Monday, January 21, 2019

Part 1: A Short History of Canada's Military Space Policy and How it Fits into the Current US Space Force Discussions

The Axworthy Doctrine
          By Chuck Black

The outline of US plan to create an expanded United States Space Force independent of the other five branches of the US military, has slowly been taking form under the current Donald Trump administration, but the genesis of the concept goes back to the 1980's and Ronald Reagan's Star Wars Strategic Defence Initiative. 
Since the new plan will essentially absorb major components of existing North American defence, including parts of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), there is no question that Canada's current defence policy, as outlined in the January 17th, 2019 overview, "Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada's Defence Policy," will need to take into account US intentions relating to the high frontier. 
As noted in the September 14th, 2017 Canadian Press post, "Policy says U.S. won’t defend Canada from missile attack: Norad general," Canada might even appreciate an opportunity to revisit decisions on whether or not to join or reject various US defence policies related to space. 
The Department of National Defence (DND) Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program is currently funding the development of over a dozen new applications relating to space situational awareness and other activities which could be either adapted by the US in exchange for access to US space defence capabilities or deployed independently.
Will Canada take advantage of this opportunity to re-integrate itself into the US defensive screen. Below is the first part of a short history of Canadian space defence planning which would suggest that, there are certain defence components which Canada might want to carry out independently of the US. 

Lloyd Axworthy in the 1990's. Graphic c/o Graeme Mackay.
To learn about the origins of Canada's military space policy, we need to start with something called the "1994 Canadian White Paper on Defence."

It's a difficult to find the document these days although it was once a well respected and widely disseminated policy paper generated by incoming Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's Liberal government, outlining their future plans for the Canadian military.

Called the "Axworthy Doctrine" after incoming Liberal MP Lloyd Axworthy (who helped originate and champion many of the ideas in the document), the focus of the 1994 white paper was to scale back expenditures allocated by the outgoing Conservative government in order to allow Canada to take advantage of the so called "peace dividend" expected to accrue to western democracies after the collapse of their major opponent, the Soviet Union.

Included among the cuts was Canada's traditional commitment to the "level and tempo of Canada-U.S. defense relations, particularly in NORAD, (which) has been decreasing since the late 1980s" according to the document "Canada, Getting it Right This Time: The 1994 Defence White Paper" published by the Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) of the United States Army War College.

Canadian contributions to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) were also cut back as were Canadian financial contributions to the NATO allied infrastructure program and force levels for the CF-18 Hornet fighter jet.

But while military cutbacks to Canada's NATO and NORAD contributions might seem like a sane and sensible policy for laymen, those cutbacks also undermined two of the four traditional pillars of Canadian military policy (the other two are protection of Canadian sovereignty and international peacekeeping missions).

The current NORAD HQ in Building 2 at Peterson Air Force Base. The Cheyenne Mountain Military Complex, the traditional centre of NORAD activities is "no longer used on a daily basis" according to Wikipedia. Photo c/o Wikipedia.

Even worse, the Axworthy Doctrine suggested that direct threats to North American security requiring sovereignty protection capabilities were unlikely in the foreseeable future. With three of the four traditional justifications for a Canadian military seemingly under fire from an incoming government mandated to slash spending, a new rationale was needed.

This is where the Axworthy Doctrine got creative.

It championed a concept called "human security" which challenged traditional notions of international security  by arguing that it should be focused around the individual instead of the state. It also argued that the United Nations (UN) had a "responsibility to protect" people anywhere in the world against genocide and ethnic cleansing attempts, even to the extent of invading or interfering in the internal politics of otherwise sovereign nations.

An account of the 1994 UN mission.
Axworthy (who eventually became Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Jean Chrétien government) felt this new Canadian military role could be undertaken by the existing Canadian Forces without the need for any additional military expenditures. In essence, the ruling liberal government could legitimately task the Canadian Forces with the Axworthy Doctrine and still cut military funding.

Was this a great country or what?

To be fair, the doctrine was widely considered to be a reasonable response to help prevent a repeat of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide where the Canadian commander of a UN peace keeping mission (Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire) was prevented from taking steps he felt would diffuse the situation and save lives.

But even in this area, the "Axworthy Doctrine" was a two edge sword. According to the June 9th, 2006 Canadian Encyclopedia post, "Canada's 'responsibility to protect' Doctrine Gaining Ground at the UN," it might:
... sound warm and fuzzy on the surface, but underlying that vision is the cold hard recognition that military intervention may be necessary to achieve this end. Rejecting the sanctity of national borders that has been central to the UN since its founding in 1945, the proposal would create a sort of official licence to invade.
The concept of a "license to invade" rogue regimes for the greater good found an obvious following in the United States (especially after 9/11) which initially provided much of the support infrastructure needed to send Canadian soldiers around the world.

A cartoon about another rogue regime. Graphic c/o Boston Herald.

Unfortunately, the Americans soon started making noise about how Canada should build their own infrastructure, and not simply "piggyback" on existing US capabilities so Axworthy ended up being wrong about his doctrine not needing new expenditures to support combat capable troops on lengthy international missions.

In essence, its not so much different from current US policy requests for allies to pay their "fair share" of military expenditures for communal defence. Some things never change.

Oddly enough, the easiest way to support the Axworthy Doctrine was to develop an indigenous military space communications and surveillance capability to support Canadian missions abroad.

