The Canadian Network for Defence and Security Analysis (CNDSA), led through a partnership between Waterloo’s Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA) and Halifax’s Centre for the Study of Security and Development (CSSD), has been assembled to forge closer ties between Canadian defence organizations and the academic community. It is a prototype for a larger network-building program supported by the Department of National Defence’s (DND) Defence Engagement Program.
The key objective of this network is to build a comprehensive network of scholars and technical experts who are driven to develop advanced foresight and strategic analysis in the domain of Canadian defence and security. Research undertaken is to be informed by methodological rigour in reference to multidisciplinary academic and policy research, in a manner that is responsive to the needs and capacity of the DND. Future scenario forecasting will be used to produce policy-relevant knowledge to inform and guide DND and the defence and security policy community, as the government proceeds with the implementation of the new Strong, Secure and Engaged (SSE) defence policy. The majority of network members are established scholars, defence and security experts, and recognized authorities in their respective fields; however, early-career scholars have also been recruited, in order to support and encourage a new generation of defence experts through professional development and mentoring.
Rationale for Establishing the Network
The Canadian government has invested in the development of the DND network, as a means to develop tools and channels by which academic and defence institutions can communicate knowledge and ideas more effectively. This objective has been clearly outlined within the SSE defence policy. Academics can offer a great deal of expertise on a variety of defence issues (including procurement, threats, and operations), however they seldom know the exact context of questions and problems that defence agencies are undertaking at any given time. Therefore, the DND Network has been established as a platform for scholars, defence experts, Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) officers, and policy-makers to connect on key issues and develop a common dialogue that translates to policies that are responsive to real-world challenges and developments. Furthermore, establishing stronger relationships between defence organizations and the academic community can serve as a bridge to enhance engagement with the public, who are frequently isolated from in-depth knowledge of defence affairs.
Policy Issues Addressed by the Network
The DND Network members will be focusing on 5 key policy issues impacting the defence community that align with their individual area(s) of expertise.
- Peacekeeping and the United Nations will be explored in terms evaluating the scope of Canadian peace operations, as well as outlining transition and exit strategies.
- Issues throughout the Middle East and North Africa will be examined to determine ways to promote regional security and stability.
- Diversity and well-being in the CAF will be addressed in order to identify means to support CAF members and their families, promote mental health, and develop diversity and inclusion strategies.
- Scholars and experts will analyze Canada-US defence relations, particularly in the context of security relations with the Trump administration.
- Cyber-security and terrorism will be analyzed to develop strategies to mitigate cyber-attacks and online radicalization, in addition to assessing the role of emerging technologies in defence procurement.
Network participants also hold recognized expertise in 3 other themes from the DEP program’s priorities: Future challenges facing NATO and NORAD pertaining to leadership, resources, and burden-sharing will be analyzed to establish Canada’s role within the alliances. Academics studying Russia and the Arctic will examine long-term challenges stemming from climate change and Russia’s use of hybrid warfare, while formulating strategies for defending Canadian sovereignty. Lastly, the Asia-Pacific region will be studied to determine methods to address regional dynamics and threats, such as stability in the Korean Peninsula and China’s ambition to destabilize the US hegemony.