AOH :: ISN-3168.HTM

Trying to keep U.S. in dark

Trying to keep U.S. in dark
Trying to keep U.S. in dark 

Staff Reporter
October 20, 2006

Defence scientists plan to spend up to $4 million keeping secrets from 
Uncle Sam.

The proposed three-year project, dubbed Secure Access Management for 
Secret Operational Networks, is aimed at changing existing military 
computer networks shared with the United States so some information can 
only be accessed by Canadians.

"Contemporary and future Canadian Forces operations are conducted, and 
will likely continue to be conducted, within a coalition," say 
government documents released Tuesday.

"However, the Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence 
currently do not have a capability to handle national information 
effectively on their operational networks. This hampers their ability to 
plan Canadian participation in coalitions, and their ability to 
participate in those coalitions when decisions involving national 
sovereignty must be made. The worlds major military powers view the 
ability to protect national information as an important strategic 
capability. Canada has chosen to collaborate with the U.S. on its 
overall information protection needs but still requires the capability 
to protect Canadian-eyes-only information."

The proposed changes could prove useful for Canada in disputes over 
Arctic sovereignty, said Denis Stairs, a political scientist at 
Dalhousie University in Halifax who specializes in Canada-U.S. 

Last November, the USS Charlottes voyage through the Arctic sparked a 
political firestorm in Ottawa. Opposition parties, including the 
Conservatives, criticized the government for allowing the 
nuclear-powered U.S. navy attack submarine to make a two-week trip under 
the polar ice that included a surfacing at the North Pole.

This year, Prime Minister Stephen Harper clashed with U.S. Ambassador 
David Wilkins after an American challenge to Canadian sovereignty over 
the Northwest Passage, the routes through the Arctic Archipelago.

"Now that its beginning to open up, our sovereignty claim there becomes 
a more sensitive issue in a Canada-U.S. context," Mr. Stairs said.

"One can imagine a situation in which the Americans were testing us 
again on this issue. They have never agreed that is an inland waterway 
and were resisting them."

That could require sending Canadian warships or planes to the Arctic, he 

"Nobody wants to get into fisticuffs, and I dont think it will come to 
that," Mr. Stairs said. "But I can certainly imagine a situation in 
which wed want to be able to communicate without their knowing what were 
saying to one another."

The link would allow Canadians to electronically discuss the merits and 
details of proposed international missions among themselves, said Eric 
Lerhe, a retired commodore.

That means Canada could negotiate an internal position on how many 
troops could be sent, without letting on that the military is stretched 
by other missions, said Mr. Lerhe, a research fellow at Dals Centre for 
Foreign Policy Studies.

"We dont wish to advertise that around the world or even to our close 
allies," he said. "We dont want our minimum position to be known to 

The proposed network changes would also be useful if the military was 
called in to do something like quell a riot, Mr. Lerhe said.

"The U.S. has absolutely no need to be apprised of how were managing an 
internal aid to the civil power situation," he said. Reginald Stuart, a 
history professor at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax who 
specializes in Canada-U.S. relations, doubts changing a computer network 
so it can shut out the Americans on some issues would cause any friction 
between the two countries.

"I dont think that would create any policy problems between our two 
governments or any lack of trust on the level of the military," Mr. 
Stuart said.

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