s Arctic ship detection--which those of us responsible for NORAD’s maritime warning mission think is just great.

I look forward to continuing work on our many Arctic initiatives together--because they are good for both of our countries. We’re on a good trajectory.

Yet another realm where traditional borders are becoming less clear is in the area of transnational criminal organizations, otherwise known as TCOs.

In this realm, the border between criminal and military activity is fading to the point where we see drug cartels using sophisticated military tools, including fully-submersible submarines, to enable their trade.

In our North American partner nation of Mexico, we see the border between civil and military fading due to the Mexican government’s need to enlist temporarily the power of the Mexican military in a very serious struggle against the TCOs that threaten that country’s prosperity and security.

I use the term TCO deliberately, because to call these cartels Drug Trafficking Organizations would send a signal to our Mexican friends that all we care about is the drugs crossing our borders. But we are also concerned about the prosperity and security of a fellow North American friend and neighbor.

The TCOs are vicious in the extreme, better-armed than most police forces, very well financed, diversified, increasingly sophisticated in their methods…and they are able to co-opt often-poorly-paid and intimidated local officials.

And these TCOs are having a serious corrosive impact on North America…as well as other parts of the world.

Mexico is suffering deeply. Over 30,000 Mexicans have lost their lives in the last four years. A dozen mayors have been killed in 2010 alone. Kidnapping and extortion--the other key business lines of the cartels—as well as worse crimes, have intimidated Mexican families.

In many areas the media are muzzled by the cartels, and businesses are fleeing areas most dominated by the drug trade.

We in the U.S. are suffering as well the corrosive effects of illegal drugs. We lose almost 20,000 people per year to drug addiction. We spend around $40 billion per year on drugs, which is money that could be spent on more legitimate activity.

Some estimate that we lose over a hundred billion dollars a year in lost productivity and $15B per year in increased health care costs.

I am not sure of the effects in Canada, but I read somewhere that Canada racks up $8B per year in annual costs due to illicit drug use.

Now, if all this happened in one day, it would be big news. But it doesn’t, and the corrosive effects of this problem carry on, doing its ugly business inside all three of our countries.

We in the U.S. bear a shared responsibility because of market demand in the U.S. for illegal drugs… and because of the cash and illegal weapons that flow south from the U.S. into Mexico.

I respect the patriotism, courage and resolve of President Calderon, his government, and his military in their ongoing struggle against these TCOs.

Frankly, they didn’t have to do it, but they know that a nation cannot move forward if it’s hamstrung by violent criminal organizations, and they are therefore very cognizant that they’re in a fight for the future of Mexico.

This struggle will not be won on the border between the United States and Mexico. Rather, it will be won inside our own respective countries and elsewhere in the region, and we want to do more to help our Mexican partners master it.

Until recently, U.S.-Mexican military interaction has been hampered by memories of ancient interventions across our 2,000-mile border.

But our two nations and our two militaries are steadily overcoming a historical lack of trust…and the bonds of respect and friendship between us have never been stronger than they are today.

There is much we can do to help…not only material support, but also sharing the experience we’ve gained in recent years countering a different irregular threat overseas.

We have much to share. Nonetheless, we will only be able to do so within the bounds of complete respect for Mexican sovereignty…and within the limitations of what the Mexican political process will tolerate, because U.S. military assistance, however indirect, and despite our good intentions and absolute determination to keep Mexicans in the lead, is a tempting political stick for any party in Mexico to use against another.

So, much of what we do from within the U.S. military must be done from a distance.

I think Canada has a big equity here in working with her two North American neighbors to fight a common, corrosive, and growing threat to all of our societies.

So I look forward to an opportunity soon to talk in detail with my Canadian partners, and to find complementary ways to join with Mexico in mastering this serious challenge.

Indeed, working together to protect our nations and our citizens is the right thing to do.

And we two sibling nations have been and will continue to do exactly that.

NORAD has served us very well for 52 years, not only as a vital and necessary security relationship for North America, but also as a superb metaphor for the healthy interconnections that characterize the extent of the bond and the depth of the friendship between our two nations.

