Halifax Forum Looks for Solutions to World’s Security Challenges

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, is one of many security and military leaders attending the Halifax International Security Forum, which kicked off today with discussions covering security challenges throughout the world and the role democracies can play to address them.

Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan and Peter Van Praagh, the president of the Halifax Forum, are hosting the meeting. They outlined the expectations for this 10th annual forum at a press conference.

Russia, China, North Korea, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, violent extremism and more are on the agenda of this three-day event, they said.

Not Just Talk

But the forum has always been more than just a place to talk. The participants look for new ways, strategies and doctrines to better deliver security. Sajjan said one issue he will examine is to improve the peacekeeping effort around the world. “This has been an issue of particular importance to Canada as we reengage in peacekeeping operations,” he said. “I am pleased to see the global community building on the commitments we made last years in the U.N. Peacekeeping and Defense Ministerial in Vancouver [British Columbia].”

Russia is a concern to Canada and will be an issue here, Sajjan said. Russia’s actions against Georgia, its annexation of Crimea, and its continuing efforts in eastern Ukraine are disturbing to say the least, he added.

“Because of the actions Russia has taken we need to send a very strong message of deterrence,” the defense minister said. Doctrine in deterring the Russian use of hybrid warfare and cyber attacks continues to develop, Sajjan said.

Van Praagh said that Russia is simultaneously a great country and a failing country. Russia is a force in Europe and the world that cannot be ignored. But it also “does not have the same advanced tools that NATO and Canada and the American alliance has,” he said. “Russia … is using different mechanisms and tools to exert influence. It is generally new and it is something Canada and NATO are working toward, because … we can’t allow Russia or any other country to interfere in the domestic democracies operations.”

Through two world wars and the Cold War, Halifax was a linchpin in the North Atlantic Alliance tying North American to Europe. The maritime threat from Russia has increased and alliance leaders approved establishing a NATO command in Norfolk, Va., to ensure the lines of communication between the continents remains strong.

Canada will be a major player in this effort, Sajjan said. Canada has stepped up operations in support of the alliance in the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea and in exercises like Trident Juncture, the minister said. “Halifax will play a very important role when it comes to a naval presence,” he said.