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U.S., Canada discuss Defense Cooperation
U.S. and Canadian defense
officials discussed a range of bilateral military issues during
meetings held here today.
Canadian National Defense Minister Peter MacKay hosted Defense
Secretary Robert M. Gates. The two delegations spoke about strengthening
and broadening an already strong alliance between the two nations.
Gates and MacKay spoke at a news conference following their meeting.
Afghanistan is where the two countries’ militaries cooperate
most closely, and Gates thanked the Canadian people for their
sacrifices on the battlefield and continuing commitment to the
struggle in Afghanistan.
“No country has suffered more fallen heroes proportionately
than has Canada, and I extend our countries sympathy, prayers
and admiration to their families,” Gates said.
The Canadian military is ending their combat mission in Regional
Command–South, and will dedicate about 950 service members
to training Afghan soldiers and police.
MacKay said the meetings help improve military coordination
between the two countries.
Mexican Minister of National Defense Gen. Guillermo Galvan was
to have attended the meeting, but illness forced him to cancel.
Both MacKay and Gates said they wanted to re-schedule the so-called
Tri-lateral meeting as soon as possible.
Gates and MacKay addressed threats to the Western Hemisphere,
cooperation among the nations of the hemisphere and efforts to
combat a range of international threats such as piracy, counterterrorism,
narco-trafficking and human trafficking.
Gates said he and MacKay discussed expanded cooperation in the
Arctic, coordinating maritime security assistance to the Caribbean
region and sharing defense practices for supporting civilian
The two men also discussed the North American Aerospace Defense
Command, especially the new maritime domain awareness mission
assigned to the group.
They also discussed the decision to allow the Joint Permanent
Board on Defense to continue looking at ways to examine a cyberdefense
role. Gates said the two nations will “examine together
how the advanced defenses of our military networks might also
be applied to critical civilian infrastructure.”
Gates reaffirmed America’s strong commitment to the F-35
Joint Strike Fighter. Canada is an integral partner in the program
and the new fighter will be the Canadian military’s aviation
backbone for decades. Gates said the Pentagon has made adjustments
to the program, and that the United States is expecting to have
325 aircraft built by 2016.
Canada wants the Air Force variant of the F-35, and Gates said
that version is doing well, and not under probation like the
short take-off, and vertical landing variant is.
“It is a true 5th generation fighter, it will continue
to gives us significant capabilities, it will continue the interoperability
that has been at the heart of our NORAD relationship for decades
now,” Gates said. “Without getting into domestic
affairs in Canada, I would just say my hope is that all of our
partners continue to move forward with us in this program.”
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