…A bond that caused Canada, on 9/11, to immediately make the gutsy decision to take in 224 flights diverted to 17 airports across Canada, even when there was no way of knowing if other terrorists might be among the embarked passengers.

NORAD Canadians and Americans work shoulder-to-shoulder every day to protect our airspace, from our headquarters in Colorado Springs to our several regional headquarters all the way down to the flight lines.

And we’re beginning to make some progress on our new Maritime Warning mission.

While there’s nothing else like NORAD in all the world, our NATO partnership, recently strengthened in Lisbon, is yet another cornerstone of our relationship.

NATO’s collective achievements in Afghanistan would not have been possible without the robust commitment and sacrifices made by Canadians.

Prime Minister Harper’s recent announcement of Canada’s commitment to support Afghanistan with humanitarian assistance, developmental support, and training beyond 2011 further underscores Canada’s important and leading role as a member of NATO.

But our relationship extends further than NORAD and NATO. USNORTHCOM and Canada Command, born in the wake of 9/11, have also been working closely together.

Canada Command supported USNORTHCOM in 2008, when a CC-177 Globemaster airlifted U.S. medical patients out of the path of Hurricane Gustav, and two Canadian CC-130s deployed to Pensacola, Florida to support search and rescue efforts.

This was the first time we used our jointly-signed Civil Assistance Plan to coordinate Canadian military support through our two Foreign Ministries in response to a looming natural disaster in the United States.

More recently, working in the other direction during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, and in addition to NORAD’s coverage over the various venues, USNORTHCOM pre-positioned backup support in Washington State…and U.S. Navy and Coast Guard vessels patrolled the Straits of Juan de Fuca and Georgia with their Canadian counterparts.

We were happy in our supporting role…even if the gold medal hockey match didn’t turn out as we had hoped!

You should know that I have a great partnership with the commander of Canada Command, LGen Walt Semianiw, with whom I’ll be spending 3 days later on this month discussing many of our common security challenges and opportunities.

And, as I’ve alluded previously, there’s no end to our potential future cooperation, from the Arctic…to countering transnational criminal organizations…to shared domain awareness.

I want to reiterate that we are doing all these things, and more, in a changing world that demands new approaches.

Recall that I began my remarks by talking about new security challenges that are riding along shifting and fading borders…including the fact that those who would use terror or criminal activity against us have voted to not honor those old borders.

We’re taking on many of these new challenges with plenty of new technical tools.

But my concluding message to you is that we often find ourselves taking on these new challenges with old policy tools…tools that were designed with our time-tested fundamental principles of freedom and liberty in mind, yet that were designed for a much simpler world.

Thus I believe the trick for us in keeping pace with our security needs is not only to invest as required in systems and people to maintain the technical and tactical edges we’ve always enjoyed…but also to find new policy tools--and leverage institutions in new ways--that will help keep us safer from new threats while at the same time maintaining our adherence to the founding principles which we as democratic and free peoples cherish.

I mentioned earlier that we want a safe border between our nations--but one that is open to all the things that have made us prosperous together.

This is an apt metaphor…we need to maintain the policy borders that safely protect our freedoms, but are also open to the security realities of a new world.

The rubber will meet the road in this area largely in how we share information, how we view in legal terms the people who operate in the vague new regions that have replaced the old borders, and the rules of engagement we give ourselves in countering various threats.

This is some of the most difficult and creative work before us. We need to do it carefully, but do it we must.

So, merci beaucoup encore…thank you once again for your kind invitation to speak today. It’s truly an honor.

And it’s great to visit what used to be the little town of York, which evolved into the birthplace of so many people who’ve helped shape the culture that my parents and I grew up with:

…from “America’s Sweetheart” Mary Pickford…to the great orchestra conductor Percy Faith...

…to actors Raymond Massey, Christopher Plummer, John Candy, Jim Carrey, and Rick Moranis…to newsmen Peter Jennings and Morley Safer…TV personalities such as Howie Mandel…and many political leaders including Stephen Harper!

God bless the exceptional relationship between the U.S. and Canada, and may we continue to work together to keep wonderful places--such as where you live--free and peaceful.

Again, thank you…and I look forward to a couple questions.