Thank you Dr. Cowan.
Let me begin by thanking the Conference of Defense Associations Institute for hosting me.
I am delighted to meet with the civic and business leaders who have such a crucial stake in our defense alliance.
I am here in Canada for two days of consultations.
Earlier today, I met with Deputy Secretary Fonberg and National Security Advisor Marie-Lucie Morin. Tomorrow, I will participate in working sessions on cyber defense—an issue I will say more about in a few minutes.
These meetings continue a tradition of defense cooperation begun by Mackenzie King and Franklin Delano Roosevelt more than sixty years ago.
There is no question that the defense partnership between our two countries has immeasurably strengthened our mutual security. Our borders are among the longest in the world to defend—and for decades now we have stood watch over them together.
I was reminded of our remarkable tradition of defense cooperation when I visited NORAD earlier this spring.
In the command center where our air and sea defenses are jointly monitored, Canadian and U.S. personnel work side-by-side, every hour of every day—as they have for more than half a century.
This cooperation will be even more essential as events like the opening of the Arctic bring new challenges to our borders and seas.
Yet border security is only one facet of a broad defense alliance that has adapted to new threats, especially since the end of the Cold War.
From maritime awareness to critical infrastructure protection, from securing the Vancouver Olympics to the emergency response following the Haitian earthquake, our enduring collaboration is rising to meet challenges that our predecessors could not have foreseen.
Especially in Haiti, Canadian contributions have made an immense difference to the relief effort. I would like to thank you for bringing so many crucial capabilities to bear.
Today, soldiers from our two countries are also working to address threats that lie even farther from home.
In the high mountains and rocky plains of Afghanistan, Canadian forces have taken on some of the most difficult missions.
Your soldiers are on the front lines in the south, where we are engaged in a campaign to restore security and governance to regions where the Taliban have long held sway.
The mission in Afghanistan is as hard as they come in counterinsurgency warfare.
And Canada has paid a high price for standing with us in the fight against violent extremism. 147 of your bravest sons and daughters have made the ultimate sacrifice.
The American people are deeply grateful for the burden you have borne.
Despite the difficulty of our task, I am hopeful that our new strategy, and the additional resources now in theater, will enable significant gains in the coming months.
Our leadership team in Afghanistan is working to realize the transition to Afghan security and control directed by President Obama.
A secure and stable Afghanistan is worth fighting for—for America, for Canada, for our international partners, and for the Afghan people.
Without a doubt, the first decade of the 21st century has led us to a new understanding of what threats we face, and what we must do to combat them.
Seen from a broader perspective, the conflict in Afghanistan reflects important changes in the nature of warfare—changes that have implications for our defense planning.
Today, I would like to briefly highlight three of these changes and illustrate how we are responding to them.
The first change in the nature of warfare has to do with lethality.
Previously when you looked at the range of threats that we faced, the more capable the potential adversary, the higher level of lethality that they possessed. Advanced nation states had nuclear weapons and sophisticated conventional capabilities. Rogue states, terrorists, and insurgents did not.
In the world we live in now, this is no longer the case.
Terrorist organizations and rogue states seek weapons of mass destruction. Insurgents are armed with improvised explosive devices that can penetrate even our most sophisticated armored vehicles. We even see criminals who possess and use world-class cyber capabilities.
In short, lethality no longer tracks closely with the threat spectrum. In view of these higher levels of lethality, our military forces must achieve greater agility. We need to be as proficient at waging a counterinsurgency campaign as we are confronting large, sophisticated adversaries. This will require more emphasis on special forces, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and rotary lift.
The second change in the global security environment is the increasing duration of conflict.
Since the Cold War ended, most of our war planning has revolved around fighting two major conflicts nearly simultaneously. Our planners anticipated conflicts that would be intense, but also relatively short in duration.
This construct no longer fits our current reality.
In the two wars we are fighting, it is not the intensity of the initial combat phase that proved the most challenging. Rather, after eight years in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are finding that it is the duration of the conflict that places the most stress on our military.
These wars have now lasted longer than the United States' participation in World War I and World War II combined.
Sending forces back for repeated deployments comes at a very high cost—to our warfighters, their families, and ultimately our nations. So as we look out at potential future scenarios, the possible duration of a conflict must become as important a driver of planning as its intensity.
To address the broader set of missions our forces are taking on, we have halted reductions in the Navy and in the Air Force, and we have increased the size of the Army and the Marine Corps ahead of schedule. This will enable to us to reduce deployment tempos, a key goal of the Secretary and President.
We are also shaping the Army into more of a rotational force.
The third and most prominent change in the global security environment is that the practice of war has moved more toward asymmetric conflict.
Battlegrounds used to be a meeting of like on like forces, cavalry on cavalry, armor on armor in World War II. In the Cold War, nuclear versus nuclear.
But this is less the case today.
Our conventional dominance in almost all instances has led potential adversaries to seek asymmetric tactics.
Rather than fighting us head to head, they use IEDs to counter our mechanized advantage, or guerrilla tactics to avoid direct combat, or cyber attacks to disrupt our global command and control, logistics, and transport.
Some countries with ambitions in their regions are also investing in anti-access weapons.
Surface-to-surface missiles, cyber capabilities, and anti-satellite technologies can each force us further from the battlefield and hinder us from bringing our conventional capabilities to bear.