The requirements for this capability (which led directly to the formulation of Canada's 1998 military space policy) and a bit of background on why there was no Canadian military space policy prior to 1998 will be the subject of our next post on this topic.
Chuck Black.

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog. 

Portions of  this  multipart overview were originally published in the December 27th, 2010 post, "Canada's Military Space Policy: Part 1, The Axworthy Doctrine."

Friday, January 18, 2019

US Government Releases 2019 Missile Defence Review

          By Henry Stewart

The US government has released it's latest military review covering the threat posed by Russian, Chinese, North Korean and Iranian missiles and the ways to counter such threats. And this time, at least according to US President Donald Trump, US allies like Canada will have to pay their "fair share" when the new system is deployed.

Cover page of the unclassified version of the "2019 Missile Defence Review." Graphic c/o Office of the Secretary of Defence

As outlined in the January 17th 2019 CTV News post, "Canadian officials look for answers as Trump unveils missile-defence plan" the new report puts a heavy emphasis on "space-based sensors and defences to detect, track and ultimately stop missile attacks against the US and its allies from anywhere in the world."

According to the post:
The final report had been highly anticipated in Ottawa as Canada and the US prepare to launch discussions about upgrading North America's aging early-warning system to protect against attacks that use more advanced technology. 
The North American Aerospace Defence Command, or Norad, is currently configured to detect incoming ballistic missiles and foreign aircraft such as bombers, but not threats such as cruise and hypersonic missiles.
The report also "underscored the importance of being able to defend against attacks with interceptors like those employed by the US ballistic-missile defence shield, which Canada famously opted not to join in 2005."

A partial, unclassified, version of the review is available online, under the title, "2019 Missile Defence Review."

As outlined in the January 17th, 2019 The Drive post, "Here's All You Need To Know About The New Missile Defense Review That Was Just Released," expanding and improving "the US missile defense shield will require significant time and resources, as well. At present, it's unclear whether or not the next defense budget will be smaller or larger than the last."

It will also require much discussion and cooperation between traditional US allies like Canada in order to effectively deploy and fund. A lot of Canadian based think-tanks including the Calgary AB based Canadian Global Affairs Institute and the Vancouver BC based Fraser Institute have recently been recently arguing for Canadian participation in the program, although the Federal government has offered up no concrete movement in this area.

Here's wishing them luck with that.

Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Maxar Technologies Hit With Class Action Lawsuit Over "False and Misleading Statements." More Lawsuits On the Way

          By Chuck Black

Westminster CO based Maxar Technologies has been hit by a class action lawsuit from disgruntled Maxar shareholders.

The claim accuses Maxar of using its $2.4Bln US ($3.2Bln CDN) acquisition of Westminster CO based DigitalGlobe in 2017 to inflate company assets and hide problems with at least one of the vendor’s satellites, the DigitalGlobe WorldView-4 Earth imaging satellite reported lost earlier this month.

As outlined in the January 14th, 2019 filing in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado (Case 1:19-cv-00124-SKC) under the title "Logan Durant, et al. v. Maxar Technologies Inc., et al," the lawsuit claimed that Maxar executives, including ex-CEO Howard Lance, VP and CFO Biggs Porter and executive VP Michael B. (Anil) Wirasekara Jr., provided:
...materially false and misleading statements regarding the Company’s business, operational and compliance policies (during the period from March 29th, 2018 through January 7th, 2019). Specifically, Defendants made false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose that: 
  • Maxar improperly inflated the value of its intangible assets, among other accounting improprieties"
  • Maxar’s highly-valued WorldView-4 was equipped with CMGs that were faulty and/or ill-suited for their designed and intended purpose; and 
  • as a result, Maxar’s public statements were materially false and misleading at all relevant times...
The suit was filed by the New York NY and Chicago IL law offices of Pomerantz LLP on behalf of investor Logan Durant, who owns 250 shares of Maxar stock and was "willing to serve as a representative party of the class of investors who purchased or acquired Maxar stock" during the period covered by the suit.

Much of the case is expected to rest on the August 7th, 2018 Spruce Point Capital press release, "Spruce Point Capital Management Releases a Strong Sell Forensic Research Opinion on Maxar Technologies Ltd. (NYSE / TSX: MAXR)" which, along with accompanying research report, claimed that Maxar's "levered acquisitions" of Palo Alto, CA based Space Systems Loral in 2012 (when Maxar was known as the Richmond BC based MacDonald Dettwiler) and DigitalGlobe in 2017 were "poorly timed and executed with no free cash flow."

The Spruce Point report also claimed substantial "earnings overstatement," which caused investors to overvalue the stock and buy, when they should have been selling.

As outlined in the January 1st, 2019 post, "2018: The Year in Space for Canada," the Maxar stock meltdown was one of the big space stories of 2018. As outlined in the January 7th, 2019 post, "Maxar Stock Drops to New Lows After DigitalGlobe Subsidiary Reports Loss of WorldView-4 Satellite," the public acknowledgement of the loss of the WorldView-4 satellite caused Maxar stock to drop further.

Other law firms publicly exploring the possibility of either joining the existing action or perhaps beginning a separate one against Maxar include:
All things considered, the above list looks like a lot of high powered lawyers with a pretty good idea about where there next big meal is going to be coming from.

Don't expect any good news out of Maxar for the next little while.
Chuck Black.

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog.

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