Top Canadian and US generals once explored the possibility of creating a fully integrated military force for expeditionary operations, James Cudmore writes for CBC news in an exclusive report.
In a series of meetings that occurred prior to October 2013, top military officials from Canada and the US discussed ways of increasing interoperability between the two military forces. On several occasions, Cudmore writes citing information from the Department of National Defense, then-Chief of the Defense Staff Gen. Tom Lawson of Canada and now retired US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey attempted to create plans for "fully integrated forces."
In a "fully-integrated force," US and Canadian military members would serve side by side within the same units under one unified command. Canadian and US soldiers would then be deployed around the world on expeditionary operations under a unified military command structure.
Although the discussions were carried out at the highest levels, Canada decided that it was not in its best interest to fully integrate its military with the US's for these types of missions. Among the Canadians' concerns were the implications of Ottawa potentially having to cede control over its forces to US commanders in certain situations.
"The two armies do not intend to field formally integrated forces at this time," a Department of National Defense spokesman wrote to CBC.
"Instead, they are developing the capability to operate together on any mission authorized by the government of Canada. Canada-US cooperation is excellent; we are trying to make it better."
Canada and the US already have a high level of military interoperability. The two countries are both members of the NATO military alliance, and the militaries have served together recently in Afghanistan and in the fight against ISIS in Iraq.
Additionally, Canada and the US operate a fully integrated military organization under the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). NORAD is responsible for defending North America from both external and internal aerial threats.
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