General Terrence O'Shaughnessy, the US commander of the North American Aerospace Defence Command — NORAD — says the United States and Canada must urgently upgrade their missile defenses in the face of increased Russian military activity, Global News reports.
The general cited Russia's renewed fighter jet patrols in the Arctic after 30 years of inactivity, regular flights of Russian strategic bombers to the boundaries of US and Canadian airspace and deployment of cruise missiles in northern regions as grounds for the upgrade.
"We haven't seen this sort of systematic and methodical increase in threats since the height of the Cold War," O'Shaughnessy said, according to a Canadian Press report. "We must acknowledge the reality that our adversaries currently hold our citizens, our way of life and national interests at risk."
The general, while acknowledging the need for study, also warned that the two countries must stop what he called "the paralysis-by-analysis trap" and begin actual deployments.
"We're clear-eyed at NORAD right now," he added, "and we say that the defence of our nation is both urgent and important, and as such, we need to get after it, and we need to get after it together."
Any upgrade of NORAD depends on whether Canada agrees to participate in a missile-defense shield program, which would require it to deploy launchers on its soil, making Canada a potential target for a strategic strike. Back in 2005, Canada famously opted out of such proposal, The Canadian Press reports.
In his remarks, General O'Shaughnessy also added that the two countries should better defend their infrastructure, such as power grids, while finding ways to make it too costly for anyone to attempt an attack on North America.
"Rather than simply responding to advancements of doctrine and technology," he said, "we must drive ahead of those strategies and create dilemmas to make it too costly for any nation to contemplate an attack on our nations."