A senior intelligence officer at Canada’s Joint Operations Command HQ has called for more cross-collaboration between different nations, in order better utilise collective intelligence and bring resources together.
Col. Stephen Desjardins told the DGI conference in London this week that operations do not work in a linear manner, and planning is being put in place by Canada to, “break the stovepipes.”
“Our security threats are global, and no single organisation, be it military or otherwise, can be successful unless you really approach this from a broader perspective,” he said. “No single nation can successfully deliver the required effects on their own.”
He said that this single intelligence environment aspect is key, and is something that is driving a lot of force development that is ongoing in Canada.
“It will be key in terms of our relationship with other government departments, and our relationship and integration with coalitions and ‘five eyes’ partners, so that single intelligence environment is something we should be implementing,” he said.
Desjardins noted that even the five eyes - Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US – rarely just operate together, and military action often relies on coalitions of nations that share the same security threat.
“The five eyes community has a history of working together, and what we need to do is expand that to the greater coalition,” he said. “The approach we have taken in Canada is very much a multi-agency approach, and that pays dividends.”
Desjardins notes that Canada’s operation in Iraq against Islamic State militants is representative of this model, which is, “very much a multi-agency entity”.
He noted that the introduction of civilian agencies has seen, “tremendous,” advantages, and, “the expended approach and way we do business is certainly key.”
Joint targeting is one area that Canada is keen to enhance, which can be sped up by utilising joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and in turn a more seamless effect can be enforced.
“It’s all about hunting for the right information,” he said, adding that hindrances in either the joint ISR or targeting will affect the other element.
Canada’s effort in Iraq against Islamic State militants is helping to enhance its joint targeting capability, as it has an operational environment to test it in: “We have the luxury of having Operation Impact as a platform to learn,” Desjardins said.
“There is conventional munitions-based targeting, but really a lot of the targeting and effects that are required are on the non-munitions piece. Operation 'Impact' is today’s fight, but Canada is certainly expected to deliver for NATO and other government ambition throughout the world,” he added.
Desjardins also noted that the rules that differentiate tactical and strategic levels of operations are increasingly less relevant in this domain, and there are fewer clear lines between those realms than there may have been previously.
“Technology is a clear enabler…and clearly it is doing tremendous things,” he added. “We do need to think about a single intelligence environment. That is not just between the tiers, between the tactical, operational and strategic, but also with the whole of government and the multi-agency approach. The more we can we get into the single intelligence environment, the better we are at detecting understanding, tracking, and eventually killing or otherwise effecting those things that need to be effected, and breaking down the stovepipes.”