New military cooperation pact allows Canadian, U.S. troops to enter each other's territory

Associated Press 12/10/02: Tom Cohen

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TORONTO - Canada and the United States have signed a new military cooperation agreement that allows troops of each country to enter the other in an emergency, Canadian officials announced Monday.

Faced with threats such as the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the North American neighbors expanded their military cooperation beyond their partnership in NATO and Canada's role in NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

Under the agreement, either country can request military help from the other. Any U.S. troops operating in Canada would be under the command of a Canadian officer, while any Canadian troops operating south of the border would be under U.S. command.

Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham told a news conference that the agreement covers a joint response to terrorist attacks on either side of the border as well as military assistance for other emergencies, such as natural disasters.

Defense Minister John McCallum said the goal was to best utilize the forces available. For example, a bioterror attack in Vancouver could be closest to appropriate response forces in Washington state, in the western United States, rather than the eastern Canadian province of Ontario, he said.

The agreement calls for increased joint operations and exercises against terrorism. It also creates a new planning group to study how both countries would jointly deploy military forces and emergency services in response to a terrorist attack or other disaster.

Canadian Lt. Gen. Ken Pennie, the deputy NORAD commander, will head the planning group. Under NORAD, Canada's air force is closely integrated with U.S. plans to defend North American air space.

The planning group based at NORAD in Colorado puts Canada in position "to work with the United States on plans to defend North America, plans the United States would otherwise be developing without us," McCallum said.

Canada has been under pressure from the United States to boost military spending after years of budget cuts reduced the size and capabilities of the Canadian armed forces.

While Canada sent troops, ships and reconnaissance planes to the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan, it withdrew its 850 army soldiers at the end of their mission in August instead of replacing them due to thin resources.

McCallum has called for a large increase in defense spending in the next federal budget, which is due in February.


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