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Canada’s new defence policy clarifies its long term vision for Canada’s Armed Forces. Entitled Strong Secure Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy, the June 2017 policy articulates the capabilities and resources needed by the Department of National Defence (DND) and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to meet the pivotal role they play within our borders and in multiple theatres of operation abroad.

To that end, the policy is comprised of 111 initiatives that focus on providing greater support to CAF forces and their families; rebuilding core capabilities and investing in future defence technologies, talent, and capabilities. The policy also recognizes that continued effort is needed to enable a modernized business of defence that is responsive to Canada’s needs, including a more transparent and streamlined procurement process.

Making good on those initiatives will not be simple – even with plans to increase defence funding from $18.9 billion in 2016-17 to $32.7 billion in 2026-27. In view of that, Strong Secure Engaged recognizes that a new approach to defence is needed; one that, “values the ability to anticipate new challenges, adapt to changing circumstances, and act with exemplary capability and professionalism while supporting peace and security around the world.”

In brief, if Canada hopes to see its initiatives through, the business of defence will need to:

Anticipate: Ensure decision makers have access to accurate, timely, and relevant information to make the right decisions in real time. Initiatives include acquiring next-generation surveillance systems, increasing investments in defence intelligence expertise and capacity, and leveraging external defence experts.

Adapt: Bring in modern technologies and methods that will evolve the ways in which people are managed and employed, the procurement process is handled, and innovation is supported.

Act: Leverage real-time data and modern technologies to act decisively in multiple theatres of war, while also strengthening disaster relief and peace keeping efforts and renewing Canada’s commitment to NORAD and NATO.

This modernized policy is to be commended for acknowledging the complex nature of today’s threats, both on the world stage and online. It should also be lauded for recognizing that CAF must not only make use of the latest tools, but recruit and support the people who can wield those tools effectively.

However, to say this new direction is ambitious would be an understatement.

As one of the largest modernization efforts of Canada’s defence capabilities in decades, Strong Secure Engaged puts forward a wealth of initiatives that must now be carried out across the whole of the Defence team.

This is easier said than done – especially considering the defence sector, government, and industry alike continue to face challenges managing the complex cycle through which defence assets are procured, acquired, and deployed. A current lack of organizational capacity at all levels and outdated whole of government policies often leaves defence teams with the inadequate means to manage escalating costs, maximize the value of output, and pursue innovative solutions that might reduce capital costs or increase efficiencies during the operational phase.

Herein, for the government to see its new defence strategy through, it must adopt an enterprise performance management (EPM) approach. This is one which integrates and digitizes financial and operational information in a common framework to allow DND / CAF to:

1. Focus on the right measures and indicators to execute strategies and optimize performance;

2. Create an integrated business and financial plan with targets that are reflective of the organization’s strategies and objectives;

3. Ensure plans are executed across all domains;

4. Continually compare the plan to actual progress via data analytics and advanced reporting; and

5. Adjust plans accordingly on an ongoing basis.


The mission is clear and the route is set. With clarity of vision, the government needs to invest not just in the defence business but equally in the right talent and business capabilities if it truly intends to realize on the Defence Policy.

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