Department of National Defence (Canada)

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Canada's Department of National Defence, headed by the Minister and ministerial staff, comprises the uniformed Canadian Forces, departmental agencies, and several organizations (e.g., search and rescue) that may or may not be part of the regular military of some other nations. DND Headquarters is on Colonel By Drive in Ottawa, near Parliament Hill.

The incumbent Minister is Peter MacKay (Conservative Party of Canada).


DND Policy Group

Overview of Canadian Forces

The Chief of Defence Staff is General Walt Natynczyk, CMM, MSC, CD.

Land Forces

Land Force Atlantic Area (LFAA)

Land Forces Central Area (LFCA)

Land Force Doctrine and Training System (LFDTS)

Land Forces Quebec Area (LFQA)

Land Force Western Area (LFWA)

Departmental agencies

Cadets Canada

Human resources

  • Canadian Forces Personnel Support Agency
  • Canadian Forces Housing Agency (CFHA)

Oversight and Legal

  • JAG
  • Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC)
  • Canadian Forces Grievance Board (CFGB)
  • Office of the Chief Military Judge
  • Ombudsman

Related agencies

Several Canadian agencies, sometimes much like their counterparts in other countries, have a dual identity: under the overall Defence establishment but not a regular military service, and with responsibilities both to the civil and military sectors.

Communications Security Establishment (CSE)

For more information, see: Communications Security Establishment.

The Communications Security Establishment has, like the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), a dual mission of signals intelligence and communications security. Canada does not conduct a wide range of intelligence collection operations such clandestine human-source intelligence (HUMINT) or national-level imagery intelligence (IMINT), so SIGINT is its major collection discipline. Like NSA, CSE is also responsible for government-wide communications security. Canada, however, does have a world-class intelligence analysis capability in the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

Under the still-classified "UKUSA agreement", Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S. agreed to collect SIGINT in different parts of the world, and share the material, with overall analysis remaining a national responsibility. Even with analysis, there is significant cooperation among these countries.

CSE, headquartered in the Leonard Tilley Building in Ottawa. is responsible for Canada's SIGINT.various forms of signals intelligence, including traffic analysis and cryptanalysis. It has SIGINT collection stations scattered throughout Canada, in positions to receive signals from various parts of the world, positions dictated by the technical characteristics of radio signals to be intercepted.

The establishment acquired its first Cray supercomputer in the early 1980s. Staff were trained through an exchange program with the American National Security Agency.

Defence Research & Development Canada (DRDC)

National Search and Rescue Secretariat (NSRS)

NSRS is an independent agency reporting to the Lead Minister for Search and Rescue, who happens to occupy the same physical body as the Minister of National Defence. Canada has always had a superb reputation for water and wilderness rescue, and the 1986 creation of NSRS was more a matter of organizing existing resources than creating a new function. It has direct coordination for federal search and rescue organizations:

as well as working with provincial and territorial SAR authorities and police services to develop and standardize the quantity and quality of SAR service.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is the lead agency for ground rescue, except in Ontario, Quebec, and parts of Newfoundland and Labrador. Canada is fully compliant with the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention and Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS).

As required by SOLAS, and strongly recommended for vessels not covered by SOLAS, the appropriate GMDSS safety equipment is strongly recommended. Minimally, this will include a emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) and VHF radio equipped with digital selective calling (DSC) and connected to GPS.

Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS)

For more information, see: Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

While not part of DND, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) provides national-level intelligence to Canadian and allied forces. Even though some of its reports are at the highest levels of security classification, CSIS has a high reputation for being as open as possible; a greater proportion of its research is published, in unclassified form, than that of any other national intelligence agency.

CSIS also has a protective security service, doing such things as security vetting. Some protective security functions are shared between CSIS and DND. See counterintelligence.

DND has exceptionally clear mission statements for counterintelligence and related law enforcement functions, in its Directive on its [1] National Counter-Intelligence Unit. The terminology is not the same as used by other services, but the distinctions are useful:

  1. "Counter-intelligence (contre-ingérence) means activities concerned with identifying and counteracting threats to the security of DND employees, CF members, and DND and CF property and information, that are posed by hostile intelligence services, organizations or individuals, who are or may be engaged in espionage, sabotage, subversion, terrorist activities, organized crime or other criminal activities." This corresponds to defensive counterintelligence in other services.
  2. " Security intelligence (renseignement de sécurité) means intelligence on the identity, capabilities and intentions of hostile intelligence services, organizations or individuals, who are or may be engaged in espionage, sabotage, subversion, terrorist activities, organized crime or other criminal activities." This does not (emphasis added)correspond directly to offensive counterintelligence, but is the intelligence preparation necessary to conduct offensive counterintelligence.
  3. The duties of the Canadian Forces National Counter-Intelligence Unit include "identifying, investigating and countering threats to the security of the DND and the CF from espionage, sabotage, subversion, terrorist activities, and other criminal activity;identifying, investigating and countering the actual or possible compromise of highly classified or special DND or CF material; conducting CI security investigations, operations and security briefings and debriefings to counter threats to, or to preserve, the security of DND and CF interests." This mandate is a good statement of a mandate to conduct offensive counterintelligence.

DND further makes the useful clarification [2], "The security intelligence process should not be confused with the liaison conducted by members of the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) for the purpose of obtaining criminal intelligence, as the collection of this type of information is within their mandate."


  1. Canadian Forces National Counter-Intelligence Unit, 2003-03-28, Canada-DND-DAOD 8002-2. Retrieved on 2007-11-19
  2. Security Intelligence Liaison Program, 2003-03-28, Canada-DND-DAOD 8002-3. Retrieved on 2007-11-19