To maintain our ability to project military power, we must develop the ability to counter tactics that negate our conventional superiority or control the timing of conflict.
One of the most challenging asymmetric threats is what brings me to Canada—the cyber threat to our national and economic security.
For most of our history, we have relied upon the great oceans that surround us to shield us from attack. However, our natural geographic defenses are of no use against cyber attacks.
The internet can transport malicious code twice around the globe faster than the blink of an eye. Our networks can fall prey to an attack in an instant.
And intrusions are growing more frequent. More than 100 foreign intelligence organizations are trying to hack into U.S. systems. Foreign militaries are developing offensive cyber capabilities. And some governments already have the capacity to disrupt elements of the U.S. information infrastructure.
These threats are increasing.
Not even our President has been spared. During the presidential campaign in 2008, hackers gained access to campaign files of Barack Obama.
Policy papers, travel plans, and sensitive emails were all compromised. The intrusion was eventually detected and repelled, but not before sensitive information was taken.
For all these reasons our President has called the cyber threat one of the “most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation.”
So the cyber threat is a real one.
It impacts our military, our critical infrastructure, and our economy. And it is arguably the area in which we have the most work to do.
To meet the cyber threat, and the new range of threats I have described today, Secretary Gates and I have proposed strategic adjustments for the Department of Defense.
They are all detailed in our Quadrennial Defense Review, which was completed this spring with the active participation of a representative from the Canadian Department of National Defense.
First, our militaries need to respond to both high-end and low-end threats. They must have what Secretary Gates has called “a portfolio of military capabilities with maximum possible versatility across the widest spectrum of conflict.”
So we are building agility and flexibility in our forces and our department.
Second, we must shift some resources from longer-range scenarios, looking out a decade or more, to the fights that we face today. This shift has already begun.
Our troop in Iraq and Afghanistan now have more mine-resistant vehicles, more intelligence and surveillance support, and more rotary lift.
In a broader sense, we are institutionalizing our ability to wage irregular warfare and to address asymmetric threats.
This includes our ability to track and neutralize weapons of mass destruction, our ability to offer security assistance to weak and fragile states, and our ability to defend our computer networks against intrusion and attacks.
Third, we are moving to reduce the stress on our forces by growing our force structure and by better supporting our troops and their families.
We are doing all these things—just as Canada is—in an era of fiscal austerity, where it is imperative to make each dollar spent on defense count. Recognizing this, Secretary Gates’ has launched an effort to make our Department more efficient by reducing overhead expenses and shifting resources into the warfighting accounts.
These strategic trends also have implications for our alliance—for how our defense institutions partner with each other to maintain our mutual security.
As Secretary Gates recently noted, we are already well on our way to addressing many of the threats I have discussed today.
Our institutional cooperation on defense issues, through such mechanisms as the Permanent Joint Board on Defense, remains at a high level.
We are very close to achieving a shared understanding of cross-border threats and vulnerabilities.
And Canada is taking a prominent role in hemispheric relations. You will soon host the trilateral ministerial with Mexico and the U.S.
But I would like to spend the next few minutes highlighting one issue in particular: the need to deepen our cooperation against the cyber threat.
Like the long history of our cooperation in border defense, we have a similar interest in protecting our networks. Doing so will also require a similar partnership.
But in the cyber world, the speed of attacks will require even swifter and more coordinated responses. Aircraft can cross the ocean in hours. Missiles in minutes. But cyber attacks can strike in milliseconds.
Cyber also disregards traditional notions of sovereignty. For the most part cyber traffic crosses boarders freely.
And in the cyber arena, knowing who your adversary is, and what they’ve done, is a key part of mounting an effective response. Yet determining where an intrusion originates from, and who is responsible, are among the most difficult challenges we face.
For this reason, the Cold War concept of “shared warning” in air defense can be applied to cyber.
It is always best when searching for markers of intrusions and attacks to cast the widest net possible.
Put simply, international cooperation is imperative for establishing the chain of events in an intrusion, and for quickly and decisively responding.
The reality is that we cannot defend our networks by ourselves. We need a shared defense.
We have already partnered extensively with your government to respond to certain kinds of intrusions against our military networks. Many of our military computer defenses are linked.
But the cyber threat is larger than just our military networks, and far greater attention and resources are needed if we are to stay ahead of it.
We need to develop a shared cyber doctrine that allows us to work fluidly with each other and with our other allies.
And under the leadership of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Public Safety Canada, we need to examine how the advanced defenses we have developed for military networks might also be applied to protect our critical infrastructure.
I am working on each of these issues on this visit.
All of them will take years of concerted effort, and cross-border collaboration, to bring to fruition.
The world continues to present dangerous and unpredictable challenges to our national security.
I have described some of the trends in the strategic environment that we believe have far-reaching implications.
Driven by fundamental changes in the nature of war, these trends not only impact our own security. They also necessitate changes in the structure of our forces, and the form of our defense partnership.
We have irrevocably entered an era of new threats.
But we have done so together, each committed to collective defense, and each sure that whatever the future brings, we will face it standing shoulder-to-shoulder.
The special relationship between our two countries pioneered by Mackenzie King and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and embodied by NORAD’s ongoing mission to “Deter, Detect, and Defend,” will continue.
And along with it, our security and our prosperity.