Volume #21 - 324.|
RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES
DISTANT EARLY WARNING SYSTEM
Memorandum from Minister of National Defence|
to Cabinet Defence Committee43
DOCUMENT NO. D-1-55|
January 20th, 1955|
CANADIAN PARTICIPATION IN THE DISTANT EARLY WARNING LINE|
The Cabinet Defence Committee, at its meeting of November 12, recommended, in a report subsequently approved by the Cabinet:
(a) that the government agree to the construction of the proposed distant early warning line as one element of an overall continental defence warning system, the establishment of which is being undertaken as a joint Canada-United States project;
(b) that at the same time the United States government be informed of Canada's intention to participate in the project, the nature and extent of such participation to be more precisely determined in the near future.
The DEW project may be considered in its two main phases:
(a) construction and installation;
(b) operation and maintenance.44
In respect of the first phase, namely, construction and installation, the joint press release of November 19, 1954, stated that Canada had undertaken responsibility for the construction of the mid-Canada line and that responsibility for construction and installation in respect of the distant early warning line would be vested in the United States, although both Canada and the United States would participate in the project.45 It has therefore been indicated that the area of Canadian responsibility in respect of the DEW line would not extend to construction and installation, although Canadian Government agencies will be, from time to time, giving what assistance they are able.
In view of the fact that Canadian governmental resources will be severely taxed to achieve the mid-Canada line by the appointed date, any further effective participation by the Canadian Government in the work of construction and installation which would require supervision and inspection would probably prejudice the effort on the mid-Canada line.
Considering the second phase, it appears that the continuing aspects of the project are more important to Canada than the transient operations of a crash nature and that it would be desirable to have the RCAF take as substantial a share as practicable in the operation and manning of the line. It also appeared desirable to have as much as possible of the continuing logistic support performed by Canadian agencies so that traffic in the arctic should be, as much as possible, Canadian. This would be an effective way of exercising our sovereignty in a continuing manner. To achieve this, it might be necessary to provide special arrangements for shipping which might take some time to achieve. At the present time, however, not enough is known about the line nor will likely be known for some time, to permit specific recommendations to be made. It would be desirable, therefore, to initiate studies immediately in respect of manning and of transportation and resupply in the continuing phase in order to ascertain the possible requirements and the possibilities and consequences of Canadian participation in them.
If a substantial contribution to the operation and maintenance of the line were to be made once it had been completed and was in operation, it would not, in my view, be necessary to participate in the construction and installation phase, other than to ensure that Canadian interests were protected in the ways outlined in the proposed agreement.
I accordingly recommend that:
(a) Canada should not participate in the first phase other than to assist the United States in organizing and using Canadian resources, and to help by making available the various facilities of the Armed Forces and other agencies of the Canadian Government where practicable;
(b) studies be made looking to effective Canadian participation in the operation and maintenance of the line including logistic support following its completion;
(c) the United States be informed that Canadian participation during the construction and installation phase of the project will be limited as in (a) above, but that Canada intends to participate effectively in the operation and maintenance phase, the character of such participation to be determined on the basis of studies to be carried out during the construction phase.46