Modernized military will put more emphasis on cyber attacks, defence minister says

To modernize for warfare in the 21st century the Canadian Armed Forces will put increased emphasis on training to deal with cyber attacks, and plans to recruit more cyber specialists, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Wednesday in Edmonton.

Harjit Sajjan says plans to increase the defence budget will benefit military in Edmonton

The Canadian Armed Forces will get more resources to fight online enemies, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Wednesday at Edmonton Garrison. (CBC)

To modernize for warfare in the 21st century the Canadian Armed Forces will put increased emphasis on training to deal with cyber attacks, and plans to recruit more cyber specialists, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Wednesday in Edmonton.

As part of the Liberal government's plan to increase the defence budget over the next decade by 70 per cent,  to $32.7 billion, the armed forces will be given more resources to fight online enemies and prevent internet attacks, Sajjan said during a visit to Edmonton Garrison.

"The use of cyber technology in a military context is growing steadily," the minister said. "Canada must leverage that technology to maintain military advantage. Our forces need to be equipped with the ability to detect, organize and identify cyber threats and be prepared to take appropriate action."

Calling the plan ambitious but achievable, Sajjan said the government is committed to investing over the next 20 years in improving cyber and space aspects of defence in the the Canadian Armed Forces. 

The Liberal plan calls for a slight increase in the size of the military, and a modest increase in the size of the special forces. It also includes modernizing the country's submarine fleet, replacing the CF-18 fleet with 88 advanced fighter aircraft and growing the number of regular and reserve troops by 5,000.

Sajjan has called the military an "indispensable tool" of Canada's foreign policy. He pointed to ISIS and increased aggression by Russia as reasons for the increased spending in the new plan.

'Significant benefits' for military in Edmonton, Sajjan says

Standing in front of a Leopard 2 tank, Sajjan said he will allow the chief of the defence staff to implement the government's new defence plan, which he said Edmonton will see "significant benefit from."

"This is a policy that gives the right resources for the military now to actually create the implementation plan to move forward. But given that this is one of the largest bases here in Western Canada, there's going to be significant benefits here as well."

The benefits in Edmonton include the delivery of new tactical armoured patrol vehicles, with the first six expected at the base by the end of June.

About 50 more are scheduled to arrive at the Garrison by the end of October.

A tactical armoured patrol vehicle in a residential section of Saint-Barthélemy, Québec during the floods in May 2017. (Canadian Armed Forces)

Last week, 98 Edmonton-based soldiers were deployed to Latvia for Operation Reassurance, a NATO defence mission meant to deter Russian aggression against the eastern European country.

Another 350 troops, mostly from Edmonton, are expected to follow.

At present, 200 troops from Edmonton are in Ukraine for Operation Unifier, a mission meant to support Ukraine forces by providing military instruction.

Sajjan held a private town hall meeting with about 300 soldiers in Edmonton on Wednesday morning.