OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. â€“ U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) senior leaders hosted Mr. Jamshed Merchant, Consul General for Canada in the upper Midwest, at USSTRATCOM Headquarters, March 16, as part the command’s ongoing effort to build, sustain and support partnerships with ally nations.
“Canada is one of our closest allies,” said U.S. Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney, USSTRATCOM commander. “Our frequent collaboration with Canada’s Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces, academic institutions and government leaders provides a mutual benefit to both nations. I am excited for the opportunity to continue our close partnership by hosting leaders like Consul General Merchant.”Â
Although he has visited Nebraska several dozen times in his nearly four-year tenure as Consul General for the upper Midwest region - including discussions with Gov. Pete Ricketts, members of the state legislature and administration and Warren Buffett; as well as attending a University of Nebraska-Lincoln "Cornhuskers" football game at Memorial Stadium - Merchant said this was his first visit to USSTRATCOM headquarters. He called his time at the facility “a real eye-opener.”
“I’ve learned a lot since coming here,” he said. “For me, the most interesting thing is the breadth and the role of [US]STRATCOM. This is a complex organization in which everyone depends on everyone else. You have to not only be thinking ahead, but to really be effective, you have to work together as a team.” Â Â
Merchant, who attended mission briefings and held discussions with subject matter experts while at the headquarters, also noted the variety of missions for which USSTRATCOM is responsible, as well as the collaboration required for strategic deterrence.
“It’s not just as a team within [US]STRATCOM, ” he said. “It’s [US]STRATCOM with all the other parts of the U.S. military, other countries’, like the Canadian militaries [and] other federal agencies. It really is, in many ways, all about people’s interaction and communication.”
In regard to law enforcement and military cooperation between the U.S. and Canada, Merchant said it’s “common sense” because “we share the same continent.”
“Security is a key part of our relationship,” he said. “We want to make sure that not only is North America safe from threats, in terms of keeping our perimeters safe, but we also realize that North America is part of the global world and we continue to hold our values.”
Merchant cited the Lake Superior Scottish Regiment - a Canadian Primary Reserve infantry regiment located in Thunder Bay, Ontario - as an example of how U.S. and Canadian military forces work together in support of regional and global security. He said the regiment travels to Camp Ripley, Minnesota, “three or four times a year” for joint training with the Minnesota National Guard.
As a civilian observing the training first-hand, Merchant said he was impressed with how “dedicated and committed the militaries are on both sides” and “the extreme environments they have to work in day after day.”
USSTRATCOM conducts training and real-world activities with Canadian military forces, academic institutions and government agencies through the on-site efforts of the Canadian Liaison Officer at USSTRATCOM, Col. Kevin Bryski. Recent examples of the collaboration include:
- In February, U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Stephen W. Wilson, USSTRATCOM deputy commander, delivered a keynote address at the Conference of Defence Associations Institute (CDAI) 2016 Ottawa Conference on Security and Defence in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. In his remarks, Wilson discussed the close partnership between the United States and Canada, and the interoperability between U.S. and Canadian armed forces as they work together to address the many evolving challenges around the globe. During his trip to Ottawa, he also engaged Canadian Armed Forces and Department of National Defence leadership on the topics of strategic deterrence and mutual defense cooperation.
- During USSTRATCOM’s Global Thunder 16 command and control exercise in November 2015, Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Brig. Gen. Michel Lalumiere’s, Director General Space, contributions to the Joint Space Operations Center at USSTRATCOM’s Joint Functional Component Command for Space Headquarters, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, were highlighted to demonstrate how allied participation in exercises strengthens relationships between international partners and provides additional levels of resiliency in our combined forces.
- In October 2015, Haney attended the Combined Space Operations (CSpO) initiative meeting, which was held to discuss space-sharing activities between New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. Canadian Army Lt. Gen. Guy Thibault, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff; and Ms. Isabelle Desmartis, Director General, Policy Planning; also attended the meeting. The initiative gave participating nations an understanding of existing and future space environments, an awareness of space capabilities to support global operations and military-to-military relationships, and a forum to address challenges and ensure the peaceful use of space.
- Also in October 2015, USSTRATCOM B-52 Stratofortress bombers based at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, and Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, conducted training in and around Goose Bay, Canada, with Royal Canadian Air Force units. The mission allowed bomber crews to gain experience in executing flexible long-range global strike capabilities while working alongside Canadian and North American Aerospace Defense forces.
Â “USSTRATCOM regularly engages with partner nations to enhance international interoperability and joint capabilities in support of achieving strategic deterrence and confronting a broad range of global challenges,” Haney said. “Consul General Merchant’s visit today is evidence that the relationship between our nations is more than a military one. In addition to regional and global security, the U.S. and Canada share several areas of mutual interest, including commerce, technology and a host of others.”
As Consul General for Canada in the upper Midwest (covering Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota), Merchant leads a team that works to grow economic, political, and cultural relationships between the U.S. and Canada. He regularly engages with decision-makers and citizens on issues of shared interest to both countries and helps Canadians that live and travel in the region.
Merchant traveled throughout the state to meet with Nebraska’s elected, business, academic, community and military leaders. His visit took place as the state was celebrating “Canada Week.”
In addition to Offutt Air Force Base and USSTRATCOM Headquarters, his itinerary included visits to the Nebraska Capitol - where the legislature passed a resolution and the governor issued a proclamation in honor of “Canada Day at the Capitol” - the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He also discussed the Canada-Nebraska trade partnership with the Midwest International Trade Association.Â
“It’s a real honor and pleasure to be here,” Merchant said. “I look forward to working more with [US]STRATCOM in the future.”