Continental Air Defence – Threat Perception and Response


  1. Gladman, B.W.
Corporate Authors
Defence R&D Canada - Centre for Operational Research and Analysis, Ottawa ON (CAN)
This case-study focuses on defence decision-making and information flow to political leadership from both military and civilian advisors. The obstacles to the smooth flow of relevant perspectives and requirements, some created by Diefenbaker and some of which he was merely a victim, led directly to decision-making in a vacuum without a true appreciation of a) the nature of the Soviet threat, b) where Canada could and should focus its limited defence resources in direct defence of its own population centres and as a contribution to the USAF strategic deterrent, and c) how the partnership with the US could be exploited to mutual advantage. The effect of this strategic laziness was a failure to close the circle on some important issues. On the one hand the 1957-58 decision to enter into an air defence arrangement with the USAF made a great deal of sense given the serious threat posed by the manned Soviet bomber, as did the decision to begin development of the Avro Arrow, a made-in-Canada solution to this problem. However, key pieces of information on the nature of the Soviet air and missile threat to North America and an interest by both the British and Americans in the Avro Arrow never reached either the MND or Diefenbaker. Neither did the willingness of senior US officials to fund far larger numbers of Arrows for the RAF and RCAF than either had ever dreamt possible. While it is not certain this would have swayed Diefenbaker away from cancelling the Arrow, doing so armed with

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Report Number
DRDC-CORA-TM-2012-257 — Technical Memorandum
Date of publication
01 Nov 2012
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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