U.S., Canada military ink deal to fight domestic emergencies
by Jerome R. Coris
February 24, 2008
In a ceremony that received virtually no attention in the American media, the United States and Canada signed a military agreement Feb. 14 allowing the armed forces from one nation to support the armed forces of the other nation during a domestic civil emergency, even one that does not involve a cross-border crisis.
The agreement, defined as a Civil Assistance Plan, was not submitted to Congress for approval, nor did Congress pass any law or treaty specifically authorizing this military agreement to combine the operations of the armed forces of the United States and Canada in the event of a wide range of domestic civil disturbances ranging from violent storms, to health epidemics, to civil riots or terrorist attacks.
In Canada, the agreement paving the way for the militaries of the U.S. and Canada to cross each other's borders to fight domestic emergencies was not announced either by the Harper government or the Canadian military, prompting sharp protest.
"It's kind of a trend when it comes to issues of Canada-U.S. relations and contentious issues like military integration," Stuart Trew, a researcher with the Council of Canadians told the Canwest News Service. "We see that this government is reluctant to disclose information to Canadians that is readily available on American and Mexican websites."
The military Civil Assistance Plan can be seen as a further incremental step being taken toward creating a North American armed forces available to be deployed in domestic North American emergency situations.
The agreement was signed at U.S. Army North headquarters, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, by U.S. Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart, commander of NORAD and U.S. Northern Command, or USNORTHCOM, and by Canadian Air Force Lt. Gen. Marc Dumais, commander of Canada Command.
"This document is a unique, bilateral military plan to align our respective national military plans to respond quickly to the other nation's requests for military support of civil authorities," Renuart said in a statement published on the USNORTHCOM website.
In discussing the new bilateral Civil Assistance Plan established by USNORTHCOM and Canada Command, Renuart stressed, "Unity of effort during bilateral support for civil support operations such as floods, forest fires, hurricanes, earthquakes and effects of a terrorist attack, in order to save lives, prevent human suffering an mitigate damage to property, is of the highest importance, and we need to be able to have forces that are flexible and adaptive to support rapid decision-making in a collaborative environment."
Lt. Gen. Dumais seconded Renuart's sentiments, stating, "The signing of this plan is an important symbol of the already strong working relationship between Canada Command and U.S. Northern Command."
"Our commands were created by our respective governments to respond to the defense and security challenges of the twenty-first century," he stressed, "and we both realize that these and other challenges are best met through cooperation between friends."
The statement on the USNORTHCOM website emphasized the plan recognizes the role of each nation's lead federal agency for emergency preparedness, which in the United States is the Department of Homeland Security and in Canada is Public Safety Canada.
The statement then noted the newly signed plan was designed to facilitate the military-to-military support of civil authorities once government authorities have agreed on an appropriate response.
As WND has previously reported, U.S. Northern Command was established on Oct. 1, 2002, as a military command tasked with anticipating and conducting homeland defense and civil support operations where U.S. armed forces are used in domestic emergencies.
Similarly, Canada Command was established on Feb. 1, 2006, to focus on domestic operations and offer a single point of contact for all domestic and continental defense and securities partners.
In Nov. 2007, WND published a six-part exclusive series, detailing WND's on-site presence during the NORAD-USNORTHCOM Vigilant Shield 2008, an exercise which involved Canada Command as a participant.
In an exclusive interview with WND during Vigilant Shield 2008, Gen. Renuart affirmed USNORTHCOM would deploy U.S. troops on U.S. soil should the president declare a domestic emergency in which the Department of Defense ordered USNORTHCOM involvement.
In May 2007, WND reported President Bush, on his own authority, signed National Security Presidential Directive 51, also known as Homeland Security Presidential Directive 20, authorizing the president to declare a national emergency and take over all functions of federal, state, local, territorial and tribal governments, without necessarily obtaining the approval of Congress to do so.