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Backgrounder: Canada’s Vision for Defence

Canada’s defence policy – Strong, Secure, Engaged – will provide Canada with an agile, multi-purpose combat-ready military, operated by highly trained, well-equipped women and men, secure in the knowledge that they have the full support of their government and their fellow Canadians.

This policy will ensure Canada is:

Strong at home, with a military ready and able to defend its sovereignty, and to assist in times of natural disaster, support search and rescue, or respond to other emergencies;

Secure in North America, active in a renewed defence partnership in NORAD and with the United States; and

Engaged in the world, with Defence doing its part in Canadian contributions to a more stable and peaceful world.

Strong, Secure, Engaged is deliberately ambitious and focuses, first and foremost, on the heart of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) – the brave women and men who wear the uniform. Our people are at the centre of our defence policy. Strong, Secure, Engaged supports a healthy, highly motivated, and skilled military work force of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and airwomen ready and able to make a difference at home and overseas.

Strong, Secure, Engaged provides clear direction on Canadian defence priorities over a 20-year horizon. It increases the size of the CAF, affirms Canada’s unwavering commitment to its long-standing alliances and partnerships, and provides vital new investments to ensure our women and men in uniform have the modern tools they need to succeed in operations. This policy transforms how we care for Canada’s military members and their families, from the time of recruitment to retirement and beyond. We believe this is critical to Canada’s security.

Strong at Home

Our strategic vision for defence reaffirms the overarching priority of the CAF: defending Canada and Canadians.

The Forces will maintain an effective deterrent against conventional military threats and prevent them from reaching our shores, while ensuring that new challenges in the space and cyber domain do not threaten Canadian defence and security objectives and strategic interests, including the economy.

We will maintain our robust capacity to respond to a range of domestic emergencies, including by providing military support to civilian organizations on national security and law enforcement matters. This includes engaging in rapid disaster response, and contributing to effective search and rescue operations. We are committed to improving mobility and reach in Canada’s northernmost territories, and we will pursue a more enhanced presence in the Arctic over the longer term.

Canadians can be confident that the CAF will remain ready to act in the service of Canadians – from coast to coast to coast – and sustain a continual watch over Canada’s land mass and air and sea approaches.

Secure in North America

Canada’s defence partnership with the United States remains integral to continental security and the United States continues to be Canada’s most important military ally. We take our responsibility to defend against threats to the continent seriously.

We will expand our capacity to meet NORAD commitments by improving aerospace and maritime domain awareness and response, and by enhancing satellite capability. We will also procure an advanced fighter capability and ensure we remain interoperable with our American allies.

And through continued work with the United States, we will ensure NORAD is fully prepared to confront rapidly evolving threats. This will include exploring new roles for the command, taking into account the full range of threats.

Engaged in the World

Canada cannot be strong at home without being engaged in the world.

We will continue to do our part on the international stage to protect our interests and support our allies, guided by values of inclusion, compassion, accountable governance, and respect for diversity and human rights.

As a result of this policy, the CAF will be prepared and equipped to advance Canadian international security objectives – from conducting expeditionary operations to engaging in capacity building with partners – and to support our allies where our shared interests are at stake. We will pursue leadership roles and will prioritize interoperability in our planning and capability development to ensure seamless cooperation with allies and partners, particularly NATO.
The CAF will be prepared to make concrete contributions to Canada’s role as a responsible international actor, including through participation in United Nations peace operations. We will support conflict prevention, mediation, and post-conflict reconstruction, with an emphasis on human rights and, in particular, gender equality.

Through Strong, Secure, Engaged we will continue to provide protection and relief to the world’s most vulnerable populations, creating the stability necessary for development and sustainable peace to take root.    We will also foster world-class expertise for building the capacity and resiliency of others, and delivering tangible results in those areas.

To implement this strategic vision, Canada will adopt a new approach to defence – one that will allow our military to Anticipate emerging threats and challenges, Adapt to changing circumstances, and Act effectively in cooperation with our allies and partners.


As a result of Strong, Secure, Engaged, Defence will be better positioned to anticipate and understand threats to Canada and Canadian interests, enhancing our ability to identify, prevent and/or prepare for, and respond to a wide range of contingencies. This will make Canada more secure and add value to Defence’s contributions to global security.

We will take a number of concrete steps to improve our ability to anticipate threats, challenges, and opportunities. We will prioritize the expansion of CAF Joint Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (JISR) capabilities, while enhancing intelligence collection, analysis and fusion capabilities, and supporting and leveraging the expertise of Canada’s defence and security academic community. To do this we will:

Defence will also enhance its intelligence collection, analysis capabilities by:


Strong, Secure, Engaged will provide the CAF with the means to adapt to a fluid and highly volatile global security environment. Keeping pace with the rapid evolution of technological advancements is fundamental to every aspect of a successful modern military: from improving our readiness; to responding to a crisis; to defeating potential adversaries; to maintaining the capability to work closely alongside allies. Defence must be agile, flexible, and responsive in meeting the challenges and seizing the opportunities. As such, we will:


Canada’s defence policy paves the way for the CAF to act decisively with effective military capability through the execution of eight core missions. We will deliver results across the spectrum of operations; be it in the defence of Canada and North America, protecting Canadian interests and values, or contributing to global stability. Given the uncertainty and complexity of the world today, a flexible, versatile, and agile force that can take informed, decisive action to accomplish the Government’s objectives is not an option – it is an absolute necessity.

To deliver on the Government’s commitment to effectively contribute to global defence and security, the CAF will be ready to accomplish the following eight military core missions at any given time, while prioritizing the health and wellness of personnel and their families, and improving the business of defence:

  1. Detect, deter, and defend against threats to or attacks on Canada;
  2. Detect, deter, and defend against threats to or attacks on North America in partnership with the United States, including through NORAD;
  3. Lead and/or contribute forces to NATO and coalition efforts to deter and defeat potential adversaries, including terrorists, to support global stability;
  4. Lead and/or contribute to international peace operations and stabilization missions with the United Nations, NATO, and other multilateral partners;
  5. Engage in capacity building to support the security of other nations and their ability to contribute to security abroad;
  6. Provide assistance to civil authorities and law enforcement, including counter-terrorism, in support of national security and the security of Canadians abroad;
  7. Provide assistance to civil authorities and non-governmental partners in responding to international and domestic disasters or major emergencies; and
  8. Conduct search and rescue operations.

Strong, Secure, Engaged will shape Canada’s role in the world for decades to come. It will ensure that the CAF is equipped and prepared to protect Canadian sovereignty, defend North America, and contribute to global security.

Backed by stable, predictable, and realistic funding, as well as modernized business practices, Canada’s military will have the tools needed to keep building on its world-class reputation as an effective, highly professional military force, and proud representatives of Canada.

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